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 – I Hope You’re Listening

Title: I Hope You’re Listening

Author: Tom Ryan

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Publication date: October 6th, 2020

368 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

EVERY MISSING PERSON HAS A STORY.

In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.

At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.

When another little girl in town goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much of her own story is she willing to reveal in order to uncover the truth?

Review

I Hope You’re Listening is a YA thriller that is coming out at the perfect time! It has enough spookiness and mystery to make it perfect for October. When Dee Skinner was 6, she was playing in the woods with her BFF Sibby, when Sibby is captured by strange men and never seen again. Fast forward 10 years, Dee is still dealing with the guilt of being left behind. She started a podcast called Radio Silent, bent on solving some missing persons cases – when her case can’t be. She’s had major success with it. When another young girl goes missing from the same house Dee lived in when Sibby went missing – it brings the original case back up. A Radio Silent listener sends Dee a clue to Sibby’s whereabouts, and Dee is thrust back into the past. Can Dee figure out the two cases?

I LOVED THIS BOOK. I stayed up until 1am reading it (which only upped the thriller ante), and gobbled it up whole. Were there some problems, sure, but overall this book was so well written and interesting that it’s easy to overlook them. Starting with the plot, I loved the podcast element. The fact that a young woman an create such a successful enterprise & actually help find missing people (with the help of the Laptop Detectives) is so cool to read. I also just love missing person mysteries, they are the hardest for me to predict! And I could NOT predict where this book was going at all. Every revelation was a shock.

In terms of characters, Dee had some issues. She wasn’t exactly the nicest, and she was pretty self-absorbed at times. I think she made decent growth over the span of the book, but she also wasn’t held responsible for any of her mistakes or actions. And a lot of what she does is somewhat unrealistic for a 16 year old. BUT, in her own way, she made for the perfect character in this story. Also, there was a touch of LGBTQ romance, which is always a plus!

Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Code for Love and Heartbreak

Title: The Code for Love and Heartbreak

Author: Jillian Cantor

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: October 6th, 2020

304 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Emma Woodhouse is a genius at math, but clueless about people. After all, people are unreliable. They let you down—just like Emma’s sister, Izzy, did this year, when she moved to California for college. But numbers…those you can count on. (No pun intended.)

Emma’s senior year is going to be all about numbers, and seeing how far they can take her. When she and George, her Coding Club co-president, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born—a matchmaking app that goes far beyond swiping, using algorithms to calculate compatibility. George disapproves of Emma’s idea, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other and her own feelings defy any algorithm? Emma thought math could solve everything. But there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

Review

A retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, The Code for Love and Heartbreak follows math nerd Emma as she is beginning her senior year. She is co-president of the coding club, along with George, her sister’s boyfriend’s little brother and her prime rival for valedictorian. Emma doesn’t understand people, but she does understand numbers, and she needs a great idea for her coding club project so she can win in her senior year and get into Harvard. So, she comes up with the idea to create a system to match couples up in her school for dances. It starts off so well, but when couples start breaking up, Emma must rethink her approach to the math, and maybe even love.

This book was super cute, and reminded me of high school when we did matching services. I love reading about coding, I have no idea why but it really interests me in books. I liked the competition aspect of the plot line, and how the lessons in this book aren’t just about life and love, but also about friendship and what it means to be a friend. Emma really grows and changes during the book, which is always a great plot line.

One thing that I didn’t like is that Emma was unnecessarily mean at points in this book. Like, in most stories there is a conflict, where the MC loses friends, alienates people, etc. But I felt like it went too far in this book, and bordered on actual bullying. The same effect could’ve been manufactured without turning Emma into someone who says horribly mean and rude things to her friends.

Overall, the story was adorable and the way the love story progressed was super cute. It was a solid friends to lovers, and the big romantic gesture was super nerdy yet adorable. The main themes of this book were good, I just couldn’t give it a full 4 stars due to the issues I had with Emma.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Kingdom of Sea and Stone

Title: Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crowl of Coral and Pearl #2)

Author: Mara Rutherford

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: October 6th, 2020

pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

Review

Sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl, Kingdom of Sea and Stone is a direct follow up to the events of the first book. I do like when sequels start up right at the end of the first, without having to wonder really what happened in the midst of the two books. The story is still told from Nor’s POV exclusively.

I love the concept of the duology so much. The villain is the perfect, no redeemable but you still feel kinda bad for him, character. Nor is a super capable and intelligent main character. Tallin is the hero you live for as a YA reader. The setting is rich and beautifully told, and the magic system that was only slightly touched on in book one is expanded in this one in amazing ways. It is truly unique and I would love to have more information and stories about it, even in companion novels!

I found myself less invested in the romance in this book. I actually felt like a background character would be a better love interest for Nor than Tallin. I knew it wouldn’t happen, but Tallin was not great in this book. I also felt like the ending left much to be desired. It is fairly open ended, so I could see the author returning to the world in the future – which would be open to and would read. Some of the scenes and writing in this book just felt disjointed and off pace compared to the first book.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Love Study

Title: The Love Study

Author: Kris Ripper

Publisher: Carina Press

Publication date: September 29th, 2020

Unknown pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.

And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.

When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.

The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.

Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.

Review

The Love Study is an experiment in queer dating in the 21st century. With a great friend group, Declan has just about everything he wants. He doesn’t want or need a committed relationship like some people and he loves his temp job because he doesn’t like to be tied down. When he meets Sidney, a genderqueer Youtuber, he agrees to go on their channel to do a dating experiment to help others. What he doesn’t expect is the feelings he develops for them.

This story was super cute! I really enjoyed Declan’s forays into dating and his journey to define what a relationship looks like for him. I think the main takeaway from this book is that all types of definitions and dating behaviors are valid, as long as both (or all) parties agree and feel comfortable with the decision! Declan and Sidney’s relationship definitely doesn’t fit the general “mold” that heteronormative society prescribes to, and that. is. okay.

I enjoyed that both Declan and Sidney tried really hard to be sensitive to each others opinions, feelings, and thoughts. However, it got in the way of their communication most times, because in the effort of being open and accepting to the other person, they stopped being true to themselves. It can be hard to buck traditional gender and dating roles, because it gives structure to the relationship and how to act in it. Finding a good balance is what Declan and Sidney struggled with throughout the book, but their journey to discovering each other was very insightful and informative.

This is a type of relationship that doesn’t get written about often because it doesn’t fit the general model. But truly, more genderqueer/nonbinary/LGBTQ relationships should be written about so it becomes more accepted, understood, and validated.

Thank you to Carina Press and Netgalley for an early copy of this book 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 – The Baby Group

Title: The Baby Group

Author: Caroline Corcoran

Publisher: Avon

Publication date: September 17th, 2020

400 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Her life was perfect. Until the video. Scarlett’s golden life suddenly unravels when someone sends a shocking video of her to everyone she knows. The only people who claim they haven’t seen it are the friends in her new mothers’ group: Cora, Emma and Asha. Scarlett is forced to delve into her past to discover who is out to get her. But as her circle of trust gathers around her, she has to ask – are her friends as innocent as they seem?

Review

The Baby Group centers on Scarlett, a new mom living in a small town in England. She has a group of mom friends, has a great husband and job, and runs a popular mom blog that is getting close to making money. That is, until someone send a sex tape of her from her 20’s having a threesome with two men. It gets sent to her entire company, family, husband, and friends. Everyone, except her mom group. Spiraling, Scarlett must find out who sent this tape out, and quickly before her other secrets come out…

I thought the concept of this book was very intriguing, and overall it was an easy read. You got Scarlett’s POV and the “Anon” POV of the person who leaked her sex tape and is trying to take her down. This added a fun, twisted aspect to the writing and gave the “bad guy” a voice. The great part was watching paranoia slowly cause Scarlett to spiral, as she began to suspect why this person would do this, along with then narrowing down who it could have been.

I wish the mystery was better. The second the character who ended up doing it was introduced, I knew it was them. I didn’t 100% get the motivations correct or the details, but I knew for most of the book who it would end up being, it was pretty much telegraphed. I also feel like the ending needed to provide more closure for the characters involved, yet it really ended weirdly in my opinion. I also did not like the husband’s character, but this I feel like was done on purpose based on the events of the books.

I gave The Baby Group 3 stars because I feel like the plot was executed well and well thought out. The characters were given good dimension and back stories. Also, it makes you think about the internet and how much putting our lives out there impacts our privacy.

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

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!

Book Review – Queen of Shadows

Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Publication date: September 1st, 2015

648 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Review

“She was a whirling cloud of death, a queen of shadows, and these men were already carrion.”

sarah j maas, queen of shadows

SWOON.

Seriously, I’m not sure how much else of a review one needs than that one, simple word. But, I feel somewhat obligated to so I will try to assign more words to my feelings about this book (again, without spoilers).

I was SO much more invested in this book. It’s a story of revenge, vengeance, love, and redemption – pure AMAZINGNESS. A lot of our friends are back together again, somewhat working together to meet similar goals. There is almost less of Rowan in this book, which made me sad, but then he appeared and completely made up for it. I refer you back to my original point of SWOON. On the topic of characters, I ended up liking Manon’s character more by the end of this book. I at least have a better understanding of where her character is going, which helps me enjoy her POV. She also helped enter another character that will be important later on, I’m sure.

The sheer intellect and deviousness of Aelin slays me every time. She is so damn… smart. Like, her plans are air tight almost always and she has such a way of predicting others moves. Her plotting in this book was prime and lets just say, certain people got what was coming to them. Also, I appreciated a character from Throne of Glass getting a serious redemption arc, and magical powers!

At the end of this book, I felt the most need to start the next one that I’ve found throughout the series so far. But, I still didn’t pick it up. It didn’t move me enough to abandon my TBR plans. I’m interested to see if Empire of Storms will break that cycle. Anyway, another Throne of Glass book, completed!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Heir of Fire

Title: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Publication date: September 2nd, 2014

565 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak-but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life-and her future-forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

Review

“You didn’t need a weapon at all when you were born one.”

sarah j maas, heir of fire

So this review will likely be fairly short, just to try and avoid any spoilers! As it is the third book in the series, a lot of important things happen in this book and if you’re one of the few people in the community that haven’t read this series… well it would ruin it for you! So I’m going to attempt to not do that.

Overall I found this book to be very good. I enjoyed the different POV’s provided, because the main characters aren’t all together anymore. You also get two new POV’s, one that gets more page time than the other. Rowan and Manon are presented to the world – with mixed feelings on my part. First off, I love Rowan Whitethorn. I will die for him. But Manon? I wanted to skip over her chapters as quickly as possible. I understood her purpose to the story, it shows what’s happening in another portion of the world a la Game of Thrones. It gives added context to the reader that the characters aren’t privy to. BUT, she boring. In my opinion. I’m hopeful her arc will be more interesting as the books go on.

Back to Rowan though. His part of the book was so needed and I love it so much. He truly helps extend and explain Celaena’s arc throughout the series so far. Everyone she meets helps grow her and helps her come to important realizations and he is no different. I will love him forever and if she wasn’t the world’s greatest assassin, I would fight her for him.

Outside of my distaste for Manon’s chapters, I felt the pacing of the book was perfect. The chapters ended at painful times, done on purpose to keep the reader reading and working to get back to that POV to find out what happens. Throughout the book you’re racing to the end to see where your beloved characters will fall. But again, like I said in my Crown of Midnight review, the end did not force me to abandon my plans and pick up the next one. I’m still waiting for an ending that will grip me so hard that I must continue on.

I still say everyone should read this series if you haven’t. And if you haven’t read them, and you’re somehow here reading my review of the fourth book, listen to my words & go start Throne of Glass.

Happy reading, folks!