Wednesday, May 31, 2023

May Wrap-Up

Hello, all!

This was a slower reading month for me since I was in Ireland for 10 days (it was so amazing, look out for a post soon!), but I did manage to complete my GoodReads goal of 150 books!


The Emperor's Soul- Brandon Sanderson; 4/5
Ring Shout- P. Djéli Clark; 3/5
Sense and Second-Degree Murder- Tirzah Price; 3/5
The Night Shift- Alex Finlay; 2/5
Up All Night with a Good Duke- Amy Rose Bennett; 3/5
Counting on a Countess- Eva Leigh; 2/5
The Drowned Woods- Emily Lloyd-Jones; 2/5


Love, Theoretically- Ali Hazelwood; 3/5
Unfortunately Yours- Tessa Bailey; 4/5
Psyche and Eros- Luna McNamara; 3/5
The Savior's Book Cafe Story in Another World, Vol. 5- Kyouka Izumi; 3/5


Padawan- Kiersten White; 3.5/5
Star Wars: Lando- Charles Soule; 3/5
Star Wars: Darth Maul- Cullen Bunn; 4/5
Master & Apprentice- Claudia Gray; 4/5
Romantic Comedy- Curtis Sittenfeld; 2/5
Fourth Wing- Rebecca Yarros; 3/5
Swordheart- T. Kingfisher; 3/5
A Curious Beginning- Deanna Raybourn; 5/5 (re-read)

Some favorites were: Unfortunately Yours, The Emperor's Soul, and Master & Apprentice. Least favorites were: Romantic Comedy, The Night Shift, and The Drowned Woods.

How was your reading month? What was your favorite/least favorite read?

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Hotel of Secrets Review

Hello, all!

Does it take a lot for you to give a book 5 stars? I feel like I'm very stingy when it comes to throwing out 5 stars, but Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller was a no brainer.

Pub Date: 3-28-23
Adult - Historical Fiction

Maria Wallner has one goal for this year's ball season: to restore her family's hotel to its former glory. The Hotel Wallner used to be one of the top spots in Vienna, catering to high society but faded due to Maria's mother's neglect and the country's financial troubles. The hotel is her family's legacy, and Maria is determined to do whatever it takes to revamp it. When she gets a chance to host the prestigious Hotelkeeper's Ball, Maria believes this is just the opportunity she needs. It doesn't take long for things to start going wrong, and soon Maria learns someone will do whatever it takes to ensure she fails.

Eli Whittaker loves his life in Washington, working for the government. He doesn't love being sent halfway across the world to find who's selling secret American codes across Europe. Eli hopes to find and arrest the rightful parties quickly so he can home. His one lead comes from a letter sent from the Hotel Wallner, but when he arrives at the hotel he's swept up by its crazy residents and enchanting manager. Both Eli and Maria have jobs to do and no time for romance, but they can't help feeling pulled toward one another. When Maria's life is in danger, Eli can't help but protect her and wonders if he's in over his head.

I've only read one other book by Biller, but I can safely say she's become a new favorite author. I was enamored with this. Everything about it felt so lush and decadent. Biller nailed the setting and made it feel so immersive. It was glamorous yet dark, and I couldn't get enough. My favorite thing about this was Maria and Eli. They were such opposites, but the chemistry between them was explosive. It was so fun watching them go from bickering to undoing one another. (Bonus points for Eli doing his research and being so competent.) Aside from the romance, I thought the mystery was engaging and kept me on my toes. It was slower-paced but satisfying. If you're in the mood for a sensual historical romance/mystery read with quirky characters and tons of family drama, then I highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 8-16-22
Adult - Contemporary

Love in the Time of Serial Killers- Alicia Thompson: Phoebe Walsh is a Ph.D. candidate working on her dissertation about true crime. She's been obsessed with the genre since she was young, so writing a paper about it should be easy, but it's hard to focus when her new neighbor might be a serial killer. After the recent passing of her father, Phoebe finds herself back in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home with her obnoxiously peppy brother and trying to mourn a parent who wasn't a part of her life. Phoebe also can't help but be distracted by Sam, her neighbor that is somehow always around when she needs help. When Phoebe notices him doing something strange in his garage, she's convinced she's living next to a serial killer. But she quickly realizes Sam is much more dangerous-- he's a genuinely nice guy with a good heart who threatens to break down the walls she's spent years building around herself.

I was instantly drawn in by the cover, but the story ended up missing the mark a bit for me. The premise of a true crime junkie moving next to someone she thinks is a serial killer is hilarious, and I was sure it would lead to ridiculous moments, but it was over too quickly. Phoebe admits her suspicions to Sam pretty early on, they laugh about it, and then it's done. I thought it would be more of a plot point than it was. Without that element, the rest of the story felt boring. It was a lot of Phoebe having conversations with different characters, taking care of the stray cat she found, and then working on her paper. Also, I wasn't her biggest fan; she was a bit too pithy and negative for my taste. The saving grace for me was Sam. He was adorable, and I liked how much he cared for Phoebe. It was satisfying watching her open up to him and start working through all the dark feelings she's carried for so long. Overall, it was fine, but it could've been better.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-9-21
Adult - Historical Romance

The Heiress Hunt- Joanna Shupe: Harrison Archer and Maddie Webster were inseparable as children. They were each other's best friends and confidants, but soon Harrison started to harbor feelings for Maddie. When Harrison overhears her saying she would never be with him, and after a fight with his father leaves him disowned, Harrison flees to Paris. Years later, Harrison returns to New York and convinces his family he's here to save them from bankruptcy by marrying an heiress, but he has one thing in mind: to ruin the family that turned their backs on him. Harrison enlists the help of Maddie in finding him a suitable bride, and despite their rocky history, she reluctantly agrees. Maddie is all but promised to another, so why does it twist her insides into knots watching Harrison flirt with other women? The more time they spend around one another, the more they can't deny the spark between them. Harrison has always wanted Maddie, but is she willing to risk it all for love?

I'm such a big fan of this series, but this installment didn't do it for me. I'm usually all for a childhood friends-to-lovers trope, but I didn't love how Harrison went about it. He essentially goes to Paris, where he amasses a great fortune while sleeping around to spite his family and because of something he overhears Maddie say. His ploy to take revenge on his family and break up an engagement between Maddie and the Duke was just too conniving for me. I didn't doubt his feelings towards Maddie; I just wished he went about his actions differently. The first half of this worked so well for me, but the second half flopped. Still, I enjoyed Shupe's writing style and all the side characters, but it's my least favorite in the series.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 2-7-23
Adult - Historical Mystery

Of Manners and Murder- Anastasia Hastings: When Violet's aunt goes off with her latest paramour, she's left to take over the mantle of "Miss Hermione," London's favorite Agony Aunt. Violet expects this to be an easy job answering letters from bored society wives, but that isn't the case. The very first letter Violet receives is from a woman who believes her life is in danger. Violet takes it upon herself to investigate, but when she arrives in the woman's village, she finds that the woman is already dead. Soon, Violet finds herself wrapped up in a murder plot, but can she uncover the murderer before it's too late?

I love a good historical murder mystery, so I was excited to pick this up, but it was a letdown. Nothing about it worked for me. The plot was boring and predictable. The characters felt over-the-top and grating, especially Violet's sister. The writing was stilted and fluctuated between being too descriptive and not enough. It made the narrative feel disjointed. Some moments didn't feel true to the time, so it kept taking me out of the story. I thought the premise was fun and had a lot of potential, but the story as a whole needed some work.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Paper Magician Review (The Paper Magician, #1)

Hello, all!

I recently read the Whimbrel House seres by Charlie N. Holmberg (review of the second book here) and was instantly swept away by her darkly whimsical writing. I was looking forward to picking up more of her work, so I decided to start with The Paper Magician series.

Pub Date: 9-1-14
Adult - Historical Fantasy

Ceony Twill should be ecstatic after graduating at the top of her class at Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, but she's disappointed. She had always dreamed of becoming a Smelter, someone who can bespell metal, but instead, she's assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic. Once a magician is bonded to their specific magic, they can never change. Despite it not being her first choice, Ceony is determined to make it work.

Her mention, Emery Thane, is one of the most eccentric people Ceony has ever met. He teaches her how to animate paper creatures, project illusions from storybooks, and even read fortunes. But when an Excisioner--a practitioner of dark, flesh magic--bursts into their home and rips Thane's heart from his chest, it's up to Ceony to save him. Soon, she finds herself on a journey through the chambers of Thane's heart, seeing all the bits of himself he'd rather keep hidden away. But with a dark force chasing her each step of the way, will Ceony save her mentor before it's too late?

While the premise of this one sounds amazing, the execution was lacking. It's such a short book, and it tried to cram too much in, so it felt like there was no room to breathe. If there were more development between the characters, it would've made Ceony's journey to save Thane more impactful. I also enjoyed the magic system and thought it was unique, but I wanted more. The first book in a series is always touch-and-go, and even though I had some issues with this, the overall story was entertaining, and I'm looking forward to picking up the rest of the series.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Fourth Wing Review (The Empyrean, #1)

Hello, all!

What was the last book you were influenced to pick up-- whether that was through BookTok, BookTube, etc? For me, it was Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros.

Pub Date: 5-2-23
Adult - Fantasy

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail has always been content surrounded by books and history and has trained her whole life to become a scribe. But when it's her time to enroll as a cadet at Navarre, she's forced into becoming a dragon rider by her mother, the commanding general. Due to a disability, Violet's body is more fragile than others, and one thing dragons don't tolerate is weakness. They only bond with the strongest cadets; the others get burned.

The moment Violet steps into the rider's quadrant, a target is on her back. Most would kill her to further their chances of success; others would kill her just for being her mother's daughter. Xaden Riorson, the most lethal wingleader of the rider's quadrant, is one of the latter. Every day that passes, the threat of war grows, and Violet begins to suspect that her mother and the rest of the leadership are harboring secrets. With dangers at every turn, Violet will have to use her intelligence and cunning if she hopes to survive.

This book has been all over the internet lately, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It was fine. I kept seeing it categorized as adult, which I don't necessarily agree with. It's new adult, at best, but the writing makes it feel more YA. Yarros heavily relied on stereotypical fantasy tropes, which made the plot feel super predictable. I could tell from the first page how everything would play out. Due to that, nothing felt fresh or surprising. I also found some of the dialogue cringey and had me rolling my eyes more than once. I'm always thrown off when authors use modern phrases in their fantasy worlds. Despite all that, I still found it semi-entertaining. It was fast-paced, and I thought the lore was interesting-- anything with dragons is always a plus in my book. For all its hype, I did find it underwhelming, but I may continue with the series.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Blog Tour: Summer Reading Review

Hello, all!

Whenever the weather starts getting warmer, I start to crave all the romance. If you're the same, then you should check out Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 5-16-23
Adult - Contemporary

Samantha Gale was looking forward to spending the summer lazing around her family's cottage on Martha's Vineyard, figuring out a way to resurrect her career as a chef. Instead, she's chaperoning her younger half-brother while he attends a summer robotics program at the local library. Being dyslexic, Sam has never felt comfortable in libraries, and her unease grows when she learns that the new director is none other than the handsome man she met on the ferry-- right after she accidentally dropped his book into the ocean.

Bennett Reynolds has taken a temporary position on the island to research the summer his mother lived there and find out who his father is. Neither one is looking for a relationship, but that doesn't stop them from engaging in a little fling. Soon, Sam is helping Ben track down his father, and Ben inspires Sam to start that cookbook she's always dreamt of. As the weeks pass, their feelings only grow stronger, and they realize what they've truly been looking for might've been in front of them the whole time.

I read another book by this author that I thought was cute, so I was eager to pick this up. Again, it was cute. The setting was great; I loved the beachy, small-town vibe. I loved the representation of dyslexia and ADHD. I even learned a few things, such as how there are specific fonts that are easier to read than others. I also loved watching Sam form a bond with her brother. It was so sweet. But my favorite aspect was the cooking. My mouth was watering every time Sam mentioned a dish she was making. Adding the recipes at the end was a nice touch as well. My problem with this was the characters. Sam and Ben felt flat, and I wanted more build-up to their relationship because it developed quickly. I wanted more tension between them. I still thought it was good, and would recommend it if you're looking for a beach read.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 6-28-22
Adult - Historical Romance

A Matter of Temptation- Stacy Reid: Ever since being ruined in the eyes of the ton, Miss Wilhelmina "Mina" Crawford has spent her days secluded in her family's crumbling country estate. When her brother confides in her just how dire their finances are, Mina is determined to do whatever it takes to help. But the only person willing to hire a woman--especially one as headstrong as Mina--is the cold but brilliant, Earl of Creswick. Simon is well-known in political circles and has been trying for years to pass a bill that would benefit the masses of England, but he needs help. When he hires Mina to be his secretary, he expects her to answer his letters and dictate his correspondence. What he wasn't expecting was to fall head over heels for her. Mina can't deny the feelings are mutual, but can she put her past behind her to have the future she's always dreamed about?

I mostly picked this book up after I heard one person raving about a particular scene with Simon and an icy lake, and aside from that, I thought it was okay. It was my first book by Reid, and it didn't blow me away, but it wasn't terrible either. The writing was fine, but the pacing felt a little too slow. I did enjoy the characters and thought Mina and Simon were fun. I liked their banter and how Mina kept pushing Simon's buttons. She was spirited, and he was stuffy, but they worked so well together. I enjoyed watching Simon open up and become more vulnerable with her. It was very sweet. The ending and the conflict did wrap up rather quickly, but it was fine. I'm not sure how memorable this will be for me, but I liked it.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 1-24-23
Adult - Contemporary

Georgie, All Along- Kate Clayborn: When Georgie Mulcahy was young, she was always described as "flaky" or "flighty." She never had a clear vision for her life; until she became a personal assistant and could put everyone else's problems before her own, and she was great at it. But then her boss decided to up and leave Hollywood behind for a more relaxing lifestyle, leaving Georgie to head back to her hometown. While helping her best friend unpack, Georgie finds a "friendfic" they wrote in high school, detailing all the fun things they would accomplish. Georgie thinks this list is what she needs to get her life back on track, but her plans are derailed when she finds herself with an unexpected roommate-- Levi Fanning, the onetime town troublemaker now turned hermit. But Levi surprises Georgie by offering to help her in her quest, and it becomes clear to Georgie that everything she wanted might not be on the page but right in front of her.

I've seen this floating around online a lot lately, so I was interested in picking it up, and it was fine. I thought Clayborn did a wonderful job at making Georgie very relatable. From the first page, I felt connected to her and her struggles to find her place in the world, and was rooting for her the entire time. All the relationships in the book were also very well done. I loved Georgie's friendship with Bel, and the dynamic between her and her parents was hilarious and heartwarming. But her relationship with Levi was the real winner here. Levi is my favorite type of love interest-- grumpy on the outside but a big softy inside. Plus, I love a man who loves his dog. They're both a bit broken, and it was satisfying watching them grow together. With Levi especially, Clayborn shines a light on how situations we're placed in when we're younger can have lasting effects on how we handle things in adulthood. That said, I did feel like something was missing, but I still liked it and would recommend it.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 11-29-22
YA - Thriller

Five Survive- Holly Jackson:
 Spring break is supposed to be fun, but Red Kenny and her five friends are fighting for their lives. Instead of hopping on a plane like the rest of their classmates, Red, and her friends rented an RV to take them to Gulf Springs, but it soon breaks down, leaving them stranded with no cell service. The group quickly realize that this was no accident and that someone is targeting them. Someone on board has a secret worth killing over. With eight hours left until sunrise, the group must either find a way to escape or figure out who's the target. As the hours' pass, the tension rises within the RV, pitting friend against friend. If there's one thing they all know for sure, it's that not all of them will survive the night.

I've heard amazing things about Jackson's writing, so I was looking forward to picking this up. It was fine. I thought the premise was a lot better than the execution. I loved the idea of this group of kids being stuck in the middle of nowhere while someone picks them off. I expected it to be tense and suspenseful, but it wasn't. I also didn't like any of the characters, so it didn't make a difference to me who lived or died. Everything played out like a CW teen drama. What kept me going was the pacing. The story happens at breakneck speed, which is what you want in a thriller. Was it predictable? Yes. Was it over the top? Yes. Did I still find it slightly entertaining? A bit, yeah. So while it wasn't super impressive, I'd still recommend it if you're looking for a quick thriller to pick up.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Clytemnestra Review

Hello, all!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again; if a book is a Greek mythology retelling, I'm going to read it. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy of Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati!

Pub Date: 5-2-23
Adult - Historical Fiction/Retelling

Ever since she was young, Clytemnestra knew she would be a queen. As the daughter of the King of Sparta, she was raised to rule and isn't above using her fists or her cunning to get what she wants. After a betrayal takes her husband and child from her, Clytemnestra's forced to wed the brutal Agamemnon, the brother of her sister Helen's husband. While their marriage is unhappy, Clytemnestra seeks comfort in her children and solidifies her position as Queen. She uses her strength and intelligence to become a well-respected and feared ruler. 

When Helen leaves her husband, Menelaus, for Paris of Troy, Clytemnestra prays to every vengeance goddess that Agamemnon will die in the battle to retrieve her. But, once again, Clytemnestra feels the sting of utter loss and betrayal as she watches Agamemnon sacrifice their eldest daughter in hopes of securing a fair wind for his ships. Left to deal with the heartache of losing another child, Clytemnestra swears revenge on her husband. She seeks solace in Aegisthus, Agamemnon's cousin, who likewise holds a grudge against her husband. The pair begin scheming, and only that propels her for the coming years. When Agamemnon finally returns home, it's clear that the battlefield may have changed, but the war still rages on.

I find Clytemnestra such an interesting character, so I was immediately intrigued by this. Casati's writing was beautiful and descriptive and hooked me from the first page. Clytemnestra was captivating in her quest for revenge, and I liked how Casati didn't shy away from how brutal she was but still found a way to make you almost root for her. The plot did lose me a little in the second half because of all the time jumps, but other than that, I thought this was a stunning debut, and I'm excited to see what Casati comes out with next.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, May 8, 2023

Operation: Tackle the TBR

Hello, all!

I keep a Notion sheet of all the physical books I own, and I always check them off once I finish reading them. This gave me the idea of checking how many unread books I own, and oh mylanta, I was embarrassed by the amount.

Currently, I own 483 books and just over 200 of them are unread. (Yikes!) One of my goals over the last few years has always been to read more of what I own, and obviously, I'm not sticking to that. So I decided to make a TBR jar with all my unread titles. Now, whenever I can't think of what to read next, I can just pick a random one out.

My plan is to pick out at least 3 per month, so I can slowly whittle down that number. Fingers crossed I can make a dent by the end of the year! 

Do you keep track of your unread books?

Friday, May 5, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 5-2-23
Adult - Contemporary

The Last Word- Katy Birchall: Harper Jenkins is a well-known journalist with a knack for getting celebrities to open up. She loves her job as a celebrity editor, but then her horrible boss went and hired Ryan Jansson. Harper met Ryan years ago when they were both starting as interns, and despite being complete opposites, the pair quickly started a whirlwind romance--until Ryan betrayed Harper, and the two haven't spoken since. Now they're thrown together again and butting heads at every turn. But somewhere between bickering over articles and who's going to what event, that spark starts to reignite and comes to a head when they're both sent on a romantic press trip abroad. With rumors of layoffs at their office, will Harper and Ryan maintain their air of professionalism, or will they give in to their desires?

As soon as I saw this described as a mix between The Hating Game and Beach Read, I knew I had to pick it up. Sadly, it didn't work for me. It wasn't a bad book; it just never piqued my interest. It was my first book by Birchall, and I don't think her writing style is for me. Do you know those chatty co-workers who never know when to stop talking? That's what the writing felt like to me. I also found the characters to be meh. Neither one stood out to me. For being an enemies-to-lovers trope, I expected the banter to be better. I wanted it to be snappy and witty, but it often came across as immature. I know the whole opposites attract saying, but Harper and Ryan felt so different that I didn't find their relationship believable. The story had a lot of potentials, but I found the execution lacking.

Rating: 2/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 5-2-23
Adult - Fiction

The Daydreams- Laura Hankin:
 In 2004, four teens got the chance of a lifetime starring in the popular TV show, The Daydreams. Each played their roles well: You had Summer, the naive girl-next-door; Noah, the heartthrob; Kat, the mean girl; and Liana, the quirky best friend. The four sang and danced their hearts out in front of millions and were best friends behind the scenes. They had everything going for them until it all came crashing down. Now, fourteen years later, the cast agrees to participate in a reunion special. Some are doing it for forgiveness, others for revenge. But as they slowly reconnect, the magic that was once between them starts to stir. Will this be the shot at redemption they all hoped for, or will the past repeat itself?

Do you long to reminisce about the days of dELiA*s catalogs, TRL, and the era of Nickelodeon/Disney shows about teens having to balance their rockstar dreams with pop quizzes? If so, this book is for you. I kept picturing The Daydreams as a Nickelodeon version of Glee. It had all the makings of being a juicy book about castmates reuniting to pick up the pieces after their disastrous ending. There was all this betrayal, animosity, and awkwardness surrounding the characters, and I was excited to see all the drama unfold. I will give it to Hankin for throwing in some twists I wasn't expecting, but for me, this fell into the category of the plot being more interesting than the characters. None of them stood out or even felt fully developed. We're following Kat as our main character, and she was so boring. The pacing also dragged, especially in the middle, and it started to feel repetitive. However, I'd still recommend checking it out if you enjoy stories about celebrity drama.

Rating: 3/5

*Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 4-25-23
Adult - Contemporary

Happy Place- Emily Henry: To the outside world, Harriet and Wyn have the perfect relationship. They've been inseparable since college and got engaged soon after. But Harriet and Wyn have been keeping a secret from everyone: they broke up months ago. Now, they have to pretend to still be together for their annual friend's trip to Maine. After learning that their beloved cottage is being sold, neither wants to ruin the trip further by dropping an even bigger bombshell, so they decide to stick it out for the week. But as the days pass, it gets harder and harder for them to pretend they didn't break each other's hearts mere months ago and that they're not still desperately in love despite it.

After finishing this, I understand why everyone says you'll love or hate it. I fall somewhere in the middle. It wasn't my favorite Emily Henry book, but it wasn't terrible. The setting was my favorite part. It felt so summery and quaint and made me wish I could visit. I think my issue was with the characters. I didn't feel a strong connection towards any of them. I had the same issue with the romance. I did like Harriet and Wyn, but they didn't wow me. Some bits had me swooning because, duh, it's Emily Henry and all of her men know the right things to say, but something felt like it was missing. There's this underlying thread of sadness in all of Henry's works, but this one felt the heaviest. The best way I could describe it is bittersweet. It felt more about the brutal reality of growing up and growing apart, whether with friends or in relationships, and that felt so relatable. While I enjoyed this, I think I was hoping for a little bit more.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Practice Makes Perfect Review

Hello, all!

One of my favorite contemporary authors is Sarah Adams. I adore all of her books. They're truly some of the sweetest books I've ever read, so I was beyond excited to get a copy of her latest release, Practice Makes Perfect. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 5-2-23
Adult - Contemporary

If you were to look up the definition of "goody goody" in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of Annie Walker. Annie has spent her entire life labeled the sweet one, the kind one, or-- much to her embarrassment-- the virginal one. All she wants in life is to find someone who perfectly complements her, but after overhearing her date call her boring, Annie realizes she needs to shake things up to reach her goals. Annie's determined to find the perfect guy to help her practice her flirting and dating skills, and she has just the tutor in mind.

Will Griffin--Amelia's flirty, tattooed bodyguard-- is temporarily back in Rome, Kentucky providing security for Amelia's upcoming wedding to Noah Walker. Aside from his bodyguard duties, Will has one other important job: to stay far away from Annie Walker. Will has spent years building a wall around himself, but something about Annie's sunny disposition causes cracks to form. Despite telling himself to stay away, Will can't say no to Annie and reluctantly agrees to help her with her ridiculous scheme. But it doesn't take long before the line between friends and something more begins to blur.

I loved When in Rome, so I was thrilled to find out Adams was making it into a series. The fact that this has the fake dating trope was icing on the cake. I immediately liked Annie when she was introduced, and I couldn't wait to see her story play out. Like in all of Adams's books, her relationships shine. I adored Annie and Will together. They're so different but complement each other so well. Annie was a bit timid but had a vibrant personality when she was around Will. It was sweet seeing how they brought out the best in one another. Adams also does one of my favorite underrated tropes in here, which is when one of the main characters makes up different names for the other, so instead of calling him "Will," Annie would call him "Wilford" or "Wilson." I don't know why I love it so much, but it makes me giggle every time. I thought this one took a few chapters to find its footing, but overall, I thought it was adorable.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, May 1, 2023

Blog Tour: Meet Me at the Lake Review

Hello, all!

One of my favorite reads of last year was Every Summer After by Carley Fortune (review here), so I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for her latest release, Meet Me at the Lake. Big thanks to the publisher for having me!

Pub Date: 5-2-23
Adult - Contemporary

Fern Brookbanks' life hasn't turned out the way she wanted. She swore she would never end up back home running her family's lakeside resort. But after a tragic accident, she finds herself stepping into her mother's shoes whether she likes it or not. Now thirty-two, Fern is no stranger to office management, but the resort is overwhelming, her ex-boyfriend is the manager, and she doesn't know where to begin. Then along comes Will Baxter.

The first and only time Fern met Will Baxter was in their early twenties. He was a good-looking artist hired to paint a mural on the wall of the coffee shop she worked at, and Fern needed a distraction. The pair spent twenty-four hours together, exploring Toronto and opening up in ways they've never done with anyone. The timing may have been off between them, but their connection was undeniable. In the morning, they made a promise to meet up in a year at the lake of Fern's resort. Fern showed up, but Will didn't. In his expensive suits, Will seems nothing like the guy from Fern's memory, and it's clear he's hiding something from her, but the pull between them is still there. But one thing is clear: ten years ago, Fern let Will walk away from her, and she isn't willing to let that happen again.

If I'm honest, I was hesitant about this because some of the themes and structure felt like I was reading the previous book all over again. While there are a few similarities, it holds up on its own. Fern and Will were so interesting to follow. I loved seeing how they met and following along with them on their whirlwind adventure. I usually have trouble believing a couple is meant to be after they've only spent one day together (especially if that day was years ago as it was here), but something about their connection felt real. Watching them reconnect in the present and forgive their past mistakes was so satisfying. Fortune, once again, crafts a story that manages to be angsty, tender, and honest all at the same time. If you enjoy second-chance romances, this is the one to pick up.

Rating: 4/5