eARC Review – Recommended for You

Title: Recommended For You

Author: Laura Silverman

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: September 1st, 2020

272 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.

When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.

Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.

But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…

Review

Recommended for You is a short, cute YA Contemporary with a hint of adorable romance, and all the book loving vibes! Shoshanna works at a book store in the mall, and it’s Christmastime so it is very busy. She gets a new coworker, Jake, who gasp DOESN’T READ! They don’t exactly hit it off right away, so they are instant rivals. When the book store owner announces a contest to see who can make the most sales, Shoshanna is sure she will win. But Jake is sneaky good at sales, so she has her work cut out for her…

I’m serious when I say this book is super cute. I loved that the main characters were Jewish, it’s not something you see in books often but really should be represented more. It was pretty short, less than 300 pages, but didn’t FEEL short. Like sometimes short books can see underdeveloped, or too quickly paced, but I felt like this book did a lot with a little. The pacing and flow was spot on, and it covered a good few weeks worth of time.

In terms of the characters, I like Jake more than Shoshanna. Shoshanna is a bit… much. She’s uber perky and bubbly, but it’s almost unrealistic with just how happy and optimistic she is, all the time. Or maybe I just can’t imagine being that happy! It’s certainly a bone of contention with Jake, because he initially interprets it as immaturity (they are 16). But Jake. Now Jake is that brooding, hot guy who is quiet and snarky, which is just a type of character I love reading about. But then you learn his backstory and it rounds him out so. well. BUT, I desperately wanted his POV. I would’ve adored to hear his snarky remarks in his head to Shoshanna and her perkiness, so I did feel like it was missing that opportunity.

Overall, a well done and interesting read, very quick and reminiscent of Jenn Bennett. I recommend if you’re looking for Jewish MC, a quick read, or a good rivals love story.

Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books 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!

Book Review – The Bone Houses

**Owlcrate Special Edition Cover, which is the edition I read**

Title: The Bone Houses

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date: September 24th 2019

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

Review

“It was a risk, to love someone. To do so with the full knowledge that they’d leave someday. Then let go of them, when they did.”

emily lloyd-jones, the bone houses

Gravedigger, zombies, fae, and a sweet love story. What more could you ask for in a spooky season release? I highly enjoyed this book, it was captivating and complex, yet simple enough for a stand alone that didn’t feel rushed or like it needed more to round out the story. Lloyd-Jones is able to pack a lot of story into one 350 page book – a rich backstory for the world with urban legends, great backstories for the characters, and a harrowing adventure through the countryside to save their town. And did I mention the zombies?! Called bones houses in this book, the zombies come out of the forest after dark to wander and destroy, even to kill. Ryn as the gravedigger is the only protection the village has yet even the residents don’t believe the danger they are in.

Again, holy wow to this book. I loved the new take on a zombie book, which I generally don’t enjoy as much. Ryn was a very capable MC, hard yet soft, strong yet vulnerable at times. She worked well with Ellis, the traveling mapmaker who finds himself wrapped up in the bone houses. Also, the goat was by far the best character. IYKYK. The love story between Ryn and Ellis was so sweet and subtle, which I enjoy just as much as passionate, crazy love affairs. I love the storyline of being able to find love in the middle of a crisis, when it’s more about the little moments than getting wrapped up in each other. But I digress.

Prepare for a brief scene of intense sadness. I did not see it comes but I was shook by the surprise. Yet even in the middle of their adventure, Ryn doesn’t let it impact her goals which I thought was so amazing and strong of her. I highly suggest reading this book, and it’s coming up on Halloween, spooky times so it’s the perfect season for this book!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Guest List

Title: The Guest List

Author: Lucy Foley

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication date: June 2nd, 2020 (first pub date March 19th, 2020 in the UK)

330 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Review

I picked The Guest List as my June BOTM choice as I try to open up the genres that I read. AS one of my first thriller/mystery books, I had high hopes. However, it didn’t exactly do much for me, which was fairly disappointing. However, I plan to keep trying this genre because I like to mix up my books these days so it’s not all the same.

Anyway, onto The Guest List. There are 5 POVs in this book, which was really the crux of my issues with this book. It was just so much. I enjoy multiple POV books but 5 seems excessive to me. I also didn’t particularly like any of the characters in the books (but I think this is part of the point in this book). I ended up just being really confused, and it took me time to really get into this book because it kept switching around to different POVs.

On a more positive note, I could not for the life of me figure out who did it. It really came down to the wire for who killed the person, and there’s was no expecting it. On top of that main mystery, you find out so many more shocking things. The last 25% of the book is just bomb after bomb being dropped. So as much as it was hard to read for the first 75% of the book, the last quarter really picked up and heightened my experience of this book.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Crown of Midnight

Title: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication date: August 15th, 2013

420 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Review

“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.”

sarah j maas, crown of midnight

Well this book was so intense! As a sequel the Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight picks up right after TOG ends. Celaena is the king’s assassin and has been working to fulfill his orders. Celaena, Dorian, Chaol, and Nehemia are all still large factors in this book, and they have much to work on. Celaena continues trying to understand her calling from Elena down in the tunnels. These books truly manage to put so much plot and action into a fairly normal sized book.

The magic in this book is so interesting, and you just know that so much more with it will happen over the course of the series. The romance in this book was also very interesting. It was surprising, but also not surprising, at the same time. I thoroughly approved, even if heartbreak comes later for the characters. Also, Celaena is a crazy cook assassin and even though she murders people with joy, you somehow also end up feeling badly for her. She really is a complex character, not at all redeemable but you kinda want to forgive her.

THAT ENDING. Frankly, the ending of this book was spoiled for me due to bookstagram, but if you’re one of those rare birds who hasn’t read this series yet, and hasn’t had it spoiled, there is a HUGE BOMB DROPPED at the end of this book. Just be aware the last chapter is so intense! It isn’t a huge cliffhanger though, so I wasn’t itching to pick up the next book, Heir of Fire.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Where Dreams Descend

Title: Where Dreams Descend (Kingdoms of Cards #1)

Author: Janella Angeles

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: August 25th, 2020

464 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Review

Kallia is a female magician, stronger than most others, in a world where stage magicians are only accepted if they are male. She learned everything she knows from Jack, the master of Hellfire House, a club near the city of Glorian. She is the headliner of the club, but she longs to be on stage as a true magician, not a show girl. So she escapes to Glorian to enter a magic competition being held – but not before she finds out Jack has been lying to her all along. Now in Glorian, she is faced with opposition like never before, and she must remember that not everything is as it appears, especially when looking into mirrors…

I had a hard time reviewing this book, because the beginning and middle of the book were very different than the end. Throughout the book, I had no trouble putting it down. I just wasn’t fully drawn into the plot and the cast. BUT the ending was crazy insane and completely changed my mind on the entire book. Kallia is a great character, and her assistant Aaros made me laugh through the whole book. But Demarco wasn’t exactly what I would look for in a love interest, BUT I have high hopes for him in the second book! There was a lot of Kallia having to be strong against male opposition, due to all the misogyny in the book.

The world Angeles has built is super interested. You don’t know much about the world outside of Glorian or the Hellfire House, but it’s all very intriguing and mysterious which makes for a good read. I would’ve liked some more explanation into the magic system, I didn’t leave the book feeling like I truly understood how it all worked. BUT the descriptions and writing of the magic and the circus and the competition was glorious and so well done.

As you can see, this is a bit of a mixed review. I’m very much invested in reading the sequel when it eventually comes out, because I just MUST know what happens to everyone after that ending. Prepare yourselves for a decently large cliffhanger!

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Love Sold Separately

Title: Love Sold Separately

Author: Ellen Meister

Publisher: MIRA

Publication date: August 25th, 2020

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Dana Barry’s life is a mess, until she hears The Shopping Channel is auditioning new hosts. She dives right in and is stunned when she lands the job. Her keen eye for detail, knack for knowing what makes people tick and sheer bravado make her perfect for the role.

Then the star host is found shot to death in her office. Dana can’t help but involve herself in tracking down the killer. Never one to mind her own business, she winds up at the center of every drama. She also knows the prime suspect is innocent–they happened to have been together on the roof for some “alone time” when they heard the gunshot. His record may not be perfect, but she can tell the single father has a heart of gold. He may even be marriage material–something she’d focus on more if only Detective Marks wasn’t so handsome and their chemistry so electric. Dana is so close to having it all if, just this once, she doesn’t screw up. But trouble usually comes easier and is always a lot more fun…

Review

**Thank you to MIRA, Netgalley, and Ellen Meister for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Love Sold Separately is part murder mystery part love story, and it’s really good! Dana Barry is maybe not the best person in the world, but she knows it and doesn’t care. Her dream is to be an actress, and when an audition comes up for The Shopping Channel she jumps on it and nails it. BUT, on her first day – the star of the show is murdered in her office while Dana is on the roof sharing a joint with a coworker. She finds the body, and immerses herself immediately in the investigation. The detective leading the investigation rubs Dana the wrong way instantly, and they spend a good part of the book going back and forth.

I thought Dana was a good character, enough faults to make her interesting. I thought adding in her family dynamic was a good touch, because you can really see why she is the way she is. Her father is stingy with his approval and her sister is almost her complete opposite. There were some plot lines with Dana that felt unnecessary to me, because they didn’t end up going anywhere and weren’t really discussed again.

I think the murder mystery part of this was the most interesting. I figured about half of the ending out before it ended, but there were some twists that I didn’t see coming. The love story is really more of an afterthought, but the progression of the MC’s love affair is interesting to read. It just takes a backseat to the murder, so if you’re reading this just for the love story – know that is isn’t the main focus.

I have to say I enjoyed this more than I thought I would after realizing it wasn’t a love story. Even without that, it was interesting, twisty, and showed that a normal human can help investigate a murder and actually help solve it. Love Sold Separately is a fun, easy to read, novel that will keep you guessing.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – If I Never Met You

Title: If I Never Met You

Author: Mhairi McFarlane

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

432 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

Review

“God, whenever I forget why I hate men, one of them reminds me.”

Mhairi McFarlane, if i never met you

FAKE. DATING. FOREVER. If a book has fake dating I will probably always read it. There’s just something about this trope that makes me so happy. So, on this specific book, I really enjoyed it as my first Mhairi McFarlane book. I will likely go read her whole backlist because it really was enjoyable. Jamie was super sweet, and I love the whole “I don’t believe in love” trope as well because watching them fall in love is SO. STINKING. CUTE. Can you tell I love it?

One thing I don’t like is cheating. It’s not a hard no for me if a book involves a cheating plot line, I just really hate reading about it. And if I do read about cheating, there better be a grovelling ex who comes back at the end because he made a mistake. If you’re going to cheat, you better feel the regret watching them be happy with someone else – and I want to read alllll about the regret. No spoilers for the ending of this book though 🙂

Overall, this was a cute rom com and I was hear for it. I’ve also really been into British romances lately, I love reading in my internal British accent! So, if typical illustrated cover adult romance novels are your jam (like it is mine), go check this one out!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Mirage

Title: Mirage (Mirage #1)

Author: Somaiya Daud

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication date: August 28th, 2018

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Review

“You do not kneel or bend, I told myself. To anyone. You continue.”

somaiya daud, mirage

Amani is a simple girl, living in a small farming village. Her planet has been conquered by a oppressive race, who views them as degenerates and less than. One day, she is captured by the empire to serve as the stand-in for the Princess, Maram. They are almost identical, and is in need of someone to take on the risk of public events. Maram is cruel and vicious, she is half and half, so everyone despises her for her race for some reason. Amani and Maram are able to form an uncertain companionship, but Amani soon is in over her head.

I really enjoyed the mix of science fiction, corrupt government, and rebellion plot lines and themes. There’s interplanetary travel and technology but also class divisions and haves and have nots. I loved the juxtaposition of Amani and Maram, they are truly opposites in every way of life and personality while being almost identical. I enjoyed reading about Amani’s thoughts as she is pretending to be Maram, she really took on the “character” well and it was like she was acting and playing a part.

Some of the middle of the book went somewhat slowly and became less interesting, but I still highly enjoyed the read. You start to see a more human side of Maram, which is nice, and I imagine the sequel will further her story – as this is really focused on Amani and her story. As always, it is hard to read about racism and the general insults that come when racism is apparent – but it is a major plot line in the book and it wouldn’t be the same without it.

For fans of Illuminae and Sky Withouts Stars, Mirage is an interesting take on rebellions in space, and the meaning of race and friendship.

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!