#5Books: Book recs & back to reality

Ah, back to reality! After a glorious two weeks in Europe, I returned last week Wednesday — after which jet lag proceeded to kick my ass. Thank goodness for sleeping pills!

I have been posting away on my insta and still have more to post, I just don’t know where to begin!! Zagreb, Croatia was an unexpected gem, and my friend and I got to experience a street festival where there were buskers, school choirs doing concerts (and comedians performing after dark) in parks. It’s a very dog friendly city, with all breeds happily off their leashes and not running rampant. I swear, I think our dogs missed a gene or three over here because that would not be possible at all.

I’ve discovered that a walking tour is hands down the best way to experience any city, and the art history tour there was no exception. There’s so much history just walking the streets there, and I love that aspect of those cities.

(Also, for the record, McDonalds is the best place for free wifi and decent public toilets — always)

After that, we headed to Nice, France where the weather was glorious! I will never get over how it only gets dark at around 9 or later in the spring/ summer months. Following a tour again, I got to explore the little cobweb of streets in the Old Town, where you would find a different set of stores around every corner, beautiful gardens AND the beach as well as markets with all manner of goodness.

Surprisingly, Zagreb was the place with more bakeries than Nice, though in Nice, the supermarkets had delicious bread and pastries anyway.

One thing I enjoy more than anything in Europe is that all I have to do is hop a train in Nice, and I can go to Cannes, Monaco and Italy — which I really did do, and all it took was an hour train ride.

Last, I visited Belgium and my BFF there. And here again, it’s after 10 when it gets dark. We went to Pairi Daiza, outside a little village in Belgium, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. The animals, care and attention to detail in every aspect of the zoo was just mindblowing. I spent a whole day there, and it wasn’t enough to see everything. The Last Frontier is opening soon, in addition to the Kingdom of Ganesha (India), The Middle Kingdom (Asia), The Land of the Cold, Cambron-Abbey, Cambron-by-the-sea, The Land of Origins (Africa), The Southern Cape (Australia).

Mind-blowingly good. Also, honourable mention to the bat cave, wherein you know, you walk through a cave with bats.

Missed checking out the birds, which I have to admit, I say I don’t mind, but only not to kick myself constantly for not going there because I was so damned tired. All day people, all day.

There was also Brugges, which was actually supposed to be a seaside day in Belgium, but the weather sucked so Brugges it was. And what a lovely, lovely city this is — where chocolate and wafffles have pride of place in every street. Seriously, how do these places turn a profit?!

There was a museum there that had a virtual reality tour of the city as it was a hundred or so years ago. It was one of the most disconcerting experiences I’ve ever had mostly due to the face that I was sitting at the top of a mast of a huge ship and then dropping down.

The rest of the museum was so innovative because they incorporated a love story to take people through the history of the city, which made the usual history bits so much more interesting.

I didn’t read one damn bit and I have no regrets — it was good to have a time out to come back and appreciate getting back to normal!

So what did I miss? How have you been??

Meanwhile, here are some recs

The Day The Lies Began

‘Big Little Lies’ meets ‘The Party’

“It seemed simple at first – folding one lie over the next. She had become expert at feathering over the cracks to ensure her life appeared the same. But inside, it didn’t feel fixed.”

It happened the day of the Moon Festival. It could have been left behind, they all could have moved on with their lives. But secrets have a habit of rising to the surface, especially in small towns.

Two couples, four ironclad friendships, the perfect coastal holiday town. With salt-stung houses perched like lifeguards overlooking the shore, Lago Point is the scene of postcards, not crime scenes. Wife and mother Abbi, town cop Blake, schoolteacher Hannah and local doctor Will are caught in their own tangled webs of deceit.

When the truth washes in to their beachside community, so do the judgements: victim, or vigilante, who will forgive, who will betray? Not all relationships survive. Nor do all residents.

Sometimes, doing wrong can feel completely right…

I am not entirely sure Big Little Lies is my cup of tea, but I have to admit including it in this blurb certainly did pique my interest. Small towns, solid friendships and the secrets that break them apart — it may be a common combination these days, but it certainly does work well.

When the Ground is Hard

In this stunning and heartrending tale set in a Swaziland boarding school, two girls of different castes bond over a shared copy of Jane Eyre.

Adele Joubert loves being one of the popular girls at Keziah Christian Academy. She knows the upcoming semester at school is going to be great with her best friend Delia at her side. Then Delia dumps her for a new girl with more money, and Adele is forced to share a room with Lottie, the school pariah, who doesn’t pray and defies teachers’ orders.

But as they share a copy of Jane Eyre, Lottie’s gruff exterior and honesty grow on Adele, and Lottie learns to be a little sweeter. Together, they take on bullies and protect each other from the vindictive and prejudiced teachers. Then a boy goes missing on campus and Adele and Lottie must rely on each other to solve the mystery and maybe learn the true meaning of friendship.

Malla Nunn is an accomplished mystery writer, so this is less of a general debut and more of a YA debut. In this story, friendship and mystery come together, and having read one of her Emmanuel Cooper series, I cannot wait to get my hands on this!

The Starter Wife

From the bestselling author of Girl Last Seen comes “a spine-tingler” (Booklist) of a psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Jessica Knoll. 

Local police have announced that they’re closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found. The chief of police has stated that no concrete evidence of foul play has been discovered in the probe.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband’s first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There’s a big difference.

My phone rings, jarring me away from my thoughts, and when I pick it up, it’s an unknown number. The only answer to my slightly breathless hello is empty static.

When the voice does finally come, it’s female, low, muffled somehow. “Where is it, Claire? What did you do with it? Tell me where it is.”

A woman. A real flesh-and-blood woman on the other end of the phone. She’s not just in my head.

A wave of panic spreads under my skin like ice water. It’s Colleen.

Well, that’s just a creepy ending to this blurb. And what is it that Colleen refers to? What did this, the second wife, do?


All it took was a lapse…a momentary lapse…to bring Clementine Jones’ world crashing down. Now she’s living like a hermit in small-town Katinga, coaching the local footy club. She’s supposed to be lying low, but here she is, with her team on the cusp of their first premiership in fifty years—and the whole bloody town counting on her, cheering her on.

So why the hell would her star player quit on the eve of the finals?

It’s a question she wishes she’d left alone. Others are starting to ask questions too—questions about her. Clem’s not the only one with a secret, and as tension builds, the dark violence just below the town’s surface threatens to erupt. Pretty soon there’ll be nowhere left for Clem to hide.

Small Australian towns are just as perfect a place for incendiary relationships, secrets and lies and here. there are two very simple things to ask: what did Clem do? And what happened to her star player?

The Key to Happily Ever After

One of BuzzFeed’s “Books Coming Out This Summer That You Need to Seriously Read” * One of Bustle’s “New Romance Novels to Make Your Spring Reading Even Dreamier Than You Imagined”

A charming romantic comedy about three sisters who are struggling to keep the family wedding planning business afloat—all the while trying to write their own happily-ever-afters in the process.

All’s fair in love and business.

The de la Rosa family and their wedding planning business have been creating happily ever afters in the Washington, DC area for years, making even the most difficult bride’s day a fairytale. But when their parents announce their retirement, the sisters—Marisol, Janelyn, and Pearl—are determined to take over the business themselves.

But the sisters quickly discover that the wedding business isn’t all rings and roses. There are brides whose moods can change at the drop of a hat; grooms who want to control every part of the process; and couples who argue until their big day. As emotions run high, the de la Rosa sisters quickly realize one thing: even when disaster strikes—whether it’s a wardrobe malfunction or a snowmageddon in the middle of a spring wedding—they’ll always have each other.

Perfect for fans of the witty and engaging novels of Amy E. Reichert and Susan Mallery, The Key to Happily Ever After is a fresh romantic comedy that celebrates the crucial and profound power of sisterhood.

I may be a little behind in reccing this one, but when the fluffy goodness calls to me, I have to rec it. This just sounds adorable!

And that’s all she wrote — question, what’s the best type of book you’ve found that helps get you back into the groove of reading? I feel soft and fluffy might work best for me!


  • Some good looking recommendations here but I really enjoyed hearing about your trip. A dog friendly city – take me please! Sounds like the perfect place for me. Glad you had a great time but it’s also nice to see you back on the blog 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      Barb, helllo!! Thank you darling, I missed so much goodness and am eager to catch up! And OMG, you would have had such a blast there — and stopped for every little dog! It amazed me how well-behaved they were, and weren’t distracted by strangers, or barking away because of them. And owners were taking them into supermarkets and cafes, and no one was batting an eyelash! Also — no poop. I swear, no poop on the streets at all.

  • Jen Mullen says:

    Your trip sounds fantastic! And I will have to come back to check on some of your recommendations that sound good. When the Ground Is Hard appeals to me.

  • Sounds like an awesome trip, I’m jealous!

    I really liked Kylie Kaden’s debut novel, so I’m looking forward to reading her newest.

    I’m curious about Malla Nunn’s latest too, it’s very different from her Detective Emanuel Cooper series

  • Lark says:

    Your trip does sound fantastic. I’m so glad you had such a good time. Hope you’ve recovered from the jet lag. 🙂

  • Angela says:

    I’ve been loving seeing all your vacation photos!

    • Verushka says:

      Thank you! I am working my way through them and posting as I find the good ones and wish I was back there LOL!

  • Your trip sounds incredible! It must have been hard to come back to reality after visiting some many wonderful places.

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