Friday, June 18, 2021

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery

All it takes is a family emergency to bring people back together, right?

Sage, Daisy, and Cassidy had been out of touch since their parents got divorced and hadn’t seen each other for years.

When Sage came back to their hometown and Cassidy had a skiing accident, both sisters had to pitch in to care for their step-sister/half sister.

Daisy had to have Cassidy stay at her house to recover much to everyone’s not liking it - even the housekeeper.  The housekeeper knew Cassidy and wasn’t fond of her.  Daisy wasn’t fond of her half sister either.  Sage was, though.

Cassidy was as uncooperative as ever when she arrived...Daisy wasn’t looking forward to this at all.

We follow the sisters as they try to reconnect with each other and realize they did miss a lot over the years.

We also follow Daisy and her husband Jordan as they try to work out the reason why Jordan decided to leave.

A lot of family drama, but it was a pleasant read with likable characters.

Women’s fiction fans will enjoy this book along with anyone who needs to take a look at their family and personal relationships to see just how important they are.  4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Blogger Hop - 6/18 - 6/24

Question of the Week:

How often do you post on your blog and/or social media? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)

My Answer:

I post EVERY DAY!!

I got in the habit of doing a post a day, and it has continued for about two or three years.

It is fun to find bookish things to share and to let readers know about good books.

I post on my blog and social media.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Spotlight of Kids & Cocktails Don't Mix by Heather Haldeman





Author Heather Haldeman's debut memoir Kids and Cocktails Dont Mix explores machinations of gender and power dynamics in the 1960s and ‘70s as Heather comes of age and must decide how she wants her own life to look.


Publisher: Apprentice House Press


Publish Date: June 2, 2021


Distribution: Ingram


Publicity: Mindbuck Media


Lead Publicist:  


"Haldeman has crafted an enthralling tale that mixes the allure of rubbing shoulders with the glitterati with the harrowing grit underneath the sparkle."—Bernadette Murphy - Author, Harley and Me


“Funny, sly, open-hearted and beautifully written, it’s a winner from the
first page to the last.”
— Caitlin Flanagan author of Girl Land

“I love this book. The first time I read it I was bowled over, and each time I return to it, I find some new wonder. It’s a book about a culture - and a way of being - that seems almost fantastical, although it was just a few decades ago. It’s a book about manners, about putting on a brave front, about brilliant women trapped in a moment that expected everything and nothing from them. Set in Los Angeles over a period ranging from the 1970’s to the present day [yes? No 60’s for the opening scene?] Haldeman locates a great story within a girl’s life, and her eye for the exquisite detail - of clothes, of decor, of catered food served in silver chafing dishes - has a precision reminiscent of Didion writing at the height of her powers. Funny, sly, open-hearted and beautifully written, it’s a winner from the first page to the last.”— Caitlin Flanagan, Staff Writer - The Atlantic, Author - Girl Land

“Old time, moneyed Los Angeles. Women whose lives are dictated by the men they’re married to, and a child narrator who sees it all. Behind the Gates is the tender yet quick-witted story of Heatherbean, an overweight girl trying to make sense of world that doesn’t and shouldn’t make sense, and Marilyn, her starstruck mother who yearns for the glamour and ease life has told her to expect. Haldeman has crafted an enthralling tale that mixes the allure of rubbing shoulders with the glitterati with the harrowing grit underneath the sparkle. Reading this story, I cheered for Heatherbean and Marilyn, wanted to take a two-by-four after Heather’s father, and felt my heart break again and again, set off by bouts of laughter.”— Bernadette Murphy, Author - Harley and Me

“In Kids & Cocktails Don’t Mix we meet the Eaton family—observant Heather, her self-assured older sister April,their unreliable father, and larger-than-life mother, the unsinkable Marilyn. They enjoy a glamorous lifestyle in an exclusive Hancock Park neighborhood, but when the marriage collapses and funds run out, Marilyn, trained or no work outside the home, must seek a new breadwinner. Heather, the youngest, overlooked in a fractious blended family, finds ways to console herself. The author has an eye for telling detail, a compelling, honest voice and a sly sense of humor, viewing the often tragic occurrences with accuracy but also love. A fascinating and entertaining memoir of tribulations and survival.”— Marjorie Tesser, Editor - Mom Egg



KIDS & COCKTAILS DON’T MIX is a coming-of-age memoir following Heather, the pudgy granddaughter of the Governor of California, who grows up in an exclusive gated LosAngeles community with celebrities and political figures as neighbors, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.

When her father leaves to chase women and riches, her mother must lure in  another man to hold onto the house and the lifestyle it represents. After the father disowns Heather and her sister they, like their larger-than-life glamorous mother, must find a way to move forward.

Watching the machinations of gender and power dynamics of the 1960’s and 70’s unfold in her own family, Heather becomes determined to make her own way through the world.

Unlike her mother, she vows not to rely on looks and seductions, but to find the heart underneath the gilt and glamour.



PHOTO CREDIT:  Jonathan Weedman

Heather Haldeman lives in Pasadena, California, and also spends some time in Utah. She has a loving husband, three grown children, and two granddaughters.

Her work has been published in The Christian Science Monitor, Chicken Soup for the Soul, From Freckles to Wrinkles, Grandmother Earth, The Mom Egg, and numerous online journals. 

While she has received many prizes for her essays, Kid’s and Cocktails Dont Mix is her debut book.



Twitter: @pasadenawriter

Instagram: @heatherhwrites


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Spotlight of Fox & I by Catherine Raven



With early raves from the likes of Temple Grandin, Stephen Batchelor, Yann Martel & Ian Frazier, Raven's debut memoir has been called a "book that everyone will be talking about" by the New York Times and has just been named an IndieNext pick for July.
“[A] book that everyone will be talking about… [A] real-life friendship that mirrors the one between Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s Little Prince and his fox, full of tenderness and understanding."The New York Times

“[An] offbeat and charming memoir. .... Along with reverently describing her furry friend―who had a ‘face so innocent that you would have concluded that he never stalked a bluebird, let alone dismembered one’―Raven writes poetically about the flora (“my sun-worshipping tenants”) and fauna around her. Rich and meditative, Raven’s musings on nature and solitude are delightful company.”
Publishers Weekly

"When Catherine Raven left her abusive family at 15 years old, she quickly found solace in nature, first working as a park ranger, then getting her PhD in biology, and eventually building a small cottage in the remote woods of Montana where she settled into a mostly solitary life, with breaks to lead field classes and lectures. Then, one day, a fox showed up, and kept coming back. In this quiet, charming memoir, Raven recounts her journey to accepting this unusual companion, loath as she is to anthropomorphize him. And as she embraces the vulnerability of loving an animal she objectively knows can’t love her back, she warms up to the idea of letting other people in, too. Throughout, Raven writes about her environment with wonder and reverence but never formality ― it’s the easy affection of someone who’s long made family of the natural world."
BuzzFeed News

Fox and I will make you feel deeply about our relationship with animals and nature. After you read this book, you will experience animals in a new and marvelous way.”―Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation

"The observations of high-desert nature―of wildlife, plants, landscapes, weather―in this book are some of the best you will ever read. The story of Catherine Raven and the fox's friendship charmed me and drew me in completely.”
―Ian Frazier, author of Great Plains

"If Thoreau had read 
The Little Prince, he would have written Fox and I.”―Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi

“Intimate and poetic …. By paying ecstatic attention to grasses, insects, birds, and animals, Catherine Raven allows us to hear what nature is saying to us. 
Fox and I is essential reading for anyone concerned about the catastrophe human beings are inflicting on the environment from which they and all other creatures sprang."―Stephen Batchelor, author of The Art of Solitude

“This tale of wilderness, in the tradition of Thoreau and Steinbeck, is distinguished by a narrator who sees herself as one of the many creatures she lives among …. Catherine Raven has achieved something unique in the literature of nature-writing: genuine love for the wild within the rigor of scientific observation. The voice of this story-teller is startlingly original. I read it breathlessly.”
―Andrei Codrescu

Fox and I is a mesmerizing, beautifully written, and entirely unsentimental book about the connection among all things: the author and her fox friend, but also magpies, brown dogs, fawns, voles, and junipers. I learned as much about the meaning of friendship from this book as I have from any work of nonfiction that I’ve ever read."―Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club


An unforgettable memoir about the friendship between a solitary woman and a wild fox.

When Catherine Raven finished her PhD in biology, she built herself a tiny cottage on an isolated plot of land in Montana. She was as emotionally isolated as she was physically, but she viewed the house as a way station, a temporary rest stop where she could gather her nerves and fill out applications for what she hoped would be a real job that would help her fit into society. In the meantime, she taught remotely and led field classes in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Then one day she realized that a mangy-looking fox was showing up on her property every afternoon at 4:15 p.m.

She had never had a regular visitor before. How do you even talk to a fox? She brought out her camping chair, sat as close to him as she dared, and began reading to him from The Little Prince. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, yet as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself and they became friends. 

From the fox, she learned the single most important thing about loneliness: we are never alone when we are connected to the natural world. Friends, however, cannot save each other from the uncontained forces of nature. Fox and I is a poignant and remarkable tale of friendship, growth, and coping with inevitable loss―and of how that loss can be transformed into meaning.

It is both a timely tale of solitude and belonging as well as a timeless story of one woman whose immersion in the natural world will change the way we view our surroundings―each tree, weed, flower, stone, or fox.



PHOTO CREDIT:   Henry Randel Chinn

Catherine Raven is a former national park ranger at Glacier, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Voyageurs, and Yellowstone national parks.
She earned a PhD in biology from Montana State University, holds degrees in zoology and botany from the University of Montana, and is a member of American Mensa and Sigma Xi.
Her natural history essays have appeared in American Scientist, Journal of American Mensa, and Montana Magazine. You can find her in Fox’s valley tugging tumbleweeds from the sloughs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams

Lena’s estranged twin sister committed suicide according to the police report, but Lena isn’t buying it.

Cambry wasn’t suicidal, and the last text that she sent to Lena made Lena doubt her sister jumped off of Hairpin Bridge.

That specific text had a police officer’s name in it which was strange.

Lena is back at the scene with the same officer re-living her sister’s nightmare.

Mr. Taylor definitely knows how to put the reader in the scene.  You will make every turn at high speed with Cambry as she is outrunning the policeman chasing her and you feel her fear.

You will also feel Lena’s fear as she questions Officer Raycevic and sees discrepancies in his story.

What really happened to her sister?

Was Officer Raycevic involved in her death?

Is Lena safe all alone at the scene with Officer Raycevic and no cell service?

Beware of fast-paced, tense action and unsettling, gory scenes.

HAIRPIN BRIDGE is a descriptive read filled with twists that thriller fans will completely enjoy. 4/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Spotlight of Shutter by Melissa Larsen




Suspense, horror, power, control, voyeurism, and sexual politics all blend together in a tale that’s deliciously creepy with what Publishers Weekly has called a “knockout punch of a surprise ending.”  

Already named by Bustle and Barnes & Noble’s blog as one of their most anticipated debuts of 2021, Melissa Larsen proves to be a compelling new voice in suspense fiction.
Berkley Trade Paperback Original; June 15, 2021 




In the wake of her father's death, Betty doesn't allow herself to mourn. Instead, she pushes away her mother, breaks up with her boyfriend, and leaves everything behind to move to New York City crashing on her old friend Sophia and Sophia’s boyfriend Ben’s, couch. Sophia and Ben introduce Betty to their friend and indie filmmaker darling Anthony Marino, whose previous movie is a favorite of Betty’s. She starstruck by Anthony and, while slightly afraid of him, completely captivated by him as well. When he offers her the chance to play the leading role in his latest project, a loose re-make of Cape Fear, she jumps at the opportunity.

The four of them head to Anthony’s family’s cabin off the coast of Maine for several weeks to shoot the film. Betty starts to get more apprehensive about what she’s gotten herself into. She continuously finds herself pulled under Anthony’s alluring spell, but there’s no real script, or at least one that Betty’s not privy to. Anthony gives her a new identity, Lola, and a radical makeover to fit the part. But Betty tells herself that this is exactly what she's been looking for: the chance to reinvent herself. That is, until she meets Sammy, the island’s caretaker, and Betty realizes just how little she knows about the movie and its director and is certainly in over her head.



PHOTO CREDIT:  Emily Hlavac Green

Melissa Larsen has an M.F.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

She has interned and worked extensively in publishing. She lives in San Francisco, and Shutter is her first novel.


Mailbox Monday - 6/14/2021


Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week.


Warning:  Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.


Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia @A Girl and Her Books, has a permanent home now at MAILBOX MONDAY.


Here is a shout out to the administrators:

Leslie @Under My Apple Tree

Serena @ Savvy Verse and Wit

Martha @ Reviews By Martha’s Bookshelf


THANKS to everyone for keeping Mailbox Monday alive.


I hope you had a good mailbox.


On Monday, June 7, I received:


1.   THE FIANCEE by Kate White, courtesy of Harper Collins.



On Tuesday, June 8, I received:


1.   LAST GIRL GHOSTED by Lisa Unger, courtesy of Park Row Books, Harlequin, presentation for Speed Dating.




2.  NEVER SAW ME COMING by Vera Kurian, courtesy of Park Row Books, Harlequin, presentation for Speed Dating.




On Wednesday, June 9, I received:


1.  YOU BELONG HERE NOW by Dianna Rostad, courtesy of William Morrow and the author.



On Saturday, June 12, I received:


1.  THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Fiona Davis - I bought it for myself so I have a copy to add to my collection of books by Fiona Davis.  :)