eARC Review – How Sweet It Is by Dylan Newton

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Title: How Sweet It Is

Author: Dylan Newton

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: July 13th, 2021

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Event planner Kate Sweet is famous for creating the perfect happily-ever-after moment for her clients’ dream weddings. So how is it that her best friend has roped her into planning a bestselling horror writer’s book launch extravaganza? But the second Kate meets—or rather, accidentally maims—the drop-dead-hot Drake Matthews, her well-ordered life quickly transforms into an absolute nightmare.

Drake Matthews is tired of the spotlight and tired of his reputation as the Knight of Nightmares. He’s really a nice guy! But he’s not prepared for Kate, a fearless agent of chaos in steel-tipped stilettos, or for that sweet sting of attraction he feels for her. She’s inspiring him to take his writing in a whole new direction—one that no one expects. Because now Kate and Drake are changing up the rules, and this plot twist might just surprise everyone . . . including themselves.

Review

Looking for a light, summer romance featuring an event planner and horror author falling in love? Then look no further because How Sweet It Is provides all of that plus more. As the title suggests, this book is super sweet, but also super sexy and features a bit of an insta-love trope (but not completely). You’ve got small town vibes, hot brothers, and content in the publishing industry – which I personally enjoy reading about, it feels very meta.

Kate and Drake’s connection and attraction leap off the page as they get to know each other. They have an insanely awkward but hilarious meet cute and their relationship just snowballs from there. They are supportive of each other and go out of their way to help each other, as it they just can’t help it. Also, at one point they willingly get locked in a mausoleum for an hour and I can’t say I’ve ever read a romance that included that!

I honestly have no critiques about this book, it flowed wonderfully and I absolutely loved the characters. I hope the author gets to write romances for the other two brothers and I would happily read them. Even though one of the characters is a horror author, this definitely hits more on the light side and would be a great beach read for this summer.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Hot Under His Collar by Andie J. Christopher

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Title: Hot Under His Collar (The Nolan’s #3)

Author: Andie J. Christopher

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: July 20th, 2021

304 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

He’s forbidden fruit and she’s a rule follower, but their connection is something to believe in.

Father Patrick Dooley joined the clergy to fulfill his mother’s dying wish. While it once gave him purpose, he not so sure it’s his calling anymore. But it’s all he’s ever known and he’s not sure what he wants to do with his life if he decides to leave the priesthood. How can he reconcile his faith with his growing desire to live a different life?

Sasha Finerghty was content to admire Patrick from afar while she dated men who were perfect on paper and wrong in real life. But with Patrick’s church in need of funding to keep a community program afloat, she’s just the girl to solve their fundraising problem. Spending more time together only fuels Sasha’s crush on him, who finds a kindred soul in her.

The more Patrick gets to know Sasha, the easier it is for him to see a future unfolding for them. But it will take a leap of faith to turn their friendship into something more, and neither of them are quite ready to make the jump.

Review

I have read the first two Nolans book by Andie and I have to say this one may be my favorite so far! Clearly, she employs the hot priest trope which may be controversial for people, but is right up my alley. As a woman who grew up Catholic my first instinct is to balk at a frocked priest finding love but as an adult I am here for it.

I adored Sasha and Patrick’s story. It was so intense and intimate and fiery compared to the other books. It was all stolen glances and heated stares and some covert fantasizing. The characters were magnetic, they couldn’t stay apart from each no matter how hard they tried. I enjoyed seeing cameos made by the characters from the first few books and the updates into their lives. It was also a breeze to get through, very quick to read and kept me up at night. And the scene in the bar!!! IYKYK!!

I would’ve loved to see more page time spent on Patrick’s growth with his family, past, and decision to join the priesthood, mostly at the end of the book. It’s talked about of course, but I feel like it needed to be more at the end. There was plenty of time spent with Sasha and her family but Patrick was more glossed over in my opinion.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Too Good to Be Real by Melonie Johnson

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Title: Too Good to Be Real

Author: Melonie Johnson

Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin

Publication date: July 6th, 2021

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

She plans to prove there’s a dozen reasons why life isn’t like a romantic comedy, only to discover the one reason it is…

While her friends wish for meet cutes worthy of their favorite rom-coms, Julia is ready to give up on love. Swiping right has replaced getting swept off your feet and good old-fashioned romance has become, well, old-fashioned.

A writer for a popular website, love becomes the last thing on her mind when impending layoffs threaten her job. As Julia searches for the ultimate pitch to impress her boss, she stumbles upon a resort offering guests a chance to live out their romantic comedy dreams. Real life dating is so bleak, who wouldn’t want to spend a week in a fantasy rom-com world with your best friends?

At the resort, Julia literally falls into a not-quite-meet-cute involving an aggressive seagull and an adorably awkward guy named Luke who is also participating in the rom-com experience. Julia hides the fact she is there to do a story, but Luke harbors a few secrets of his own. Among further encounters with thieving seagulls, a gaggle of corgis, kisses in the rain, and even a karaoke serenade, their feelings deepen quickly. But could their love be real when they haven’t been honest about their true identities? Once the fantasy is over, can they have a relationship in the real world?

Review

Too Good to Be Real is a new rom com that follows three friends as they stay at a recent designed to make it seem like they are in a rom com movie! Julia is assigned to review the experience for the website she works for, and Luke is the game master who created the simulation – but when they meet, they both lie and who and what they are. This doesn’t stop them from forgetting they’re living in a simulation…

This was such a cute concept for a book. I really enjoyed the characters the most, there were a lot of background characters that really brought this story to life. It was so fun to see the rom com movie references throughout the book and the attention to detail. The characters all also go through a great deal of growth, even down to the background characters. I hope there are more books about Julia’s friends, Kat and Andie.

I personally would have wanted a different ending. I don’t feel like it was consistent with the characters and the rest of the story. But that’s the only part I would change if it were me. I just wanted more for the characters.

Also, I personally adore corgis which is why I requested this book in the first place, but there are a lot of corgis in the story as well!

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

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Title: These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows #1)

Author: Lexi Ryan

Publisher: HMH

Publication date: July 20th, 2021

464 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Brie hates the Fae and refuses to have anything to do with them, even if that means starving on the street. But when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of the Unseelie court to pay a debt, she’ll do whatever it takes to get her back—including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from the Seelie court.

Gaining unfettered access to the Seelie court is easier said than done. Brie’s only choice is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, and she soon finds herself falling for him. Unwilling to let her heart distract her, she accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits with their own secret agenda. As Brie spends time with their mysterious leader, Finn, she struggles to resist his seductive charm.

Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.

Review

These Hollow Vows is a fun combination of The Cruel Prince, ACOTAR, and The Selection. You have a human female thrown into the Fae courts, Seelie and Unseelie, to save her sister. Brie has to determine who she can trust, even knowing everyone is keeping information from her. But how can she choice between the male she’s been in love with for 2 years and the new male who excites her in surprising ways?

It took a bit for me to get into this book, but once I did I really enjoyed it. It does feel similar to those three series I mentioned, but there are definite differences to the world, action, and conflicts that keeps it from being too similar. I kept going back and forth throughout the book about who to trust and I kept getting twisted around. There are several background elements that also really grabbed my attention and hope we learn more about in the next book.

I had a hard time connecting with Brie as a character, I just had a hard time rooting for her as she made some terrible decisions and wasn’t a character that inspired a lot of confidence. I didn’t really see much personality from her as a MC, and I found myself more interested in the supporting characters.

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

Happy reading, folks!

ARC Review – Up All Night by Laura Silverman

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Title: Up All Night: 13 Stories between Sunset and Sunrise

Editor: Laura Silverman

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: July 13th, 2021

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4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When everyone else goes to bed, the ones who stay up feel like they’re the only people in the world. As the hours tick by deeper into the night, the familiar drops away and the unfamiliar beckons. Adults are asleep, and a hush falls over the hum of daily life. Anything is possible.

It’s a time for romance and adventure. For prom night and ghost hunts. It’s a time for breaking up, for falling in love—for finding yourself.

Stay up all night with these thirteen short stories from bestselling and award-winning YA authors like Karen McManus, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nina LaCour, and Brandy Colbert, as they take readers deep into these rarely seen, magical hours.

Full contributor list: Brandy Colbert, Kathleen Glasgow, Maurene Goo, Tiffany D. Jackson, Amanda Joy, Nina LaCour, Karen M. McManus, Anna Meriano, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Silverman, Kayla Whaley, Julian Winters, Francesca Zappia

Review

Up All Night is a collection of YA contemporary short stories that take place overnight, where teens stay up late and the whole world is their oyster. There are themes of friendship, love, family, and second chances. Not all stories have happy endings, but each story feels full and complete.

I often struggle with short stories because I never feel like they are long enough to tell the story and have it feel satisfying. This was not the case with any of the 13 stories included in this collection, each story is fully developed, beautifully written, and flowed well in the story – but also with each other as you read. 13 different authors wrote these stories, but they fit together so well you don’t get caught up in different writing styles.

Another huge plus in this collection is the amount of diversity. These stories provide representation for BIPOC, AAPI, disabled, and LGBTQIA+ communities. A lot of the stories involve a romantic arc, but not all of them. Some are heartwarming stories of friendship and second chances. There are a few that delve more into the magical realism realm with ghosts and superpowers though most are contemporary.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donahue

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Title: The Temple House Vanishing

Author: Rachel Donahue

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: July 6th, 2021

304 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Perched high atop a seaside cliff in Ireland, a lonely Victorian mansion is home to Temple House School. And at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.

Louisa is the new, brilliant scholarship student. Finding most of the other students at the all-girls Catholic boarding school as icy and unfamiliar as the drafty mansion, she forms a fierce bond with the intense and compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur.

Their close bond is soon unsettled by the young, charismatic art teacher, Mr. Lavelle—igniting tension and obsession in the cloistered world of the school. Then one day, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear.

There is no trace of either one. It’s the unsolved mystery that captivates the whole country. Year after year, the media revisit it, and the conspiracy theories persist. Now, on the twenty-fifth anniversary, a journalist—a woman who grew up on the same street as Louisa—delves into the past to write a series of articles and uncover the truth. She finds stories of jealousy and revenge, power and class. But will she find Louisa and Mr. Lavelle, too?

Because remember—at Temple House, nothing is ever as it seems.

Told through alternating points of view, Rachel Donohue’s debut novel skillfully, gradually, lets the reader into the hearts and minds of both Louisa and the determined reporter. Th is page-turner is perfect for fans of Elisabeth Thomas’s Catherine House or Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa

Review

Set in Ireland, The Temple House Vanishing is a dark story of a teacher and his student who went missing 25 years ago mysteriously from their private, Catholic school. This story is told in alternating POV and timelines, from present day with a journalist and 25 years ago with Louisa, the student who went missing. At times the switching timelines and POVs was confusing, but for the most part it was easy to follow once it was clear what was happening.

I desperately love private school, dark academia mysteries. Something about the boarding school/private school vibes just sit well with me. This book was appropriately dark and twisty. However, a lot of it fell a bit flat for me and it wasn’t hard to figure out what the ending would be. For a mystery it wasn’t exactly… mysterious. It had all the elements of unreliable narrators, paranoia, unrequited love, etc but lacked a deep mystery that would keep me enthralled.

I do like some nuances that the author threw in, like the epilogue and it’s POV, the beginning part that sets the tone of the story, and the main villain. There are definite positive qualities to this point, so if you are a dark academia, mystery buff I would recommend giving it a try.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Queen Will Betray You by Sarah Henning

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Title: The Queen Will Betray You (Kingdoms of Sand and Sky #2)

Author: Sarah Henning

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication date: July 6th, 2021

352 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The breathtaking sequel to The Princess Will Save You in the Kingdoms of Sand and Sky duology — a brilliantly-executed YA fantasy homage to The Princess Bride

To stay together forever, Princess Amarande and her stableboy love, Luca, must part: Amarande to reclaim her kingdom from usurpers, and Luca to raise a rebellion and find his destiny. Arrayed against them are all the players in the game of thrones for control over the continent of The Sand and Sky. Facing unspeakable betrayals, enemies hidden in the shadows, and insurmountable odds, their only hope is the power of true love…

Review

The Queen Will Betray You follows The Princess Will Save You, a The Princess Bride inspired series with 5 kingdoms, all thrown off balance when one king is found murdered. The events of this book follow up pretty directly after the first one, with increased POV’s and more characters added.

I enjoyed the plot of this book more than the first book. It was more gripping and more seemed to be happening. With more characters, more pieces of the puzzle came together and you learned more about the motivations behind characters. There are flashback scenes which help shape the current climate and help the reader understand how we got to this point.

However, I found this series just isn’t for me. I don’t love the romance arc, I actually wanted the MC to end up with someone else which didn’t happen. By the end, I felt the author was trying to incorporate too many plot twists in a short number of pages and it didn’t quite work for me. I likely will not be continuing the series, as I don’t find the characters or plot to be compelling enough at this point. This likely could’ve stayed a duology, in my opinion.

However, that’s not to say this book wouldn’t be amazing to others. It just isn’t for me.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – What If You & Me by Roni Loren

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Title: What If You & Me (Say Everything #2)

Author: Roni Loren

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: July 6th, 2021

320 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The world can be a scary place. At least, that’s what Andi Lockley’s anxiety wants her to believe. It doesn’t help that she narrowly escaped a dangerous man years ago, or that every relationship since has been colored with that lingering fear. But things are better now―she’s channeling everything into her career as a horror novelist and true crime podcaster, and her next book may be the breakthrough she needs.

If only her grumpy new neighbor would stop stomping around at all hours of the night.

Former firefighter Hill Dawson can’t sleep. After losing part of his leg in a rescue gone wrong, he’s now stuck in limbo. He needs to figure out what he’s supposed to do with his life, and he can’t let himself get distracted by the pretty redhead next door. But when someone breaks into Andi’s place, Hill can’t stop himself from rushing in to play the hero. Soon, a tentative bond forms between the unlikely pair. But what starts out as a neighborly exchange quickly turns into the chance for so much more…if Andi can learn to put aside her fear and trust in herself―and love―again.

Review

Follow up to Yes & I Love You, Roni Loren is back with a new romance that continues her theme of tackling mental health and serious topics. Andi is in the spotlight in this book, and you learn so much more about her past and trauma. Her next door neighbor, Hill, is recovering from losing his leg when working as a firefighter 2 years ago. Unbeknownst to them, each other is exactly what they need to process their traumas and feel safe.

I absolutely adore these books. The characters are written so beautifully, it evokes such emotions in the reader. I just wanted to give Hill and Andi hugs while I was reading this book. Andi’s positivity and zeal for life just wrecks broody Hill and it was a pleasure to read. I was completely swept up as they became friends, began to trust each other, and then fell for each other.

There are some more serious topics and events in this book than I would say there was in Yes & I Love You, so see below for content warnings. Please make sure you’re reading this one when you’re comfortable.

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

CW: physical assault, PTSD, anxiety, discussions of death, amputation

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Title: It Happened One Summer

Author: Tessa Bailey

Publisher: Avon Books

Publication date: July 13th, 2021

416 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who is cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town… where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn’t belong. 

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.

Review

Inspired by Schitt’s Creek, It Happened One Summer follows two sisters banished from their posh, LA lifestyle to a small, fishing community in Washington state. Piper and Hannah go to run their father’s dive bar and learn what it means to have responsibilities and the value of a dollar. When Piper arrives, she meets Brendan, a sea captain who spends weeks trolling the ocean for king crabs. They are complete opposites, but might help each other grow in ways they never expected.

I really liked It Happened One Summer. I found the characters to be enjoyable, and I even liked the background characters more than the main characters. It was interesting to read about the king crab fishing and the opposites attract romance between the main characters. Piper’s character development was great to read, but Brendan’s was even better. I wish the ending was better, but I can understand why what happened, happened. The romance was heartwarming and I got thorough enjoyment out of it.

This book has a LOT of steam in it. Definitely considered open door, and if steam or spice are not up your alley this book may not be for you. In my experience, it is more explicit than average for this genre – which is great for me but I know not everyone likes that.

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

Happy reading, folks!

ARC Review – Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler

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Title: Where It All Lands

Author: Jennie Wexler

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: July 6th, 2021

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Stevie Rosenstein has never made a true friend. Never fallen in love. Moved from city to city by her father’s unrelenting job, it’s too hard to care for someone. Trust in anything. The pain of leaving always hurts too much. But she’ll soon learn to trust, to love.

Twice.

Drew and Shane have been best friends through everything. The painful death of Shane’s dad. The bitter separation of Drew’s parents. Through sleepaway camps and family heartache, basketball games and immeasurable loss, they’ve always been there for each other.

When Stevie meets Drew and Shane, life should go on as normal.

But a simple coin toss alters the course of their year in profound and unexpected ways.

Told in dual timelines, debut author Jennie Wexler delivers a heartbreaking and hopeful novel about missed opportunities, second chances, and all the paths that lead us to where we are.

Review

Where It All Lands presents how life could go if one decision you make is changed. Told in dual timelines, three high school students – Stevie, Drew, and Shane – collide and their lives will never be the same. Shane and Drew have been best friends for years and Stevie is the new girl that they both are interested in. A coin flip decides who gets to ask her out, and the dual timelines reflect what would happen if Shane won the coin flip vs Drew winning. It poses an interesting question about how one decision can change everything.

This is really an emotional story. You’re not sure who to root for in this situation as you begin to feel for all three of the characters and their lives and stories change from timeline to timeline. Each character has a personal story explored through each timeline that deals with romantic, family, and platonic relationships. I found myself relating to each character separately and couldn’t see how the ending would go.

Be prepared for the ride of your life with this book. It is beautifully written and well paced. The timeline switches are not distracting or confusing, they are interspersed well throughout the story and continues to support the plot line.

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

Happy reading, folks!