Saturday, April 6, 2024

Sloth Goes Places - New Jersey


Sloth Goes Places is a feature where I share books I have tracked from previous Literary Escapes reading challenge hosted by Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book.

Today we are looking at books set in ....

New Jersey

Ah, the Garden State, aka, my home state. I was not born in NJ, but I went to high school and college here, and have been here since I returned back in 2001. I have spent many years in Jersey. I live in the middle of the state, halfway between NYC and Philly and about 15 minutes from Newark airport. With its proximation to NYC, I am surprised I don't read more books set here, but I can usually find one I enjoy each year. I read three so far this year, and two were set down the shore which I guess is a Jersey claim to fame. 

Summertime Punchline
 by Betty Corrello
Published by Avon Books on May 21, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

HBO’s Hacks meets Carley Fortune’s Every Summer After in this hilarious and sweeping love story about a comedian forced to return to her Jersey Shore hometown and confront everything she left behind ten summers before—including the man who broke her heart.

Then. Delfina Silva-Miller wants one thing: to leave behind Evergreen, New Jersey and never look back. Despite her adoring grandmother’s best efforts, Del can’t bear to live another moment at the whims of her deadbeat dad (so clich√©) and her ever-temperamental crush, Eddie Rodriguez (humiliating).

Now. If there’s one thing Del knows how to do, it’s spin her bad luck into a killer joke. After years of hard work, she’s finally landed a coveted spot at a huge comedy festival, molding the often tragic raw material of her life into comedic gold. But when Del loses her job, boyfriend, and apartment in the span of a few hours, she’s forced to pack her bags and return to the home she swore off at eighteen.

Del is determined not to let her history with Evergreen distract her. She has 45 days to perfect a new comedy set and march into her new life. Instead, she marches right into Eddie Rodriguez. But he’s nothing like the boy she left behind ten years ago.

As the festival draws closer, Del is faced with the terrifying possibility that everything she’s ever wanted isn’t as far away as it once seemed.

Vividly evoking the boardwalks and beaches of the Jersey Shore, Summertime Punchline is a hilarious, vulnerable, and sweeping love story celebrating the complicated relationships—romantic and not—that impact our lives, for better or worse.

This was set in a fictional shore town which I sort of wish was real. It sounds like a wonderful place to live or visit. The setting may not have been real, but my love for this book is. It was a comeback story, a second chance romance, and story of forgiveness which I enjoyed immensely. 

Check & Mate
 by Ali Hazelwood
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR on November 7, 2023
Age/Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

In this clever and swoonworthy YA debut from the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis, life's moving pieces bring rival chess players together in a match for the heart.

Mallory Greenleaf is done with chess. Every move counts nowadays; after the sport led to the destruction of her family four years earlier, Mallory's focus is on her mom, her sisters, and the dead-end job that keeps the lights on. That is, until she begrudgingly agrees to play in one last charity tournament and inadvertently wipes the board with notorious "Kingkiller" Nolan Sawyer: current world champion and reigning Bad Boy of chess.

Nolan's loss to an unknown rook-ie shocks everyone. What's even more confusing? His desire to cross pawns again. What kind of gambit is Nolan playing? The smart move would be to walk away. Resign. Game over. But Mallory's victory opens the door to sorely needed cash-prizes and despite everything, she can't help feeling drawn to the enigmatic strategist....

As she rockets up the ranks, Mallory struggles to keep her family safely separated from the game that wrecked it in the first place. And as her love for the sport she so desperately wanted to hate begins to rekindle, Mallory quickly realizes that the games aren't only on the board, the spotlight is brighter than she imagined, and the competition can be fierce (-ly attractive. And intelligent...and infuriating...)

Mallory lived in NJ, but most of the scenes took place somewhere else as she traveled to NYC and beyond to play chess. Kiersten had reviewed this for the blog and was a huge fan. We both really liked the chess scenes - who knew it could be that interesting to read about!, and we found Mallory really easy to root for. 


Charlotte Illes Is Not a Detective
 by Katie Siegel
Published by Kensington on June 27, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery

For anyone seeking to satisfy their Harriet the Spy, Encyclopedia Brown, or Nancy Drew nostalgia, this charming, entertaining debut based on the popular @katiefliesaway TikTok series stars a twentysomething former kid detective who’s coaxed out of retirement for one last case.

The downside of being a famous child detective is that sooner or later, you have to grow up . . .

As a kid, Charlotte Illes’ uncanny sleuthing abilities made her a minor celebrity. But in high school, she hung up her detective’s hat and stashed away the signature blue landline in her “office”—aka garage—convinced that finding her adult purpose would be as easy as tracking down missing pudding cups or locating stolen diamonds.

Now twenty-five, Charlotte has a nagging fear that she hit her peak in middle school. She’s living with her mom, scrolling through job listings, and her love life consists mostly of first dates. When it comes to knowing what to do next, Charlotte hasn’t got a clue.

And then, her old blue phone rings . . .

Reluctantly, Charlotte is pulled back into the mystery-solving world she knew—just one more time. But that world is a whole lot more complicated for an adult. As a kid, she was able to crack the case and still get her homework done on time. Now she’s dealing with dead bodies, missing persons, and villains who actually see her as a viable threat. And the detective skills she was once so eager to never use again are the only things that can stop a killer ready to make sure her next retirement is permanent . . .

This was another book where the character traveled often from her home in NJ to NYC - it's a thing! Charlotte couldn't seem to shake her childhood legacy as much as she tried, and then she found herself sleuthing again. The book was packed with humor and hijinks, and I had a great time with Charlotte and her crew.


Have you read any books set in New Jersey?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. My late husband was born in New Jersey and I went there twice. The books sound interesting.

    1. Did you get to visit a good part? See some good stuff? I hope so.

  2. I've lived in NJ my entire life! I actually don't come across too many books set here, but I read a historical fiction at the beginning of the year, set down the shore, that fictionalized the events that inspired the Jaws movie.

    1. I have lived most of my life in NJ, so I admit I am from here. Jaws inspired historical fiction. That's interesting.

  3. I loved Check & Mate. I forgot it was set in NJ. I'm trying to think of others I've read set there, but I'm coming up blank.

    1. The bulk of the action did not take place in NJ, but that was where she lived.

  4. I adored Check & Mate! When I think of books set in Jersey, I always think of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. :)

    1. I never read those, but my aunt always recommended them. I have to check out one of Evanovich's books one of these days.