Do Not Disturb (2020)

Do Not Disturb

Book: Do Not Disturb
Author:
 Claire Douglas
Publication Info: 2020, Harper Paperbacks
Genres: Thriller/Suspense, Family/Domestic Drama, Mystery/Crime
My Rating: 2-2.5 stars. 3.78 average on Goodreads

Summary

Following a traumatic event in London, Kirsty Woodhouse packs up her family and moves back to her native Wales. There she sets up her new home with her husband and two young daughters, and goes into business with her difficult mother managing a guesthouse in the Brecon Beacons. 

But when the guesthouse is ready to be occupied, Kirsty encounters the last person she ever expected to see: her estranged cousin Selena. It has been seventeen years since they last talked—when Selena tore everything apart between them.

Why has she chosen now to walk back into Kirsty’s life? Is Selena running from something too? Or is there an even darker reason for her visit?

As Kirsty becomes increasingly concerned for the safety of her daughters, her dream home begins to feel like her worst nightmare.

Kirsty knows that once you invite trouble into your home, it can be murder getting rid of it . . . 

Review

This is my second thriller of 2022. It’s also another 2-2.5 star read, which is unfortunate; however, this book has some strengths among its weaknesses which may make it a good fit for a different reader. In fact, some of the strengths were good enough to make me push through to the end.

One Thing I Loved Right Off the Bat: I was really excited to read a book set in Wales. You just don’t often come across that very often, and I try to catalogue as many as I come across on Goodreads. However, the setting could have been anywhere touristy; the main character and narrator is native Welsh so that’s cool.

Essentially, this is a very slow burn, family/domestic drama, with elements of past secrets/lies uncovered, and with a sprinkle of paranormal spookiness. Everyone is meant to be suspicious, from the criminal ex-boyfriend to the narrator’s reclusive husband recovering from a mental breakdown.

The story is based on the premise of the core characters (a mom, dad, 2 kids, and grandmother) moving to Wales to take up ownership of a derelict guest house. A lot of time is spent fixing up the place, which doubles as introducing the characters’ temperaments to the reader. Kirsty is the main character and narrator, wife to Adrian, and mother to 2 children. She is the daughter of Carol, a critical and nitpicky woman who goes in on the guest house as co-owner.

Long story short, the book follows a timeline wherein each chapter begins with a countdown to understanding the opening — Carol with bloody hands over a body, identity undisclosed. A lot of time is spent characterizing the guest house as haunted, bad-spirited, in poor condition, and unwanted in the community. Dead flowers are found and one guest often reports the bad spirits to Kirsty, claiming she can connect with the paranormal.

Despite this, Carol arranges for a troublesome family member, Selena, to stay in the guesthouse despite a lot of pushback from Kirsty. Selena is Kirsty’s cousin and childhood close friend, but they had a falling out (no spoilers why). She doesn’t want to see her, but it’s revealed that there is a domestic violence situation she’s running from so they allow her an her disabled daughter to come stay. After Selena and her daughter arrive, it’s clear that she brings trouble with her, but is attempting to lay low for awhile.

In the meanwhile, the rest of the cast of characters, including the 2 daughters and Adrian, fiddle around in the background. The daughters adjust to their new home, with the younger finding a creepy doll in the floorboards which spurs on the haunting/paranormal storyline. It is revealed that Adrian is dealing with mental health issues and spends most of his time being a bit reclusive at the start of the book writing a thriller novel (thus, adding to his suspicious characteristics). Guests and members of the small community also come in and out of the plot, as well as some hired workers.

Mid-Point: Anyway, a good chunk of the post-Selena arrival fixates on 1) Selena’s past and lying nature; 2) Selena’s sickly daughter; 3) attempts to run the guesthouse; 4) the arrival of another surprise family guest, Nathan and his wife; 5) the arrival of a dark character and ex-boyfriend from Selena’s past, Dean.

There’s a lot of talk about family drama. Then the thing happens. It is revealed who was dead at the bottom of the stairs at the start.

After the thing happens, the plots begin to intertwine and the secrets come to the forefront.

Spoilers after this point because I’ll be talking about specific plot points & twists. Also, there is some CW/TW worthy content discussed below. See the bottom of this blog post for the list.

A strength of this book was one or two of the plot lines that I thought were interesting enough to want to read through to find the resolution. One of these was the itching feeling that Selena was putting on her daughter’s (Ruby) sicknesses. Ruby was portrayed as a sickly, underdeveloped and unsociable child; however, the constant reiteration of the narrator’s claims that Selena was a total liar about everything made it seem highly possible that this was “Munchausen syndrome by proxy.” This is furthered by the introduction of a trusted doctor character in the family (Nathan’s wife) who can just be like, yep, well. I saw the notes & I can see the child….

Either way, there is a running rift between Kristy and Selena which is predicated upon an exchange they had as teenagers. In the flashback description of what happened, Selena is portrayed as a compulsive liar who is living within an abusive environment (her mother is a chronic alcoholic and there is implied/explicit abuse/neglect). As they are preparing to go off to college, Selena and Kristy have a row at a party. Selena drops a bomb of a revelation on Kristy and claims that she has been sexually abused by her own father.

Kristy does not believe this due to her uncle’s character and Selena’s inclination to lie. It causes a chasm in their relationship and Selena becomes estranged from the family…. except she wasn’t really… because as it turns out, Carol (Kristy’s mother) has been keeping in contact with her for ages and keeping a few secrets for her.

Anywaaaaaay. Really, this review is almost as boring as this book was. I thought that it was interesting to see the Ruby sickness plot reveal. However, the characters were pretty dry, the guesthouse-should’ve-been-ours! red herring plot was just…. really boring, and the men were just unenjoyable all around.

My biggest problem was the pace. It was an incredibly slow burn, almost like this review. A lot of information being dropped and you don’t really know what’s going to be useful or necessary later on. Well, none of it really. Selena is pushed or falls down the stairs. The doctor wife can’t get pregnant. All the rooms have similar names. A guest has a dog! Okay? Well, none of this has much to do with anything. More and more gets heaped on to the slow burning fire. Eventually, when something does ignite, it wasn’t worth standing in the smoke.

Also, the revelation about what really happened to Selena reminds me of a Ruth Ware book’s ending as well.

Anyway, give it a go maybe. It has really good reviews from others, but I can’t say it was entertaining on the whole for me. A lot of other stuff out there that does thriller/suspense with a bigger bang. One caveat I’ve noticed is that negative reviews for this book tend to say that the other books by this author are really great. So maybe it’s just one those things.

Things You Should Know

If you are the type of person who would like to know content warnings before reading a book of this nature, I would say the following things are important to note (some are spoilers): death/murder, abuse (sexual, emotional, violence), sexual abuse from parental figure (not true but mentioned), alcoholic parent, abusive mother, neglect, infidelity, infertility, suicide, stalker / abusive partner, domestic abuse (not true, but still mentioned), Munchausen syndrome by proxy / medical problems (not real but still mentioned).

Links

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51475370-do-not-disturb

Amazon First Reads – January 2022

This month’s Amazon First Reads choices have been in for a week or so now. In case you’re wondering what Amazon First Reads is, this is a program feature for Prime Members; you are able to pick one Kindle e-book selected from a curated list. These are early review copies, and usually they’re from smaller publishing outlets or independent authors.

Here’s the link to choose your book: https://www.amazon.com/firstreads

These are the selections:

I chose the memoir “They Said They Wanted Revolution.” I was between that and the historical fiction. Be sure to get yours 🙂

The Chalk Man (2018)

The Chalk Man

Book: The Chalk Man
Author:
 CJ Tudor
Publication Info: 2018, Crown Publishing Group
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Horror, Crime, Adult Fiction
My Rating: 2-2.5 stars. 3.7 average on Goodreads.

Content: Contains references, implied and explicit, to sexual assault/rape, exploitation of a minor, death (graphic), abortion (big plot point), violence, self-harm, death/grief & loss, death of an animal (graphic), cursing

Thus, as you’d assume, this is an adults only book and may definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Summary

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago. 

Review

Please refer to above stated content descriptions which I’ve flagged only because I think they’re worth telling a potential reader about. I don’t like to give away the entire plot of a thriller/horror, which by nature includes graphic content that won’t be for everyone. However, even as a seasoned thriller reader, I was kind of taken aback by a few scenes I read. This review will discuss them. Spoilers will be indicated.

Earlier this year, I read Tudor’s The Burning Girls, which I loved (link goes to Goodreads review). It was a random library selection ending up to be a 5 star read.

I decided to get Tudor’s other books, so I’m going backwards. I took this into consideration when thinking of my review. Knowing the latest book was pretty good, I thought some of the things I didn’t like about this book could be excused, as it was a first go at it. I can see Tudor’s authorial patterns emerging even after just two books, so there is a sense of development there. I will give others a fair shot either way.

The Chalk Man has something special about it that I won’t be able to fully understand: it has many elements of similar to the styles of Stephen King. I have read a handful of King novels, but I am not as seasoned an expert as many other fellow reviewers. I waded through some of the negative reviews on Goodreads, for example, and several posts outlined different viewpoints on Tudor’s emulation. Some say it was outright plagiarism, some thought it fell weak. At the same time, many positive reviews thought it was well done. I’ll be approaching this book without those same prejudices or preconceived knowledge.

For me, this book was basically about a man who for the longest time remained nameless & faceless in my imagination. The cast of characters around him are typical of a childhood trauma storyline: the fat & loud kid who is funny to hide insecurities, the red haired tom-boy and possible crush, the younger brother of the bully who torments the group, among others. Parents and other adults are mostly reduced to their roles as their characterization (ex: Nicky’s dad is the religious leader in the small village, so he’s always banging on about abortions). Which is mostly fine, it’s all about the main character, his crew, and their secrets. Oh, and of course, The Chalk Man.

The book alternates between the 1986 and 2016 timelines. Each chapter reflects on the past and current day’s grappling with childhood traumas surrounding the death of several individuals in the story. Without giving too much away, I can say that for the most part, the story is centered on the question of who is responsible for several interconnected grievances and crimes. The main character and narrator would’ve been fine to keep the secrets and questions stifled deep in his subconscious, but then he and the gang receive mysterious letters in the post years later…. so it’s all brought back up to the surface.

Spoilers & graphic content past this line.

I had trouble connecting any sense of urgency or thrill to this book. Tudor’s The Burning Girls was rated so highly by me this year because it filled my head with an urgency to return to the story, a desire to keep reading even when it was late. That feeling, to me, is the making of a 5 star book.

This book was one I could place down at any point and not care to return. It was not necessarily boring, but it was not thrilling or mysterious.

It was continuously horrific, however, in its plot points of rape, sexual assault, exploitation of minors, graphic descriptions of death and violence, mentions of just all around depressing stuff. That’s probably the best way I can describe this book: depressing, but in a bad way.

Honestly, the constant reiteration of the stilted sexual assault scene (the two boys) throughout the book was enough to make me want to drop the book. I am not a reader who demands clean or wholesome reads. I have read things that make me sick to my stomach and understand it’s part of the book. But really, couple this with poor pacing, stilted and boring writing, and just being beat across the head with depressing stories from childhood and a pathetic adulthood just made for a lackluster read altogether.

And there was one last moment where I knew it was a death sentence for me in terms of liking this book: I started skimming.

The ending was convoluted, so wholly unrealistic and a let down. This may be another reference to a King novel, so it could have been chosen as that symbol. However, for me, it just didn’t work. The “invalid has been faking the whole time” shtick is a bit rich, considering the twists and turns this took to get to that point.

TLDR

So, ultimately, I would have to say I don’t recommend this book based on 1) poor pace and character development leading to a lack of urgency or thrilling story; 2) constantly and relentlessly depressing to an almost annoying degree, and 3) didn’t like the ending at all.

Caveat – If you’re a Stephen King fan, you may like this one based on the fact that I read other reviewers say it has a lot of common features.

Caveat 2 – I liked this author’s other book, The Burning Girls, and it has a lot of similarities in terms of its style and plot development. I think it was much better done.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35356382-the-chalk-man

Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Hours That Changed Her Life & Lucy Worsley

History fans — this one’s for you!

December 18’s post was for Dr. @lucy_worsley OBE, who is one of my top suggested (living) authors of both fiction and nonfiction.

I absolutely love Dr Worsley’s work, from her many television documentary series to her historical fiction books.

She honestly seems like a delightful person as well as a passionate historian. She also has THE dream job — Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, history documentary actor/presenter and writer!

Some of the books I routinely recommend by Worsley are ⤵️

📚 A Very British Murder — nonfic book & TV series about the English fascination with murder & murder mysteries

📚 Jane Austen at Home: A Biography — exactly what it sounds like 😂

📚My Name is Victoria — Queen Vic historical fic for young readers, but I loved it as an adult too.

📚 Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life — uses primary resources to recall important days in Queen Vic’s life

Shows ⤵️

📺 Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: A 17th Century History for Girls

📺 Fit to Rule: How Royal Illness Changed History

📺 A Very British Murder

📺 The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain

📺 Britain’s Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court

📺 A Very British Romance

📺 Empire of the Tsars: Romanov Russia with Lucy Worsley

📺 Six Wives with Lucy Worsley

📺 British History’s Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley

📺 Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors

📺 Victoria & Albert: The Royal Wedding

📺 Lucy Worsley’s Royal Palace Secrets

And much much, more including more historical fiction and nonfiction and documentaries.

Bookstagram/Book Blogging Resources

Here is a quick list of Bookstagram/Book Blogging Resources that I use all the time. Hopefully, they can be useful for you too. I am doing this off the top of my head, so I may leave something out. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Apps for Books

  • Libby (free, access is via library membership)
  • Amazon Kindle (membership based)
  • Audible (membership based)
  • Volumes 
  • NetGalley (free to use, review books for publishers)
  • Glose 
  • Hoopla (free, access is via library membership)
  • Comes with a designated monthly limit of checkouts 
  • Edelweiss+ 

Apps for Audiobooks

  • Libby
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Audible
  • Volumes
  • NetGalley
  • Glose
  • Hoopla

Reviewing Platforms

  • Instagram/Bookstagram (obviously :P)
  • Twitter
  • Goodreads
  • Readerly
  • The Storygraph 
  • Pinterest
  • Litsy
  • WordPress 
  • Tumblr
  • Blogging Websites 
  • Facebook
  • TikTok
  • Retail Sites (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Booksamillion,Waterstones)
  • Edelweiss+
  • BookishFirst

ARCs, Giveaways, & Review Copies Opportunities

  • BookishFirst (good for beginners)
  • NetGalley (good for beginners)
  • BiblioLifestyle Newsletter & Social Media Pages
  • BookSparks 
  • Amazon First Reads
  • Publisher Email Lists & Newsletters
  • Goodreads Giveaways
  • Publisher Influencer Programs (individualized, need to apply for most)
  • Publisher Contacts 
  • Publisher Social Media Pages (Facebook, IG, Twitter, etc)

Book Feature: Can’t Look Away by Carola Lovering (Goodreads Win)

Book Mail 📦 – A @goodreads giveaway win from @stmartinspress.

This one is called Can’t Look Away by Carola Lovering. It will be out in 2022, and it’s advertised as a thriller, domestic suspense, and psychological thriller** see some note at the end. Currently, it has 4.02 star average on Goodreads with a little over 100 ratings.

Summary ⤵️

In 2013, twenty-three-year old Molly Diamond is a barista, dreaming of becoming a writer. One night at a concert in Brooklyn, she locks eyes with the lead singer, Jake Danner, and can’t look away. Molly and Jake fall quickly and deeply in love, especially after he writes a hit song about her that puts his band on the map.

Nearly a decade later, Molly has given up writing and is living in Flynn Cove, Connecticut with her young daughter and her husband Hunter―who is decidedly not Jake Danner. Their life looks picture-perfect, but Molly is lonely; she feels out of place with the other women in their wealthy suburb, and is struggling to conceive their second child. When Sabrina, a newcomer in town, walks into the yoga studio where Molly teaches and confesses her own fertility struggles, Molly believes she’s finally found a friend.

But Sabrina has her own reasons for moving to Flynn Cove and befriending Molly. And as Sabrina’s secrets are slowly unspooled, her connection to Molly becomes clearer––as do secrets of Molly’s own, which she’s worked hard to keep buried.

Meanwhile, a new version of Jake’s hit song is on the radio, forcing Molly to confront her past and ask the ultimate questions: What happens when life turns out nothing like we thought it would, when we were young and dreaming big? Does growing up mean choosing with your head, rather than your heart? And do we ever truly get over our first love?

*** Note: I read some reviews (no spoilers) when I was making this post, and it seems that a top complaint is that this book isn’t really a thriller but more like a drama? Or a “romantic suspense?” Whatever that may mean to you, it seems like it could be a bit different than what the description conveys. Who knows! I will soon… 🤣

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58724892-can-t-look-away

Amazon First Reads – December 2021

This month’s Amazon First Reads choices have been in for a week or so now. In case you’re wondering what Amazon First Reads is, this is a program feature for Prime Members; you are able to pick one Kindle e-book selected from a curated list. These are early review copies, and usually they’re from smaller publishing outlets or independent authors.

This month, I picked my e-book and then received an email promo allowing for a second pick from a different list. I’m not sure if this will happen for everyone, but it’s worth knowing to check your email after.

I put together the infographics below, so any errors are mine. BTW, I chose the “family drama,” but none of these stood out to me so it was kind of a meh pick.

Check the link out here: https://www.amazon.com/firstreads

When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today (2021)

When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today

Book: When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today
Author:
 Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Publication Info: 2021, Harper
Genres: Nonfiction, Pop Culture, Women’s History, Media/Culture Studies, Biography
My Rating: 4 stars. 4 star average on Goodreads

Summary

The New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia tells the little-known story of four trailblazing women in the early days of television who laid the foundation of the industry we know today.

It was the Golden Age of Radio and powerful men were making millions in advertising dollars reaching thousands of listeners every day. When television arrived, few radio moguls were interested in the upstart industry and its tiny production budgets, and expensive television sets were out of reach for most families. But four women—each an independent visionary— saw an opportunity and carved their own paths, and in so doing invented the way we watch tv today.

Irna Phillips turned real-life tragedy into daytime serials featuring female dominated casts. Gertrude Berg turned her radio show into a Jewish family comedy that spawned a play, a musical, an advice column, a line of house dresses, and other products. Hazel Scott, already a renowned musician, was the first African American to host a national evening variety program. Betty White became a daytime talk show fan favorite and one of the first women to produce, write, and star in her own show.

Together, their stories chronicle a forgotten chapter in the history of television and popular culture.

But as the medium became more popular—and lucrative—in the wake of World War II, the House Un-American Activities Committee arose to threaten entertainers, blacklisting many as communist sympathizers. As politics, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and money collided, the women who invented television found themselves fighting from the margins, as men took control. But these women were true survivors who never gave up—and thus their legacies remain with us in our television-dominated era. It’s time we reclaimed their forgotten histories and the work they did to pioneer the medium that now rules our lives.

Review

It was the Golden Age of Radio and powerful men were making millions in advertising dollars reaching thousands of listeners every day. When television arrived, few radio moguls were interested in the upstart industry and its tiny production budgets, and expensive television sets were out of reach for most families. But four women—each an independent visionary— saw an opportunity and carved their own paths, and in so doing invented the way we watch tv today.

The author focused on four pioneering women during this time period in media/television: Irna Phillips, Gertrude Berg, Hazel Scott, and Betty White.

The book recognizes these women as four different parts of tv’s history of the time — these themes included womanhood/gender, motherhood, being unmarried/single, being political or opinionated. Having certain identities. Race, religion, gender. Mix this against the backdrop of the Cold War, McCarthyism, shifting dynamics socially and culturally, and one can see how media has played an indispensable role in US history. It’s only fair to tell the unique stories and perspectives of the women who played their part in the rise of television.

The format of the book is split into chapters that focus on the unique attributes of the four women analyzed. In my view, they can be deemed almost symbolic of certain obstacles faced as well as personalities, successes and victories. The author noted for example that daytime stars paved the way for Winfrey or DeGeneres. They created the appeal of the soap opera or the family drama. Building off the back of the massive success of radio, television eventually became more accessible to the general public — the impact is obvious. More entertainment, more commercialization, more news, more access. Nowadays we probably take it for granted, having the whole world in our hands every day as long as our phone’s charged. Imagine just a short while ago, it was all brand new.

I learned quite a bit about these women. Most importantly to me, it was a well researched topic that was interesting and relevant. A lot of books are coming out about the role of women in certain industries, like coding or intelligence during WWI-II or science generally. There will definitely be room to dig deeper into the experiences of women in the entertainment industry, but I think this book did a great job of taking the initiative to bring together four experiences and show overlap, thematic similarities AND the specific obstacles & positive influences by each of these women. 

Who’s it good for?

Fans of the above listed women who are covered in this book, those who like to read about women’s history, those interested in media/cultural studies (especially 1920s-30s USA), those interested in television/celebrities.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54236116-when-women-invented-television

Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton—75 Sinfully Delectable Recipes (2021)

Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton—75 Sinfully Delectable Recipes

Book: Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton—75 Sinfully Delectable Recipes
Author:
 Dahlia Clearwater
Publication Info: 2021, Sky Horse Publishing, Simon & Schuster
Genres: Cookbook, Pop Culture, British Food, Tea Time, Cultural Studies, Baking
My Rating: 4 stars

Summary

Delightful food and drink recipes inspired by Netflix’s hit show Bridgerton and Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels. Finger sandwiches, pastries, roasts, desserts, cocktails, and more!

You are cordially invited to dine with society’s finest! From the magnificent macaron towers to the heavenly fruit-topped trifles, the food of Bridgerton steals the show. Teatime at Grosvenor Square brings you 75 tempting recipes inspired by those candy-colored treats and opulent feasts.

Now you can create a spread of delicate finger sandwiches, captivating canapés, and bite-sized sweets scrumptious enough to impress Queen Charlotte herself! Plus, you’ll find a few recipes worthy of a Bridgerton family supper.

Whether you choose to enjoy a delicious confection with Daphne or a strong cocktail with the Duke, Teatime at Grosvenor Square will make binge-watching Bridgerton even better!

Review

This cookbook has a collection of English teatime favorites. My all-time favorite is the cucumber sandwich, and my favorite dessert is Victoria sponge cake. I decided to try out the recipe for cucumber sandwiches. The recipe was easy to follow and the visuals helped give an idea of what to model the display after. I have made these sandwiches plenty of times before, but this recipe was a bit different (it worked just fine!).

I found that most of the recipes are clear, straightforward and appropriate for all ranges of skill levels in the kitchen. Some require basic ingredients, while others are a bit more specialized. The types of foods include: scones and pastries, jams/spreads, cakes and pies, cookies, ice creams/pudding type desserts, soups, meat based dishes, and cocktails. There are 75 recipes jammed into this cookbook!

Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton―75  Sinfully Delectable Recipes: Clearwater, Dahlia: 9781510767294: Amazon.com:  Books

The pictures are so beautiful. They make me wish I could set up some nice spreads! Therefore, they have some great presentation ideas. Almost every recipe gets a corresponding photo so you can see what it would look like.

Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton―75  Sinfully Delectable Recipes: Clearwater, Dahlia: 9781510767294: Amazon.com:  Books

As for the Bridgerton tie in, it is mostly due to 1) the “English tea time” theme and 2) names or little blurbs added to the dishes. Of course, these are inspired by the time period and the cultural themes. So that’s really where it ties in the most.

As a result, you don’t need to be a Bridgerton fan to get any value out of this cookbook. It can be a standalone, as long as you want to make the typical “tea time” foods.

Good for a fan of the show or not! If you want to put on a tea party or quaint dinner, or even just an assortment of nice looking treats for a gathering, this is a good choice.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56802057-teatime-at-grosvenor-square

New Autobiography/Memoir: Will by Will Smith (2021)

Today’s post is just an informative one about a new book/audiobook published this week by Will Smith. This book is autobiographical and memoir style. I’m listening to it via Penguin Audio, which in my opinion is one of the best ways to “read” memoirs (listening to the author tell you their stories!).

The book is entitled simply Will and published on 9 November 2021 by Penguin Press. Here is the official Goodreads summary for what it entails:

Summary:

One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.

Will Smith’s transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes that will likely never be broken, is an epic tale of inner transformation and outer triumph, and Will tells it astonishingly well. But it’s only half the story.

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over.

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Cast: Where Are They Now | PEOPLE.com

I’m personally really excited to complete this book. I love The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and some of Will Smith’s other works, including his time in music. I am interested really in just learning what I can about his experience, hopefully quite a bit about the show and maybe his relationships with other cast members. Of course, there will be plenty about his childhood, family, wife/children, etc.

Quick Thoughts

My quick thoughts so far is that I absolutely love the cover. I am kinda amazed really that I hadn’t seen any media attention for this release prior to this week. I subscribe to tons of emails, work with books all day long, read constantly, and use bookish social media constantly, and I never saw much of anything about this release. I saw a mention in a newsletter this week and was surprised! I thought maybe it was a book ABOUT Smith, not by Smith. Either way, I love the cover, it’s really cool and I would like to see the edition IRL especially if there are photographs (I’m sure there are).

The audio is crisp and of course a high quality production. I honestly believe that memoirs/autobios are great on audio most of the time. I’ve yet to listen to one that wasn’t. There’s just that added level of intimacy in the storytelling process when you can hear the author recount their words.

Put this one on your radar if you’re into memoirs, autobiographies, nonfiction, celebrities/media history, etc. I suppose it’s really best if you’re a fan of Will Smith, but I’ve hardly ever heard of anyone who wasn’t. Review to come, no where near finished with this one yet!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/58375739

New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/09/books/review-will-smith-memoir.html

Website: https://willthebook.com/