Saturday, May 18, 2024

Sloth Goes Places - Arizona


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 ....


One of my favorite books last week was set in Arizona. Sloth had a great time in Arizona back in 2021. The southwest is such a contrast to where I grew up (the northeast). We loved seeing all the mountains, red rocks, and different flora and fauna of the area. Arizona isn't a setting I encounter often when I read, but it's not difficult to find either. Several books I have read in the past were vacation books where they hit up the Grand Canyon, but many were simply set in that state. 

Birding with Benefits
 by Sarah T. Dubb
Published by Gallery Books on June 4, 2024
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

A divorcée embarks on her “year of yes” and crosses paths with a shy and sensitive birdwatcher who changes her life.

Newly divorced, almost-empty-nester Celeste is finally seeking adventure and putting herself first, clichés be damned. So when a friend asks her to “partner” with his buddy John for an event, Celeste throws herself into the role of his temporary girlfriend. But quiet cinnamon roll John isn’t looking for love, just birds—he needs a partner for Tucson’s biggest bird-watching contest if he’s ever going to launch his own guiding business. By the time they untangle their crossed signals, they’ve become teammates…and thanks to his meddling friends, a fake couple.

Celeste can’t tell a sparrow from a swallow, but John is a great teacher, and the hours they spend hiking in the Arizona wilderness feed Celeste’s hunger for new adventures while giving John a chance to practice his dream job. As the two spend more time together, they end up watching more than just the birds, and their chemistry becomes undeniable.

I loved this book so much! I don't think I ever read a romance that revolved around birding, and I have it admit, all that bird stuff was really interesting. Both Celeste and John had wounds that needed healing. Celeste was finding herself after disappearing into her marriage, and John still stung from an ex who loved who he could be but not necessarily who he was was. I thought they were great together and was rooting for them from beginning to end. 

The Second Ending
 by Michelle Hoffman
Published by Ballantine on May 30, 2023
Age/Genres: Adult, Fiction

A former prodigy who refuses to believe her best years are behind her and a young virtuoso searching for his passion both get an unlikely shot at their dreams in this sparkling debut about second chances, unexpected joys, and the miraculous power of music.

Prudence Childs was once the most famous kindergartner on the planet. After teaching herself to play piano at age three, she performed at the White House, appeared on talk shows, and inspired a generation of children to take up lessons. But as adolescence closed in, Prudence began to see that she was just another exploited child star, pushed into fame by her cruel grandmother. Prudence ran away—from both performing and her greedy handler—as soon as she was old enough to vote. Flat broke and alone, she took a job writing commercial jingles, which earned her a fortune, but left her creatively adrift.

Now forty-eight, with her daughters away at school, Prudence is determined to reconnect with the artist she once was and agrees to compete on a wildly popular dueling pianos TV show. Unfortunately, her new spotlight captures the attention of her terrible ex-husband, Bobby, who uses the opportunity to blackmail her over a secret she thought she’d buried in the past. If she doesn’t win, she won’t just be a musical failure; she’ll also be bankrupted and exposed in front of millions.

Her on-air rival, virtuoso Alexei Petrov, a stunning young Internet sensation with a massive audience and a dreamy Russian accent, has problems of his own. His overbearing parents’ domineering ways made him a technically flawless pianist but left him without friends, hobbies, or any kind of life outside his music.

As they prepare to face off on stage, the retired prodigy and the exhausted wunderkind realize that the competition is their chance to prove—to their terrible exes, tyrannical family members, and most importantly, themselves—that it’s never too late to write a new ending.

I had such a good feeling about this story, and it exceeded my expectations. The book was a ton of fun to read, but it was also an interesting look at the sacrifices made by talented people. I loved everything about it especially the characters and the storytelling. I was captivated from beginning to end.


Forsaken Trail
 by Devney Perry
Published by Devney Perry LLC on December 29, 2020
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Aria Saint-James has planned the perfect getaway: sweatpants, takeout and two weeks alone with her sister and nephew. Nowhere on that list is wearing a low-cut dress and uncomfortable heels to attend a wedding where she knows neither the bride nor the groom. Toss in her nemesis, Brody Carmichael, and her road trip to Arizona is officially a bust.

But at least there is champagne.

She blames the bubbly for falling into bed with Brody that night. Enemy or no, the billionaire is irresistible in a tux. But after their one-night tryst, Aria has no choice but to cut her vacation short, returning home to escape his devilish smile, vowing never to see Brody again.

Except Aria gets a surprise a few weeks later—she’s pregnant. When he learns that she’s carrying his child, Brody offers Aria the chance of a lifetime. The catch? She has to live under his roof until the baby is born.

Either they’ll kill each other in nine months. Or discover love buried beneath their hate.

I loved these two together! Both had a lot to learn with respect to ceding some control and trusting someone with your heart. I appreciated why they were the way they were, and that's why it was a such a pleasure watching them grow together. Another great addition to this series!

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


  1. I love Arizona! So different from any place I've ever lived. I'd love to go back--it has been a while! These recommendations might tide me over until I get the chance.

    1. I have only been there once, but it made an impression. I don't know how I would feel at the height of summer though

  2. I loved Arizona too even if it's extremely hot there!

    1. I wasn't there when it was too hot. I went in March and there was actually snow one of the days.

  3. I'm not a big Arizona fan and I live here - LOL! The problem is that I grew up in a cool, lush, rainy environment so moving to the desert was a HUGE change. I'm still not used to it and I've lived here since 2000. Our winters are lovely, though. The summers? Not so much!

    Dusti Bowling is a local author who writes middle-grade books set here. I really enjoy hers. I also enjoyed Erin Bowman's YA duology (VENGEANCE ROAD and RETRIBUTION RAILS) that was set here.

    1. I was in Arizona in March, so it wasn't too bad, but I don't think I could handle the summers. I adored the Aven Green books by Bowling but am unfamiliar with Bowman.

  4. I'm sure I've read a few books set in Arizona but I'm completely blanking out. Girl in Pieces is one I think is partially set there.

    1. Glasgow scares me. I have never read any of her books.

  5. I've only been to Arizona once, and I loved it. We spent time in Sedona and Scottsdale. We did a lot of golfing and went south to Tombstone. I am reading a book set in Sedona right now, it is a mystery.

    1. I went to Sedona and Grand Canyon (natch). Then we headed out to Moab. It was a great trip. In the mystery, do they talk about those vortices of energy in Sedona?