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A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This suspense novel absolutely drew me in with its gorgeous cover. A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas is a suspenseful drama that follows trauma psychotherapist Ruth. After her son Tom goes missing, she is assigned a patient, Dan, that reminds her so much of him-appearance and all. Desperate to help Dan as she was unable to help her son, she struggles to keep the rigidness in place that she normally exhibits with her patients as the professional lines start to blur. 

I thought this book was fine, but I was kind of hoping for more. The thriller element didn't really come into play until towards the very end and until that point the plot moved fairly slowly. Much of the story was more emotional, focusing on Ruth's grief, the relationship she has with her family, and how these things impact her work as a therapist. A lot of pieces of the story didn't come together until the very end, so throughout most of the book I was wondering why they were relevant. I'm glad I finished it as the ending was worth it, but there were many times I struggled to keep going.

I was very engaged by her patient Dan, and found it interesting how he referenced so many movies throughout his treatment. I also liked the added dynamics from Ruth's relationship with her daughter, ex-husband, and trusted adviser. 

Being that this book does center around trauma therapy, there are some triggering elements mentioned, such as rape, suicide, self-harm, child disappearances, and sudden death.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Pamela Dorman Books for a copy of this read! A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas is out now!

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I don't think I quite knew what I was getting myself into with this book, but I definitely didn't hate it. In at the Deep End by Kate Davies follows Julia as she realizes she might in fact be a lesbian after realizing that sex with men is always terrible for her. This book was definitely explicit, so be aware if you are taking a copy of it with you into public! 

Julia throws herself headfirst into the world of lesbianism, experimenting both sexually and emotionally with women and finding herself more satisfied than ever before. When she meets the alluring Sam, she falls head over heels, but there is one problem...Sam doesn't like being monogamous. And she might also be more than a little controlling.

This was an excellent read for pride month! It was rewarding seeing Julia find herself and achieve happiness for the first time in a long time. I loved the supportive friend group that Julia had throughout the story, and I wish I had more people like that in my life! I also really loved that Julia had a super commonplace job as a civil servant. She wasn't in fashion, or an executive, or anything fancy...she was just an average woman, and I think that made it easy for readers to identify with her. I also really liked the side stories happening in the book.

I think we have all dated a Sam at some point or another...someone that makes us furiously happy one minute then puts off red flags all over the place the next. We don't want to lose those moments of happiness, but also have to decide if all the negatives that come with it are worth it. You know the relationship isn't really healthy, but it's just so hard to leave. This might be challenging for some to read if you have had a Sam (I know I have) and have traumatic memories associated with that relationship.

I was super satisfied with the ending! I did take off a star because some parts just made me squirm. I was proud of Julia's sexual liberation, but sometimes it was just a little too much to read about if you aren't typically into explicit literature. I think the point could have come across just as well with a little less graphic detail.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an ARC of this read! In at the Deep End by Kate Davies is out now!

Literary Book Gifts Writing Gloves

I was so excited when Literary Book Gifts reached out to me asking if I wanted to try out their Writing Gloves. I am always cold, my hands included, so a product that allowed me to be a little warmer while still maintaining full functionality of my hands to type was super appealing.

The gloves themselves are SO soft and comfortable, and are made from a blend of cashmere, cotton, polyester, and microfiber. They are tight enough to stay on and not be a bulky hindrance, but also won't cut off your circulation. I do have very small hands, so they were a bit big for me, but I can see them fitting the majority of people perfectly. 

 The gloves come in 13 different colors, ranging from neutrals to super colorful. I chose charcoal, which is a dark grey color, since I didn't want them to clash with anything. They allow your thumbs and fingers to stick out, not inhibiting your ability to type in any way. This also allows you to still use your touch screen devices as well! They are excellent quality and feel like they would hold up for a very long time, even with daily use.

Even if you don't have to type regularly, these would be great for tons of other activities as well, like crafting, writing notes, or even as everyday winter gloves when you wanted to keep your fingers free! There is a bit of sticker shock with the price, since they retail for US $52. If this is something you can see yourself using every day though, I think it could definitely be justified.

Thank you so much to Literary Book Gifts for sending me a pair of gloves to review! If you would like to purchase your own pair, you can find them here. They also sell other bookish merchandise, like totes and tshirts! I really want to get my hands on the Moby Dick tshirt and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland tote!

Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I'm normally not a big fan of historical fiction, but being that this was a Woodstock-era, hippie book, I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately it fell flat for me. Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser is a YA historical fiction that follows Lucas, a recent high school graduate who is trying to dodge the draft for Vietnam after getting rejected from college. Not only is he draft-dodging, but his girlfriend has moved away for the summer and hasn't really written. Lucas has to struggle with his love life and his potential military future, all while tripping on drugs and dealing with his chaotic family.

It was really hard to push through this one. It just dragged for me. The only parts I really enjoyed were the letter correspondence and the times that Lucas was with Tinsley. The Woodstock portion of the book definitely let me down, and I was sad to see it was only a short piece of the story. I thought Lucas was a really annoying character and wasn't doing anything productive with his life. I kept wanting him to get it together and he never really did. I wasn't particularly fond of most of the minor characters either.

I would probably categorize this book more as New Adult than YA. There were definitely drug references, as well as mentions of suicide and a lot more sex scenes and references than I was anticipating. 

I honestly am surprised I finished this book. I had high hopes for it since I love this era, but unfortunately it really let me down. It looks like it has great reviews on Goodreads, so it appears I'm the opinion outlier on this one!

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for an ARC of this read! Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser is out now!

Lip Balms I'm Loving


Everyone talks about making sure your lips are hydrated during the winter so they don't get dried out and chapped, but no one really emphasizes the importance of lip care in the summer as well! Today I wanted to highlight some of my favorite lip products that I've been keeping in rotation lately.

skyn ICELAND Berry Lip Fix: This product I got as a sample in my Ipsy bag, and I'm so glad I did because I don't think I would have ever discovered it otherwise! It is vegan and cruelty-free, which I love. This product contains wintered red algae to help reinforce the skin barrier to repair and hydrate, and the berry smell is the perfect scent without being overpowering. 

sara happ The Lip Slip One Luxe Balm: This is my go to when I want a little extra glam with my lip balm! This balm gives your lips a great glow with a little shimmer. It's a very luxurious product, and it's not tested on animals! Since this one is a thicker, stickier product, it does need to be worn alone. I also recommend the sara happ Lip Scrubs!

Sun Bum Sunscreen Lip Balm: If you're out in the sun a lot, you definitely need to pick this one up! All of Sun Bum's products are cruelty-free, gluten-free, and vegan. This lip balm has SPF 30, along with aloe and Vitamin E, so you know your lips are protected from the sun's harsh rays. My favorite is the Key Lime scent!

NARS Orgasm Afterglow Lip Balm: This is another great lip balm to wear alone. In the iconic Orgasm shade, it contains antioxidants and a hydrating complex to nurture your lips with a subtle color payoff. Plus the packaging is gorgeous!

Nivea Milk & Honey Lip Care: This is the balm I slather on before bed every night. It is a little greasy, so I only use it at night to ensure that my lips are soft and hydrated when I wake up in the morning!

So there you have it, all of the lip balms I've been using and loving! Do you have a lip product that you've been swearing by lately? I'd love to know!

Golden State of Mind

I was super quiet on this blog for a while recently, but that's because I was in California! My husband and I flew out to the Golden State for a little over a week to experience some of the things we've heard so much about.


Pixar Pier and Pixar Pal-A-Roundl
Our first stop was 4 days at Disneyland. As a former cast member, I love all things Disney, but had never made it out to the original park. We stayed at the Paradise Pier hotel on property, and had park hopper tickets to both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. I was pretty amazed at how much they have crammed into such a small space here. They have multiple attractions that WDW doesn't have that I really enjoyed, like an Alice in Wonderland ride and a Monsters, Inc. ride. The Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout ride is my new favorite Disney ride by far. It was so much fun! I wasn't sure how I would feel about it since I love the original Tower of Terror, but I was pleasantly surprised. I finally got to see World of Color, which I have been hearing about for ages, and it really was as beautiful as everyone says.

I absolutely loved the Pixar Pier area and was super impressed by Cars Land. I do think a few areas of the parks were underutilized, but I find that to be pretty true with most theme parks. I was pretty disappointed because Sleeping Beauty Castle was still undergoing refurbishment. This had been going on since January and I had really been hoping the walls would be down by the time we got there, but no such luck. Overall we had a fantastic time, but I still have to say I think I like Walt Disney World better than Disneyland! #sorrynotsorry


The Queen Mary
After Disneyland, we spent a night aboard the haunted Queen Mary ocean liner docked in Long Beach. I was actually a little disappointed by this piece of the trip unfortunately. The ship was cool, and there were some areas where I definitely felt wrong and super spooked, like the isolation ward and the engine room, but I had hoped for more than what it ended up being. Also, the walls between rooms are super thin, and people were moving furniture in the restaurant above our room all night long. There wasn't much to do, and a lot of areas were closed off for a conference happening on board.


The gorgeous Hollywood Roosevelt
Finally, we headed to LA for a few days, where we stayed at The Hollywood Roosevelt. This hotel was everything old Hollywood glamour should be. The pool area was absolutely gorgeous, and we had a room with a balcony overlooking it. There was surprisingly less to do in LA than we realized, and actually flew through our list of must-dos pretty quickly! We did the Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive, Griffith Observatory/The Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and saw Marilyn Monroe's grave. We also went to two amazing themed bars: Scum and Villainy Cantina (a Star Wars bar) and Beetle House (a Tim Burton bar) which were some of my favorite parts of the trip. On our last night, the cast of Criminal Minds actually had their series wrap party at our hotel, so it was fun getting to watch all of that happening from our balcony.


Mr. Mayor inside Beetle House
We also ate a lot of incredible food on our trip (yes, I did throw Keto out the window while we were away, but I'm back on it now!) and had a really amazing time. It was so nice to get away from real life for a while, even if we had to adjust to a new time zone to do it! Now we're looking forward to our next upcoming adventures, and I can't wait to share them with you here! Any guesses where we're going next?

Spices and Seasons by Rinku Bhattacharya


As I've gotten older, I've started to fall more and more in love with cooking. Especially doing keto, I eat 90% of my meals at home, so I love experimenting and tweaking recipes to keep things interesting. Because of that, I obviously had to jump at the chance to be part of the blog tour for an exciting cookbook! 

Synopsis


Cover Art Courtesy of
Rachel's Random Resources
Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals. Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.

My Review

The book itself is high quality and full of glossy pictures that just make your mouth water! There is a wide variety of recipes that fit a ton of different occasions, ranging from super simple to elaborate. I love that the book also codes each recipe, allowing for those with dietary restrictions to easily find recipes that work for them. It has a fantastic introduction section that helps you learn the basic concepts of Indian cooking as well.

This past weekend, I tried the recipe for the Herb and Spice Roasted Chicken. Instead of roasting it in the oven however, we wrapped the chicken in foil packets and stuck it on the grill to reduce the cooking time. It was absolutely delicious and incredibly simple to make! I didn't even have time to take a picture of it before we dove right in. I can't wait to try out more recipes in this fantastic cookbook. My only reason for taking off a star is that some of the ingredients are a little obscure, and some recipes require just a tiny amount of an expensive ingredient that has to be bought in large quantities.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


About the Author


Photo Courtesy of
Rachel's Random Resources
Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”

Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.


Thanks so much to Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of this beautiful cookbook, and for allowing me to be part of this blog tour! You can purchase Spices and Seasons here (US) and here (UK).

Next Level Basic by Stassi Schroeder

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Fairly recently, I discovered Vanderpump Rules and fell in love. Stassi Schroeder is my favorite character on the show, so when I saw she had written a book I knew I had to pick it up. Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook is a tongue in cheek self help book meets autobiography.

From social media guidelines and the importance of your #OOTD, to relationships and friendships, Stassi talks you through the rules she has lived by in a variety of areas, sharing stories from both her childhood and Vanderpump. There were all sorts of fun things interspersed through the book as well, like a drink recipe, a musical theater playlist, and more!

I really adored this book. Yes, some of Stassi's "rules" were straight up ridiculous, but throughout the book she really emphasizes owning YOUR own breed of basic. Numerous times, she says that something isn't for her, but if you love it then go and rock it. So many people say you have to be this way or wear that thing, but Stassi gives readers permission to truly own their basic and whatever it is they are passionate about while explaining the rationale behind her own personal basic. While reading this, I discovered that I have so much in common with Stassi, like our shared love of Ranch dressing and fascination with true crime. I laughed a lot, related to her words, and appreciated the encouragement to truly be myself.

This was a fairly short book, and it really left me wanting more. It is the perfect book to read outside this summer with a nice cold glass of wine (which is exactly how I read it!). If you love books written by The Betches or Babe Walker, definitely pick this up!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars