eARC Review – Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Title: Weather Girl

Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: January 11th, 2022

352 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ari Abrams has always been fascinated by the weather, and she loves almost everything about her job as a TV meteorologist. Her boss, legendary Seattle weatherwoman Torrance Hale, is too distracted by her tempestuous relationship with her ex-husband, the station’s news director, to give Ari the mentorship she wants. Ari, who runs on sunshine and optimism, is at her wits’ end. The only person who seems to understand how she feels is sweet but reserved sports reporter Russell Barringer.

In the aftermath of a disastrous holiday party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to solve their bosses’ relationship issues. Between secret gifts and double dates, they start nudging their bosses back together. But their well-meaning meddling backfires when the real chemistry builds between Ari and Russell.

Working closely with Russell means allowing him to get to know parts of herself that Ari keeps hidden from everyone. Will he be able to embrace her dark clouds as well as her clear skies?

A TV meteorologist and a sports reporter scheme to reunite their divorced bosses with unforecasted results in this charming romantic comedy from the author of The Ex Talk.

Review

Get ready folks because I’m about to gush about this book so so much. After falling in love with Rachel’s last release, The Ex Talk, I knew I needed to read more of her adult romantic contemporaries and I was right. Weather Girl is about a Jewish FMC and a plus size MMC. It’s not a combination I’ve ever seen in a book before – especially the plus size hero/love interest. And friends, he truly was a hero. I feel like the body positive movement has been amazing for women but sometimes leaves the men behind. Fat is beautiful no matter what and it was so precious to see it told from the female perspective as they characters have a conversation on page about his weight and insecurity.

On top of that, the sexual tension leaps off the page and there is a slow burn to Weather Girl but our hero has d*rty talk down to a science, phew boy. I loved the family aspect and the fact that Ari has serious mental health issues and struggles with her depression. This was extremely relatable for me while I was reading and the writing was so thoughtful about how it addressed this serious issue. I felt seen in a way that I haven’t in a while, even from other books that I feel did a good just representing mental health.

Seriously, I can’t say enough about all the amazing aspects of this book. If you find yourself draw to cartoon covers as a reading genre – don’t walk, run to slam that request/purchase button so you too can experience the love that is Ari & Russell. And for good measure, pick up The Ex Talk too.

Thank you to Berkley and Edelweiss for an advances copy in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – No Ex Before Marriage by Portia MacIntosh

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Title: No Ex Before Marriage

Author: Portia MacIntosh

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication date: January 11th, 2022

293 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

It’s not over until someone says ‘I do’…

While her friends join the “Wife Club” one by one, Poppy feels like that part of her life is done and dusted. Already married and divorced she’s not desperate to go through all that again.

Review

Portia MacIntosh writes some adorable romances set in Britain and No Ex Before Marriage is no different. It’s a second chance love story involving a divorced couple and them reconnecting when Poppy realizes their divorce never was filed – and Zac is getting married the following weekend in a high profile wedding with a minor celebrity. Poppy has to stop the wedding and try to not lose her heart to Zac again in the process.

I really enjoyed this quirky read and the unique romance Poppy and Zac had/have. After reading the reason why they got divorced in the first place, my heart hurt for them and it added in the needed emotional context to the fairly comical plot line and characters. I always appreciate that the women in MacIntosh’s romances are older than the average and show romance from a different perspective. There is an alternating timeline in this book as you read Poppy and Zac from current times with flashbacks back to high school and their marriage throughout the book.

Featuring light spice and the second chance love trope, No Ex Before Marriage continue a long line of successful romances from Portia MacIntosh (in my opinion).

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

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

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Title: The Betrothed (The Betrothed #1)

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication date: May 5th, 2020

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.

But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine.

Review

“In the end, we made enemies with our heads, but we unmade them with our hearts.”

Kiera Cass, The Betrothed

After The Selection series I should’ve known Kiera would hit us with another love triangle with a royal twist – but I was unprepared for how fast the love triangle happens. At least The Selection wasn’t insta-love because I swear all Hollis did was look at Silas and drop everything she ever knew and wanted for him. Which, fine – follow your heart and whatever but ugh the pining. The first half of this book is all stolen glances and giving up the love of a King for someone you just met and literally cost you your friend, parents, home, and reputation.

I can’t even express how much this book annoyed me, after thinking it had so much promise. And after everything that happened in this book – THE ENDING. How in the world should I feel like I want to read the next book after that? Let’s just go right ahead and turn that love triangle into a freaking square. I want more from the books I read and this was not it.

I’m not sure I’ll read The Betrayed unless I strongly want to just hate read something one day. Very glad I didn’t purchase this when it came out as I wanted to.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

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Title: The Ballerinas

Author: Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication date: December 7th, 2021

307 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Dare Me meets Black Swan and Luckiest Girl Alive in a captivating, voice-driven debut novel about a trio of ballerinas who meet as students at the Paris Opera Ballet School.

Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she’s been away…and some secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Moving between the trio’s adolescent years and the present day, The Ballerinas explores the complexities of female friendship, the dark drive towards physical perfection in the name of artistic expression, the double-edged sword of ambition and passion, and the sublimated rage that so many women hold inside––all culminating in a twist you won’t see coming, with magnetic characters you won’t soon forget.

Review

Whatever I thought I was going to get from this book is not what I actually got. And for once, I don’t particularly mean that as a compliment. The Ballerinas had all of the drama I was expecting as the dance world is known for it’s ruthlessness and the strain it places on the girls. But what I didn’t expect was not liking any of the characters. At all.

Told in alternating timelines from the POV of Delphine, we get the story of her and her two best friends, Margauz and Lindsay, as they navigate their years with the Paris Opera Ballet. The present day timeline is the women at 35-36 as they are in their careers in dance and the flashbacks start at 9 years old and eventually catches up to present day. Delphine is not a choreographer after quitting the company to move to St. Petersburg to be with her boyfriend who ended up cheating on her, causing her to move back to Paris to start her choreography career.

I had the absolute hardest time getting invested in this book. I think the timelines alternated too quickly for me to keep up with or get invested in either storyline version of Delphine. I just… wow did not like her. Yes, I’m sure she’s written in this way purposefully, but I don’t find anything redeemable about her except the decision she made regarding Jock. All of the characters were extremely flawed (again, pretty sure that’s the point) but in a way that I could not relate to or get on board with. Nothing captured my attention about this book and it was a slog to get through.

But if you find yourself really drawn to the ballet, if you loved the Black Swan movie, and if you jam out to alternating timelines, this book will be for you. It wasn’t for me, but my 3 stars is someone else’s 5 stars.

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

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – All Stirred Up by By Brianne Moore

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Title: All Stirred Up

Author: Brianne Moore

Publisher:

Publication date: September 8th, 2020

320 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Susan Napier’s family once lived on the success of the high-end restaurants founded by her late grandfather. But bad luck and worse management has brought the business to the edge of financial ruin. Now it’s up to Susan to save the last remaining restaurant: Elliot’s, the flagship in Edinburgh.

But what awaits Susan in the charming city of Auld Reekie is more than she bargained for. Chris Baker, her grandfather’s former protégé–and her ex-boyfriend–is also heading to the Scottish capital. After finding fame in New York as a chef and judge of a popular TV cooking competition, Chris is returning to his native Scotland to open his own restaurant. Although the storms have cleared after their intense and rocky breakup, Susan and Chris are re-drawn into each other’s orbit–and their simmering attraction inevitably boils over.

As Chris’s restaurant opens to great acclaim and Susan tries to haul Elliot’s back from the brink, the future brims with new promise. But darkness looms as they find themselves in the crosshairs of a gossip blogger eager for a juicy story–and willing to do anything to get it. Can Susan and Chris reclaim their lost love, or will the tangled past ruin their last hope for happiness?

Review

“Chris, you need a bitch in yer life who won’t leave you.”

Brianne Moore, All Stirred Up

I found myself mildly disappointed after this book because it didn’t live up to what I wanted from a romance. That is generally because I would classify this more as chick lit or women’s fiction, where the romance isn’t the main focus and doesn’t play the largest part in the book. I prefer straight romance driven plots personally – but don’t listen to me if you prefer chick lit. Looking at this book through that lens, it was probably pretty good and solid! I just… needed more of the romance.

Also, do not eat this book on an empty stomach or without food readily handy. The descriptions of the food are just unfair! Both MCs own restaurants, Chris is a chef and Susan is a pastry chef – so just imagine all the food they make during the course of this book. Chris and Susan used to date years ago before a rocky ending and Chris moved to America. He’s now back in Edinburgh and opening up his own restaurant in town to compete with Susan’s family’s.

I super hated the background characters of Susan’s family. They all had unnecessarily extra personalities (not in a good way) and were the archetype for personality disorders. Susan had no backbone and would not stick up for herself, which just annoys me in a character.

Basically, this book is a pass from me. It’s an average story with a below average romance that will just make you hungry. Read it or don’t read it, your life won’t change any.

Happy reading, folks!

January TBR – 2022 Edition

Wow, it feels like just yesterday I was writing my January 2021 TBR post – I’ve definitely found that the older you get, the faster the years seem to go by. Especially during these stressful times where time is a confusing concept and everyone’s perspective is skewed and warped. I desperately hope for some peace this year, and frankly that includes my reading. I spent a lot of 2021 reading a very strict list of books that I made each month, and berated myself if life got in the way and I didn’t finish or if I just wasn’t feeling that book at that time. I forgot why I’m reading and was doing it for others – for Netgalley, for publishers, for bookstagram. My overarching goal for 2022 is to basically not have TBRs.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “but why is she writing this post then?” and that would be an excellent question. My fickle brain is complex – it’s been wanting to mood read but without some parameters I am paralyzed by indecision and that ends up stressing me out more. So, imagine these TBRs as a very loose guideline for the month – a list of books that my current brain wants to read soon. And I think it will be interesting to compare the results at the end of the month in my wrap up posts. So, don’t expect me to actually read the books below. But if I do, fantastic 🙂

PHYSICAL

  1. Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2), Chloe Gong
  2. Rise Up From the Embers (Set Fire to the Gods #2), Sara Raasch
  3. The Bookworm Crush, Lisa Brown Roberts
  4. Diamond and Dawn (Amber and Dusk #2), Lyra Selene
  5. All These Bodies, Kendare Blake
  6. The Best Laid Plans, Cameron Lund
  7. Love and Other Words, Christina Lauren

EBOOKS

  1. Twisted Hate (Twisted #3), Ana Huang
  2. When You Get the Chance, Emma Lord

ARCS

  1. The Ballerinas, Rachel Kapelke-Dale
  2. Mother of All (Women’s War #3), Jenna Glass
  3. All of Us Villains, Amanda Foody
  4. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, Megan Long

AUDIO

  1. Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist #2), Renee Ahdieh
  2. The Marriage Game (Marriage Game #1), Sara Desai

I have no goals for how many books I want to read, but I normally read between 20-30 so obviously there’s a lot of wiggle room here. I’m excited to embrace this new mentality.

Happy reading, folks!

December Wrap Up – 2021 Edition

Happy 2022! I cannot believe 2021 is over, and to be honest the time since March 2020 just feels like a fever dream. It’s somehow been the longest year and half and also flown by. This post is kind of going to serve as a December wrap up as well as a 2021 wrap up. I’ve taken a much needed break from this website and instagram as well, but am ready to return in 2022 and get back to it.

In December I read 31 books (one DNF). I had a lot of time in the car to read as I took a week off from work and we visited both or our parent’s houses for the holidays. For the year I finished 260 books, which is my record for one year’s total. I highly doubt I will be able to read that much next year, but who know? This personal pan pizza doesn’t seem to be letting up so I might continue to have ample time to read a lot.

In terms of 2022 goals, I plan to utilize the library more and read the books I own. I also want to prioritize adult fantasy titles because it is a genre that I haven’t been giving enough attention and I’m missing it. I’m not setting a hard and fast amount of books I want to read next year because I want to focus more on mood reading and remembering why I love reading.

So, I’m not sure I’ll have very specific TBR posts in 2022 but check back and we’ll see 🙂

PHYSICAL

  1. Far From Normal, Becky Wallace – 3.5/5 stars
  2. Last Chance Books, Kelsey Rodkey – 4/5 stars
  3. Written in the Stars (Written in the Stars #1), Alexandria Bellefleur – 4/5 stars

EBOOK

  1. Hot British Boyfriend, Kristy Boyce – 1/5 stars DNF
  2. Hard Truths (Kiss Her Goodbye #1), Rebecca Royce – 5/5 stars REREAD
  3. Dark Truths (Kiss Her Goodbye #2), Rebecca Royce – 5/5 stars REREAD
  4. Deadly Truths (Kiss Her Goodbye #3), Rebecca Royce – 5/5 stars REREAD
  5. Four Psychos (The Dark Side #1), Kristy Cunning – 4/5 stars
  6. Three Trials (The Dark Side #2), Kristy Cunning – 4/5 stars
  7. 7th Circle (Hades #1), Tate James – 4.5/5 stars
  8. Anarchy (Hades #2), Tate James – 4.5/5 stars
  9. Club 22 (Hades #3), Tate James – 4.5/5 stars
  10. Timber (Hades #4), Tate James – 4.5/5 stars
  11. Vault (Madison Kate #4.5), Tate James – 4/5 stars
  12. Two Kingdoms (The Dark Side #3), Kristy Cunning – 3.5/5 stars
  13. One Apocalypse (The Dark Side #4), Kristy Cunning – 3/5 stars
  14. Hang the Moon (Written in the Stars #2), Alexandria Bellefleur – 4/5 stars
  15. The Cheat Sheet, Sarah Adams – 4/5 stars

ARCS

  1. The Excalibur Curse (Camelot Rising #3), Kiersten White – 3.5/5 stars
  2. Reclaim the Stars, Zoraida Cordova – 3.5/5 stars
  3. A History of Wild Places, Shea Ernshaw – 4.5/5 stars
  4. If This Gets Out, Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich – 5/5 stars
  5. How Not to Fall in Love, Jacqueline Firkins – 4/5 stars
  6. Weather Girl, Rachel Lynn Solomon – 5/5 stars
  7. No Ex Before Marriage, Portia MacIntosh – 3.5/5 stars
  8. Count Your Lucky Stars (Written in the Stars #3), Alexandria Bellefleur – 4/5 stars

AUDIO

  1. XOXO, Axie Oh – 4/5 stars
  2. Payback’s a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove #1), Lana Harper – 4.5/5 stars
  3. The Wedding Party (The Wedding Date #3), Jasmine Guillory – 4/5 stars
  4. Intercepted (Playbook #1), Alexa Martin – 4/5 stars
  5. Among the Beasts and Briars, Ashley Poston – 4/5 stars

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Kindred by Alechia Dow

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Title: The Kindred

Author: Alechia Dow

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 4th, 2022

400 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…

Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.

Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.

Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy.

Review

After loving The Sound of Stars, I knew I wanted to read The Kindred – especially after seeing they are written in the same universe. The Kindred is set before TSOS, and I honestly loved it even more than TSOS.

Joy and Felix are Kindred, paired at both to have their minds connected for life – they know each other’s thoughts, secrets, desires, and can even look through the other’s eyes to see what they are experiencing in real time. The catch, Felix is noble and Joy is poor and on a planet in their system that is very much denigrated. It shouldn’t have happened that these two are connected, but they are the best of friends and love each other so deeply. But when the royal family is killed and Felix & Joy are blamed for their murder, they have to escape to the first safe place they can find – Earth.

I freaking loved everything about this book. There is so much diversity, Joy is demi-ace and Felix is also LGBTQIAP. They are both racially diverse and learn what that means when they crash land on Earth… in Florida. Joy is plus size and there are a lot of conversations on socio-economic status. There are cameos by some of the characters in TSOS. The plot line is also so interesting – sci-fi, political intrigue, and themes of love, family, and friendship.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

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Title: You’ve Reached Same

Author: Dustin Thao

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: November 9th, 2021

304 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever. 

Review

You’ve Reached Sam will rip your heart out in the most amazing way. I cried throughout this whole book, to the point my husband was urging me to put it down multiple times. But I couldn’t, because it was so emotional and captivating. I don’t know what I did to be so thoroughly destroyed by Dustin Thao, but I’m ready to do it again with whatever else he writes.

Told in present day, with some flashbacks, this story follows Julie as she tries to recover from losing her boyfriend in a car crash after having their whole life planned. And, she thinks it was her fault – along with a lot of her school. But when Julie tries to call Sam’s phone just to hear his voicemail, something amazing happens. Sam picks up. And Julie can talk to him whenever she wants – but there will be an end date. Together they work on putting Julie’s life back together and working through her grief.

Like I said, you will find this book to be extremely sad. That’s the point, it starts from the very first page. It’s a fantastic conversation around grief, especially as a teenager and trying to find your place in the world. The epilogue is beautifully written and brings closure for the book. I wish there was some closure with Sam’s friend group and some other small pieces that could have been wrapped up tighter, but overall it was fantastic. A full 5 stars from me.

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

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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Title: The Last Time I Lied

Author: Riley Sager

Publisher: Dutton

Publication date: July 3rd, 2018

384 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Fifteen years ago, summer camper Emma Davis watched sleepily as her three cabin mates snuck out of their cabin in the dead of night. The last she–and anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the NYC art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings.. They catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of the very same Camp Nightingale–and when Francesca implores Emma to return to the camp as a painting counselor, Emma sees an opportunity to find closure and move on.

Yet, it is immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by surfacing memories, Emma is suddenly plagued by a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca, and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian apparently left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. And as history begins to repeat itself and three girls go missing again, Emma must face threats from both man and nature in order to uncover all the buried secrets–including what really happened all those years ago.

Review

“Boys can break your heart and betray you, but not in the same stinging way girls can.”

Riley Sager, The Last Time I Lied

As my second Sager book, I had high expectations but was prepared to be disappointed again – like I was after reading Home Before Dark. But, I absolutely loved this one. I had no clue what was happening at any point during this book. The main suspect in my mind changed chapter by chapter and I could barely keep up with all the intrigue that was happening. The only constant – feeling bad for Emma. She really went THROUGH it during this book, both in the flashbacks and the present day. To be fair, somewhat her fault for allowing herself to be lured back to the camp.

Personally, I adore books that have a boarding school/summer camp setting – the no parents, acting more like grown ups, having free rein. I’m always here for it. But I mostly read it in the young adult capacity – so since most of this book takes place when Emma is an adult, I wasn’t sure how it would track with that. Shouldn’t have worried. The kids made her feel and seem like less than an adult anyway!

I can’t say enough how great this mystery was. But THE ENDING is truly where it shined. Yes, the big reveal was a huge shock to me personally but the epilogue killed it even further. I almost fell off my seat.

For huge mystery fans, I’m sure you know Riley Sager as he’s one of the biggest names currently. I still highly suggest this to you if you haven’t gotten to it yet. For my fledgling mystery fans : start with this one.

Can’t wait to read more of Riley’s backlist and his most recent release, Survive the Night.

Happy reading, folks!