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Friday, March 22, 2024

The Day Tripper by James Goodhand

The Day Tripper by James Goodhand
Published by MIRA ISBN 9780778367646
Hardcover, $28.99, 368 pages

From the publisher:

What if you lived your days out of order?

It’s 1995, and twenty-year-old Alex Dean has it all: a spot at Cambridge University next year, the love of an amazing woman named Holly and all the time in the world ahead of him. That is until a brutal encounter with a ghost from his past sees him beaten, battered and almost drowning in the Thames.

He wakes the next day to find he’s in a messy, derelict room he’s never seen before, in grimy clothes he doesn’t recognize, with no idea of how he got there. A glimpse in the mirror tells him he’s older—much older—and has been living a hard life, his features ravaged by time and poor decisions. He snatches a newspaper and finds it’s 2010—fifteen years since the fight.

After finally drifting off to sleep, Alex wakes the following morning to find it’s now 2019, another nine years later. But the next day, it’s 1999. Never knowing which day is coming, he begins to piece together what happens in his life after that fateful night by the river.

Why does his life look nothing like he thought it would? What about Cambridge, and Holly? In this page-turning adventure, Alex must navigate his way through the years to learn that small actions have untold impact, even in a life lived out of order. And that might be all he needs to save the people he loves and, equally importantly, himself.

My thoughts:

James Goodhand's time travel novel leaves the reader with much to ponder. The only person he knows who comprehends what he is going though is Dr. Defrates, a professor at a local school. While Alex goes back and forth in time, he finds that making different decisions while in the past can change his future.

Dr. Defrates tells him that if he can "make more good changes, you might reap more benefit. Commit to making real difference, those changes may begin to add up. Good decisions lead to good decisions, just as bad decisions beget more bad decisions."

Alex sees this live out as he wakes up in different time periods of his life. Goodhand does a terrific job placing the reader in Alex's shoes. Can you imagine waking up on your wedding day and not recognizing anyone at your wedding and not knowing who your bride is? 

The reader finds oneself rooting for Alex to make good decisions, and feeling empathy for him when he does not. He wants desperately to find out what went wrong with him and his true love Holly, why they are not together in some versions of his life. Can he correct his past wrongs and get back to her?

Ultimately, The Day Tripper is a rewarding and uplifting story and if this doesn''t encourage the reader to reflect on the decisions made in their own life, I'm not sure what would. I recommend The Day Tripper.

Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on their Winter 2024 Blog Tours.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Becoming Madam Secretary by Stephanie Dray

Becoming Madam Secretary by Stephanie Dray
Published by Berkley ISBN 9780593437056
Hardcover, $29, 528 pages

One of the reasons I enjoy reading historical fiction is that I learn more about historical figures I knew little about. Stephanie Dray's newest novel, Becoming Madam Secretary, shares the story of the life of Frances Perkins, best known as Franklin Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor following the Great Depression.

The novel opens in 1933 with the recently elected President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt summoning Frances Perkins and offering her the job as Secretary of Labor in his cabinet. Perkins would be the first woman in history to serve as a cabinet member, but that doesn't seem to persuade her to take on the role.

Perkins had prepared a list of things that she wants to accomplish if she took the job, including eliminating child labor, limiting working hours, instituting a federal minimum wage, and creating what would become Social Security. If she thought this would discourage Roosevelt, she was mistaken. He agrees to back her and she is stuck taking the job.

The book then goes back in time and we see Perkins' start, first as a graduate student in economics studying child malnutrition in Hells Kitchen in New York City. Her dedication, work ethic, and success captures the attention of others in the social work field, and she is asked to become a lobbyist with the New York Consumers League.

Through her lobbying efforts Perkins becomes acquainted with politicians like future governors of New York Al Smith and Franklin Roosevelt, and they recognize her talents and put them to good use. But being a woman in a man's world back then required a high wire act that Perkins managed to walk.

Frances also captures the attention of writer Sinclair Lewis, whose attempts to woo her are comical if unsuccessful. She does marry a man who appreciates that Frances has a career doing important work, but their union has troubled times ahead.

I found myself totally immersed in the life of Frances Perkins and I could not put Becoming Madam Secretary down. I found it reminiscent of Allison Pataki's The Magnificent Marjorie Post; both books highlighted women who accomplished so much in a time when women weren't expected to do much more than run a household. 

Frances Perkins saw a need to fix major problems in this country at a most challenging time, and she was  the woman for the job. Becoming Madam Secretary is an appropriate and excellent read for Women's History Month. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for providing a copy for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Hypnotized By Love by Sariah Wilson

Hypnotized By Love by Sraiah Wilson
Published by Montlake ISBN 9781662514227
Trade paperback, $16.99, 283 pages

Sariah Wilson's latest rom-com Hypnotized by Love has a protagonist with a unique occupation- Savannah Sinclair practices hypnosis therapy. People come to Savannah for help with anxiety, sleep issues, and more.

As the story opens, Savannah has been censured by the Florida Board of Professional Hypnotists. When a patient came to her office, Savannah felt that something was not quite right and offered to refer him to another hypnotist. This man pursued Savannah romantically and when she demurred, he went online and left bad reviews and eventually filed a complaint stating that she was pursuing him romantically.

This hurt Savannah's business and her confidence. Her twin sister Sierra, an ER nurse, and their friend Bridget are doing their best to cheer Savannah up at a restaurant when in walks Mason Beckett, the guy who broke Savannah's heart in high school and who spread rumors about her that left her devastated.

Mason is a successful writer, and his parents and Savannah's have been best friends forever. The two families spent all their time together. He is the last person Savannah wants to see today.

It turns out that Mason is writing a magazine piece about hypnotherapy and he booked an appointment with Savannah under a different name. Savannah wants nothing to do with Mason, but when his mom asks her to see him as a favor, she relents. She will see him once, but when their session is interrupted before Savannah can bring him out of his trance by a fire in the building, a problem ensues.

Mason turns on the charm, but Savannah wants nothing to do with him romantically, and after the censure incident, has to be very careful not to be seen as anything but professional with Mason. But this is a rom-com, so we know that things will turn romantic.

Hypnotized By Love is a quick and enjoyable read, and I loved the clever banter between Savannah and Mason and Savannah and her twin sister Sierra. There are a lot of humorous quips that had me laughing. I found the hypnosis angle intriguing and different. Sariah Wilson manages to make the usual rom-com tropes refreshing with her witty writing and characters. Hypnotized By Love was a perfect plane read.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Sariah Wilson's Tour. The rest of her stops are here:

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Monday, March 4, 2024

Kilt Trip by Alexandra Kiley

Kilt Trip by Alexandra Kiley
Published by Canary Street Press ISBN 9781335009296
Trade paperback, $18.99, 336 pages

I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland a few years ago, and when the opportunity to review Alexandra Kiley's romance Kilt Trip popped up, I enthusiastically joined and I'm glad I did.

Addie Macrae has an interesting job- she is a travel consultant. She works for a small company that advises tour companies around the world, and helps them better utilize such things as social media to maximize profitability.

Her newest assignment takes her to Edinburgh to help a family-run tour guide business. She begins by taking a tour incognito with the company . The tour guide is Logan Sutherland, whose father hired Addie's company. Looking quite ruggedly handsome in his kilt, Logan has a great personality in his role as a guide, but Addie is dismayed to discover that the tour leaves out the usual highlights that most people associate with Edinburgh.

Logan is charming to Addie during the tour but when he discovers that she is the consultant that his father hired, he is not happy. He believes that his tours show people the more interesting sites in Scotland, not the ones that every other tour guide company visits. That makes their company unique, but unfortunately not profitable enough.

Logan and Addie make a deal- Logan will take Addie on his favorite tour and Addie will take Logan on a tour she designs that hits all the touristy highlights people want to see. The winner gets to choose which tours the company will focus their efforts on.

Addie confides in Logan that her mother's family is from Scotland. Since her mother passed away thirteen years ago, Addie has been adrift. Logan arranges for Addie to see all of the places that her mother loved in Scotland, and this moves Addie.

In this enemies-to-lovers story, Addie and Logan overcome their animosity and give into their passion- and there is a lot of passion in this novel. Kilt Trip is a spicy read (the castle scene!), and there are enough bumps in the road to romance to keep things intriguing. Addie is torn between her growing attraction to Logan and her duty to her company and Logan's father to make their company profitable.

Kilt Trip is a fast read, one that had me turning the pages to see if Addie and Logan can make their different lifestyles work together. The scenery may inspire readers to travel to Scotland to find their own kilt-clad tour guide and see all the sights. I recommend Kilt Trip, a terrific spring break beach read.

Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on their Winter 2024 Blog Tours.