Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Romance Review Roundup

 


Hi reader friends!  Welcome to a mini romance book review.  I have three reviews for you for some very fun rom-com's you've got to read!  


Title: Sweet Talk
Author: Cara Bastone 
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3 Stars 

Sweet Talk was a sweet cute book similar to Call me Maybe in the sense that the two main characters don't know who the other is in real life until the end of the book.  I should rephrase that - She knows who he is.  He has no idea who she is until the end of the book. And that's part of the fun!  

Both Eliot and the lady (whose name I forgot because it's not revealed until the end of the book) are both insomniacs. One night she accidentally drunk texts Eliot, which leads to the two of them getting to know each other via text message.  Their messages and conversations are filled with humor and candidness that makes it obvious they are interested in each other and have a good romantic connection. 

I loved the phone only contact they had that gave them a chance to develop a connection and get to know each other in a different way that worked for them.  I liked that she saw him dancing before they actually met face to face, and had the chance to see him and how he interacted with other people in a public setting.  I loved really the entire cute aspect of the book, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet cute rom-com to read.



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Title: The Break Up Artist
Author: Erin Clark and Laura Lovely
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3 Stars 

Zelda had a little wine drinking adventure with her best friend one night, and they ended up hanging up posters all over town advertising an anonymous break up service ran by Zelda.  She made up an email address and people who wanted an impersonal letter written to the person they wanted to dump would email her - and she'd send said letter to the dumpee.  Great idea, right?  I don't think so, but it did lead to Zelda meeting a man. I had mixed feelings about this book. I loved that Zelda had a sweet romance, but I hated that she built her little outside of work hobby on breaking couples up. There's some stuff we find out part way through the book that makes you see why her little side hobby is devastating for people.  

Anyway, I loved that this book featured a disabled MC, and that it showed that disabled people are just like everyone else.  Things you can learn from this book:

* Wheelchair users are not different from the rest of us.  They can do a lot for themselves, and if they need help, they will let you know.
* Wheelchairs are an extension of a wheelchair users body - don't touch them unless you have permission!

Overall, this was a fun one time read. 



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Title: Call Me Maybe 
Author: Cara Bastone
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4 Stars

This was THE CUTEST book!  I loved it so much   It definitely is my favorite out of the three in this post.  

Vera, frazzled and upset because her website keeps crashing, calls customer service and meets Kal, customer service rep extraordinaire!  They spend the next several days talking on the phone A LOT regarding her website.  During their chats, they order each other food, laugh about silly things that happened to them throughout their days, and generally flirt with each other in a very adorable way.  

I loved the way that Kal and Vera talked to each other.  They had this instant chemistry, even through just conversations. They both just had this vibe that fit with the other person.  

There was a lot of comedy throughout this book - tons of cute one liners, and the two MC's jabbing at each other a bit.  I felt like that added to the overall fun vibe this book had. It just fit with this book and really added a lot to what was going on. 

Watching the characters develop feelings for each other and then finally meeting in real life was so fun! I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves rom-coms.

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If you've read any of these books let me know what you thought of them in the comments! 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Two Truths and a Lie - April Henry


Title: Two Truths and a Lie 
Author: April Henry
Format: Hardcover 
Rating: 2.5 Stars 

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A group of teens are trapped in an old motel with a murderer in this chilling YA mystery by New York Times bestselling author April Henry.

Nell has always wanted to be an actor, but doubts her ability. As a member of her school’s theater program, she prefers working backstage. On the way to a contest, an unexpected blizzard strands her acting troupe in a creepy motel. Soon they meet a group of strangers from another high school—including the mysterious and handsome Knox, who insists they play the game Two Truths and a Lie. When it’s Nell’s turn, she draws a slip of paper inked in unfamiliar handwriting:

I like to watch people die.
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve killed.


Suddenly a night of harmless fun turns into a matter of life and death. As guests go missing, it becomes clear that a murderer is hiding in their midst ready to strike again. In a room full of liars and performers, the truth is never quite what it seems. Nell is going to have to act like her life depends on it—because it does.

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Two Truths and a Lie had an interesting premise, and there were parts that were definitely thrilling and scary.  I don't know if I'd read it again, but it was a good one time read.  

I personally felt like it was pretty easy to figure out exactly who had committed the murders in the 80's.  BUT that's just me.  

Other than figuring out who exactly the bad guy was, I did enjoy trying to figure out what that person was going to try and when.  I thought there was some good tension and thrill in that aspect.  

Since I know what midwest winters can be like, I found the scene of them being trapped in a blizzard totally plausible.  (It happens - ask me about the night we spent in a school during my freshman year at a speech tournament.)  The weird creepy motel added even more to the story and made me never want to stay in some country motel ever!

When both groups of kids arrived at the motel, one group had an actual teacher with them, and the other group had a student teacher with them.  The actual teacher went to bed, stating she was going to take a sleeping pill and was not to be woken up until the following morning under any circumstances.  The student teacher stayed up all night with the kids and played games with them.  Don't be like either one of these adults.  That was very frustrating to me.  They both should have done a better job supervising the kids during that first night. 

I liked Travis's development throughout the book.  He had some things going on, but I think he was really a sweet guy who just wanted to make other people happy.  

The book was a quick read, and scary enough to keep me hooked.  If you want something that's thrilling yet quick, check it out.  

If you've read the book already, let me know what you thought! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Eyes of the Forest - April Henry

 

Title: Eyes of the Forest
Author: April Henry 
Format: Hardcover 
Rating: 2 Stars 

SPOILERS AHEAD

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After a bestselling fantasy author disappears, only his biggest fan believes he’s in danger and has the courage to uncover the truth in this fast-paced mystery with a chilling psychological twist.

Bridget is RM Haldon's biggest fan. His epic fantasy series, Swords and Shadows, created a lifeline between Bridget and her mom as she lost her battle with cancer. When Bridget met Haldon at his only book signing, she impressed the author with her encyclopedic knowledge of the fantasy world he'd created. Bridget has been working for him ever since as he attempts to write his final book. Now, Haldon is missing, and Bridget is the only person who seems concerned. Can Bridget piece together Haldon’s clues and save him before it’s too late?

Master mystery-writer April Henry weaves another heart-stopping young adult thriller in this story that seamlessly blends suspense with fan culture. For readers of Courtney Summers and Karen McManus.

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I was told there'd be a thriller. There was, in fact, no thriller.  

This is the first April Henry book I've read, so I didn't know what to expect.  The only reason I rated this book two stars was because it was not, in my opinion, a thriller.  It was not this heart pounding, "That person's been kidnapped" story. Rather, it was a book we go into fully knowing that the author has been kidnapped, and who did it.

Bridget, the books MC, is a superfan of a local fantasy author whose books have been popular since before she was born.  She's continued holding them close to her heart because she read them with her mom, who died when Bridget was 12.  In the second chapter we learn that Bob, author of this beloved fantasy series, organized his kidnapping with a local teen - Derrick.  Bob knows Derrick because Derrick's mom is Bob's cleaner/secretary. 

Anyway, during this "kidnapping" Derrick brings Bob things, and forces Bob to write, then sells the writing to people in the dark web.  It's not until halfway through the book that Bridget, who was apparently drafted into helping Bob keep track of his books because she has an encyclopedic knowledge base of said book, realizes that something is wrong and emails Bob. This leads him to email her, and it takes her just as long to realize the email is a code and MY GOD IT WAS SO SLOW AND SO INSIPID. 

So, before I go and spoil anything else (sorry, kind of) let me tell you about the following:

The Characters. They were not well developed at all.  They were all pretty one dimensional with no depth and nothing to make me care about them, not even a little bit.  There was literally not a single character in this book that I genuinely liked and wanted to root for.  

The Writing.  Mediocre at best.  There was just enough there to make me want to finish just so I could see HOW Bob got out, but otherwise, the phrasing of things just fell flat. 

The Story.  BORING.  The last time I was this bored reading a book that was supposed to be thrilling was when I read Lucy Foley's The Guest List.  When you know what's happening from the very beginning, it sort of takes all the fun out of it.

Friends, if you've read this book, I'm sorry.  And if you haven't read this book, DON'T.  

Drop some recs for awesome YA and adult thrillers and horror in the comments if you've got them!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Chef's Kiss - TJ Alexander

 

Title: Chef's Kiss 
Author: TJ Alexander 
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars 

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A high-strung pastry chef’s professional goals are interrupted by an unexpected career transition and the introduction of her wildly attractive nonbinary kitchen manager in this deliciously fresh and witty queer rom-com.

Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.

To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.

Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).

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I absolutely adored this book.  The author did a great job of melding together two of my favorite things: Food and Romance. 

Simone and Ray were wonderfully written characters and I fell in love with both of them.  They were both well written and well developed.  It was fantastic to watch them both go through the changes they did and the self discovery they both experienced throughout the novel.  Simone really opened up and learned that it was okay to be more open not only with other people, but also with herself.  Ray had a lot to do with that because they were so open and so honest with Simone about who they were and what they wanted, and I think that showed Simone that she could be herself, even in the face of complete jackasses like Chase.

Speaking of Chase, he was one character in this book that I absolutely LOATHED.  He was a toady, ignorant jerk.  Ray came out to Simone as non-binary.  They then made the decision to come out to the rest of the employees of The Discerning Chef.  Most of the people who worked there were like "Okay, cool.  You are who you are." But Chase and some of the TDC execs were so awful to Ray.  These people would intentionally misgender Ray, using feminine pronouns for them, instead of they/them pronouns.  Chase would also repeatedly use Ray's dead name even after Ray told him they are called Ray.  It was absolutely infuriating.  Simone and several other employees really had Ray's back, and really worked hard to make sure they were all open to and accepting of Ray. 

I feel like this story was really well developed, and it drew me in from the beginning.  It also made me wish that Ray and Simone were real people doing real videos about beer and food because the videos they made together in the book sounded epic!  The author did a great job of developing the romance and chemistry between Simone and Ray, and also did a wonderful job of showing how hard it was for Ray to come out and be vulnerable in a place where a lot of people didn't accept them for who they are. 

Watching the characters get to know each other and develop these awesome bonds of friendship throughout the book was great.  (And, of course, the more between Ray and Simone.) It was great the way this helped them really stand together when Ray was being discriminated against because of who they were.  

I loved the slow burn aspect of the book as well.  You could tell that Ray and Simone were attracted to each other, but it was great that this book really took the time to develop that relationship and have those characters really get to know each other.  I'm not a big fan of insta-love, so having this slow development of the relationship was amazing.

Overall, this was a great read that I'd recommend to anyone who loves romance.  

If you've already read this book let me know what you thought of it in the comments! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Pride Month Reading Recs


Hey reader friends!  Happy Pride Month.  If you're here because you just HAVE TO KNOW what books I'd rec for pride month - you're in luck. Here are just some of the amazing LGBTQ+ books that exist in this world.

YA Recs

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli 
Camp - Lee Rosen 
The Heartstopper Series - Alice Oseman 
The Diviner Series - Libba Bray 
Jay's Gay Agenda - Jason June 
They Both Die At the End - Adam Silvera 
Cemetery Boys - Aiden Thomas 
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali - Sabina Kahn 


Adult Recs 

Written in the Stars - Alexandria Bellefleur 
Hang the Moon - Alexandria Bellefleur 
The Boyfriend Project - Alexis Hall 
Red, White, and Royal Blue - Casey McQuiston
One Last Stop - Casey McQuiston 
The Guncle - Steve Rowley 

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There are so many fantastic books that should be read not only in this pride month but year round. Do you have more suggestions and recs?  Drop them in the comments below!


Friday, May 6, 2022

My Dearest Darkest - Kayla Cunningham

Title: My Dearest Darkest 
Author: Kayla Cottingham
Format: Paperback 
Rating: 5 Stars 

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WILDER GIRLS meets THE CRAFT in this Sapphic horror debut that asks: What price would you be willing to pay to achieve your deepest desires?

Finch Chamberlin is the newest transfer student to the ultra-competitive Ulalume Academy... but she's also not what she seems. Months before school started, Finch and her parents got into an accident that should have left her dead at the bottom of a river. But something monstrous, and ancient, and terrifying, wouldn't let her drown. Finch doesn't know why she woke up after her heart stopped, but since dying she's felt a constant pull from the school and the surrounding town of Rainwater, like something on the island is calling to her.

Selena St. Clair sees right through Finch, and she knows something is seriously wrong with her. But despite Selena's suspicion, she feels drawn to Finch and has a sinking feeling that from now on the two will be inexplicably linked to one another.

One night Finch, Selena, and her friends accidentally summon a carnivorous creature of immense power in the depths of the school. It promises to grant every desire the girls have kept locked away in their insecure hearts―beauty, power, adoration―in exchange for a price: human body parts. But as the cost of their wanting becomes more deadly, Finch and Selena must learn to work together to stop the horror they unleashed, before it consumes the entire island.

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I have been searching all year for a book that hits the nail on the five star head.  The Mary Shelley Club was one, and this was the other!  This book was creepy and weird and gave me all the 5 star shivers. 

Was the book without faults? No.  After all, Finch could have been just a smidge *deeper* and more developed. But overall, the feels this book gave me were enough to overlook the fact that the MC needed more development. 

The rest of the characters were wonderful. There was the angst that is typical in YA novels, but come on - being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager at a school with a weird creature living under the tunnels is even harder. I mean, Damn. 

There were some really gross moments in this book, and a lot of body horror. (Seriously, if you can't handle body horror, don't read this book.) But for me, that added to the tension and mystery in the book.  I loved the mystery behind Nerosi.  There was this spirit behind her and a change to her as each sacrifice happened that really opened her character.  Each appearance if the stag and the past people who were lost to Nerosi's weird life were also great looks into her character and what she was really like. 

I loved the aspect of this horrific creature and all these events happening at an old boarding school (old as in the building has been has been around for a while.)  Having all the hidden tunnels under the school added a mysterious element because you never new what was going to happen to the students or what they were going to really fund when they went to the tunnels. 

The thing that did seem strange to me was that students at a boarding school would be able to live basically off campus like Selena, Kyra, and their other friend did.  Teenagers are certainly much more independent than younger kids, but these kids are still in school, and I'm assuming that when teens go to a boarding school, the parents are trusting the staff to take care of the kids and keep an eye on them.  These kids living off campus in that light house definitely opened the door to the kids being able to cause a lot of fuss (hello Nerosi!) 

Overall, though, I really love this book.  It has the perfect amount of weird and creepy with some great self exploration and self discovery thrown in.  






 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Bout of Books 34!

 


Hey reader friends.  Welcome!  It's the end of April - and in my world that means it's time for the May round of Bout of Books.  If you've ever visited my blog before, you know that I've been doing Bout of Books for at least 4 years.  I love Bout of Books so much.  It's, by far, my favorite readathon.  If you're not at all familiar with Bout of Books, here's a good description from one of the organizers:

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 34 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I have an outrageous amount of books on my couch right now from the library, and I won't be able to make it through all of them during Bout of Books, because some of them are absolute chonkers.  But my goal is to read as much of them as I can during that week!  

If you want to do Bout of Books as well, you should definitely go to their blog right now and sign up!  I would love to spend the week reading with any one of you.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Heartstopper - the series


 

I just finished watching Heartstopper on Netflix, and it was just as sweet and adorable as the graphic novels.  If you're a teen who loves romance and all sorts of sweet cute stuff, or if you're an adult who loves rooting for kids being kids and being themselves, this is the series for you.  It is fluffy and awesome and I loved it! 

The series does a lot of things well, including the casting.  I absolutely loved each person cast in the series and I thought they fit into the characters they were playing so well.  I especially loved that they cast a trans actress to play Elle.  Hollywood has this bad bad habit of casting cis people to play trans roles, and that's just not cool - so it was really refreshing to see that they had cast Yasmin Finney in that role. 

True to the graphic novels, Ben and several of Nick's friends were real jerks.  Ben especially was just horrible!  He was so nasty to Charlie and it was absolutely fantastic when Charlie was finally able to build up the confidence to really tell Ben to basically fuck off and leave him alone.  Go Charlie!  

I loved that the art teacher was so cool and understanding with Charlie.  He'd been there when Charlie was bullied, when Charlie went through it with Ben, and just created this safe space within his classroom that made Charlie feel good.  It's great when the important adults in a young persons life show those kids that they are safe with that adult and that they can be whoever they are without question. 

The books and the Netflix series both show that acceptance is a good thing, It is amazing to see a series that wholeheartedly embraces all the characters and shows them living unapologetically.  I know someone is going to get their panties in a twist and get mad at seeing a show and a graphic novel series that shows queer love and joy, but my suggestion for them is: get over it.  Everyone deserves to be happy, to feel joy, to experience all the good things in life, and that includes LGBT people.  Alice Oseman did such a wonderful job creating this whole world and showing the love these people felt for their friends, and the joy and happiness they want with the people they liked. 

It was fantastic to see Charlie grow and to see Nick grow - to watch them both learn so much about themselves and who they are.  They were both just phenomenal and wonderful, and the actors cast to play them in the Netflix series were so so good.  

The whole season is beautiful and wonderful, and if you haven't watched it, you need to now.  Also, if you haven't read the books yet - DO IT NOW! 
















Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Book Blog Ideas


Every book blogger knows that a book blog cannot survive solely on reviews.  Reviews are great, and we love writing them, but other posts besides reviews can really help a book blog thrive.  If you're looking for some other ideas for your blog, here are some ideas that could add some fun to your blogs. 


  • Do a fake dating profile on one of your favorite characters 
  • A Book Vs. Movie post based on whichever book you like and its movie counterpart. 
  • Seasonal or Holiday themed posts (Best Books to Read for Valentine's Day, Best Summer Reads, etc)
  • Book Haul Posts! (Show us all those awesome books!!!)
  • Book Recs based on your favorite character(s) - which books would your favorite character love to read! 
  • Kiss, Marry, Kill - it's cheesy but fun.  Have your followers give you three names, and pick which of those three you'd kiss, marry, or kill
  • RIP it or SHIP it - pick two characters, any two characters, and tell your readers if you'd RIP them or SHIP them
  • If you like this, try that....
  • Monthly TBR lists 
  • Monthly wrap ups 
  • Your favorite characters of all time (or favorite characters from a certain series or genre)
  • Your auto buy authors 
  • Do a contest or giveaway 
  • If you're involved with blog tours - do more blog tour posts 
  • Author interviews!  If you can manage it, having an author interview on your blog would be a great way to engage readers 
Do you have any other ideas you'd add to a list like this?  Hope you enjoy, and feel free to share any ideas you have as well!  










Sunday, April 17, 2022

My Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Characters of All Time

 


Hey reader friends!  Welcome, welcome.  Now, I know what you're thinking: How can you POSSIBLY pick just TEN FAVORITE Fantasy characters??!??!  Well, believe me - it's not easy. But I've narrowed down my list, and here are my personal ten favorite fantasy characters of ALL TIME! 


TEN

Evie O'Neill - The Diviners Series: Evie was an absolute pain in the ass, but she grew so much during the series and really learned how to use her powers to help people.

NINE

Memphis Campbell - The Diviners Series: Memphis went through so much and was such a kind hearted person.  He did what he needed to do not only to help others but to help himself and his brother from outside forces. 

EIGHT

Adelina Amouteru - The Young Elites: Adelina was absolutely fierce and completely bad ass.  I don't even know what else to say other than - I stan Adelina.

SEVEN

Frodo Baggins - LOTR: Look, sure Frodo was tasked with getting the ring to Mordor, and he kicks ass, but he's also kind of like....too meek and didn't carry the fellowship at all! But I still love that furry footed little dude. 

SIX

Jon Snow - A Song of Ice and Fire: Do I need to elaborate?! He was raised as his father's bastard never really fitting in with his own family, but he loved them and so many others so so fiercely.

FIVE 

Rue - The Hunger Games: That child went through so much, and died so that the w h i t e kids could win. I said what I said. Her death was horrific and completely unnecessary. She was brave and wonderful and didn't deserve what happened to her. None of them did, but Rue didn't the most. Forgive me for the horrifically written sentence reader friends - that's how much I hate that Rue died.  

FOUR

Gandalf - LOTR: I'm not even going to elaborate on this one.  It's fucking Gandalf. 

THREE 

Legolas and Gimli - LOTR: I KNOW I PICKED TWO. Hear me out - these two started out HATING each other because, well, dwarf and elf.  They ended up building this wonderful, amazing relationship, and doing so much to help the fellowship and Frodo throughout the entirety of LOTR! 

TWO

Arya Stark - The Song of Ice and Fire series: This kid starts out as a kid who just kind of bothers her sister, almost ruins Sansa's chance at marrying Joffrey (apparently) and then grows into a complete and total bad ass.  

One

Samwise Gamgee - LOTR: I literally cannot think of a SINGLE character I love more than Sam! He carries the Fellowship, he keeps Frodo safe despite what seem like insurmountable odds, and he is THE MOST gentle soul.  I will never not love Sam until the end of time! 

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Okay reader friends: What do you think?  Do you have any fantasy characters from my list that you love?  Do you have ones I may not have mentioned that you really love? Let me know in the comments.


Friday, April 15, 2022

The Friend Zone - Abby Jimenez

Title: The Friend Zone 
Author: Abby Jimenez 
Format: E-book
Rating: 2 stars 

Reader friends, I wanted to like this book. I really did. I wanted to fawn over it as much as I fawned over Life's too Short (yes, I read her third book first).  This book, however, fell short in so many ways.  

Kristen, the lady MC, is great at some things, but so, so stubborn at other things, and most of the things where she dug her heels in made me so frustrated.  She was told over and over and over by Josh that he loved her no matter what and it wasn't until something VERY BAD happened that she believed it. Josh, to be fair, spent a lot of time talking about how he ONLY wanted children that he helped create, and did not want to adopt.  I could understand some of where Kristen was coming from in this regard.  However, after Josh realized this was what was so upsetting to her, he changed a lot having time to think about it, and he came to the conclusion he'd have kids or not have kids or adopt or whatever if it meant he could be with Kristen.

When the novel started with Kristen slamming those breaks on and causing Josh to bump the back of her truck, I thought their interaction was going to pave the way for a book that was truly a rom-com filled with humor and wit with the romance.  Most of the book ended up being fairly devastating. I certainly think that romance books can have sad and tragic events in them, but when the book is mostly described as a romantic comedy type book, it should veer more towards that than full on car wreck.

I DID love that the MC Kristen made and sold her own dog stairs, clothes, and toys - showing how much she loved that added a depth to her character that would have been lacking otherwise.  It also gave opportunity for Josh and Kristen to develop a relationship and get to know each other since he was helping her build the stairs that she sold. 

The friendships in the book were technically great - that was one plus for this book.  The characters all had great relationships with their friends and these relationships were well built and developed.  If every part of the story had been that well developed and well written this would have been much more of a bang up book in my opinion. 

The back and forth between the two main characters was frustrating to me - each of them was like "I love you," and then just didn't communicate about any of the details that they needed each other to know.  This led to a lot of confusion and drama that was very unnecessary to the story as a whole.  A lot of the issues could have been solved a lot earlier if they'd just talked to each other about what was really going on! 

Overall, this book was a bit of a dud for me.  If you've read this book, what did you think?  Let me know in the comments - I'm looking forward to hearing what you thought!

 










Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Guest List - Lucy Foley

Title: The Guest List 
Author: Lucy Foley 
Format: E-Book 
Rating: 2 stars 

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Well, dear reader friends - here it is: the first book I've read this year that 100% did not live up to the hype for me.  

The book started with Hannah and her husband Charlie on a boat to the island where Jules's wedding is being held.  From there, much of the first 1/2 of the book is all talking about clothing that everyone is going to wear, or the men acting like teenagers, or Hannah's insecurities.  I almost DNF'd the book more than once, but felt obligated to finish it because it was for book club. 

Sure, there were a few moments throughout the beginning of the book that helped build character - like Hannah and Olivia talking to each other about some BIG THINGS that happened in both of their pasts. Those moments also definitely added some element of surprise to the novel.  But for the most part, I was bored reading about them just talking about clothes, or having sex with each other. (Seriously, the bride and groom COULD NOT keep their hands off each other.)  I don't want to sounds like a prude - I read books with sex in them, that's not my complaint.  In this case, it didn't add anything to the actual story though. 

I also hated every character in the book.  Seriously, I personally could not find even one character that I liked throughout the entire book - they were all terrible people.  Remember that movie Terrible Bosses? Or was it Horrible Bosses?  Anyway, every character in this book was like one of those horrible bosses that you just loathe with every fiber of your being. 

In spite of everything I hated about this book, I think the setting did work well for the story.  It added an element of build up and tension that other parts of the story did not have.  That being said, taking a bottle of vodka out through a rocky passageway and getting drunk is probably not the wisest decision. 

This was supposed to be a psychological thriller, but it didn't scare me or get me riled up at all. It just made me mad and bored that the book wasn't more well written. 

If you've read this book, let me know what you thought in the comments below.  If you have any suggestions for psychological thrillers that pack more of a punch, Let Me Know!






Monday, April 11, 2022

Arsenic and Adobo - Mia P. Manasala

 

Title: Arsenic and Adobo 
Author:  Mia P. Manasala 
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 Stars 

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The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer....

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she's the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila's left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

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Lila, having just had her heart broken, moves back home where she help's out at her Tita Rosie's restaurant. BUT - death, mystery, intrigue. Her ex-boyfriend is killed and just happens to keel over and die right in the family restaurant.  

In true cozy mystery fashion, the rest of the book follows the characters trying to solve the mystery of how Derek died.  Lila, who dated Derek when they were in high school, becomes a prime suspect in the murder investigation, and has to work throughout the story to prove that she didn't do it.  

Lila and her aunts are all fantastic characters who have a great family dynamic.  They all obviously really love each other and want to care for and protect each other.  I think the whole family of characters were fantastic, and so well developed. 

The "bad guys" in this book were predictably just horrible, but there was an excellent air of mystery over which of these bad dudes was the killer.  Lila figured out a few things throughout the book that lead me to some conclusions about who the killer was, but when another big event happened near the end of the book, I was left scratching my head or a minute.  

I enjoyed the pacing of this book and thought it was well written and well developed.  From the get-go, this book held my attention - and I HAD TO KNOW what happened. There *was* the potential for romance with Lila and one of the male characters, but I'm glad that wasn't the focal point of this book.  The mystery and intrigue behind the murder was enough for me.  

I did spend a lot of time wondering why Derek's mom married his stepdad - the dude was so thoroughly unlikeable.  Of course, she must have seen something in him if they got married.  BUT, the story definitely shed some light on Derek's relationship with his stepdad and his mom's relationship with her husband.  

Even when they were faced with death and the potential of a family member being a murder suspect, Lila's family was so kind and welcoming.  They just wanted to take care of everyone, even with all the worries they had going on.  It made them all very likeable and relatable.  (After all, nobody likes a dickbag.  I'm looking at you, Derek's stepdad!) I loved the food aspect of the book as well.  Lila and her aunts and the rest of her family were obviously very into food - they have a family restaurant!  I'm a sucker for books that talk about good food and the characters who love that food.  Since I also don't know much about Filipino food, it was nice to read about some of the things that they eat commonly in the Philippines.  

I honestly thought the tension between Lila and her best friend worked for this story as well.  Her best friend was sad and upset that Lila had moved away, and they had such different ideas of what their lives were going to look like now that Lila was back in town. There was an added element to the book because of the development of their relationship, and it gave them a chance to work out what they each really wanted from their lives and from each other.

There was some great character growth and development in this book, especially from Lila.  I felt like she was sort of stumbling around at the beginning of the book and didn't really know what she wanted.  She learned a lot throughout the course of this book and was able to come to terms with and accept what she knew would make her happy. 

Overall, this was a great mystery book that I absolutely enjoyed and would recommend to everyone who loves a good cozy!  

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If you've already read this book, let me know what you thought in the comments below. 

If you've read it and loved it, read the author's second book, Homicide and Halo-Halo, then let me know what you thought! I'll be reading it this month! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

My Favorite Childhood Books

 


I was a reader from a young age.  I loved books as soon as I was able to read. so I thought I'd share some of my favorite childhood books! 

First up: 

The Frances Books by Russell Hoban. 


These Frances books were so cute and fun, and I loved the character of Frances so much!

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina 


There was some humor in this book as well as a well written story.  I also remember loving the pictures. 


The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood 


This book was silly and funny and it had strawberries in it!  


As I got be an older kid/teenager, I absolutely LOVED:

The Babysitters Club Series by Ann M. Martin 


I cannot even tell you how many times I read my way through this series! The books were very well worn, and I HAD TO HAVE all the super special's as well.  


The Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal and several ghost writers 



I loved the way these books were written - and the mysteries were my favorite.  Was it Jessica? Was it her twin?  WHO DID IT?  


What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up?  Let me know in the comments! 


Monday, April 4, 2022

March Wrap-Up


Hey reader friends!  March was a decent reading month for me. I read some great books - and here they are.








 I really can't say which book during the month of March was my favorite, but I recommend them all.  Let me know in the comments if you've read any of these books and what you thought! Mac

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Life's Too Short - Abby Jimenez

 

Title: Life's Too Short 
Author: Abby Jimenez 
Format: E-Book 
Rating: 4 Stars 

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A brilliant and touching romantic comedy about two polar opposites, one adorable dog, and living every day to its fullest. When Vanessa Price quit her job to pursue her dream of traveling the globe, she wasn't expecting to gain millions of YouTube followers who shared her joy of seizing every moment. For her, living each day to its fullest isn't just a motto. Her mother and sister never saw the age of 30, and Vanessa doesn't want to take anything for granted. But after her half sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her baby daughter, life goes from "daily adventure" to "next-level bad" (now with bonus baby vomit in hair). The last person Vanessa expects to show up offering help is the hot lawyer next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. No one warned her that he was the Secret Baby Tamer or that she'd be spending a whole lot of time with him and his geriatric Chihuahua. Now she's feeling things she's vowed not to feel. Because the only thing worse than falling for Adrian is finding a little hope for a future she may never see. 

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Romantic comedy is a great way to describe this book.  I laughed more at this book so much I'm surprised I didn't disturb my neighbors.

I Absolutely Loved:

* The two main characters.  Adrian and Vanessa are both awesome, well written characters with a truly fantastic relationship.  They start out with him not even knowing who she is (even though HE OWNS THE BUILDING THEY LIVE IN.) And they have this instant friendship that starts because he offers to help her with her niece.  The way their relationship/friendship develops from there is awesome to watch.  
* It was great to see both the MC's grow.  At the beginning of the book Adrian is so dead set against flying anywhere.  He's got bad anxiety, and he hates his dad (not going to say why - go read the book.) But almost losing Vanessa was his wake up call and he did what he needed to do to, at the very least, reconcile past relationships that were important.
* Vanessa making a life for herself traveling and donating money to find a cure for ALS.  She knew how ALS impacted people and was so, so dedicated to doing whatever she could to donate money to potentially find a cure. It showed how much she cared about other people, and about people who are affected by a really hard disease. 
* The humor throughout this book is awesome - if you have ever seen any video or post Abby Jimenez has done on TikTok or Facebook, you know this is not surprising.  She is such a comedic personality on her sites, and that translates into her book so much.
* Even though there is so much humor in this book, there is also so much heart and caring and compassion.  Even in the moments when things may seem like they'll take a comedic turn (the baby having explosive poop), there is this wonderful caring and heart aspect to this whole book.  It's very well rounded and well written.  
* The way the growth of each character led them to redevelop relationships they thought were no longer important to them.

There wasn't anything I can think of that I didn't love about this book.  It was humorous, well written, and had great, well developed characters.  I also loved that it took place in Minnesota.  As a Minnesota lady, I know there aren't tons of books set here, so when we have one, we're very excited.  

If you haven't read this book yet, I highly recommend it.  If you have read it, let me know what you thought in the comments!






Sunday, March 27, 2022

Written in the Stars - Alexandria Bellefleur

Title: Written in the Stars 
Author: Alexandria Bellefleur 
Format: E-Book 
Rating: 4 Stars 

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After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love—and the inevitable heartbreak—is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.

Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account, Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy... a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother—and Elle's new business partner—expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because... awkward.

When Darcy begs Elle to play along, she agrees to pretend they’re dating to save face. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family over the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a fake relationship.

But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?

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Friends, this is, hands down, my favorite romance that I've read like ever! I mean - two beautiful women falling in love?! COME ON!  

I loved most of all that this was a sapphic romance. I've read plenty of straight romance, and it's not bad, but it i FANTASTIC to see romance actually featuring two women.  AMAZING. Give me more of this. 

The characters in the book were all so so awesome and so well written. They were all very distinct in who they were and stood out to me as each unique person.  Even Elle's mother, nosey and annoying as she could be, was a well done, well written character. 

Watching Darcy's growth throughout the book was great - she learned a lot about herself and what she wanted, and learned that love happens even when you're not always ready for it.  She really learned how to open herself up to other people, and learned that it was okay to let other people help you and be there for you.

Elle was a real treat of a character - she was so spontaneous and adventurous and through everything was just totally and completely herself.  It was great to see her finally stand up to her mother and family and prove to them that she wasn't who they thought she was.  I think she was my favorite character.

Watching this story develop from faked relationship to real romance was awesome.  It was obvious from the beginning that Elle and Darcy were attracted to each other, and watching them both deny their attraction but then finally realize they were only hurting themselves by denying it was great. They both realized a lot about themselves and each other, and were willing through the course of the story to search and actually listen to other people and realize what they wanted and needed to be happy.

There was great chemistry between the two main characters - they tried to deny it (or at least Darcy did for a while) but it was definitely there.  There was great buildup of the relationship as well as some...adult happy fun times that will definitely make you want to keep reading.  The way the author developed their relationship and the chemistry between them was great.

I felt like the whole book was cohesive and all the events flowed into and with each other well.  The book was well written and the story well developed. 

If you love a good rom-com and the fake dating trope, this is a book you HAVE to read. 

If you've already read it, drop a note in the comments and let me know what you thought of it.


Monday, March 21, 2022

The Sizzle Paradox - Lily Menon

 

Title: The Sizzle Paradox
Author: Lily Menon 
Format: E-book
Rating: 3.5 stars 

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The Kiss Quotient meets Love Potion No. 9 in the next sparkling romantic comedy by Lily Menon, The Sizzle Paradox.

Lyric Bishop feels like a fraud – she’s studying sexual chemistry in romantic partners and what makes for a successful long-term relationship, only she can’t seem to figure it out in her own dating life. The science is sound, but how can she give her expert opinion with no real-world experience? In order to complete her doctoral thesis, she must crack the Sizzle Paradox – it seems the more sexually attractive she finds a guy, the less likely it is to come with an emotional connection; but why? – and to do that she must get the help she desperately needs.

Kian Montgomery, her best friend, roommate, and fellow grad student, has no trouble bringing both romance and sizzle to his own relationships. When he offers to tutor Lyric on dating tactics to find a good match, she’s certain it will solve her problems, and in exchange she agrees to set long-term-commitment-averse Kian up with someone different to give his romantic life a much-needed shakeup.

But once the two progress with their "tutoring sessions," they start to feel less like the academic exercise they were supposed to be as real feelings develop. Which is a problem, because Lyric and Kian are best friends and absolutely, irrefutably nothing else... Right?

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If you're in the mood for a truly funny romantic comedy book look no further - The Sizzle Paradox has all sorts of funny and romance throughout the entire book. 

I liked all the characters in the book - and I loved the relationship that Lyric had with Kian.  They were great friends, and once they actually opened up about how they felt about each other they made a cute couple. 

Lyric and Kian did take A VERY LONG TIME to communicate with each other about how they really felt.  Like, it was literally THE END of the book before they told each other they were in love with each other. They kept saying it to themselves and everyone around them, but when push came to shove they both kept their lips sealed with each other, and were then both absolutely convinced the other didn't love them.  It led to a lot of hurt feelings and a lot of potential life changing decisions.  That was the only thing that really bothered me about this book was that neither one just opened their mouth and said "Hey, I'm in love with you." Other than that I really enjoyed this book. 

I loved the whole idea of Lyric needing a "tutor" because she felt so love inept.  Her best friend, apparently more capable at love and all than her, offers to be her tutor and it works - they have this trust in each other that makes it just good enough to work.  Lyric is able to trust that Kian will be honest with her about why she may be failing in relationships and love.  And Kian is gentle and kind enough with Lyric to help her move through her awkwardness at dating. 

The book was well written enough and kept me hooked with the story that I wanted to keep reading.  Each part of the story worked well together and moved well within the book.  I enjoyed watching each event and the entire story play out until it reached the end game. 

Even with the amount of humor in the book it also had the right amount of heart and seriousness that comes along with adult life.  The author did a great job striking that balance throughout this entire book.  

The dynamic between each character was well developed and they all played off each other well.  Even the weird moments that Lyric couldn't pick out because she wasn't love savvy fit into the story and made everything work. 

The growth that Lyric did in terms of what she wanted from her education was good to see as well. She knew she had spent a lot of time investing in her education (and money, let's be real) and she took time to examine it due to her exploration and experiment with Kian.  I think that time she took really helped develop her character and made her seem more like a real person.

Overall, this was definitely another hot from Lily Menon that I recommend to any adult who loves romance books!

The release date for this fun book is June 14, 2022.

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DISCLAIMER: I received and ARC of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.  All thoughts and opinions about this book are my own.