Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Blog Tour - The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick

For the next four weeks, I'm excited to be spending each Tuesday with you as a stop on a blog tour. I'm especially excited this begins with The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick as this is a book that absolutely captivated me.

The story focuses on Mitchell. Mitchell's job is cutting off all the locks that couples leave on a bridge to profess their love for one another. This became a thing after a boy band filmed their "Lock Me Up With Your Love" music video there. This is a job he enjoys as he has soured on love. Mitchell is a single father to his young daughter Poppy and together they are grieving the loss of Poppy's mother/Mitchell's partner.

One day while Mitchell is going about his business, a woman falls off the bridge. Mitchell springs into action and rescues her. He is catapulted to instant hero fame, a status he definitely does not want. It also turns out this woman's family has been looking for her for the last year. He is connected with this woman's sister Liza as she wants to know what Mitchell knows and where her sister is. This includes finding and deciphering a message she left via a lock on the bridge. Mitchell just wants to step out of the story, but Liza asks for his help in the process, and things go from there.

Much of this story is driven by Mitchell. He is initially characterized as a grumpy man who hates love. What is slowly revealed is that Mitchell's story, actions, and feelings are far more complicated. This is slowly revealed as the story goes. So much of what drew me into this book was Mitchell. I wanted to know more, and I also found myself rooting for him! The beauty of Mitchell's story really comes in the way it is revealed. He writes letters to his partner Anita, as he reflects on their time as a couple and where he is now. I loved getting to see this side of him in this way.

In general, I was so captivated by the whole cast of characters. Poppy, the sisters, co-workers, and other folks add such depth and dynamics to the story. This was one of those books I couldn't read fast enough because I was so drawn in by the people! It was just beautifully written. I love when people drive plot, and this was so much that. This was such an unexpected and wonderful read. I was intrigued when I first read the summary of this one, and y'all, I just loved it. Again, this is one of those where I could rave 50 different ways, but I want you to stop reading this review, so you can find your way to this book!

Also, the best news for y'all is this is out TODAY, so you can (and should!) check this out out now.

Oh, and as a bonus, I'm excited to share an excerpt to further draw you in!

The Lilac Envelope

The night before

As he did often, over the past three years, Mitchell Fisher wrote a letter he would never send. 
He sat up in bed at midnight and kicked off his sheets. Even though all the internal doors in his apartment were open, the sticky July heat still felt like a shroud clinging to his body. His nine-year-old daughter Poppy thrashed restlessly in her sleep, in the bedroom opposite. 
Mitchell turned on his bedside lamp, squinting against the yellow light, and took out a pad of Basildon Bond notepaper from underneath his bed. He always used a fountain pen to write—old-fashioned he supposed, but he was a man who valued things that were well-constructed and long-lasting. 
Mitchell tapped the pen against his bottom lip. He knew what he wanted to say, but by the time his words of sorrow and regret travelled from his brain to his fingertips, they were only fragments of what he longed to express. 
As he started to write, the sound of the metal nib scratching against paper helped him block out the city street noise that hummed below his apartment.

Dearest Anita

Another letter from me. Everything here is fine, ticking along. Poppy is doing well. The school holidays start soon and I thought she’d be more excited. It’s probably because you’re not here to enjoy them with us. 

I’ve taken two weeks off work to spend with her, and have a full itinerary planned for us—badminton, tennis, library visits, cooking, walking, the park, swimming, museums, cooking, a tour of the city bridges, and more. It will keep us busy. Keep our minds off you. 

You’ll be amazed how much she’s grown, must be almost your height by now. I tell her how proud I am of her, but it always means more coming from you.

Mitchell paused, resting his hand against the pad of paper. He had to tell her how he felt.

Every time I look at our daughter, I think of you. I wish I could hold you again, and tell you I’m truly sorry.

Yours, always

Mitchell x

He read his words, always dissatisfied with them, never able to convey the magnitude of grief and guilt he felt. After folding the piece of paper once, he sealed it into a crisp, cream envelope, then squeezed it into the almost-full drawer of his nightstand, amongst all the other letters he’d written. His eyes fell upon the slim lilac envelope he kept on top, the one addressed to him from Anita, that he’d not yet been able to bring himself to open. 
Taking that envelope out, he held it under his nose and inhaled. There was still a slight scent of her on the paper, he thought, of violet soap. His finger followed the angle of the gummed flap and then stopped. He closed his eyes and willed himself to open the letter, but his fingernails dented crescents into the paper.
Once more, he placed it back into his drawer. 
Mitchell lay down and hugged himself, imagining Anita’s arms were wrapped around him. But, when he closed his eyes, the words from all the letters weighed down upon him like a bulldozer. As he turned and tried to sleep, he pulled the pillow over his head to force them away.

A Locked Heart

The lovers who attached their padlocks to the bridges of Upchester might see it as a fun or romantic gesture but, to Mitchell, it was an act of vandalism.
It was the hottest year on record in the city and the morning sun was already beating down on the back of his neck. His biceps flexed as he methodically opened and squeezed his bolt cutters shut, cutting the padlocks off the cast-iron filigree panels of the old Victorian bridge, one by one.  
Since local boyband Word Up filmed the video for their international smash hit “Lock Me Up with Your Love” on this bridge, thousands of people were flocking to the small city in the North West of England. They brought and attached locks marked with initials, names, messages, to demonstrate their love for the band and each other, on the city’s five bridges.  
Large red and white signs that read no padlocks studded the pavement. But as far as Mitchell could see, the locks still hung on the railings like bees swarming across frames of honeycomb. The constant reminder of love surrounding him, other people’s, made him feel like he was fighting for breath. 
As he cut off the locks, he wanted to yell, ‘Why can’t you just keep your feelings to yourselves?’ 
After several hours of hard work, Mitchell’s trail of broken locks glinted on the pavement like a metal snake. He stopped for a moment and narrowed his eyes as a young couple strolled toward him. The woman glided in a white floaty dress and tan cowboy boots. The man wore shorts and had the physique of an American football player. With his experience of carrying out maintenance across the city’s public areas, Mitchell instinctively knew they were up to something. 
After breaking away from his girlfriend, the man walked to the side of the bridge while nonchalantly pulling out a large silver padlock from his pocket.
Mitchell tightened his grip on his cutters. He was once so easy and in love with Anita, but rules were rules. ‘Excuse me,’ he called out. ‘You can’t hang that lock.’
The man frowned and crossed his bulging arms. ‘Oh yeah? And who’s going to stop me?’
Mitchell had the sinewy physique of a sprinter. He was angular all over with dark hair and eyes, and a handsome dorsal hump on his nose. ‘I am,’ he said and put his cutters down on the pavement. He held out his hand for the lock. ‘It’s my job to clear the bridges. You could get a fine.’ 
Anger flashed across the blond man’s face and he batted Mitchell’s hand away, swiping off his work glove. Mitchell watched as it tumbled down into the river below. Sometimes the water flowed prettily, but today it gushed and gurgled, a bruise-grey hue. A young man had drowned here in a strong current last summer. 
The man’s girlfriend wrapped her arms around her boyfriend’s waist and tugged him away. ‘Come on. Leave him alone.’ She cast Mitchell an apologetic smile. ‘Sorry, but we’re so in love. It took us two hours and three buses to get here. We’ll be working miles away from each other soon.  Please let us do this.’
The man looked into her eyes and softened. ‘Yeah, um, sorry, mate,’ he said sheepishly. ‘The heat got the better of me. All we want to do is fasten our lock.’
Mitchell gestured at the sign again. ‘Just think about what you’re doing, guys,’ he said with a weary sigh. ‘Padlocks are just cheap chunks of metal and they’re weighing down the bridges. Can’t you get a nice ring or tattoo instead? Or write letters to each other? There are better ways to say I lov– Well, you know. . .’
The man and the woman shared an incredulous look.
‘Whatever,’ the man glowered, and he shoved his padlock back into the pocket of his shorts. ‘We’ll go to another bridge instead.’ 
‘I work on those too . . .’ 
The couple laughed at him and sauntered away.
Mitchell rubbed his nose. He knew his job wasn’t a glamorous one. It wasn’t the one in architecture he’d studied hard and trained for. However, it meant he could pay the rent on his apartment and buy Poppy hot lunch at school each day. Whatever daily hassle he put up with, he needed the work.
His workmate Barry had watched the incident from the other side of the road. Sweat circled under his arms and his forehead shone like a mirror as he crossed over. ‘The padlocks keep multiplying,’ he groaned. 
‘We need to keep on going.’
‘But it’s too damn hot.’ Barry undid a button on his polo shirt, showing off unruly chest curls that matched the ones on his head. ‘It’s a violation of our human rights, and no one can tell if we cut off twenty or two hundred.’
Mitchell held his hand up against the glare of the sun. ‘We can tell, and Russ wants the bridges cleared in time for the city centenary celebrations.’
Barry rolled his eyes. ‘There’s only three weeks to go until then. Our boss should come down here and get his hands dirty, too. At least join me for a pint after work.’
Mitchell’s mouth felt parched, and he suddenly longed for an ice-cold beer. A vision of peeling off his polo-shirt and socks and relaxing in a beer garden appeared like a dreamy mirage in his head. 
However, he had to pick Poppy up from the after-school club to take her for a guitar lesson, an additional one to her music class in school. Her headteacher, Miss Heathcliff, was a stickler for the school closing promptly at 5.30pm, and it was a rush to get there on time. He lowered his eyes and said, ‘I’d love to, but I have to dash.’
Then he selected his next padlock to attack. 

Excerpted from The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick,


About The Secrets of Love Story Bridge: Single father Mitchell Fisher hates all things romance. He enjoys his job removing padlocks fastened to the famous "love lock" bridges of Upchester city. Only his young daughter, Poppy, knows that behind his disciplined veneer, Mitchell grieves the loss of her mother, Anita.

 One fateful day, working on the bridge, Mitchell courageously rescues a woman who falls into the river. He’s surprised to feel a connection to her, but the woman disappears before he learns her name. To Mitchell’s shock, a video of the rescue goes viral, hailing him as "The Hero on the Bridge." He’s soon notified by the mysterious woman’s sister, Liza, that she has been missing for over a year. However, the only clue to where the woman could have gone is the engraved padlock she left on the bridge.

Mitchell finds himself swept up in Liza’s quest to find her lost sister. Along the way, with help from a sparkling cast of characters, Mitchell’s heart gradually unlocks, and he discovers new beginnings can be found in the unlikeliest places...

About Phaedra Patrick: Phaedra Patrick is the author of The Library of Lost and Found, Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, which has been published in over twenty countries around the world. She studied art and marketing, and has worked as a stained-glass artist, film festival organizer and communications manager. An award-winning short story writer, she now writes full-time. She lives in Saddleworth, UK, with her husband and son.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Book Reviews - Feels and Fantasy

Oh, hey there. I'm not going to even bother with much of an introduction as I want to get right to telling you about most of these!

This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger was just so beautifully and wonderfully written. Y'all, if you haven't read this author, you must. He has a way of crafting stories that is just incredible and masterful and with so, so much emotion. I could gush on and on, but please y''all, go check this author out! This story is set in 1932. It focuses on a school that is primarily for Native American children who have been separated from their parents in the name of education. The student population also includes two brothers who are orphaned and non-Native. The school is awful in its treatment of students, particularly Odie, the younger of the two brothers. After an incident goes down, Odie, his older brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a young girl named Emmy flee. These four set out on some kind of adventure. They live on the run and try to find food and money and supplies where they can. Along the way, they meet quite the cast of characters. Each character has such depth and elicits all the emotion in you - good and bad. I felt so many deep feels as I read this one, and it was just wow, wow, WOW. I mean, y'all, I could continue saying the same thing in different ways, but I'll resist. This is a masterpiece of a read. It can get real heavy at times (and honestly, I've been hesitant to read heavy as of late), but these characters and their journey are just so worth every word and every feel. Again, one more time - Read. This. Book. (Oh, and while you're adding this to your list, get Ordinary Grace on there, too!)

On the Bright Side by Jess Ekstrom was a read I picked up after a co-worker was telling me about an upcoming conference she was going to attend. I happened to see the book on the new releases section of the library (back when I could still visit), and I decided to check it out. The author is the founder of Headbands of Hope, a company that donates a headband to pediatric cancer patients for each headband that is purchased. This is the story of how she got started to where she is now with a deep exploration of what happened along the way. What I loved about this was that she was honest and real. Some stuff went down as she was getting started, and she didn't try to hide that. This was a real exploration of how she had an idea, but also legit no idea what she was doing, and how she then figured it out. And by figured it out, she made some mistakes and had some fails. I love that this is a lesson in finding and living your passion, but it shows how that actually goes. It isn't sugar-coated and/or an oversimplification. The authenticity shines through as she talks about the awesome stuff and the not so awesome stuff. I chose to read this one as I just needed a shot of positivity in my life, and this so did the trick. It's a quick read, but one that's message will stick with you. I'm so glad I picked this one up on a whim!

A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Maas was a fantasy read that is so not my normal genre. But y'all, I was so captivated, and I am impatiently waiting to continue plowing through the series! The story focuses on Feyre who is a human. She is primary food hunter for her family. One day while out hunting she finds a deer. She also finds a wolf chasing this deer. She cannot resist taking both out. What she doesn't realize is this wolf is a faerie. Faeries and humans don't get along in this world, so this gets her in some trouble. As punishment for the death of the wolf/faerie, Feyre must leave her family and go to the faerie territory overseen by Tamlin. Turns out, the faeries have all kinds of dynamics going on in their world, in addition to the new dimension of having a human around which has a definite impact on Tamlin. I don't want to tell y'all too much more because the joy is in the fantasy world that is built. I will say that I almost wish this had some illustrations because this was such a different world for me, and I couldn't totally visualize what was going down. The good news was I was so into the story that I was still so into the plot and the characters and all the things that it was still a total pageturner. This was so far out of my reading lane, and I'm so glad I made that deviation. I needed something that was an escape, and y'all this was just that!

Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews was a new adventure for me. I feel like I've seen the covers from this author for-ev-er, and this was the first time I'd ever actually read one. This one was mostly beach read with a side of thriller. What that meant for the reader was it was a slow burn on the thriller end. As a frequent thriller read and rare beach read reader, this was an adjustment for me. Maybe that's normal, but I wanted to name that it hit different for me. This story focuses on Conley Hawkins, a journalist. After a big promotion falls through, she returns home to her small town. At her grandma's urging, she starts working for her sister at the local newspaper. There is some ish with the two of them, so that adds some layers. One evening Conley is a witness to an accident that kills a local congressman. With this, she realizes this man and what went down is real, real complicated. Her newspaper work then becomes focused on digging deeper to found out the truth. This means digging through the past, secrets and all the things of the town's residents which is messy. On the more beach read-y end, Conley reconnects with her childhood best friend Skelly. Their relationship is still strong even though times have changed. He helps her as she does her current work, and there is, of course, also some blasts from the past. As I said, this is beach read above all else. It's very much written to keep you occupied for a long day/week/weekend where you're relaxing in the sun. Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the early look at this planned May release!

Onto the next ones!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Book Reviews - Language, Libraries, Feels and Thrills

Y'all, I have got to be better at reading in some sort of rhythm! This was just such a beyond random mix even for me!

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George was the most recent pick for my in-person book club. Here is my biggest complaint - I wanted more bookshop. There was this really neat concept of a literary apothecary, and I just wanted so much more of that than I ultimately got. If that had been the primary focus, I think I would have been raving about this one. Anyway. What this book more so focuses on is love. Monsieur Perdu, the literary apothecary, had a great love. He never read her last letter to him 20 years earlier. He finally does, and some tragic news is revealed. He then decides to take his bookshop onto a boat to resolve some feels about the one that got away. He heads off on his journey working through his stuff, building relationships, and every once in awhile there are some book-related things. For me, I again struggled because what drew me in wasn't there enough, and I just wasn't as captivated by the parts of the plot that were the focus. 

Pretty Bitches: On Being Called Crazy, Angry, Bossy, Frumpy, Feisty, and All the Other Words That Are Used to Undermine Women edited by Lizzie Skurnick was a phenomenal essay collection on how language is weaponized against women. Each chapter was written by a different author reflecting on a word that's use towards them had an impact. Each author talked about when this first happened, how this continued to stick with them, and how they finally overcame. Y'all, this was some powerful stuff. As women, I think we have these words, and it's important to reflect on these, name their impact, and determine how to navigate the associated emotions. For me, the most powerful essay was the first in the collection about the word TOO. I didn't realize how that word was so knowingly used against people, and I started to even reflect on how I'd seen that happen in my own life. Y'all, there was such power in the opportunity to reflect in this way through these essays. Was it painful? Yes, but again there was also that positive impact about being able to chart a way forward. Each of these essays was so honest and personal, and I loved the way each reflected and processed through the impact of language. This is a phenomenal collection that examines words in a way that is so very important.

Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak was a book that came to me as a recommendation from a librarian. I gave her some things I read, and this is where she directed me. I came in not knowing what I was really getting into, but trusted the direction. This book is a heartbreaker, but also a really beautiful exploration of emotion. The story is told in two timelines. First, there is the after. Quinn has lost her best friend Dylan. Previously, she had spent fun, memorable summers at a camp her family owns. She is now navigating grief, as well as complex family dynamics based on what happened. In the before, it is the story of the summer leading up to the accident. In this time, Quinn was crushing on her best friend, and she was trying to figure out how to let him know. This is further complicated by the way her two siblings, and older sister and brother, feel about Dylan. The story then slowly builds to what happen around Dylan's death. Also, in the present, Quinn meets a new guy. She carries around so much baggage, and Alexander is a chance to start fresh, but again, the before is still a big part of who she is. Y'all, this was a book that was just full of so many different feels, and they were also deep, intense feels. It was just a beautifully written, emotional story.

The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman was a thriller - I note that to begin as I'm not reading thrillers as much as usual, so it's just worth noting for that reason. This one is about a group of college friends who decide to finally reunite after not having been together for years for a baby shower/girls' weekend. As you can imagine given the genre, there's some ish between them. One of the primary underlying grudges is between June, a community college professor, and Sadie, a famous author who is hosting the weekend. June was once romantically involved with June's husband prior to him dating Sadie. So, the group gets back together, and secrets start to resurface. Within the group of five, there are secrets between pairs, and they start to become revealed to others in the group, and that makes people feel a certain kind of way. Then, Sadie turns up missing, and all the fingers start getting pointed. Things are especially complicated because none of the women remember the night Sadie vanished. This is a thriller that kept me turning the pages as I there was all the drama and deception, and I wanted to know who was responsible. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this June 2020 planned release.

Onto the next ones!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Book Reviews - Red, White and RANDOM

Y'all, what is this quartet?!? It almost feels "normal" to read in this way again though, so I'll take it!

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston was just a delight of a story. The tale focuses on the President of the United States son's Alex Claremont-Diaz and Henry, Prince of England. The two begin the book as sworn enemies. After a mess of a situation at a high profile event, their families realize that they've got to do some major PR work. They decide they are going to make it seem Alex and Henry are actually friends and have been all along. They set up some visits to start the facade. Here's the thing - A romance starts brewing between them. While being enemies is a problem, a romance also brings about some issues. Y'all, I loved that this was romance with a side of international/political drama and repercussions. I loved the honesty of their relationship and also how they must work to keep things secret. Y'all, this was just a good read and wonderful love story. I was rooting for Alex and Henry, and they were just a delight of a couple with the evolution of their relationship and their chemistry. Also, I'm going to need there to be a sequel of this y'all because I need more Alex and Henry goodness in my life! 

It's Girls Like You Mickey by Patti Kim is a book I 100% picked based on the title. I mean, y'all, how could you not dig it? I love a good repurposed song lyric! Beyond that, this is just a good honest story about how middle school can suck sometimes. I love a middle grade novel that talks about the real feels that kids have, and this definitely does that! The story focuses on Mickey who is dreading middle school because her best friend has moved away. She's also struggling because her home life just isn't that great. There is a ray of light when a new girl shows up, and Mickey forms a promising friendship. However, then a friend break-up happens due to a popular mean girl, and that's some tough stuff. Y'all, remember how hard these were as teenagers?!? This really captures that experience so well through Mickey's eyes. Mickey has a great resilience throughout, and I loved her as a character throughout because of her realness. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this planned June 2020 release!

Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald was just a "chicken soup" kind of read. In other words, it was light with some feel-good vibes. The book focuses on Sara. Sara has traveled all the way from Sweden to meet her pen pal Amy in the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. When Sara arrives, she finds out Amy has died. Rather than returning home, Sara decides to establish a bookstore to honor her friend's memory. She uses some of her friend's books to begin this endeavor. The bookstore opening is a bit odd as Broken Wheel is a struggling town, but the store soon brings some life to the town. Throughout the story, Sara and Amy's letters are also included to give the reader some idea of how their friendship came to be and to showcase their shared love of books. Beyond the books, this is a story of a small town struggling to stay relevant and alive. The story is enhanced by a variety of residents who still love Broken Wheel as a home, and they also form a strong connection with Sara. This was just a nice book about intriguing people, and if you need some simple beauty like that, this is your jam.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben is the first thriller I've read in over a month which is very atypical for me. I kept seeing the Netflix series adapted from the book, so I also wanted to be sure to read this prior to watching the show if/when I do. The story begins with Adam finding out a secret about his wife from a mysterious dude referenced only as The Stranger. His idyllic world is shattered, and he has to confront his wife about what he's learned. This causes her to leave town causing Adam's world to be further upended. Throughout, the book The Stranger shares other secrets which creates even more chaos. Meanwhile, Adam is trying to find his wife and see if there is even truth to what The Stranger shared. For me, Harlan Coben is an author I know I can rely on for a good, solid thriller. I know there's going to be that big twist at the end, and I know he's going to write in a way that I piece this together just before it is fully revealed and gasp when I do. This round was no different. I will say I almost wanted more of The Stranger. I thought that his work was going to be more of the focus, and while it was absolutely central to what went down with Adam, he was the initial catalyst, not the ongoing focus. Regardless, I was also hoping this would be just a solid pageturner, and that's absolutely what I got.

Onto the next ones!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Book Reviews - Honest and Real Relationships

Y'all, this quartet was united in being some real stories. Three were made up, and one was a memoir, and whoa, this stuff was captivating and worth the read.

American Royals by Katharine McGee was just a spectacular read, and I am already ready for the sequel to be out because I need to know what happens next. This story imagines that instead of a democracy, America became a monarchy way back when. This story picks up with America's royal family in present day. Specifically, it focuses on the princesses and prince and their love lives. The chapters are told through alternating narrators as the love stories, crushes, break-ups and some deception in each of their lives are pieced together. Each of the royal family members has a unique personality and attitude, and I was so captivated by each of the characters. I love when stories are driven by relationships, and this book was so, so much that. Even though this was about love, it read like a thriller, as there were all the twists throughout. I don't want to give too many details on this one y'all because there's such joy in the build of this one. The multiple narrators piece together so many truths and secrets that will keep you turning those pages. I read this in one day because I was so obsessed and had to know what was going to happen. Y'all, I cannot say enough how I absolutely love, love, loved this one so much. Oh, and this was alternate history, so it also helped me meet my March reading challenge!

The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne was a book I highlighted for a recent blog tour stop. Find my review and an excerpt here.

Open Book by Jessica Simpson was one of the best celebrity memoirs I've ever read. I think part of what drew me in was that I "grew up" with Jessica Simpson's music. She was big during the time I loved pop music, so I knew her story well. However, this book is about the parts of her story fans didn't know. This is about the pain and secrets she's carried. This is her sharing her rawest, most authentic self, and it is beautiful. I loved this memoir because she didn't hold anything back. She told every piece of her story in such a thoughtful and reflective way. And y'all, she has been through some stuff in her childhood, in her twenties, and in the last few years. Again, she shares it all. She notes that the memoir she was supposed to write was more about the success of her Jessica Simpson brand. However, as she went to write, she realized this was the story she needed to tell. I am so, so glad this is what she shared. I know it was not easy to put these secrets out for all to see, but there is such power in her acknowledging this is her truth and how she has worked through so, so much. This was all-around outstanding y'all.

We Came Here to Shine by Susan Orman Schnall is the story of two women against the backdrop of the 1939 World's Fair in New York. First, there is Vivi. She is an aspiring Hollywood actress. Instead of being given a leading role in a movie, she's given the starring role in an aquatics show at the fair. She takes it on as it brings the promise of later movie roles. Second, there is Max, an aspiring journalist. She hopes to get an internship at the New York Times, and she is instead given a role at the fair's daily publication. Rather than writing articles, she is charged with creating the daily schedules for the fair which is far from what she hopes to one day do. Both women find themselves not where they want to be, and they also find that the fair isn't exactly what it seems. There is deception and lies and some shady relationships. Their stories are told in alternating chapters, but eventually, their paths cross, and the two women become friends. This was such a captivating story - Both women have such strength and depth, and I was rooting for both of them throughout. This is also full of drama in their stories and with the fair, and they ultimately come to a crossroads with what they need to do. This was quite the pageturner for me. I wanted to know what was going to happen with Vivi and Max as they were going through some stuff. Thanks to NetGalley for the early look at this book currently slated for a July 2020 release!

Onto the next ones!