eARC Review – A Line in the Sand by Teri Wilson

Title: A Line in the Sand (Turtle Beach #2)

Author: Teri Wilson

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: Auguest 2nd, 2022

304 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

USA Today bestselling author Teri Wilson brings you the perfect beach read rom com with a bright, sparkling love story featuring:
A heroine who’s vowed never to date again-for real, this time!
Her rambunctious Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy
The handsome and brilliant marine biologist she can’t ignore
And the nonstop antics of her friends determined to be matchmakers

Sparks fly when Molly Prince’s puppy Ursula constantly disrupts the beachfront area where new-in-town marine biologist Max Miller is studying sea turtle mating habits. Max and Molly are instantly attracted to each other, but Molly dismisses Max out-of-hand. She’s not dating anymore. Maybe not ever, since her last relationship ended in a spectacular disaster. As for Max, he refuses to take Molly seriously when her job is to play pretend as the aquarium’s mermaid. But when Ursula won’t stop digging in Max’s beachfront yard and reveals her unique ability to sniff out sea turtle nests, she might bring these two opposites close enough to help save the turtles, and maybe even save the aquarium…

Review

The Turtle Beach books are a good time, if not particularly memorable. You won’t be bored with these characters antics and the big personality pups involved. In this edition, the FMC is a mermaid at the local aquarium when an uptight new aquarium director comes in to study sea turtles. They immediately clash, as most grumpy/sunshine couples do and he fires her, making him the enemy for most of the town. But when her pup turns out o have the unique ability to sniff out sea turtle nests, the pair are drawn together.

Like I said, these books are a good time. The romance is always a kind of quirky, opposites attract sort of thing. The side characters are hilarious, especially the senior citizens. The setting is in a stereotypical small town where residents look out for each other and outsiders bring out skepticism. The books are fairly slow burn, with a lot of tension and little spice.

My favorite parts are the pups, personally. And reading men get their behinds handed to them by strong-willed women, of course.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

Title: Thank You for Listening

Author: Julia Whelan

Publisher: Avon

Publication date: August 12th, 2022

432 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

For Sewanee Chester, being an audiobook narrator is a long way from her old dreams, but the days of being a star on film sets are long behind her. She’s found success and satisfaction from the inside of a sound booth and it allows her to care for her beloved, ailing grandmother. When she arrives in Las Vegas last-minute for a book convention, Sewanee unexpectedly spends a whirlwind night with a charming stranger.

On her return home, Sewanee discovers one of the world’s most beloved romance novelists wanted her to perform her last book—with Brock McNight, the industry’s hottest, most secretive voice. Sewanee doesn’t buy what romance novels are selling—not after her own dreams were tragically cut short—and she stopped narrating them years ago. But her admiration of the late author, and the opportunity to get her grandmother more help, makes her decision for her.

As Sewanee begins work on the book, resurrecting her old romance pseudonym, she and Brock forge a real connection, hidden behind the comfort of anonymity. Soon, she is dreaming again, but secrets are revealed, and the realities of life come crashing down around her once more.

If she can learn to risk everything for desires she has long buried, she will discover a world of intimacy and acceptance she never believed would be hers.

From the author of My Oxford Year, Julia Whelan’s uplifting novel tells the story of a former actress turned successful audiobook narrator—who has lost sight of her dreams after a tragic accident—and her journey of self-discovery, love, and acceptance when she agrees to narrate one last romance novel.

Review

I’d heard great things about this book before reading it, and man it did not disappoint. It seemed like this book had everything in it: heartbreaking back story, ill family, love, conversation on race and work ethic in America, friendship, and found family. There was also fun twists regarding the love story (though somewhat predictable, in a good way!). Sewanee is a former actor turned renowned audiobook narrator, but she refuses to narrate romance anymore. But when she is approached to narrate a specific author’s unpublished work posthumously – she can’t come up with a reason to say no to the money.

Frankly this book was perfect. The writing is beautiful and Sewanee is unapologetic in an acerbic, biting way. She is a strong, confident woman – except when it comes to the accident that took her eye and left her disfigured. Her best friend is amazing as a background character and their friendship is pure and beautiful. The details given to the audiobook narration portion was very interesting for someone who doesn’t know how everything works. It truly felt like this book covered everything possible without feeling too long or underdeveloped.

Highly recommend for those who enjoy romance and Women’s Fiction. There is enough romance for the purists and enough Women’s Fiction for those who don’t love romance. It’s a good hybrid in my opinion, and I generally don’t love Women’s Fiction stories.

Thank you to Avon and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Accomplished by Amanda Quain

Title: Accomplished (Georgie Darcy #1)

Author: Amanda Quain

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: July 26th, 2022

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Georgiana Darcy gets the Pride & Prejudice retelling she deserves in Accomplished, a sparkling contemporary YA featuring a healthy dose of marching band romance, endless banter, and Charles Bingley as a ripped frat boy.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Georgiana Darcy should have been expelled after The Incident with Wickham Foster last year – at least if you ask any of her Pemberley Academy classmates. She may have escaped expulsion because of her family name, but she didn’t escape the disappointment of her big brother Fitz, the scorn of the entire school, or, it turns out, Wickham’s influence.

But she’s back for her junior year, and she needs to prove to everyone—Fitz, Wickham, her former friends, and maybe even herself—that she’s more than just an embarrassment to the family name. How hard can it be to become the Perfect Darcy? All she has to do is:

– Rebuild her reputation with the marching band (even if it kills her)
– Forget about Wickham and his lies (no matter how tempting they still are), and
– Distract Fitz Darcy—helicopter-sibling extraordinaire—by getting him to fall in love with his classmate, Lizzie Bennet (this one might be difficult…)

Sure, it’s a complicated plan, but so is being a Darcy. With the help of her fellow bandmate, Avery, matchmaking ideas lifted straight from her favorite fanfics, and a whole lot of pancakes, Georgie is going to see every one of her plans through. But when the weight of being the Perfect Darcy comes crashing down, Georgie will have to find her own way before she loses everything permanently—including the one guy who sees her for who she really is.

Review

I haven’t read the classics, so I never know how closely these retellings resemble the original source material. However, I generally don’t enjoy them nearly as much as I think I will… until Accomplished. I loved every bit of this YA story that had many twists and turns and intrigue. The relationship between Georgie and the hero was adorable and nerdy and everything I want from YA couplings. The family drama and emotions were enough to wrench at your heart and is something I think a lot of people can relate to.

I am pretty sure this is the start of a series by Amanda Quain and I’m crossing my fingers for a Fitz and Lizzie story next because they stole some of the show in this book (before Georgie stole it back). I wish the conflict resolution was a bit more strong and explained better – but I think that would be just about my only complaint.

A story about familial expectations, young love, finding your way through high school, and avoiding the tempting bad boy, Accomplished is a ride from start to end and it was a great book to break my slump with.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Sizzle Paradox by Lily Menon

Title: The Sizzle Paradox

Author: Lily Menon

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication date: June 28th, 2022

304 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

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? 

Review

Friends to lovers is probably my least favorite trope, coupled with the himbo MMC and dorky, awkward FMC – yeah this was very much not for me. I enjoyed the science and school aspect as I have an interest in research and academic love stories (my personal love story is through schooling), but overall I was bored and put off by both characters. Also, “teaching dating” to your inexperienced friend is such a weird story line for me, especially as internally both are cringey about it.

Overall yikes kind of book for me personally. This could be your next favorite book simply because the aforementioned tropes are your favorites. This does has a lot of positives, there is some good racial representation and friendships.

That’s about all I can say about this one honestly. It’s not for me. But that’s okay.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley

Title: Fake It Till You Bake It

Author: Jamie Wesley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication date: June 21st, 2022

336 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side.

Review

Fake dating and baking has been done well before and I’ve loved it enough to read it over and over again. But there was something big missing in this book for it to be a favorite of mine. I liked the main characters, especially the MMC, and the meet cute where she was criticizing the cupcakes was adorable and compelling. The FMC is more ditzy seeming than maybe necessary, but she is the heart of gold woman who has been misjudged by America. All pieces that generally would come together to equal a romance book that I love.

But. I really did not enjoy the conflict at the end. Yes, there is always going to be a conflict before the HEA in romance and I never “like” it because it’s negative, right? But this conflict irked my soul and it seemed so far fetched and there were much better options that could have been used. Just my opinion. It somewhat ruined my experience with this book and left it on a less positive note for me.

This is not to say that I won’t read this author again, it just means it didn’t work 100% for me and that’s okay. I hope everyone else who reads this really loves it for the positives (the FMCs grandmother for one).

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Island Time by Georgia Clark

Title: Island Time

Author: Georgia Clark

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication date: June 14th, 2022

402 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Love is in the salty sea air in this smart and steamy ensemble romantic comedy set in a tropical paradise, from the author of It Had to Be You. This is one island you won’t want to be rescued from.

The Kellys are messy, loud, loving Australians. The Lees are sophisticated, aloof, buttoned-up Americans. They have nothing in common…except for the fact that their daughters are married. When a nearby volcano erupts during their short vacation to a remote tropical island off the coast of Queensland, the two families find themselves stranded together for six weeks.

With only two island employees making up the rest of their party, everyone is forced to question what—or who—they really want. Island Time is a sumptuous summer read that dives deep into queer romance, family secrets, ambition, parenthood, and a bird-chasing bromance. This sexy, sun-soaked paradise of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforest will show you it’s never too late to change your destiny.

Review

I wanted to love this because I really enjoyed the author’s past work but… I ended it thinking I should have DNF-ed the book and went on with my life. First off, there are a million characters to keep track of and they all have some personality quirk that is absolutely frustrating. There is a love story for every person involved, which just adds to all the information that as a reader you have to keep track of. And by the end I just… didn’t care about them.

If I take a step back I can see that this book is much closer to Women’s Fiction than Romance, in my opinion. Each coupling goes through some sort of growth or huge life decision or fight to get to their end point (which isn’t necessarily a HEA completely). And I know that those types of books are not my jam. I much prefer my very clear HEAs in the Romance genre and I generally try to steer clear of books like this – SO my point is maybe take this review with a grain of salt if you are someone who loves the Women’s Fiction genre. It could just be your next 5 star read and you’d miss out just because you’re listening to me.

Basically, it was extraordinarily average for me. There is LGBTQ representation which is always appreciated. There is also very random bird watching content which didn’t add anything to my personal reading experience, but hey I don’t judge what people like.

Thank you to Atria and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Rivals by Katharine McGee

Title: Rivals (American Royals #3)

Author: Katharine McGee

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication date: May 31st, 2022

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Beatrice is queen, and for the American royal family, everything is about to change.

Relationships will be tested.
Princess Samantha is in love with Lord Marshall Davis—but the more serious they get, the more complicated things become. Is Sam destined to repeat her string of broken relationships…and this time will the broken heart be her own?

Strangers will become friends.
Beatrice is representing America at the greatest convocation of kings and queens in the world. When she meets a glamorous foreign princess, she gets drawn into the inner circle…but at what cost?

And rivals will become allies.
Nina and Daphne have spent years competing for Prince Jefferson. Now they have something in common: they both want to take down manipulative Lady Gabriella Madison. Can these enemies join forces, or will old rivalries stand in the way?

Review

I love this series but if we’re being honest with each other, this should have been the last book. Rivals gave me everything I could have wanted – more intrigue with all of our favorite characters, relationships being tested, and political maneuvers. But at some point there are only so many times you can force the same characters back together and vice versa before it just gets tired. And unfortunately, I think we’re there.

With some minor changes the plot could have ended with this book, but again we are left on cliffhangers for all of our main characters. I still find myself wishing that the Prince would grow into some sort of personality and show some critical thinking skills – and I’m still disappointed. Every other character has a well fleshed out personality except for him and I think it’s a huge oversight.

Will I read the fourth book after how this one ended? Of course. I need to know how everything will end. BUT, the plot is starting to get repetitive and we’re very close to jumping the shark, that’s all I’m saying. At this point, Samantha is still my favorite and she keeps getting the tough end of the stick and I will keep reading simply for her to get a happy ending so it better happen!

Thank you to Random House Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – All Fired Up by Dylan Newton

Title: All Fired Up

Author: Dylan Newton

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: May 17th, 2022

368 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

After one wild night together, two complete opposites plan to stay firmly in the friend zone, but life has other plans in this delightful romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Emily Henry and Abby Jimenez.

As a successful book publicist, Imani Lewis works night and day to promote her authors.  It’s her dream job, but she’s become a total workaholic. So when her grandmother invites her to stay for the summer as she recovers from surgery, Imani happily agrees. But being back in the same small town as her one-night stand may not be quite the relaxing break she envisioned… 

Zander Matthews wakes up every day determined to enjoy the present because he knows from his time in the Marines that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. But he’s never gotten over the beautiful woman who blew through town a year ago, then disappeared. And he doesn’t want to be hurt again. So they agree to a deal: he’ll help Imani fix up her grandmother’s house as long as they stay firmly in the friend zone.

Whether it’s repairing tiles in his ceramics studio, dodging nosy neighbors, or soothing the most obnoxious parrot ever, Zander never fails to make Imani laugh. And soon their friendly banter is turning ever flirtier. But since Imani’s stay is temporary and Zander can’t be tied to anything beyond the most tenuous plans, will she be able to handle it when things get all fired up?

Review

Imani and Zander’s story is a second chance romance where he fell first. They hooked up at a wedding before Imani left and didn’t return for a year – but Zander never forgot about their night together. Imani is back in town because her grandmother needs surgery and Zander is determined to change her mind about giving him a chance. This story has mental health themes, growth and development, and the lengths people will go to for family.

Imani pushes back hard against Zander for a good portion of this book, really she gives it a strong effort. But they are very adorable as a couple and they both go through a very different journey in this book to get to their happy ever after.

The background characters really stole the show, like Imani’s grandmother and the parrot. The hijinks that parrot caused was laugh out loud funny. I have to say I am even more excited for Ryker’s book, I think it will end up being my favorite because he is really interesting to me as a character. To prepare you get more scenes with him in this book than in How Sweet It Is to set up the story line.

Thank you to Forever and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

Title: I Kissed Shara Wheeler

Author: Casey McQuiston

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: May 3rd, 2022

356 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop and Red, White & Royal Blue comes a debut YA romantic comedy about chasing down what you want, only to find what you need…

Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.

But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.

Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.

Review

This book was very reminiscent of Paper Towns by John Green – the main concept is very similar, popular girl goes missing and concocts a plan for certain people to come find her in order to further her end goal. It honestly was a little off-putting how similar the books are UNTIL the main character, Chloe, makes a reference about how it’s so like Shara Wheeler to rip off Paper Towns and the thought the author put into it was supreme.

On a more serious note, I had a good time with this book. I did not foresee anything that happened which is always a plus with the more mystery-esque books. There was stellar LGBTQ rep in a state where that is not accepted, especially in a very small town. The scavenger hunt type clues were really intense and well thought out, and I know for a fact if it was me I would’ve been stumped by the very first clue to be honest.

I will say that I didn’t really love Shara and Chloe in the end. I was much more interested in the background characters than I was in these two. By the end I felt like they went back and forth too many times for it to be really be believable. Also, I’m not even sure I understand why Chloe even broke into Shara’s room to start the book – even if I loved or hated someone in high school I would not have broken into their room if they went missing and I didn’t believe it was foul play.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Fireworks by Alice Lin

Title: Fireworks

Author: Alice Lin

Publisher: Underlined

Publication date: June 7th, 2022

320 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Lulu Li has her last summer before college all planned out. But her plans go awry when she learns that Kite Xu, her old next-door neighbor and childhood friend, will be returning home from South Korea.

Lulu hasn’t seen Kite since eighth grade, after he left the country to pursue a career in K-pop, eventually debuting in the boy group Karnival. When Karnival announces that Kite will be taking a break from K-pop activities for mysterious reasons, the opportunity to rekindle their friendship arises.

Star-struck and nostalgic, Lulu tries to reconnect with Kite. As they continue to bond and reminisce over the past, Kite’s sister, Connie, warns Lulu not to get too close to her brother. The harder Lulu tries to deny her feelings, the stronger they get. But how could a K-pop star ever fall for a nobody from home? And even if he did, is there any way for their relationship to end but badly?

Review

I really thought I would love this book more than I did – so many tropes that I’m drawn to in one YA novel, it seemed like a recipe for success. But I left the book feeling dissatisfied and couldn’t identify exactly why. Tropes include famous person/normal person and childhood friends to lovers. It’s more of a long lost childhood friends as the MMC went to Korea to become a Kpop star and has recently returned to his childhood home – next door to our FMC.

I think the major issue I took with this book was that I didn’t buy the romance. It was very understated and there wasn’t any background given to provide evidence that the two characters held a torch for each other for years. There was also none of the tension that I normally associate with YA contemporary romances and look for.

Some positives were the Kpop and Korean representation, the struggle the FMC had with her bio father and his new family, the mental health concerns our MMC dealt with, and the LGBTQ representation.

Thank you to Underlined and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!