Book Review – Love Her or Lose Her

Title: Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2)

Author: Tessa Bailey

Publisher: Avon Books

Publication date: January 14, 2020

352 pages

4.5/5 pages

Goodreads Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey returns with a unique, sexy romantic comedy about a young married couple whose rocky relationship needs a serious renovation. 

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything.

Review

We follow up with our characters with Rosie leaving Dominic because their marriage has been empty. The story follows them trying to save their marriage and learn how to communicate with each other better. I loved the use of love languages to explain the problems they were having. I fully ascribe to that relationship theory because it has always explained so much to me in my relationships. Rosie and Dominic try counseling, but Dominic has a secret that could change everything.

I pre-ordered Love Her or Lose Her after reading Fix Her Up and loving it. I loved the family and group of friends that Tessa Bailey has created, and I figured there would be one or two companion novels with it. As much as I loved Fix Her Up, Love Her or Lose Her was not quite as good.

Fix Her Up got a lot of critiques for the gratuitous use of ‘baby girl’ and the weird sex scenes. I didn’t agree with those and felt like the sex scenes were well done and I’ve never minded the term baby girl. HOWEVER, Bailey is back in this one with a new pet name and *gag* nope wasn’t for me. Used far too frequently. Also, the sex scenes seemed off to me, there was a level of ‘force’ to them that left me uncomfortable at times. Dominic seemed to be trying too hard to seduce and convince Rosie to do more than she wanted to.

I missed Georgie and Travis. Of course they are in the book, but barely. I think it says something that I’m reading about other characters and wishing for the story to be about someone else. I just didn’t connect as much with Rosie and Dominic’s relationship as I did with Georgie and Travis.

At the very end we find out that we are getting a Bethany book in the Fall!! I’m super excited! Even though Love Her or Lose Her wasn’t as great in my eyes, I still love Tessa Bailey’s writing and it is so easy to get through. I want to finish the stories of these characters so you know I’ll be back with that review quickly after it is released!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Lady Midnight

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”

Title: Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margarat K. McElderry Books

Publication date: March 8th, 2016

698 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Review

Being told that love is forbidden does not kill love. It strengthens it.

CASSANDRA CLARE, LADY MIDNIGHT

Here I am, over halfway done my Cassandra Clare binge and almost being done all her main works! I will eventually read her short story collections, but probably not for a little while. I already have my books for February planned so maybe after that, or whenever I can get them from the library!

The Dark Artifices starts with Lady Midnight and it picks up about 5 years after City of Heavenly Fire ended. It follows Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs, 2 young heroes during the Dark War. They are now parabatai, bonded by lifelong runes to fight along side and protect each other no matter what. They live at the Los Angeles Institute and everything has been quiet… until now. A string of murders are plaguing the city, humans and Downworlders alike. Emma believes it is connected to her parent’s murders 5 years ago, and she won’t stop until she finds out who killed them. The answer comes with unexpected consequences…

Okay, so Julian and Emma are adorable. So far, I have to rank them 4th in my Shadowhunter relationship guide (out of 4) but there’s still 2 books left to change that! (For those wondering, my top 4 are: Tessa and Will, Tessa and Jem, Jace and Clary, Julian and Emma) Their big problem is that they are in love with each other, which is forbidden for parabatais for a reason no one seems to know. I had a hard time with this, because I kept being weirded out by their love, confusing ‘parabatai’ with ‘sibling’. I had to keep reminding myself that there isn’t anything morally wrong with them being in love, it’s just against the law. That took their relationship down in my mind.

I do love that Cassie switched up the ‘model’ of her relationships. Whereas Tessa and Clary are strong, it’s in a soft-girlish way that allowed the big, masculine love interests shine. The roles are flipped with Julian and Emma. One critique I’ve had of her books is that TMI and TID are basically the same plot… just with different characters 200 years apart. This gives some “different” vibes to it. AND Cassie added a Shadowhunter character with autism which is nice, as well as one with mental illness. The representation is… okay… as in it is looked down upon in Shadowhunter society because they don’t fit the mold. I sincerely hope the rep evolves over this trilogy and ends well for those characters.

Our villian is super unexpected, and that’s all I will say about it. I loved the Poe references (all the chapter titles are taken from the Annabel Lee poem, which factors into the story). AND THAT EPILOGUE. Ugh omg I could die. I am really excited to jump into Lord of Shadows to see where this story goes, because without the epilogue the book is fairly wrapped up. Then WHAM plot twist. I’m here for it.

Unexpected side character love: Mark and Christina. Mark and Christina forever, deuces Perfect Diego. Mark Blackthorn comes back from The Wild Hunt and is so endearingly different, it’s amazing to watch his transformation. Christina is a great character, and again different than the female side characters from TMI and TID (ahem, Isabelle and Jessamine). I want more of her, and less of Perfect Diego (can you say uppity? gross). Love when side characters hold their own.

Okay, I’m going to go read Lord of Shadows now that I got all those feelings out!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – No, We Can't Be Friends

Title: No, We Can’t Be Friends

Author: Sophie Ranald

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: January 10th, 2020

295 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone knows a girl like Sloane. She was always The Single One. She never brought a plus-one to weddings. She was the woman you’d set up with your single cousin. She joined ballroom dancing classes to meet men and was the queen of online dating. 

But then she met Myles. Perfect Myles, with denim-blue eyes and a dazzling smile that melted her insides. She’d finally found The One. 

Except she didn’t imagine that Myles’s idea of Happy Ever After would include Sloane battling an overflowing laundry basket, buying birthday cards for his family, and ironing his Calvin Klein underpants. 

Then Sloane finds out that Myles has a secret. 

The fairy tale is well and truly over. Her heart is blown to smithereens. Eating her weight in Ben & Jerry’s and large Meat Feast pizzas can only get Sloane so far before she has to make a decision… Can she learn to love herself more than she loved the love of her life? 

Review

**Thank you to Bookouture, Netgalley, and Sophie Ranald for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sophie and Myles are married and Sophie has everything she thought she wanted in life. She has a great job that she absolutely loves, and adoring husband, and is getting ready to try for a baby. One small problem? Myles is cheating and her whole world view flips upside down. It takes her some time to figure out how to handle the situation, while drawing strength and inspiration from her friends and clients at work. She becomes homeless, but over the course of the book everything works out for her, helped along by carefully placed moments that change her thought process and decisions. Myles is scum, but she learns she is more than her marriage – and it’s important to love yourself, not just your husband.

I really didn’t think I was going to finish this book, the first part has a lot of issues due to the crumbling relationship of Sophie and Myles. Myles is clearly cheating, and Sophie just needs to have her “aha” moment and leave him. However, when she finally confronts him, he gaslights her so bad she starts to second guess herself. I really wasn’t sure where the author was going with it, but gaslighting is my hands down least favorite part of any book that features it. It’s such a tired cliche and I was worried the book would just follow in that vein and annoy the crap out of me. BUT! Sophie really has a transformative journey and I’m glad I stuck with it. I really loved the characters (especially the side characters) and the side stories were fun and interesting.

I am so glad the author moved past the gaslighting plot line and Myles got called out the way he deserved (if you read this, you’ll know the part I’m talking about!). It was really great to see Sophie grow as a person into her life, even though she takes several hard knocks.

Y’all should read this if you have a terrible ex, because you could definitely relate. No, We Can’t Be Friends is a solid, quick chick lit read for those who gravitate to this genre. It’s also set in Britain, so the British slang was fun to read for an American like me.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – City of Lost Souls

Missing, one stunningly attractive teenage boy. Answers to ‘Jace’ or ‘Hot Stuff’

Title: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: May 8th, 2012

536 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

What price is too high to pay, even for love? Plunge into fifth installment in the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and “prepare to be hooked” (Entertainment Weekly)—now with a gorgeous new cover, a map, a new foreword, and exclusive bonus content! City of Lost Souls is a Shadowhunters novel.

When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

Review

I hope you told him you were bitten by a gay spider.

Cassandra clare, city of lost souls

I’m back, and moving through my Cassandra Clare binge! Next up was City of Lost Souls, which continues to follow Jace and Clary while they try and save everyone from Sebastian. Unfortunately, I felt this book had classic middle book syndrome so I had to rate it a littler lower than City of Fallen Angels.

I feel like this book had a lot more potential. Jace’s plot in this had the possibility of being really interesting and deep – but it fell flat as he spent most of it just trying to get into Clary’s sensible pants (I mean, I know he’s a teenage boy but you spent 4 books giving him dimension, keep it going). Clary also fell deeper into the crazy girlfriend trope, and at one point makes a gigantic decision for Jace that she had no right making. This part was VERY annoying, because of how intensely wrong it was. But I digress.

This book was obviously just setting up the plot of the 6th book, City of Heavenly Fire. A big war is coming between the Shadowhunters and Sebastian and everyone will be affected. My fave characters in this book were Isabelle and Simon. I feel like Izzy’s character arc is really rounding out as we learn more of her background and what makes her who she is. Simon is going through a huge transition time and he still manages to keep up his dry humor, which is lovely and heartening. They took the award of primary ship from Jace and Clary in this book.

THAT ENDING THO. Okay, so I need to know what happens with the vampires. That ending was the only truly shocking plot point in the book, along with the break up from one couple. The ending redeemed the book a bit for me.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Map From Here to There

Title: The Map From Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2)

Author: Emery Lord

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

368 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions. 

Review

**Thank you to Bloomsbury YA, Netgalley, and Emery Lord for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

In the second installment of Paige’s story, you get to see how her senior year of high school goes after everything that happened with Max. Paige is going through the age old struggle of trying to balance school, her future career, and a boyfriend. No matter what she does, one starts to fall and she can’t bear to see it be her boyfriend. Mix in mental health issues causing severe anxiety to flare up – it’s a roller coaster ride of a year. Of course, she’s got her friends, but for how long? Who knows where everyone will end up at the end of the year and she is terrified of making the wrong choice.

I was super into the first book, The Start of Me and You. Watching Max and Paige’s friendship and relationship blossom was beautiful, and so reminiscent of high school. I was less invested in the second book, because I don’t feel like it really WENT anywhere. Things happened for sure – ups and downs, twists and turns. Paige puts herself out there in ways she didn’t in the first book and grew up a ton. But it also came with some sacrifice and sadness as well.

I was not a fan of the ending. I almost felt like I read that whole book for… nothing? The ending doesn’t really explain what happens or what Paige chooses – which is a pet peeve of mine for books. If you love a cliffhanger ending that leaves it up to you to decide what happens – I highly recommend. That just isn’t my favorite writing style and I wanted oh so much more from my fave guy and and gal.

This duo is so beautifully written though. I love how LGBTQIA and mental health themes were added into the second book, because it’s important to remember that these issues will affect teenagers. It also provided some good character definition for the characters who were affected.

Overall, a good ending to Paige’s story, but I wish it didn’t have to end. I’d read a play by play of Paige and Max’s relationship for the next ten years if I could.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Entwined Paths

Title: Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2)

Author: M.L. Greye

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: January 3rd, 2020

664 pages

4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Royals support the crown.
Rioters wish to tear it down.

Five years ago, Emry was mourning the loss of her only brother and feeling utterly helpless. When the opportunity arose to travel to the exotic nation of Heerth, Emry jumped on it. Through the help of her friend, Trezim, she learned the skills needed to protect herself and possibly save her country.

The past five years have gone a little differently for Declan. He has been kidnapped, beaten, stolen, robbed of all that he had … and trained to become the fastest man in history. But was it all worth it in the end?

Set in a world where eye color determines one’s abilities, Emry and Declan must discover the hard way that not all eyes are created equally. Yet, when they do find their perfect match, everything seems to pair up nicely.

Review

**Thank you to the author, M.L. Greye, for providing an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

When Greye emailed me asking if I wanted the opportunity to review the second installment of the Swift Shadows series, I jumped at the chance. I loved Of Rioters and Royals and was stoked to get a sequel so quickly. One thing I should mention before I dive in, is that this is a prequel. This was a brief disappointment to me, I wanted to know what was happened next! However, it was very brief because then I saw I got to learn how Emry and Declan came to be, and wowza it was something I didn’t know I wanted but definitely needed.

Entwined Paths takes place 5 years prior to the events in Of Rioters and Royals. You get to see how Emry became The Mistress and what led her to that decision. You see her background with her father, Cit, and Trezim – and how she learned to wield her powers with the strength she does in ORAR. Simultaneously, we get to see what Declan went through as one of the Stolen – and how his powers strengthen with hers. It was lovely to have this level of description to their past selves and experience their trials and tribulations. I especially loved when Emry was competing in the staff competition as she was becoming The Mistress – she’s a powerful lady who really cares about her country and more power to her.

The dream sequences where Emry and Declan met to get through their mutual situations were just so heartwarming. I love their relationship so much and it helped their character arc to see what contact they had before that fateful day where she dropped down from the tree in front of him. I will read anything Greye writes in this world because it is just so fascinating to me. The magic system is completely inspired (your powers are based on eye color) and makes me wish I lived in this world so I could run really past or control fire.

One thing – this book is LONG. It is 664 pages of beauty, yes, but it will take some time to get through. And when I said I was briefly disappointed by the prequel status, I meant it, but THAT ENDING was a brief hint to the current world and I NEED THE NEXT ONE STAT!

These books are available on Kindle Unlimited, so please go pick them up!!

Happy reading, folks!

January TBR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR (again)! A new year is so fresh and ripe with bookish possibilities. If you read my 2020 Goals Post, you know that I have a semi-structured plan for what books I’m going to read each month.I painstakingly poured over my physical books, Netgalley responsibilities, and backlist babies to determine what to read this month and I came up with a HUGE list. We’ll see how this actually works, but I have high hopes!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

My plan is to read a new backlist series each month and just binge my way through them. This month is devoted to Cassandra Clare.

  1. City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4), Cassandra Clare
  2. City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5), Cassandra Clare
  3. City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6), Cassandra Clare
  4. Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1), Cassandra Clare
  5. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2), Cassandra Clare
  6. Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3), Cassandra Clare
  7. The Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1), Kat Cho
  8. The Beckoning Shadow (The Beckoning Shadow #1), Katharyn Blair
  9. Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2), Tessa Bailey
  10. The Women’s War (Women’s War #1) – Jenna Glass

NETGALLEY EARC’S

I give myself 4 days to read Netgalley books, at 25% a day. It’s worked so far, and gives me time to read physical books at the same time. Even if I get really engrossed and finish one in 2 days, I won’t start the next until the calendar says to.

  1. The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2), Roshani Chokshi
  2. Queen of the Unwanted (Women’s War #2), Jenna Glass
  3. The Shrike and the Shadows, Chantal Gadoury and A.M. Wright
  4. Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars #2), Elizabeth Lim
  5. Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2), Nicki Pau Preto
  6. The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2), Victoria Lee
  7. Havenfall (Havenfall #1), Sara Holland
  8. The Kissing Game, Marie Harte
  9. Break in Case of Emergency, Brian Francis

Before you say anything, yes I know this is a very ambitious list. I think 18 is the most books I’ve read in a month before so 19 in the first month of the year may be pushing it. BUT I just don’t care! I get to make my TBR however I want, and we’ll see how I do at the end of the month! Wish me luck, friends!

Happy reading, folks!