WWII & HOLOCAUST MEMOIR: Do Not Disclose Review

41YPW2p3e8SSummary (from the publisher): Leora, a juvenile court judge, wife, mother, and daughter, is caught in the routine of work, taking care of her family and aging parents. But she’s also a second-generation Holocaustsurvivor. It’s an identity she didn’t understand was hers until she accidentally discovered a secret file of handwritten notes addressed to her father. A further discovery of a seemingly random WWII postcard in a thrift store sets her on a collision course with the past in this lyrical memoir about secrets hidden within secrets, both present-day and buried deep within wartime Europe.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts

Over the past year or so, I’ve become a growing memoir reader. Having always been interested in learning about the Holocaust (I minored in Holocaust Studies in college & will now be teaching about the Holocaust as a huge part of my school’s ELA curriculum), I was instantly attracted to Leora Krygier’s new memoir, Do Not Disclose. Leora Krygier is a second-generation Holocaust survivor. I should perhaps should blame myself for misreading, but I went into Do Not Disclose thinking that the book would follow Leora Krygier diving into her father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor based on the synopsis. Instead, the book mostly follows Leora’s quest to connect with and figure out the story behind a WWII-era postcard written by a British solider. The book transitions between Leora’s investigation behind the soldier, A.T. Maynard, and personal anecdotes from her childhood leading up to her adulthood and a surprising family secret. That being said, Leora knows that her father is a Holocaust survivor, but when it comes to her family and their experience, the book more so focuses on the direction of their lives after the Holocaust. 

I really enjoyed learning about Leora’s family, specifically her parents’ immigration stories to Israel during the WWII era and then to the United States, her father’s Holocaust experience, and the affair. I wish the book focused more on Leora’s own family life – like Leora’s daughter and as Leora recognizes herself, it was easier for Leora to focus on the British solider’s story than her family’s own past and trauma. I found myself sometimes confused with Leora ‘connecting the dots’ in A.T. Maynard’s story, losing track of people & places key to that part of the story.

The book is a very fast read, and can be easily read in one siting. As I’ve learned from studying the Holocaust, it can be extremely difficult for survivors to open up about their experience, even demonstrated by Leora’s encounters with her father and his actions after the Holocaust, but I wanted more about his story and perhaps for Leora to write more about how her father’s experience affected his decisions and their family life. However, through Leora Krygier’s writing, it is clear, especially near the end of the book, that going through her family’s past was really difficult for Leora and she still struggles to understand the decisions made. 

I recommend Do No Disclose if you are a fan of books following hidden stories from the World War II era. The book provides an interesting portrait of the aftereffects & trauma of the Holocaust on Leora’s family. 

Do Not Disclose comes out on August 24th, 2021. 

This review is based on an advance reader copy provided by the publisher. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts & opinions. 

What are some of your favorite memoirs? What books have you enjoyed about the Holocaust and WWII? Is Do Not Disclose on your TBR? Share in the comments! 

Recent Reads & Currently Reading: August Review Round Up #2

I’m back with a mini review round up a little sooner than expected, but I wanted to try and stay up-to-date with my summer reading – even though I feel all over the place with reading right now between advance review copies for books coming out in the fall and some library books I have checked out. You know it’s bad when I’m balancing three books right now – I’m currently reading an ARC of Leora Krygier’s Do Not Disclose, Elin Hilderbrand’s Here’s to Us (I usually fly through her books but feeling meh about this one plot wise), and because I always need a contemporary romance, The Dating Plan by Sara Desai. 

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé – Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades has gotten so much hype across my bookstagram & after being selected as the Bad on Paper Podcast August book pick, I knew I needed to check this YA thriller out. The book follows two Black teenagers at a private boarding school, Devon and Chiamaka, as a Gossip Girl-like anonymous texter called Aces starts to send out secrets about Devon and Chiamaka that threaten to ruin any college prospects and their reputations. I highly recommend going into this one knowing little as possible, but the book tackles some current conversations about racism and discrimination and had queer representation. My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary – After loving Beth O’Leary’s The Switch earlier this year, I wanted to get my hands on her 2021 release, The Road Trip, following two exes who are forced to road trip to a friend’s wedding in Scotland with Addie’s sister, Dylan’s best friend, and a wedding guest who needed a ride. It took me about halfway through The Road Trip to really get into it,  and I definitely liked the “then” parts about Addie and Dylan’s life before their break up then the actual road trip (although Addie had the BEST taste in road trip music). Similar to The Flatshare, The Road Trip has heavier themes (trigger warning for rape and mental health) compared to the book’s ‘lighthearted’ road trip premise. I loved Addie’s relationship with her sister, and I loved the one liners from Deb and Addie’s family at the end of some chapters, but I could NOT STAND Marcus throughout – I know he was going through his own battles, but I could not stand his selfishness and sabotage. My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

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HYPED BOOKS & MORE: August 2021 Recent TBR Additions

Another month, another round of books I’ve recently added to my TBR! I haven’t added too many books to my TBR since my July TBR Additions post, but I have added a few hyped books, new releases, and an anticipated 2022 read since then. 

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – I feel like The Inheritance Games has been all over Instagram lately (and maybe even Book Tok?). I loved Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ Debutantes duology in 2019, and The Inheritance Games seems like an even bigger mystery series. The main character receives an inheritance from a billionaire, but in order to get the money, she has to enter the mysterious Hawthorne house and solve a bunch of puzzles (and duke it out with Tobias Hawthorne’s grandsons). 

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams – Another book that I have seen absolutely EVERYWHERE book blogging wise, the hype has finally gotten to me to read Tia Williams’ Seven Days in June. So many of my most trusted book recommendation sources (aka Becca Freeman and Hannah Orenstein on Instagram) said Seven Days in June is the perfect romance hangover cure to a book like Robinne Lee’s The Idea of You

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10 SUMMER READS: July & August Review Round Up #1

As the avid summer reader that I am, I have been reading SO many books over the past three months, but I am SO not writing reviews as much as I am reading, oops. I have been reaching more for the full review format more than usual lately, but I am here today to share my thoughts I have books I have loved over the past few weeks, including a 2021 favorite, some really cute YA reads, and more beach reads. 

The Guncle by Steve Rowley – The Guncle is absolutely a must-read perfect for the summer – and let’s be honest, any point in the year. This book is absolutely worth all the hype it’s been getting, following an ex-sitcom star who takes in his niece and nephew for the summer when their mother (& Patrick’s best friend) passes away and their father enters rehab. When I say that I laughed out loud so many times while reading The Guncle, I seriously mean that I laughed over so many scenes and dialogue in this one – mostly over Grant and Patrick’s conversations and what was lost in translation.There is an emotional element to it with the loss of Grant and Maisie’s mother, but I loved the balance between the heart-warmness, heartbreak, and humor. My Rating: 5/5 Stars

It’s Kind of A Cheesy Love Story by Lauren Morill – It’s Kind of a Cheesy Love Story was such a super cute YA read, following sixteen year old Beck who starts her first job in the pizza shop she was literally born in. This was a really fun & light read. I loved the atmosphere of the pizza shop & seeing Beck grow close with her work friends. My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Between You, Me, and the Honeybees by Amelia Diane Coombs – Between You, Me, and the Honeybees was another really cute & light YA read. The book follows recent high school graduate Josie, who wants to stay home & help run her family’s honey business instead of going away to college. Sidenote that I really like YA books that take place in the period between high school and the early college years. Josie also develops feelings for the son of the rival honey business and has to hide both her relationship & post grad plans away from her family. I devoured this book in under four hours, having loved the unique setting. The book also has great anxiety & mental health representation. My Rating: 4/5 Stars

From Scratch by Tembi Locke – Everyone knows that I’ve had so much wanderlust over the past year, thus looking for ways to travel through books. Enter Tembi Locke’s From Scratch, following her marriage to her Sicilian husband, Saro, and the years after Saro dies from cancer.  This book was really emotional, but I loved the storytelling, as Tembi Locke transitions between her relationship & marriage with Saro and the summers after spent in Sicily with her daughter and Saro’s mother. I had no idea until I followed Tembi Locke on Instagram that the book is currently being filmed for a Netflix TV show adaptation! My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

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FAVORITE ELIN HILDERBRAND BOOK: The Blue Bistro Review

8377676Summary (from the publisher): Adrienne Dealey has spent the past six years working for hotels in exotic resort towns. This summer she has decided to make Nantucket home. Left flat broke by her ex-boyfriend, she is desperate to earn some fast money. When the desirable Thatcher Smith, owner of Nantucket’s hottest restaurant, is the only one to offer her a job, she wonders if she can get by with no restaurant experience. Thatcher gives Adrienne a crash course in the business…and they share an instant attraction. But there is a mystery about their situation: what is it about Fiona, the Blue Bistro’s chef, that captures Thatcher’s attention again and again? And why does such a successful restaurant seem to be in its final season before closing its doors for good? Despite her uncertainty, Adrienne must decide whether to open her heart for the first time, or move on, as she always does.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

You probably know that I’ve been on an Elin Hilderbrand kick in 2021. It’s my reading goal over the next few years to read her entire backlist – I say a few years only because I feel like I’ll save her books for summer since they are the PERFECT summertime reads for their ‘summer on Nantucket’ setting (although I do plan on reading her Paradise and Winter series later this year) and she will be only publishing three more Nantucket books before her retirement. I read this recent article about her retirement and it kind’ve made me hopeful that we might still get more books from her, just not one every year or necessarily set on Nantucket? 

Elin Hilderbrand fangirling set aside, while I’ve read 11 of her books so far (I’m hoping to get at least two more this month), The Blue Bistro is by far my favorite out of all her books, with 28 Summers and Summer of ’69 at the #2 and 3 spots. The book follows Adrienne, who has spent most of her twenties working in hotels across the world and after another not-so great break-up, finds herself on Nantucket for the summer. Almost as soon as she arrives, Adrienne receives a job offer from a man named Thatcher, the co-owner of Nantucket’s best restaurant that will be closing its doors at the end of summer. Adrienne soon finds herself caught up in life at The Blue Bistro, a relationship with Thatcher, and figuring out the mystery behind the restaurant’s chef, Fiona, and the reason why The Blue Bistro will close at summer’s end. 

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Happy 23rd Birthday to Me: 23 Favorite Books of 2021 So Far

My 23rd birthday is tomorrow & I plan on of course celebrating on the beach with a good book. It feels crazy to think that I’ve been book blogging since I was 18 aka meaning I’m coming up on my five year blog anniversary in early 2022 (!!). I also just read my 22nd birthday post from last year and it is crazy to think how much has changed – since then, I’ve graduated from grad school, had more ‘normal-life-like’ hangouts with friends & family, started & finished my first teaching job at the high school level, and will begin teaching middle school English Language Arts full time in the fall! 

To bring some birthday celebration to the blog this week, I’m going to be sharing 23 of my favorite books of 2021 so far. At the time of publishing this post, I’ve read 104 books, which is the most amount of books I’ve ever read at this point in the year. In favorites posts, I usually sharing some thoughts on the books I’ve chosen, but I’m just going to share the books by cover, since I’ve already talked about my spring favorites & my summer favorite reads will be coming in September. I’ve semi-categorized the grid by YA, contemporary romance, and contemporary reads.. and the 2 mysteries, 1 nonfiction, & 1 fantasy I have here. 

What have been some of your favorite books of 2021 so far? Have you read any of my favorites? Share in the comments!

HOLLYWOOD MEETS FAKE DATING: While We Were Dating Review

51bDb0Bz9cL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Summary (from the publisher): Ben Stephens has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she’s also down to earth and considerate, and he can’t help flirting a little…

Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she’s booked her next movie. However, she didn’t expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation?

But their lighthearted banter takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, and they reveal truths about themselves to each other, truths they’ve barely shared with those closest to them.

When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

I just started reading Jasmine Guillory’s Wedding Date companion series last year. This series is often recommended as a ‘starter series’ for readers who are just reading contemporary romance for the first time, & I’ve been dedicating some of my reading for the past year or so to catching up on ‘classic’ books in the genre. You might know that I’ve read this series a little bit out of order – I started with book #5, Party of Two, then read The Wedding Date (#1) ,The Wedding Party (#3), & Royal Holiday (#4), and now I just finished reading the latest installment, While Were Dating (sidenote that I feel like I basically know the premise and what happens in book #2/The Proposal at this point instead of reading – I may pick it up one day so I can actually say that I’ve read every book in the series). 

Rambling somewhat set aside, having read 5 out of the 6 books in this series, I can say that the most recent releases, Party of Two and While We Were Dating, are Jasmine Guillory’s strongest books. Her writing style has grown so much since the earlier books, the plots are both unique AND well executed while still including some classic romance tropes & a story arc that is true to each Wedding Date book (not to mention that both Party of Two & While We Were Dating are the two steamiest in the series.). If you have yet to read any of Jasmine Guillory’s books, I highly recommend reading these two.  And now on to focusing just on While We Were Dating

While We Were Dating follows Hollywood star, Anna, and ad executive, Ben (who is also the brother of Theo, book #3/The Wedding Party’s male lead). Ben and Anna hit it off on an ad campaign Anna is starring in & Ben is leading and when Anna has a family emergency, Ben helps her out big time & the two spend so much time getting know one another (both as individuals & in a romance sense, of course). When Anna’s manager encourages Anna to be in a relationship in hopes of gaining media attention that will help her land her biggest role yet, Anna and Ben take their chemistry into a fake relationship. 

While We Were Dating takes on two of my favorite tropes, workplace romance and fake dating, in such a refreshing way. I liked how Anna and Ben spend the first half of the book actually getting to know each other and then find themselves in a ‘fake’ relationship, since the two already have pretty strong feelings for one another. The book also feels really relevant and current, incorporating storylines surrounding therapy, anxiety, body image, race, and relationships that didn’t feel forced whatsoever. Similar to the other books in the series, While We Were Dating features Black protagonists (both Anna and Ben identify as Black) and on a lighter note, features so much food, which has become a fun hallmark of Jasmine Guillory’s books. I liked the cameos from characters in the other companion books – while yes, you’ll get a teeny bit spoiled with some of the relationship outcomes (this is a happily ever after type series), you don’t need to read the other books to read this one. 

I highly recommend reading While We Were Dating if you are craving a binge-worthy and well-written contemporary romance! I believe While We Were Dating is the last book in the Wedding Date series, & I’m really looking forward to seeing what Jasmine Guillory writes next! 

Have you read While We Were Dating? What is your favorite book in the Wedding Date series? Best contemporary romance you’ve read this summer? Share in the comments! 

2021 FAVE SEQUEL: Isn’t It Bromantic? Review

Summary (from the publisher):

55470802With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikovas has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Is it really that much of a surprise that this book was a full 5 star read for me? Ever since I read The Bromance Book Club, I had been hoping for an installment following The Russian, or Vlad as we get to know him in Isn’t It Bromantic?. Lyssa Kay Adams announced around the publication of book #2, Undercover Bromance, that the fourth book in this companion series would focus on the funny and super lovable hockey star.

 Isn’t It Bromantic? is similar to The Bromance Book Club (the first book) in the sense that the book follows two marriages on the breaking point. However, what is super unique about Vlad and Elena’s marriage compared to Gavin and Thea’s marriage is that Vlad and Elena have a marriage of convenience and have spent little to no time with one another since they were married six years ago. As soon as they married, Elena fled to Chicago to get her journalism degree and crack the story her father was working on before he disappeared years ago, while Vlad became the best defenseman on Nashville’s pro hockey team. When Vlad suffers from an injury in a playoff game, Elena returns to Nashville to help take care of him and the two begin to heal their relationship.

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INDIE YA ROMANCE: 21 Questions Review

21_questionsSummary (from the publisher):

In Laguna Beach, California, sixteen-year-old Kendra Dimes is preparing for the 2010 USA Surfing Prime West. She’ll be competing this year in honor of her brother, who was a surfer too, but who died from a drug overdose. Kendra has suffered anxiety attacks ever since her brother’s death, and surfing is what’s been helping her heal.

Brock Parker is the new bad boy at school; he deals drugs to the high school clientele for his parents, who work for a Mexican drug lord. Though Brock and Kendra come from two different worlds, sparks fly when they meet at the homecoming dance—their attraction is magnetic. When they start a game of 21 Questions one night, they begin to learn more about each other—and, surprisingly, about themselves too. But some questions aren’t answered with the whole truth; after all, Brock can’t tell Kendra what his parents do for a living.

As Kendra and Brock experience all of life’s most exciting firsts, they prove that even when life throws you the perfect storm, you can make it through and come out stronger than before. 21 Questions is a coming-of-age journey packed with passion and heartbreak, risk and romance.

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’m always up for a YA romance, which led me to Alexandria Rose Rizik’s YA debut, 21 Questions. This indie read takes on the forbidden romance & opposites attract tropes, as rising surfing star, good girl Kendra finds herself entangled with school bad boy, Brock, who is known under-the-radar for being one of the school’s biggest drug dealers.

I binge-read 21 Questions while floating around the pool in one day! You definitely have to suspend your belief going into this book – maybe call me naive, but I couldn’t get over how drug use seems so common in Brock and even Kendra’ social circles, and there is an entire storyline involving Brock and his family working for one of the biggest’s drug dealers on the West Coast. Kendra is VERY much your classic good girl – doesn’t curse or drink – but Brock gets in the way of her athletic goals. I was kind’ve hoping the book didn’t go in this direction, but at the same time, I appreciated that it wasn’t a complete happy-ever-after. The storyline is fast-paced and admittedly pretty predictable, but the ending (pre-epilogue) actually wasn’t what I was expecting. I think my favorite part of the book comes from the title’s inspiration, as Brock and Kendra often play 21 questions (where they ask each other random questions about their lives) to get to know each other more.

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20+ Book Reading Month: July 2021 Wrap Up

Another solid summer vacation month filled with so many books. I’m not even reading for quantity, I have just been genuinely been enjoying reading this summer and it’s the best feeling. 

I normally share my monthly wrap up during the week with my regular content, but I decided to save this wrap up for the last day in July because I’ve been reading more than I ever have before & wanted to make sure I have all the books I read this month included. At the time of publishing this post (I may or may not finish my current read today), I’ve read 98 books so far in 2021, and I’m 2 books away from my goal of reading at least 100 books this year. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to surpass the amount I read in 2020 (133 books) because I’m beginning my first full time teaching position in September (let’s be honest, part of the reason why this post is getting published today is because I accepted said job offer this week and have been getting prepared), but I do still have more summer vacation so I can see myself reading so much more than usual this year. 

I feel I’ve been repeating myself each month, but I read the most amount of books in July than I ever had with 21 books and one-novella. As always, I’ve listed each book with a star rating & I’ve either shared full or mini reviews already or have reviews coming for the books below. My favorites of the month were The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand and Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams. 

Indestructible Object by Mary McCoy | 4/5 Stars 

Beth & Amy by Virgina Kantra | 3.5/5

Heart & Seoul by Jen Frederick | 4/5

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand | 4/5

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane | 4.5/5

The Sixth Wedding (28 Summers sequel novella) by Elin Hilderbrand | 4/5 

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