Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery

Hello Kittens! I hope everyone is adjusting to life under quarantine as best as they can. I have to admit that I am starting to go a little stir crazy. As much as I love reading, eye-strain is real, so even I have to take a break every now and again. Things are so off-balance for me that I did something that I have not done in a really long time…two things actually. I accepted a book recommendation from someone who’s tastes I know are different from mine and I started a book that was in a series without knowing anything about the series or having read any of the previous books. It turned out to be a great move. Readers, I stayed up all night to finish this book. I literally read the whole thing in a 12 hour span with a few breaks in between. I was up until 4am because I couldn’t make myself put it down (although it probably didn’t hurt that I knew I didn’t have to worry about going to work that morning). This one came out a little over two months ago now and it wasn’t really on my radar, but it is a sweet and simple read that I think is just the ticket for these stressful times. Pick it up if you get the chance.

Title: Sisters by ChoiceSisters by Choice (Blackberry Island, #4)

Author: Susan Mallery

Author website:

Publisher: Mira (imprint of Harlequin)

Publish date: February 11, 2020

ISBN: 9780778310020

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

I should start off by revealing that I am not a Susan Mallery fan. I don’t have anything against her, I just tend to prefer a grittier kind of writing and I’m not a huge romance reader. That being said, i’ll be giving her releases a little more of my attention in the future. I don’t know why, but I had pegged her in my mind as more of a Danielle Steel-type writer. This book actually reads more like a Jenny Colgan novel, so if you like her work, definitely give this one a try. Also, if the world is just all too much right now, this is a great escape.

We start off by meeting Sophie Lane, a type-A personality who is on an unimaginative and fairly uninteresting second date. Then she gets a phone call that changes her entire life. The business that she has built from the ground up has just gone up in flames. No one was hurt, but she’s going to have to start all over again, and to make matters worse, when she relocates to a new factory to get started, none of her former employees are willing to go with her. Fortunately for Sophie, the new location is in her hometown, a sweet little coastal area of Blackberry Island, Washington. Who needs loyal employees when she’s got family, right?

Kristine Fielding is Sophie’s cousin and long-time Blackberry Island resident. She is married with three young sons and seemingly has the perfect home life. She also has a small successful baking business on the side that she runs out of her home kitchen. She does it all… but her boys are growing up and she’s starting to want more. When a local property that’s perfect for a bakery storefront comes on the market, she desperately wants to expand her baking dream. She does the research and prepares to discuss the plan with her husband. She’s supported his dreams for their entire marriage, so he’ll be happy to help her build hers, right?

Amber Sitterly is Sophie’s cousin. Amber and her daughter, Heather, begin working for Sophie once she gets her factory up and running, but just because they’re family doesn’t mean all is right in paradise. Amber has a victim mentality about all aspects of her life, nothing is good enough for her, she deserves more than she gets, and she shouldn’t have to work hard for any of it. Heather supports her mother, depleting her savings to give her mother what she wants, but Heather has bigger dreams. She wants to get away from her mother and her negative influence and make something more of her life. Heather works hard and sees working for Sophie as an amazing learning opportunity, as long as Amber doesn’t screw it up for both of them. Amber wouldn’t do anything to undermine Heather or hurt Sophie’s business, right?

And then there’s Dugan. He’s a sexy tai chi instructor who might be just the relaxing no-strings man that Sophie needs. He’s simple and good in bed and seems to be willing to keep their relationship in the “with benefits but no emotional attachments” category. At the same time, he seems to know a lot about her business, and he’s always butting in with advice that she didn’t ask for. When it turns out that Dugan’s more than a pretty face, Sophie has trouble fighting the urge to cut her losses and move on.

This is book 4 in the Blackberry Island novels, and despite having not read any of the other novels, I was able to follow the story line without confusion. Actually, this book was so engaging that I may be picking up the other books in the series the next time that I get a chance. My one issue, if you can call it that, is that these characters are prone to making the same mistakes over and over again, which stretches the believability aspect a little. But that was it. If you are looking for a good escapist novel over the next few weeks, this one would be a good option.

Disclaimer: None needed this time. I picked up this title from the library pre-quarantine.

My rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_icon2 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could probably recommend to family and close friends.  They may not like everything that’s in it, but they’re not going to start sending you cards with holy scripture written in them as messages to get you back on the path of righteousness after reading them either.

This was a great book but it definitely has a few steamy scenes. Unless you know the person, I would be cautious about a recommendation without a heads up about the steam-factor.

The High Season by Judy Blundell

Happy July Kittens!

This week I’ve got a great beach read for you!  Judy Blundell is going to take you to the shores of the Hamptons and put you in the mood to sit by the water and read for hours.  This book is already out, so grab a copy before you hit the beach.  I hope you love it!


Title: The High Season

Author: Judy BlundellTheHighSeason

Author Website:

ISBN: 9780525508717

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: May 22, 2018

Genre: Literary Fiction

Buy the Book: Amazon   Barnes and Noble

The High Season is Judy Blundell’s first work of fiction for adults, following on the success of her 2008 National Book Award for Young People for What I Saw and How I Lied. The story follows Ruth Beamish, her sort-of-but-not-officially ex-husband, and their daughter Jem, through a summer season on a small island off the Hamptons called North Fork. The Beamish family has a beautiful perfect summer home on the Fork, but in order to afford the upkeep on the house, they have to rent it out every summer while they move to less-than-perfect accommodations. This summer, their renter is a socialite named Adeline Clay. At first, Clay and her stepson Lucas staying at the house seems like the answer to a prayer. They pay for the entire summer up front and Ruth enjoys the solvency, but as the summer goes on, not all is well on North Fork. Ruth begins to face bitter battles at work, her daughter is being secretive about a new boy in her life, and her once-friendly ex-husband is spending a lot of time with Adeline when Ruth needs him. What is going on here? Is she losing everything that matters to her to this interloper from the city? She already gave up her house, what else will she lose to Adeline? And can someone as average as Ruth defy someone as powerful as Adeline and survive unscathed?

This was a beautifully written story about friendship, love, and the curve balls life can throw our way. At the heart of the story is Ruth, affectionately called Ruthie, who finds herself at the mercy of circumstances that she cannot control and certainly does not deserve. This story had me ready to cry at a moment’s notice. The story alternates between Ruthie and several other characters on the island for the summer, including her daughter Jem and her co-worker Doe. Jem is a teenaged girl learning her own lessons about love and friendship and she will have a lot of growing up to do as the summer progresses. Doe, real name Dora, is an aspiring social-climber who is willing to cross ethical lines to pull herself up in the world. She comes to have a hand in almost every storyline in the book, and despite her less than true north moral compass, you come to root for all of the underdogs in this story, and she is one of the best.

The High Season has everything you could want in a summer release: drama, love, betrayal, high society, and rogue inflatables. Stick with it as the story builds in complexity, and you will be rewarded with an extremely satisfying conclusion.

Disclaimer: I received this title from the publisher through the BookishFirst program in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

I so desperately wanted to give 5 glasses of lemonade for this one, but there are enough curse words to stop it from gaining the kind of recommend-ability that librarians need to be able to recommend a book to anyone and everyone. Nonetheless, this book has a little bit of everything for everyone and will be a solid option for potential beach readers everywhere.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

Hello Kittens! This week I’ve got a treat for you in Rebecca Serle’s The Dinner List. We’ve all pondered the question of who we would like to have dinner/a conversation with, dead or alive, but most of us have probably not had those people show up to our birthday dinner. The concept on this one was original and there were plenty of emotional twists to keep the story moving at a good pace. This one is great for those who enjoy an emotional read with protagonists in their 30s…and also fans of Audrey Hepburn (are there non-fans of A.H.? Is that even a thing?). You’ve got a bit of a wait until this one gets published in September, but go ahead and add it to your TBR list now.

Title: The Dinner ListThe Dinner List

Author: Rebecca Serle

Author website:

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publish date: 09/11/2018 (projected)

ISBN: 9781250295200

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

To be honest, I first fell in love with the concept for this book. The main character, Sabrina (yes, like that one), makes a list of people she would want to have dinner with, dead or alive, at the urging of her best friend Jessica. She doesn’t think much about it, really just doing it to keep Jessica from forcing her to make a dream board, but then, several years later, she enters a restaurant for her 30th birthday, expecting to see only Jessica, and is surprised to see an extra 4 guests. Seated before her are her ex-fiancee, her deceased father, a beloved former professor, and Audrey Hepburn. I immediately made my own list, just in case.

What follows is an emotionally fraught story about love, forgiveness, and growing up. Over the course of the night, the story of why all of these people have gathered here is revealed, with chapters rotating between a decade in the past and the current dinner. The story of the dinner party is equally as interesting as the retelling of the past, in fact, at times it reads like two completely different books, which could be jarring for some readers. I thought the story was taking a predictable course, but then a surprise twist about ¾ of the way through absolutely changed how I viewed everything about the main subplot regarding Sabrina and her ex, Tobias. By the end, it was late at night and I was in tears. It was just that good.

Comparisons have been made between this book and Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, but I think this story was a little less obtuse than Sweetbitter was, which for me made it a more pleasant read. The Dinner List has a writing style that is introspective, but fairly simple, which leaves it open to a wide audience. For those readers who have never experienced magical realism before, I think this would make a great introduction.

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher through BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

For The Dinner List, there are a few bedroom scenes. Nothing too steamy, just your now-somewhat-typical 20s relationship.

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

Hello Kittens!

Long time, no post, I know.  I have been reading faster than I have been writing, but I am happy to say I’ve got the next month of posts all ready to go for you and I hope you’ll enjoy them!  We’ll start out with a dark and sexy option to get your summer off to a steamy start.  This one comes out in a few days and while it has a limited audience, it is well-written and gripping.  Without further ado…


Title: Tell Me Lies

Author: Carola Lovering


Publisher: Atria Books

Publish Date: 06/12/18

Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Debut Author

Author Website:

Author Instagram:

Buy the book: Amazon   Barnes and Noble

Carola Lovering’s first novel concerns the life of a young woman named Lucy and her first experiences with love. Like so many, Lucy has a lot to learn about what love is and what it isn’t. As she strikes out on her own, leaving her East coast life for a West coast college, we learn that she is fleeing a secret about her home life that has been haunting her for four years. It’s easy to blame everything that happens next on that secret and its impact on her life, but it’s too easy. As Lucy meets Stephen, a young, slightly older man, early on in her first days at Baird College, she is swept up in a completely new lifestyle of partying, drugs, and sex that will unravel her life as she knows it.

This story is a coming of age tale for Lucy, who will face secrets, lies, and emotional distress over the course of the story, covering several years of her life. Her story will be recognizable to so many young women today. Everyone has dated a guy similar to Stephen, or knows a friend who did. The story will infuriate you as you silently plead for Lucy to get a clue about what is going on and get her life together, but it feels true to life.

The story is told from Lucy and Stephen’s point of view, alternating chapters and flitting between the early 2010s and present day. The story is broken into four parts, although they are not particularly distinct from each other. If you’re looking for likeable characters, this novel is not for you. You may pity Lucy, but you probably won’t think highly of her for most of the book. While Stephen is clearly the villain, Lucy certainly has her faults. Lucy’s musings on love serve as an interesting contradiction to Stephen’s thoughts on relationships. The juxtaposition is very reminiscent of predator-prey relationships.

This story won’t give you the warm and fuzzies, but the lessons it imparts are important. This was a good debut for this author, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her work in the future. That being said, with its emphasis on sex and drugs, this book will not be for everyone. I would recommend it to those who like their women’s fiction gritty and raw and want a focus on the strength of women’s friendships.

And lastly, while I don’t judge books based on them, I love the cover for this one.

Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

My rating:

lemonade_icon1 glass of lemonade= a book that can only be recommended to someone whose reading taste you know well, like a best friend.  There may be a fair amount of curse words, spicy sex scenes, or potentially morally repugnant behavior.  This does not mean that the book is bad, just that the audience might be a little more limited.