eARC Review – Mistletoe and Mr. Right

Title: Mistletoe and Mr. Right (Moose Springs, Alaska #2)

Author: Sarah Morgenthaler

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: October 6th, 2020

352 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

How the moose (almost) stole Christmas.

Lana Montgomery is everything the quirky small town of Moose Springs, Alaska can’t stand: a rich socialite with dreams of changing things for the better. But Lana’s determined to prove that she belongs…even if it means trading her stilettos for snow boots and tracking one of the town’s hairiest Christmas mysteries: the Santa Moose, an antlered Grinch hell-bent on destroying every bit of holiday cheer (and tinsel) it can sink its teeth into.

And really…how hard could it be?

The last few years have been tough on Rick Harding, and it’s not getting any easier now that his dream girl’s back in town. When Lana accidentally tranquilizes him instead of the Santa Moose, it’s clear she needs help, fast…and this could be his chance to finally catch her eye. It’s an all-out Christmas war, but if they can nab that darn moose before it destroys the town, Rick and Lana might finally find a place where they both belong…together.

Review

After recently reading The Tourist Attraction, I was very excited to be approved for Mistletoe and Mr. Right. If you’ve read the first book (which you don’t really NEED to do, it just helps & gives background), this book covers Lana and her adventures into trying to save Moose Springs by doing exactly what the locals don’t want to have happen – increasing tourists in the area. While she does this, she begins to fall in love with the very quiet but very handsome Rick, who runs a bar in Moose Springs and who blushes whenever Lana looks at him. Rick is a local, living a small town life.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first book. I enjoyed the consistency within the dramatic points where the female does something fairly illegal to the male & hijinks ensue. I thought the Santa Moose plot line was hysterical, and I truly enjoyed the depth that Lana’s character was given. She wasn’t the typical rich, party girl in the first book, but she also wasn’t given much attention or personality. In this book you really get to see how she feels about her family, the business, and the town.

I wish the Santa Moose has a more distinct ending. That plot line truly fell flat. I wish Rick had more of a personality. Outside of being a genuinely nice guy, there wasn’t much given to him at all. Even from his POV the thoughts you’re privy to are just so surface level. Lastly, the ending was way too forced and rushed. The pacing of this book was all off for me. For these reasons, I enjoyed this first more, but I will be reading the third when it comes out!

Overall, a cute, Christmassy story coming out in the Fall. Go check it out!

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – In a Holidaze

Title: In a Holidaze

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: October 6, 2020

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Review

Christmas books are great no matter what time of year. Christina Lauren does it again with a cute and romantic story and a woman who gets stuck in a time loop, living the Christmas holiday over and over again until she gets it right. Mae’s large group of family and friends get together every year at a cabin for Christmas, and she’s always been in love with Andrew – one of the members of the group. They’ve known each other all their lives but she’s never been able to say anything. In a near death experience, Mae asks the universe to show her what would make her happy – and the time loop begins.

Mae’s antics in this book had me cracking up at times. She starts off so careful and focused on keeping the traditions of the holiday that doesn’t really allow her to be herself. The time loop gives her the opportunity to freak out and just be real with everyone, and not take everything so seriously, which allows Andrew to see a different side of her. Andrew is an interesting character and seems very nice and normal – but I don’t feel like he was developed very well. There’s little back story of him or personality building. There were also so many side characters that it was hard to keep everything straight.

I loved the time loop concept. It was so fun and I haven’t read a romance novel with this concept. The plot was obviously not science fiction so the time loop isn’t explained or explored, just something that you accept as happening. Each time loop sequence was so cool because Mae just came off as crazy before she figured out what was happening and had to convince people what was happening. It was a really zany situation that ws just hilarious at times. I wish that she had been reset in time just one more time than she was, because I feel like it would’ve added depth and more conflict to make it more interesting.

If you like Christina Lauren books, you’ll like this one. And just in time for the holidays!

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Books for an advance copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Bringing Down the Duke

Title: Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women #1)

Author: Evie Dunmore

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: September 3rd, 2019

368 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….

Review

“If we were of equal station,” he said softly, “I would have proposed to you when we took our walk in the maze.”

evie dunmore, bringing down the duke

HOLY WOW, I generally don’t read historical… anything – but Bringing Down the Duke was seriously amazing! Set in the 1800’s in London, Bringing Down the Duke tells the tale of Annabelle Archer, a bluestocking at Oxford trying to escape her cousin’s country home after falling from grace. Part of her stipend requires to work with a women’s suffrage group, looking to restore voting rights to women in society. Her target? The Duke Montgomery, a divorcee who has his own agenda. They meet, and sparks fly. Their difference in station makes their romance forbidden, but can either of them stay away?

Like I said, historical books are never my preference – be it fiction or romance. BUT I was immediately drawn into this past world and barely able to put it down. If I do read historical, then I want the female lead to be strong and bucking of traditions – as we now know that women are not property & shouldn’t be. And Annabelle fits that bill perfectly. And Sebastian is such a good man, and very good at the art of the grand gesture!! Throughout every twist they couldn’t stay away from each other, no matter how “wrong” it was.

I felt pulled back in time reading this book, which for me is the mark of good historical writing. Annabelle truly has a league of extraordinary women around her and the side characters were also so good! There is easy justification for at least 3 more books, and I desperately hope we get all of them!!! (Lady Lucie’s story came out earlier this month!)

Highly recommend this romance book, a full 5 stars from me!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Stuck on You

Title: Stuck on You

Author: Portia MacIntosh

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication date: September 17th, 2020

Unknown pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Could a post-it note really lead to love…?

Sadie doesn’t have time for finding love. She’s too busy as PA for famous artist Damian Banks. When she’s not arranging exhibitions, she’s organising his dry cleaning or dumping his never ending stream of girlfriends.

But when she strikes up an unusual friendship with her desk share buddy, she finds a confidante and a new potential love interest. Problem is, they’ve never actually met…

With Christmas just around the corner, can Sadie put herself first for a change and find what she’s been looking for all along?

Review

Sadie works for THE Damian Banks, a portrait photographer of critical acclaim. By works for, we mean runs his personal life. It wasn’t necessarily her plan in life, but truly the man couldn’t function without her. The one bright side to her job, which involves her breaking up with Damian’s flings of the week for him, is her desk mate Adam. They exchange post it notes daily complaining about the boss. After a year, she truly feels like she knows him well, but they’ve never met. When a job comes available for an art curator, Sadie decides it’s time to leave Damian and continue her professional career. But not before Damian invites himself home with her to Christmas….

Overall this book is like Portia MacIntosh’s other books, cute and easy to read. Sadie is my favorite character her, she’s funny and her internal monologues are funny. I think having Damian’s POV would have made him more likable as a character, though he did grow on me. It’s just hard when you have to imagine what he’s thinking, especially since he seems like a player. Sadie’s family was the sweetest and their Christmas traditions were so hilarious! I wish my family had such intricate holiday traditions.

For fans of The Flatshare, Stuck on You is a cute rom com about love, forgiveness, and family.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – In Case You Missed It

Title: In Case You Missed It

Author: Lindsey Kelk

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication date: September 8th, 2020

400 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When Ros steps off a plane after four years away she’s in need of a job, a flat and a phone that actually works. And, possibly, her old life back. Because everyone at home has moved on, her parents have reignited their sex life, she’s sleeping in a converted shed and she’s got a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her new phone begins to ping with messages from people she thought were deleted for good. Including one number she knows off by heart: her ex’s.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…

Review

Ros moved to America for the job of a lifetime, but returns to England, tail between her legs. She’s forced to move back in with her parents, who are having a sexual reawakening, and finds out they build her a shed in the backyard to live in. She gets back together with her ex-boyfriend, Patrick, whom her friend group doesn’t particularly like, but something seems to be missing. Her new job requires her to work with a 14 year old video gaming prodigy named Snazzlechuff on a podcast. Basically, she is missing the earlier days of life when she was in her 20’s and everything was better. But her friends and family are moving on, so will Ros be left behind or realize the best days of her life are still happening?

I enjoyed Ros as a character, she was funny and witty without taking herself too seriously. Patrick, was the worst. He was definitely the example of who NOT to date, but he truly helped Ros along in figuring out what she was wanting from life in the present instead of the past. And Ros’ friend group was AMAZING. I legit want a separate book for Sumi, and to know more about Lucy and Creepy Dave! I loved that even though she was in America for 3 years, she came back and they fell back together like nothing had changed.

I genuinely wish there was more romance with the endgame guy. He was a part of the book, but not enough in my opinion. You don’t get to know much about him, and the romance didn’t feel very organic because they really didn’t have a lot of interaction together, let alone positive interaction. It would have helped if his POV was included in the book.

The Snazzlechuff plot line was actually pretty funny, along with her parents and their sexual reawakening. I will never look at sushi the same way (if you know, you know). I gave this book 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for GR purposes. It was cute and easy to read, I read it all in one sitting, but there were just some things that could have taken it to an even better read.

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

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Kiss Quotient

Title: The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)

Author: Helen Hoang

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: May 30th, 2018

323 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Review

“All the things that make you different make you perfect.”

helen hoang, the kiss quotient

I got this book through a trade with some friends, and I hadn’t even heard of it before! But now I’ve read it twice, and read the sequel The Bride Test. Yes, I somehow reviewed the second one before the first, no idea how that happened! Anyway, I adored this romance novel with an autistic main character. Both MCs are also Asian, so there’s multiple different reps going on here – which I love to see. AND the book is Own Voices because Helen Hoang has autism herself. I think Stella is modeled after Helen herself.

Stella and Michael were amazing characters, and I loved them from the jump! Michael is an escort Stella hires to teach her how to have sex, because she generally doesn’t enjoy other’s touch. What she finds is that Michael’s touch is more than tolerable, it’s addictive. They make a longterm agreement (to not fall in love), and of course that doesn’t work. Their relationship was amazing, even if it wasn’t perfect all the time. Stella has some failed forays into life with Michael’s family, but was able to patch them over. Honestly I love these two.

I highly recommend this book for everyone who enjoys romance novels. It does have some level of steam – I’d say medium/high on my scale. There are some pretty detailed scenes that might not be interesting or comfortable for some people to read. It’s well written, and it really can be skimmed over without losing too much of the storyline.

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – Impersonation

Title: Impersonation

Author: Heidi Pitlor

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: August 18th, 2020

336 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Allie Lang is a professional ghostwriter and a perpetually broke single mother to a young boy. Years of navigating her own and America’s cultural definitions of motherhood have left her a lapsed idealist. Lana Breban is a powerhouse lawyer, economist, and advocate for women’s rights with designs on elected office. She also has a son. Lana and her staff have decided she needs help softening her public image and that a memoir about her life as a mother will help.

When Allie lands the job as Lana’s ghostwriter, it seems as if things will finally go Allie’s way. At last, she thinks, there will be enough money not just to pay her bills but to actually buy a house. After years of working as a ghostwriter for other celebrities, Allie believes she knows the drill: she has learned how to inhabit the lives of others and tell their stories better than they can.

But this time, everything becomes more complicated. Allie’s childcare arrangements unravel; she falls behind on her rent; her subject, Lana, is better at critiquing than actually providing material; and Allie’s boyfriend decides to go on a road trip toward self-discovery. But as a writer for hire, Allie has gotten too used to being accommodating. At what point will she speak up for all that she deserves?  

A satirical, incisive snapshot of how so many of us now live, Impersonation tells a timely, insightful, and bitingly funny story of ambition, motherhood, and class.

Review

Impersonation is about a ghostwriter, Allie Lang, who writes books for celebrities or other famous people – without getting any of the credit. She lives a simple life with her son, Cass, in Western Massachusetts. Her life may look different than the norm, but she strives to be a good mother while also teaching her son how to grow up well in the years following the 2016 election. Allie is hired to ghostwrite for a feminist activist, Lana Breban, who is looking to improve her image and seem more “motherly”. But getting information for the book from Lana is like pulling teeth, and Allie is forced to supplement from within her own life. Things get complicated, and Allie must figure out how to continue on.

I felt that the message of this book was very powerful. It’s something that realistically could happen in this presidency, and a lot of it is focused on the aftermath of the 2016 election. It is a somewhat political book, it takes hard stances on certain people. The overall message of the book Allie is ghostwriting is how to raise boys to be feminists, and respect women – which is really a questions plaguing society. The highlight of this book is how real Allie is. She’s honest, raw, and not trying to be someone she isn’t. She doesn’t have the typical nuclear family, she has flaws and makes mistakes. So often books pain the prettiest pictures of characters, but that isn’t Allie – which I think is the whole point.

This leads into the characters. No one is particularly “great”. Each and every characters has a mountain of flaws, so if those aren’t characters you enjoy reading about, this book may not suit you. I guess this book also just made me sad that this is the state of our country right now, but it’s real! There’s no getting around that, and Pitlor is right to call it out and grow attention to it. Especially in an election year.

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

Happy readings, folks!

BLOG TOUR – A House Is a Body

Title: A House Is a Body

Author: Shruti Swamy

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: August 11th, 2020

208 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In two-time O. Henry-prize winner Swamy’s debut collection of stories, dreams collide with reality, modernity collides with antiquity, myth with true identity, and women grapple with desire, with ego, with motherhood and mortality. In “Earthly Pleasures,” Radika, a young painter living alone in San Francisco, begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities. In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s moment of crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy and the sense of a new beginning. In the title story, an exhausted mother watches, distracted and paralyzed, as a California wildfire approaches her home. With a knife blade’s edge and precision, the stories of A House Is a Body travel from India to America and back again to reveal the small moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.

Review

Shruti Swamy crafts a collection of such beautifully written and evocative short stories, depicting women in all different areas of life and situations. Each story is so gripping that you get lost in it, and wish for more when it inevitably ends far too soon. But there is something so right about the abrupt ends to the stories, because life continues on for women, not matter what happens to you. Your responsibilities continue on endlessly, and the short stories seem to really try to just catch a snapshot of these women going about their lives.

The writing in this collection is truly the highlight. The prose is so lyrical and emotional, it’s hard to tear yourself away from reading the next perfectly crafted line. Swamy really weaves intricate tales, giving detail when necessary, withholding information when needed. Some stories appear to be set in the current world, some could be set in worlds gone and dead. She travels back and forth from India to America in her stories, without it feeling disjointed or broken up.

A short, but powerful read for anyone who enjoys short stories and women’s lit.

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

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – With or Without You

Title: With or Without You

Author: Caroline Leavitt

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: August 4th, 2020

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

After almost twenty years together, Stella and Simon are starting to run into problems. An up-and-coming rock musician when they first met, Simon has been clinging to dreams of fame even as the possibility of it has grown dimmer, and now that his band might finally be on the brink again, he wants to go on the road, leaving Stella behind. But when she falls into a coma on the eve of his departure, he has to make a choice between stardom and his wife—and when she wakes a different person, with an incredible artistic talent of her own, the two of them must examine what it is that they really want.
 
Unapologetically honest and intimately written, With or Without You is a contemporary story of what happens to relationships as the people in them change, whether slowly or in one cataclysmic swoop.

Review

Stella and Simon have spent 20 years of their life together, even though they are very different. Stella is an organized nurse, Simon is a rocker whose band never quite hit the big time. She is buttoned up and professional, he is dressed down and casual. They love each other, even though the people in their life don’t exactly understand it. One night during a fight, Simon suggests they take drugs like they did in their younger day, except Stella ends up in a coma for a long time. When Stella wakes up, she and Simon are markedly different people, and now must learn to live together again – even though it seems their roles have reversed.

This story was absolutely fantastic. It’s told from three different perspectives: Stella, Simon, and Libby, one of Stella’s doctors and her friend. Each has a rich history and backstory that is revealed, with inner turmoil and stress. Together they create and odd group, but each needs the other in different ways. I LOVED Libby as a character, and was less invested in Stella after she woke up from the coma. She was so different, but it really shows how one event in your life can really derail and change you at a fundamental level. I thought the artist savant story line of Stella post coma was very intriguing and added depth to her character. The growth in each character, regardless of the end, was fascinating to read.

I read this book all in one night. I was so invested in each character separately, and as a group. I definitely felt there was some hypocrisy in Stella during the event that caused the main conflict, because she basically did the same thing too but never owned up to it. I feel like that thread was just dropped without much thought. I would’ve wanted that to be explored more. And I thought the amount of page time each perspective got was a bit unequal.

If you enjoy contemporary fiction, please read this book. It’s so insightful, and raw, about the experience of life and living with others. It also has theme of change, growth, and really figuring out who you are. The art plot line just adds to it. Absolutely stunning.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Sorry Not Sorry

Title: Sorry Not Sorry

Author: Sophie Ranald

Publisher: Forever (reprint)

Publication date: July 28th, 2020 (originally February 13th, 2020)

384 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Charlotte has always been a good girl. But after discovering a motivating podcast she suddenly feels restless and sees that being good is getting boring . . .
She’s not just stuck in a rut — she’s buried in it up to her chin. The only company she has in bed is the back catalog of Netflix, and falling in love feels like the stuff of fairy tales. So when she stumbles across the popular podcast Sorry Not Sorry, which challenges women to embrace their inner bad girl, she jumps at the chance to shake things up.
Old Charlotte would never ask for a stranger’s number, go on a blind date or buy lacy lingerie . . . but New Charlotte is waving goodbye to her comfort zone (with a side order of margaritas). And it turns out that good things do happen to bad girls . . .

Review

tw: cheating, stalking

Sorry Not Sorry is a type of prequel story to No, We Can’t Be Friends. It kind of takes place during the same timeline, from different points of view. They really can be read in any order, but I read NWCBF first and then Sorry Not Sorry. Charlotte’s flatmates, Maddy and Henry, are moving out and getting married, so she’s left finding new flatmates. Two new strangers move in, while Charlotte is trying to balance a demanding job and helping to plan Maddy’s wedding. Suddenly, Maddy is mad at her, Charlotte is dating a married man (but Myles says they are separated and sleeping apart), and she’s made friends with her new flatmate Tansy. Charlotte seems to have life figured out, but when her work, personal, and romantic life implode basically at the same time – Charlotte needs to figure out what is most important.

I found this book to be very similar to Sophie’s other books, cute & easy to read. It was nice to get this side of the story from NWCBF, and see what was happening in the background that story. Charlotte as a character was good, she was interesting and well developed. I liked reading about her forays in dating and trying to be a “Bad Girl” as the podcast she listened to was teaching her to be. I got frustrated with her relationship with Maddy, because it seemed like she just let Maddy be mad at her without really trying to get to the bottom of the issues. I feel like that could’ve been resolved quicker if she had.

I would have loved to read more about the penultimate love story, and had more interaction with the guy before the last 10% of the book. Normally you can tell who the main love story will be about, but I had no idea who the guy would be until the end. I just prefer when you get to experience more of the romance and relationship in romance books.

Overall, the plot was good – even if the end climax was a smidge unbelievable. I read this book all in one go, as I usually do with Sophie’s books, which is always a good sign for me. Even better sign, I stayed up until 2am to finish it, because I just needed to know where Charlotte’s story would go.

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

Happy reading, folks!