-Shady Hollow- Juneau Black; 3/4
Friday, September 30, 2022
-Shady Hollow- Juneau Black; 3/4
Thursday, September 29, 2022
September OwlCrate Review
First up, we had the next Literary Luggage enamel pin. This one is inspired by An Ember in the Ashes and I love the design and coloring.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Spells for Forgetting Review
Friends, if you've been craving a book with slight witchy vibes for your fall TBR's, look no further than Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young.
|Pub Date: 9-27-22|
Adult - Fantasy
Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever on the night of her high school graduation when her boyfriend, August, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Even though there wasn't enough evidence to convict August, he and his mother still fled the rural island they called home, leaving Emery more alone than ever. Now, years later Emery is stuck in the life she was so desperate to run away from living on Saoirse Island and tending her late mother's tea shop. Saoirse Island is known for being rooted in magic and tradition, so when it starts acting strange, Emery knows something big is coming.
August Salt knows he's not welcome on Saoirse Island. On his last night there, a fire tore through his family's orchard, and the body of Lily Morgan was found drowned in the middle of the woods. The community of Saoirse was never a fan of August or his family, so despite having an alibi, August was branded a murderer. August swore he would never step foot on the island again, but when his mother passes, her last wish is to be buried at home, leaving August no choice but to face the same people who turned on him all those years ago. But when August arrives, he discovers there's more to the town's hatred of him than meets the eye. He knew coming back would be a mistake, and he'll have to work with Emery to uncover the truth about that night if he hopes to leave the island alive.
I've only read one other book by Young that was YA, so I was eager to jump into her first adult novel, and wow, I loved this. Based on her other books, I was expecting it to be a fantasy, but I would categorize it more as a mystery with magical realism aspects. The atmosphere was stunning, and the setting of this remote island in the PNW added to the overall tone and feel of the book. I loved the subtle magic embedded into the island and how the women have ways of harnessing it. The mystery side was also very well done. I liked following along with Emery and August as they uncovered all these secrets. We follow a lot of different POVs, and the pacing is slow at times, but I think it worked to help build the tension and make it more suspenseful. If you're looking for an immersive, engaging read that is perfect for the fall, I would highly recommend checking this one out.
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Blog Tour: Because I Could Not Stop for Death Excerpt
|Pub Date: 9-20-22|
Adult - Historical Mystery
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
When in Rome Review
You know those books that make you smile from the first page? For me, that was When in Rome by Sarah Adams.
|Pub Date: 9-20-22|
Adult - Contemporary
Amelia Rose, or Rae Rose as she's known to millions all over the world, is burnt out from years of maintaining her perfect "princess of pop" persona. She should be gearing up to head out on a nine-month tour, but instead, she's stranded on a dark, secluded road in the middle of nowhere. Amelia has always taken comfort and sought advice from Audrey Hepburn movies, so when feeling overwhelmed, she decides to make like Audrey and run away to Rome. Except, Italy is too far away, so she settles for Rome, Kentucky instead. She just wanted a break from her grueling schedule, not to end up the latest case on Dateline, but then Noah Walker comes to her rescue.
When Noah Walker finds Rae Rose on his front lawn, he makes it very clear that he has no time for celebrities or the hassle that comes with them. All he wants to do is live a quiet life running the small pie shop he inherited from his grandma. Despite his better judgment and the busybodies around town, Noah agrees to let Amelia stay in his guest room while her car gets fixed. He knows they are from two completely different worlds, which didn't work out so well for him in the past, so he's determined to steer clear for as long as she's in town. But then Noah starts to see a different side to Amelia, the goofy, kind, sad side the world never gets to see, and he can't help but draw her near. Amelia knows she'll have to face the music and get back to her glamorous life eventually, but will she be able to leave Noah and the town she fell in love with behind when the time comes?
By the end of the first chapter, I knew I had to apologize to The Cheat Sheet because this was coming to take the trophy for being my favorite Sarah Adams book. I loved everything about this. Everything from the characters to the setting had me charmed. Adams has this way of making her main characters relatable and quirky, but not in an insufferable way. More like a "Yep, I would get embarrassed and ramble too much in an awkward situation as well" way. Admittedly, most of her heroines feel similar, but I love them too much to care, and Amelia was no exception. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders and this constant need to put up this polite facade, but all that fades away, and she can just be herself with Noah. And Noah! What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man. Grumpy on the outside, yet soft on the inside are my favorite kinds of love interests, and, good grief, did he have me swooning. They had such fun banter together, and I was smiling the entire time. I also couldn't get enough of all the secondary characters who all added another level of humor to this. I can always count on Adams's romances to be light, sweet, and as refreshing as a cool breeze on a warm day, and I'm excited to pick up whatever she comes out with next.
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Funny You Should Ask Review
What was the last book you picked up solely based on the hype? Mine was Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman, and it was totally worth it!
|Pub Date: 4-12-22|
Adult - Contemporary
While all her other grad school friends are nabbing book deals, Chani Horowitz is writing puff pieces and blog posts for whatever media outlet will have her. Then she gets the opportunity to interview Gabe Parker, the hottest actor in Hollywood, and her celebrity crush. Chani knows this is the chance of a lifetime and will boost her career to new heights, so the pressure is on. When Chani and Gabe meet for the interview, Chani tries to keep it professional even though she's squealing inside, but nothing could've prepared her for what was to come next. What was supposed to be an afternoon interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that gets all the tabloids buzzing.Now, ten years later, Chani is divorced and living back in LA, ready to focus on her work. Chani has made a name for herself publishing essay collections and celebrity profiles, but the one thing anyone seems interested in is what happened between her and Gabe Parker all those years ago. Despite her hard work, Chani's whole career is linked to Gabe's. So when his PR team reaches out to recreate their famous interview, she knows she should turn it down. But she also hasn't been able to stop thinking about their time together, so she agrees. Chani knows facing Gabe again will bring all those confusing feelings back to the surface, and she wasn't counting on him to still feel the same.
I'm going to be real honest-- the only reason I picked this up was that I heard it was semi-inspired by that viral Chris Evans interview where he was flirting with the reporter, and I'm obsessed with him. I'm happy to report that this was just as delightful. It's told in alternating timelines of when Chani and Gabe first met and then their reunion a decade later. It was as if a chaotic whirlwind had swept them up and let them live out this fantastical weekend, and the fallout it left behind. It was cute watching them flirt and be playful. The sexual tension between them was palpable, but it is the slowest of slow burns. I do think you have to suspend your disbelief over the fact that they were both still hung up on the other after only spending a weekend together ten years prior, but that didn't stop me from eating this up. I also liked how this dealt with the realities of fame as well, such as addiction and gossip. Overall, it was a super fun, cute contemporary that I think would be good for fans of Emily Henry.
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
|Pub Date: 9-13-22|
Adult - Contemporary
I was keen on picking this up once I heard about it, but I found it disappointing. Let's talk about the things I did enjoy first. Mostly, the setting. I love anything set in a school or academic environment. I found the discussions around medieval literature fascinating. It's not something I know much about, so it was fun seeing Allison talk about it with such passion. It almost made me want to reread Beowulf, and that was something high school me never thought she'd say. My main problem with this was Colin. For me to enjoy a romance, I have to like the love interest, and I couldn't stand Colin. He treated Allison so poorly, both in the present and in the snippets we get from their past relationship. He had a few sweet moments, but for the most part, I thought he was whiny and took all his insecurities out on Allison. Due to this, I didn't care about their relationship at all. It's a second-chance romance, but for me, Colin deserved none of the chances he got. I also wasn't a fan of Allison's family and how they treated her. Sadly, I had high hopes for this one, but it turned out to be a bit of a letdown.
|Pub Date: 9-13-22|
Adult - Contemporary
Lucy on the Wild Side- Kerry Rea: Lucy Rourke would rather spend her time with the gorilla troop at the zoo where she works and reality tv than trying to find a relationship. She's only got one goal in mind: getting promoted to a senior keeper. When a popular wildlife documentary series picks her zoo as their summer filming location, Lucy believes it would be an ideal opportunity to broadcast her love of primates to the entire world. If only the thought of being on camera didn't make her sick to her stomach, or having to work with Kai Bridges didn't make her want to scream. Kai is not only charismatic and engaging, but he's also the son of Lucy's idol and the woman who got her into gorillas. After seeing her freeze in front of the camera, Kai offers to help get Lucy more comfortable, but the pair can't help but bicker over everything. But when trading weird animal facts turn into stealing kisses in gorilla nurseries, Lucy starts to crave more than just a promotion.
I've never read anything by Rea before, but after reading this, I'll pick up anything she comes out with. I had such a fun time with this. Lucy was unlike any main character I've read before. I loved how passionate she was about her career and working with the gorillas at the zoo. It was so special to see the bond she had with them. I also liked how she was more content with having a career over becoming a mom since usually there's always a baby thrown into the storylines. I enjoyed her relationship with Kai and how they would trade the most absurd animal facts. They started rocky but developed a solid, sweet relationship by the end. It was frustrating since Lucy had so many walls and defenses up, but I understand her reasoning. Another highlight of this was the zoo itself. It was cool seeing a glimpse at how zoos work and what it's like being a zookeeper. You could tell Rea did a lot of research into it. Overall, I thought this was super enjoyable.
|Pub Date: 9-20-22|
YA - Historical Fiction
I love historical fiction, but I've never read one that mixes in a thriller element, and I was here for it. I thought this was so captivating right from the start. It's fast-paced and exciting. I liked Kit a lot; she was tenacious and clever. She's spent years hiding and always had one eye over her shoulder. It made her an interesting character to follow. Her friendship between Dottie, Violet, and Moya was everything. They were all so different but formed this tight-knit sisterhood. They supported one another and had each other's backs through everything. The romance between Kit and Moya could've used a little work since it felt quick, but it was sweet. As for the mystery, I was able to figure out who the murderer was, but I still enjoyed watching how it played out. This was the first book I've read by Marney, and I'm interested enough to pick up more. If you like engaging, whodunit-type murder mysteries, I recommend checking this one out.
Thursday, September 8, 2022
|Pub Date: 9-6-22|
Adult - Retelling
By this point, I've read a ton of Greek mythology retellings, so I'm always on the lookout for one that will set itself apart from the rest. I think North did that here. I've read many Troy-inspired books, but I've never read one narrated by one of the goddesses. I loved how North used Hera to tell the tale of Penelope and the events on Ithaca. It was a unique plot device, and I think it worked very well. There were times where she overpowered the other characters, but I didn't mind so much. Speaking of, it is a very character-driven book, which I'm not usually a fan of, so it did feel like the pacing dragged on a bit due to that. While I don't think North brought anything new to Penelope's story, I did think her writing was beautiful and lush and would be interested in checking out the rest of the series.
|Pub Date: 9-6-22|
Adult - Contemporary
I feel like Williams is a bit hit or miss for me. I've read a few of her books that I loved and others that I thought were okay. This leaned a little more towards the latter half for me. I love the enemies-to-lovers trope, but there were times I felt RJ and Lear were a little too mean to one another. They were both very passionate people, maybe a bit combative at times, and while that led to very steamy scenes between them, I couldn't help but feel like it was too much. I did enjoy all the banter, and once they finally started opening up to one another. Overall, I liked it, but it didn't blow me away, and I would still recommend it if you're looking for a new hate-to-love book to pick up.
|Pub Date: 6-10-21|
Adult - Thriller
How to Kill Your Family- Bella Mackie: Grace Bernard is currently sitting in prison for a murder she didn't commit. But Grace has a secret. Indeed, she may not have committed the murder that got her behind bars, but she has killed six members of her own family before she turned 28-years-old. When Grace discovered that her absentee billionaire father rejected her dying mother's pleas for help, Grace swore she would make him pay. This revenge sets her on a meticulous journey of bumping off different family members who have no idea who Grace is. From car accidents to amphibian acid trips gone awry, each death brings Grace closer to finding the joy she was lacking in life. While awaiting trial, Grace decides to document these deaths. Of course, she would prefer to get away with it, but the details of her revenge are just too sweet to keep to herself.
I didn't know too much about this going in, and I think that's the best way to go. Just jump in blindly and hang on for the ride because it is wild. Grace is one of those characters who is completely unhinged, but you kind of find yourself rooting for. She has zero qualms about killing people and takes pleasure in planning each family member's murder down to the most minute detail. I was gripped the whole time, and most of that had to do with Mackie's writing. It's brilliantly sharp and darkly twisted. Most thrillers I read tend to feel heavy and serious, but this one felt fun and cheeky. If you're looking for a fast-paced, entertaining revenge story, I definitely recommend this one.
Tuesday, September 6, 2022
Killers of a Certain Age Review
I'm sure you all know by now about my love for Deanna Raybourn. Her Veronica Speedwell series is my favorite of all time (I recently got a butterfly tattoo for it), but her latest release, Killers of a Certain Age, might be giving it a run for its money. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!
|Pub Date: 9-6-22|
Adult - Mystery/Thriller
In the late 1970s, Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie were four strangers recruited by a mysterious organization known as the Museum. They were pulled from their lives and sent to the English countryside to learn the ins and outs of assassination. The Museum doesn't deal in antiques but takes out those deemed unsavory. The foursome was trained to be the first all-female squad and spent hours honing their skills and brushing up on their specialties. Whether working as a team or apart, you could always count on them to never miss their marks.
Now, forty years later, Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie are ready to retire. They've given their all to the Museum over the years, but now it's time to hang up their garrotes and pack away the detonation devices. To celebrate the occasion, the group is sent on an all-expenses-paid cruise, but it doesn't take long for them to discover the trip isn't what it seems. The group finds themselves targeted by others in the organization, and they'll have to work together for one last job to either clear their names or die trying.
Picture Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep or even Sally Field kickin' ass and takin' names, and you have this book. Raybourn flips the script on the stereotypical action hero trope, and instead of giving you bulky men who never seem to get winded, you get women in their 60s who can still kill you, but they need to do some yoga after to realign their back. The concept is so brilliant; I can't believe no one's done it before (at least to my knowledge.) I adored every minute of it. It was fast-paced and action-packed but also had such humor and heart to it. There was never any moment when I was bored. I also was never able to guess what would happen next, and I love that when it comes to mysteries/thrillers. Raybourn is like that cool aunt who will let you do whatever you want but will also call you out on all your nonsense, and I love that about her. She manages to bring that vibe to all of her books, and it continues to be one of the reasons she's my favorite. If you're in the mood for a wild spy adventure filled with strong women, look no further than this.
Thursday, September 1, 2022
|Pub Date: 5-1-18|
Adult - Fantasy
The Poppy War- R.F. Kuang: Rin is a war orphan who has always craved more from life than living and working in a small village with her adoptive parents. Desperate for a way out, Rin sets her sights on passing the Keju-- the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youths to learn at the Academies. To Rin's and the official's, surprise, she aces the test and is brought to train at Sinegard, the most elite military school in all of Nikan. From her first day, Rin is targeted for being different than her classmates, and as her rage and frustration build, Rin discovers a dangerous power within herself. Through her teachings, Rin begins to explore the powers of the gods she thought were long gone. As a war begins to break out over the nation, Rin is determined to use her powers for good, but harnessing the power of the vengeful god who claimed her, may prove more deadly than helpful.
Usually, I'm not a fan of political fantasy, but I've heard such amazing things about this series that I had to give it a go. I get the hype now. The writing was grim, but there was still this underlying sense of humor woven throughout that I loved. Rin was so snarky and had such strong convictions. She was a little too stubborn and intense for her own good sometimes, but I enjoyed her overall. I also loved the secondary characters we meet, especially Kitay and Ramsa. Aside from the characters, the story itself was so captivating. It's heavily inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War, and Kuang doesn't shy away from depicting just how brutal this period was. So many scenes were hard to read because she just put her characters through the wringer. No one was safe from pain, be it the characters or the reader. Still, I was hooked and can't wait to pick up the next book.
|Pub Date: 8-30-22|
YA - Fantasy
Belladonna- Adalyn Grace: Nineteen-year-old Signa has spent her entire life being carted from one guardian to the next after the death of her parents. Her living situation never stays the same for long as all of her guardians seem to pass soon after Signa comes to live with them. After the most recent death, Signa is sent to live with her last remaining relatives, the enigmatic Hawthornes. But when Signa arrives at their grand mansion, she learns not everything is as it seems. Her aunt has mysteriously died, and now her cousin is wasting away from the same strange disease. Only Signa knows that it's not an illness overtaking her cousin but poison. Signa may never have had a stable family relationship, but the one constant in her life has been Death. Signa doesn't know how or why, but she has always been able to see spirits and communicate with Death himself. To save her new family, Signa will recruit the help of Death and a puzzling stable boy named Sylas to uncover the murderer before it's too late.
I didn't have any expectations going into this, but I ended up enjoying it. Grace's writing was atmospheric and gave off an eerie, Gothic vibe that I loved. I also really liked her characters. Signa was so interesting with these strange powers. I wish we learned a little bit more about her background because I wanted to know how she came to be with them, but I'm intrigued to see how they'll grow from here. I also liked her relationship with Death. It was teasing yet protective at the same time. They bickered constantly, but you could tell that underneath it all, they both truly cared for one another. I did see the twist of Death's identity coming from a mile away, so it wasn't as shocking when it was revealed. There were also little clues about the plot twist I was able to suss out as well, but I still liked how Grace wrapped everything up. While the pacing was too slow for me at times, and I think this would've worked well as just a stand-alone, I'm excited to read the next one.
|Pub Date: 2-22-22|
Adult - Historical Romance
I loved this! It had everything I look for in historical romance: an intelligent leading lady, a swoon-worthy love interest, and top-notch banter. Leigh's writing was charming and witty and had you falling in love with Celeste and Kieran from their very first interaction. I couldn't get enough of the two of them. They had such a playful dynamic but were also able to be vulnerable and be their most authentic selves together without fear of judgment. It was so sweet to see. Not only that, but they had insane chemistry. It was so believable that these two were meant to be together. This was my first book by Leigh, but it definitely won't be my last, and I can't wait for the next installment.