Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

When it rains, it pours and in Sunshine Mackenzie’s case, it’s pouring cats and dogs. Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave shares the story of Sunshine Mackenzie, a celebrity chef with a huge social media following. She’s living the perfect life…until she isn’t. A mysterious hacker begins to leak Sunshine’s devastatingly personal secrets out for the world to see. Just like that, everything she had built begins to fall.

When it seems like things can’t get any worse, Sunshine returns to her hometown and the doorstep of her estranged sister, Rain. Yes, you read that correctly, the sister’s names are Sunshine and Rain. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it’s not exactly smooth sailing from there for Sunshine.

While there were portions of the story that I thought were cheesy (starting with the sister’s names), I was really interested in the way Laura Dave examined the idea of living a “curated” life. During a time when social media rules all and sucks up so much of our time, we’re seeing people not only share, but share content intended to make their lives look a certain way. Is it possible to share authentically? If anything, Hello, Sunshine is a conversation starter. 

I enjoyed Hello, Sunshine – it’s a quick read that’s great for long summer days!

Standout Quote:

“‘Did it ever occur to you that if you weren’t living in fear of other people’s opinions of you, no one would have the power to take anything away?'”

Major book haul from the library sale!

Book haulI love the library. The aisles of books, the audiobooks for on-the-go listening, and even the occasional DVD, fill me with happiness. The Seattle Public Library held it’s biannual book sale, hosted by The Friends of the Seattle Public Library, and I walked away with one of the largest book hauls I’ve ever gotten. When each book was only $1 or $2, I couldn’t resist! My haul includes stories that I have already read, a couple books I already own, and many books on my TBR list. Here’s the haul:

  • People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks
  • Love Water Memory – Jennie Shortridge
  • The Alphabet House – Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll
  • The Third Angel – Alice Hoffman
  • The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham
  • Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties – Renee Rosen
  • Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
  • The Secret Life of Violet Grant – Beatriz Williams
  • The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman
  • Wicked – Janet Evanovich
  • The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
  • Spring Fever – Mary Kay Andrews
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • After the War is Over – Jennifer Robson
  • The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
  • Faithful Place – Tana French
  • Still Life – Louise Penny
  • The Butterfly and the Violin – Kristy Cambron
  • The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton
  • The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
  • The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson
  • The Good Girl – Mary Kubica
  • The Bat – Jo Nesbo
  • Who Do You Love – Jennifer Weiner
  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  • Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult

Now that I’ve got these great books on hand, I just need to schedule a month-long vacation to read them all!

Bookish Podcasts pt. 2

Dream by Day book reviewsI’m back with another round of bookish podcast recommendations! There are so many great podcasts out there and I’ve listed the ones that I’ve recently been listening to below. Enjoy!

Beaks & Geeks by Penguin Random House

I’m honestly bummed that I didn’t know about this show earlier because I love their segments! It’s informal and conversational with author interviews, writing tips, and upcoming book releases. I’ve listened to quite a few at this point (each clip is pretty short) including interviews with Ernest Cline, Charlene Harris, Beatriz Williams (my favorite author!!!!), Tana French, Fiona Barton, and Sylvia Day. I really recommend this one!

World Book Club by BBC World Service

This show features longer segments covering a range of stories from classics to contemporaries. I listened to a panel discussing The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a fantastic story loved by many around the world. The panel discussed the artistry in Fitzgerald’s language and the idea of reinvention. I thought it was really interesting when they discussed whether there are heroes in The Great Gatsby and if so, who can be categorized as one. This is a good show too.

Dream by Day book reviewsBooks & Authors with Cary Barbor

I enjoy the content of this show quite a bit. In an interview with Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven, the host asks questions about how the idea developed for this post-apocolyptic story. An aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was that it’s not enough to simply survive, but that art needs to have a place in life too. The podcast also hosts interviews with literary agents and editors as well, both of which I found to be really insightful!

What about you all? What are you listening to?

Bookish Podcasts

Bookish podcastsTo make the most of a busy March I’ve been listening to podcasts during my commute and food prep time. True to the book nerd that I am, some of these are bookish podcasts and I’m here to share them with you!

The Penguin Podcast

Hosted by Penguin Books UK, I really enjoy the conversational interviews between the authors and podcast hosts. I’ve listened to Richard E. Grant’s sessions with both Neil Gaimon and Paula Hawkins. I learned a lot about the authors and their books and especially enjoyed that each one shared a few items of significance.

What Should I Read Next?

Anne Bogel, the founder of Modern Mrs. Darcy (a wonderful blog that you should definitely check out if you haven’t already), hosts the podcast. During sessions that range between 20 and 40 minutes, Anne chats with different guests and gives them recommendations based on what they have already read and what they liked/didn’t like. It’s a great podcast and Anne has a huge range of bookish knowledge!

Modern Love: The Podcast

This podcast is produced by WBUR and based on a New York Times series of reader-submitted essays. Even though it isn’t about written books specifically, this podcast shares a series of stories just like any book. The podcasts focus on romantic love, familial love, self-love, and are very touching and unexpected. With episodes that are about 20 minutes long, the podcasts are the perfect length to listen to while I get ready for work. I highly recommend Modern Love: The Podcast; it’s one of my very favorites!

What about you all? Do you listen to podcasts?

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Turner House“Turners seemed incapable of doing anything in moderation.” This was one of the many quotes from The Turner House by Angela Flournoy that stood out to me. Flournoy has successfully created a story that examines the dynamics of a big, complicated, prideful, and loving family. I was very interested in the different roles and relationships between the 13 children, each of whom had a very distinct personality.

When the children claimed to see a supernatural presence one night in the Turner house, their father Francis denies the possibility of a ghost, saying “there ain’t no haints in Detroit.” Years later, when the siblings have become grandparents themselves, the mysterious haint is still present. This is especially true for Cha-Cha, the eldest sibling who took on the paternal role when Francis passed away. When their mother, Viola, becomes sick and the value of the Turner house crashes with the housing market in 2008, the siblings come together to decide how to move forward.

I really enjoyed The Turner House and the role that each of the siblings played, especially the youngest child Lelah. A terribly lonely woman, she’s addicted to gambling and the stillness that it brings her. Although her downward spiral disappointed me, I found myself rooting her on towards recovery. Because there were so many siblings, I had a tricky time keeping them all straight, but that’s to be expected with 13 children in one family.

Here’s one more quote from the book that really struck home with me:

“What parts of their worlds would crumble if they took a great look at their parents’ flaws? If there was no trauma, why not talk about the everyday, human elements of their upbringing?”

I definitely recommend The Turner House for a thought provoking read! Enjoy!

The Turner House

Spring Reading Recommendations

Dream by Day and glassybabyIn honor of National Reading Month, I’m excited to share a few of my favorite books published so far this year with you all! This week I’ve partnered with glassybaby, a PNW based company dedicated to supporting charities with their beautiful handmade candle votives. We bring you these exciting narratives, which cover a wide range of genres from historical fiction to suspenseful thrillers to insightful literary fiction. I invite you to curl up with one of these great books this weekend!

The Forgotten RoomThe Forgotten Room by Beatriz Williams, Karen White & Lauren Willig

A story of fate, The Forgotten Room is the multigenerational tale of three women spanning the decades between the 1890’s and 1940’s in New York City. When the wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought into the hospital where Kate Schuyler works, she feels an undeniable connection with him and is shocked to find a painting that strongly resembles her in his possession. While trying to understand her connection to this mysterious man, she uncovers the truth about her mother and grandmother, each of whom lived in the same mansion converted boarding house converted hospital that she does. Despite being written by three authors, the transitions between these vibrant determined characters flow smoothly together.


The Widow The Widow by Fiona Barton

When Jean Taylor’s husband is accused of kidnapping a young child, she is shocked. Playing the role of the faithful wife, she stands by his side through the case as the police, press, and public relentlessly pound on their door. Years after the little girl disappeared, Jean’s husband is dead and now a widow, she opens up about the secrets she has kept hidden. What really struck me in The Widow was the influence that the media has on a police case and public opinion. With vast experience in the field of journalism, Fiona Barton shares this perspective in her debut novel.

FIND HER by Lisa GardnerFIND HER by Lisa Gardner

“Nobody wants to be a monster.” A fast-paced and suspenseful book, FIND HER is a fantastic. Gardner brings us the story of a survivor, a fighter, and a kidnap victim, Flora Dane. After being held captive for 472 days, Flora has been through the worst. 5 years after her abduction, Flora is still having trouble readjusting to normal life when she mysteriously disappears again. This dark thriller is filled with unexpected twists and presents a very unique perspective into the trauma of kidnapping and the long-term psychological effects of such an experience.


My Name is Lucy Barton My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

It’s difficult to put into words the impact of My Name is Lucy Barton as a novel that is both incredibly powerful and extremely subtle. Elizabeth Strout examines the relationship between a mother and daughter when Lucy, the protagonist of the story, is in the hospital recovering from surgery and her mother comes to her side. Lucy and her mother have a very complicated relationship, but at the same time it’s simple in this: they love each other irrevocably. “I feel that people may not understand that my mother could never say the words I love you. I feel that people may not understand: it was alright.”

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did! Happy reading!

xo Samantha

The Forgotten Room by Beatriz Williams, Karen White & Lauren Willig

The Forgotten RoomThe Forgotten Room is a multigenerational story of three women spanning the decades between the 1890’s and 1940’s in New York City. To make the book even more special, it’s written by three wonderful authors, Beatriz Williams, Karen White, and Lauren Willig. It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Beatriz Williams’ work so I immediately jumped at the chance to read and review The Forgotten Room.

The story begins in the 1940’s when the wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought into the hospital where Dr. Kate Schuyler works. Kate is unable to deny the strong connection she feels with Cooper and is shocked to find a small painting in his duffle bag that looks exactly like her. While trying to understand her connection with this new mysterious man, Kate unearths the mystery of three generations of women in her family. Kate discovers the story of her grandmother Olive, a woman who served as a maid in the very mansion-converted-hospital where Kate now works. Through her search, Kate also learns much more about her mother and the forces that brought her parents together.

Despite the fact that the story was written by three people, the scenes flowed together smoothly. It took me a bit of time to keep the characters straight due to the similarities between the determined heroines and their love interests, but in the end all of the loose ends were brought together.

This is a story of fate. A story of love lost and love found. I was completely absorbed by The Forgotten Room and definitely recommend it!

I received a copy of The Forgotten Room from the Berkley New American Library Group in exchange for an honest review.