Monday, July 31, 2023

July Wrap-up

Hello, all!

It takes a lot for me to give a book 5 stars, so to have two in one month? Not to mention a few that teetered right on the edge? Incredible.


Path of Vengeance- Cavan Scott; 3/5
The Weight of Blood- Tiffany D. Jackson; 5/5
These Fleeting Shadows- Kate Alice Marshall; 2/5
The Broken Girls- Simone St. James; 4/5
The Reunion- Kayla Olson; 3/5
A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking- T. Kingfisher; 3/5
In the Company of Witches- Auralee Wallace; 2/5
In the Weeds- B.K. Borison; 4/5


One Piece, Vols. 1-3; 3/5
Grim, Vol. 1; 3/5
The Duke Starts a Scandal- Sophie Jordan; 2/5
What the River Knows- Isabel Ibanez; 4/5
The Glass Scientists, Vol. 1; 3/5
Suddenly a Murder- Lauren Munoz; 3/5
Midnight at the Houdini- Delilah S. Dawson; 2/5
Uncharted Dreams- Pascale Lacelle; 3/5


The True Love Experiment- Christina Lauren; 4/5
The Family Fortuna- Lindsay Eagar; 2/5
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi- Shannon Chakraborty; 3/5
Star Wars, Vol. 4: Last Flight of the Harbinger; 4/5
You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight- Kalynn Bayron; 2.5/5
In Nightfall- Suzanne Young; 4/5
The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies- Alison Goodman; 3/5
Rolling in the Deep- Mira Grant; 4/5
The Dollhouse- Fiona Davis; 4/5
Yours Truly- Abby Jimenez; 5/5
The Wishing Game- Meg Shaffer; 4.5/5
Forget Me Not- Julie Soto; 3/5

Some favorites were: Yours Truly, The Wishing Game, and In the Weeds. My least favorites were: The Family Fortuna, In the Company of Witches, and Midnight at the Houdini.

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

Friday, July 28, 2023

Library Haul

Hello, all!

Does it feel like Christmas to anyone else when all their library holds come in at once?

1. Forget Me Not- Julie Soto
2. Over My Dead Body- Sweeney Boo
3. The Only One Left- Riley Sager
4. Where Are Your Boys Tonight?: The Oral History of Emo's Mainstream Explosion 1999-2008- Chris Payne
5. A Twisted Love Story- Samantha Downing
6. The Carnivale of Curiosities- Aimee Gibbs 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Spectacular Review

Hello, all!

Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres, but I've been picking up some duds lately. Then along came The Spectacular by Fiona Davis to renew my love of the genre!

Pub Date: 6-13-23
Adult - Historical Fiction

It's 1956, and nineteen-year-old Marion is at a crossroads. She just lost her job teaching dance, and her father is pressuring her to marry her longtime boyfriend and become a stay-at-home housewife. But Marion knows she's built for more than just cooking and cleaning. She was born to dance, to bring joy through movement. So, Marion decides to throw caution to the wind and audition to become a Radio City Rockette, and no one is more shocked than she is when she gets the job. Her new job puts a wedge between Marion and her family, but she's determined to live her life how she's always dreamed.

Being a Rockette is an honor of a lifetime, but also hard work, and between dancing four shows a day and grueling rehearsals, Marion barely has any time to breathe. One night, a bomb planted by the notorious "Big Apple Bomber" goes off in the audience, rocking Marion's world. Police have been after the culprit for years with no luck, but Marion is determined to get to the bottom of the case. At her insistence, the police turn to a new form of investigating, psychological profiling. As Marion gets more involved in the case, she uncovers secrets that hit too close to home. But if Marion hopes to catch the bomber before he strikes again, she'll need to risk everything, including the ones she loves the most.

This book! Is it cheesy to say that it was spectacular? The last few historical fiction books I've read have been duds, so I didn't go into this with high expectations, and it blew me away. I was captivated from the very first page. You could tell that Davis put so much time and research into the story. She took a staple NYC landmark and true events, and tweaked them into such a compelling read. I loved going backstage at Radio City and seeing what it was like being a Rockette and the amount of hard work that goes into their performances. I also liked how Davis confronted the 1950s idea of a woman's place in society by making Marion strong-willed and independent. She wasn't afraid to make her voice heard when it came to the investigation, which in and of itself was so interesting to follow. The relationships here, both platonic and romantic, were also beautifully done. The romance was so bittersweet, but I loved how it wrapped up. I loved everything about this and can't wait to read all of Davis's books.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 4-11-23
Adult - Fantasy

Untethered Sky- Fonda Lee: When Ester was young, tragedy struck her family after a manticore attack took the lives of both her mother and younger brother. Left with only her father's stony silence, Ester vowed to herself that she would somehow find a way to kill the monsters that caused her so much grief. This determination leads Ester to the King's Royal Mewes, where men and women train to become ruhkers, the brave riders of the fearsome rocs that hunt manticores. Ester is paired with a fledgling named Zahra and spends all her time training and trying to cultivate a bond with the great beast. But when the pair get sent on a dangerous hunt, the limits of that bond are tested beyond anything Ester could've prepared for.

I've read another book by Lee that I didn't love, but I wanted to give her another go. I did enjoy it but didn't love it. I did like the characters and thought the world was engaging. I liked learning more about the rocs and their interactions with the ruhkers. The relationship between Ester and Zahra was my favorite thing about this. It was interesting watching their bond form, and how it played out tugged on my heartstrings. I also liked Ester's relationship with Darius. They were so supportive of one another and could rely on each other for anything. I don't think this was a bad story, and I would recommend it to fantasy fans, but there's something about Lee's writing style that I don't click with.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-7-23
YA - Thriller

Royal Blood- Aimee Carter: Seventeen-year-old Evan Bright has spent most of her life being bounced around boarding schools, hiding that she's the illegitimate daughter of the King of England. Evan has never had any relationship with her father, but that doesn't stop him from stepping in after an incident at her latest school. Now, Evan finds herself spending her summer in London with her father and the rest of the royal family, who are less than thrilled about her existence. It doesn't take long for the press to get wind of Evan, and she soon finds herself in a media frenzy. It only gets worse when Evan becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Evan is determined to uncover the truth about what happened, but the deeper she digs, the more secrets she discovers.

This is like if you took What a Girl Wants but sprinkled in a bit of murder, and I was into it. It took me a little while to warm up to Evan because she came across as quite bratty at the beginning. She was constantly throwing temper tantrums and sulking, but she grew on me by the end. I liked watching her develop a relationship with her father and, eventually, her half-sister. There's also a little romance thrown in that was cute. As for the mystery, it took a while to play out, and even though it was easy to figure out, it was still entertaining. Carter also touched upon some serious topics, and I thought she handled them very well. If this were an early-2000s CW drama, I would've eaten it up, and I'm interested enough to check out the next book.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 11-15-22
YA - Contemporary

The Do-Over- Lynn Painter: It's Valentine's Day, and Emilie Hornby can't wait to exchange "I love you's" with her boyfriend, Josh Sutton. Emilie's morning has started terribly with a car accident and losing out on her dream summer internship, so she's looking forward to seeing Josh. Only she didn't expect to find him kissing another girl. Emilie decides to nurse her broken heart over at her grandmother's, but when she wakes up, she finds herself back in her bed, and it's Valentine's Day-- again. Emilie soon realizes she's stuck in a time loop, reliving the same terrible day over and over again. The one highlight is her interactions with Nick, her surly lab partner, who she feels a growing closeness to with each repeated day. Can Emilie find a way to break the cycle, and if so, what effects will it have on her life?

I don't usually gravitate towards YA contemporary anymore, and I'm not the biggest fan of time loop stories, but I'd read the phone book if Painter wrote it. She has this way of writing characters that feel so authentic that you can't help but root for them. I loved watching Emilie go through all these different versions of the same day and how they helped her become the person she's always wanted to be but was afraid to show the world. I couldn't get enough of her relationship with Nick, who gives off major Jess Mariano vibes, and I was here for it. Right from the get-go, the banter between them was spot-on, but that's not surprising, seeing as how Painter always nails that. I also appreciated how it wasn't all lighthearted and touched upon series topics such as divorce and the death of a loved one. Was it a little cheesy and predictable? Yes. But did I enjoy every moment of it? Also, yes.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 6-6-23
Adult - Contemporary

Charm City Rocks- Matthew Norman: Billy Perkins is a single dad from Baltimore who genuinely loves his life. He has a little apartment above his favorite record store, teaches music to anyone who wants to learn, and loves spending time with his son, Caleb. But Caleb is heading off to college soon and worries that his dad isn't as happy as he pretends to be, so he concocts a plan to set Billy up with the drummer of his favorite band that he's had a crush on for years. Margot Hammer was once a part of one of the biggest bands in the world. Now, she spends her days holed up in her NYC apartment until a music documentary thrusts her back into the spotlight. When Billy and Margot meet, it's clear that there's some attraction there, but can they get out of their way long enough to make it work?

I'm a sucker for a celebrity romance, especially involving musicians, so I was looking forward to picking this up. It was cute but also very meh. I liked the first half, but it lost the plot somewhere in the middle. It got too jumbled with so many character POVs, and I started to lose interest. There's also a British character in here who read like a caricature of a British person. I was getting second-hand embarrassment reading his chapters because it was so cringy. I wish Norman focused more on Billy and Margot and their relationship because it felt a bit surface-level. I did love the relationship between Billy and his son, though. Other than that, I thought it was just okay.

Rating: 2/5

Pub Date: 2-9-21
Adult - Historical Romance

The Duke Heist- Erica Ridley: Chloe Wynchester was both blessed and cursed with a forgettable face. On one hand, it allows her to blend into any crowd, which is helpful as a pickpocket and thief. On the other, all Chloe longs for is to be seen by someone other than her family. Before the only father Chloe has ever known passed away, he tasked the rest of his adopted children with one mission: to recover a beloved painting that's gone missing. Lawrence Gosling, the Duke of Faircliffe, is desperately trying to dig himself out of the debts his father left him. To save his estate, he must marry an heiress and fast. But when he finds himself face-to-face with a beautiful woman stealing his carriage, all Lawrence's plans go out the window. As Chloe and Lawrence grow closer, neither can deny their attraction. But will Lawrence risk his family's legacy for true love?

I wish I were a Wynchester so much. I adore the relationship between all the siblings. It's so fun watching them interact and all the crazy antics they get up to. This is only the second book in the series I've read so far, but I can already tell it'll be one of my favorites. I did find the beginning of it a bit slow, and it took me a few chapters to get into the story, but it was so entertaining. I loved the heist element. The relationship between Chloe and Lawrence was fine, but it didn't blow me away. They had some cute moments, but I couldn't help wanting a little more. For me, this series is more about sibling dynamics, and the romances are more of an extra treat, and I can't wait to pick up the rest of the books.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pub Date: 4-5-22
YA - Historical Mystery

Sense and Second-Degree Murder- Tirzah Price: After the sudden death of her father, Elinor and the rest of the Dashwoods are left in dire straights. Thanks to an outdated will, everything--including their home and their father's private investigating firm--is left to an estranged half-brother and his wife. Elinor and her family are left with nothing, forced to live in a cramped apartment. Before they leave their home, Elinor and her sister, Marianne, make a startling discovery that points to foul play in their father's death. As her father's protégé, Marianne wastes no time in investigating. Elinor and Marianne must combine their talents to get to the truth before the murderer strikes again.

I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to continuing. I did like it, but it didn't keep my attention as much as the previous book. I love the idea of reimagining Jane Austen's work into murder mysteries, and I think Price does a good job of keeping the bones of the original stories while making them her own. My biggest issue with this one was the pacing. It felt rushed in places and slow in others, so it came across as disjointed. The mystery was interesting, and I liked how Price tackled drug addiction during this time. There were a few twists I didn't see coming, which is always good. I'd recommend it if you're looking for a charming historical mystery series.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Blog Tour: Magdalena Excerpt

Hello, all!

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for spooky season. If you're in the same boat, then you need to add Magdalena by Candi Sary to your TBRs.

Pub Date: 7-11-23

This story takes place in a small, secluded town that runs on gossip and superstition and follows a recluse named Dottie who develops a strange motherly interest in her young neighbor, Magdalena. When a scandal breaks out about a missing girl, a ghost and an affair that started it all, Dottie finds herself under scrutiny. Dottie has always kept to herself, but to squash the rumors, she'll need to face her fears and find her own voice.

You can check out an excerpt below!

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 4-11-23
Adult - Contemporary

The Nanny- Lana Ferguson: After losing her job, grad school student, Cassie Evans, needs a break. She has two options: either find a good paying job fast or reactivate her OnlyFans account, and she would rather not do the latter after what happened the last time. Luckily for Cassie, she finds a position as a live-in nanny with a more than generous salary. Between his job as an executive chef and his strong-willed nine-year-old daughter, Aiden Reid is stretched thin. When he meets Cassie, he basically begs her to take the job. The only problem? Cassie and Aiden technically met before when he was subscribed to her channel. As the weeks pass, the attraction between the pair only escalates. Cassie knows she has to tell Aiden the truth, but is she willing to risk losing the only happiness she's ever had?

I picked this up on a whim, and it was so fun. It was a different take on the workplace romance trope with a sprinkling of forced proximity and, of course, the single dad tropes. I loved the dynamic between Cassie and Aiden's daughter, Sophie. She was such an adorably feisty little kid. Watching her interact with Cassie's elderly neighbor, Wanda, was probably my favorite part. The two of them were hilarious. I liked Cassie and Aiden, but I don't feel I really got to know them. Everything about them felt very surface-level. The same goes for their relationship. It seemed like it was all steam and no substance. I wanted a bit more depth there. Despite that, it was still entertaining, and I flew through it in one sitting, so I'd recommend it if you're a fan of any of those tropes.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 3-7-23
Adult - Mystery

The Golden Spoon- Jessa Maxwell: Six amateur bakers get the opportunity of a lifetime when they're offered a slot competing on the popular reality show, Bake Week. Each are ready to do whatever it takes to win the coveted Golden Spoon trophy. But when they arrive at Grafton Manor, the filming location and the home of judge, Betsy Martin, they realize they may be in over their heads. Filming is rigorous and no one in the group anticipated how stressful baking in the famous tent would be. To add to their stress, it seems someone is sabotaging the contestant's bakes. For Betsy, Bake Week is her legacy and the only thing helping her keep her family's home afloat, so it's imperative that the season goes off without a hitch. But when the body of her annoying new co-host is found, it's clear to everyone that someone is willing to kill to get to the prize.

I'm such a huge fan of The Great British Bake-Off, so I couldn't wait to pick this up. I saw it categorized as a thriller, but I would say it's more of a cozy mystery. The stakes are very low, and it takes a while for anything to happen. The first half of the book introduces you to all the characters (most of whom aren't very likeable) and heavily focuses on the baking aspects. The murder plot doesn't kick off until the end and then it's wrapped up quickly. I also found it easy to figure out who did it. If you're a fan of baking shows and enjoy a more subdued take on murder mysteries, I'd recommend checking it out.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 5-16-23
Adult - Contemporary

The True Love Experiment- Christina Lauren: Beloved romance novelist, Fizzy Chen, fears she's lost her mojo. She hasn't been able to write in ages. She hasn't even had any wild hook-ups, which is cause for concern. When she gets an opportunity to star in a new dating show, Fizzy decides she's got nothing to lose. Fizzy has never been in love, lust sure, but she's never felt that can't-eat-can't-sleep feeling, and she hopes this will help kickstart her heart. Connor Prince is a single dad who'd rather spend his time working on nature documentaries than produce a dating reality show. But when he meets Fizzy and her ridiculous list of demands, he realizes she's unlike anyone he's ever met. Connor knows that with Fizzy at the helm, the show will be an instant success, but he hadn't considered what watching her fall in love with other men would do to him.

I enjoyed The Soulmate Equation but thought Fizzy stole the show, so I was thrilled to find out she was getting a book. She's a larger-than-life character who isn't afraid to speak her mind, even if it's a little raunchy. She has a tough exterior, but it hides such a sensitive heart, and I'm glad we got to see more of that here. I loved the relationship between her and Connor. They complemented one another well, and the chemistry was off the charts. I also liked seeing Connor's relationship with his daughter, which was so cute. My only gripe with it was that it was a little too long. I kept going, "All this has happened, but there are still XX pages left?" But that's also because I don't think romances need to be over 400 pages. Despite that, it was still a pretty quick read, and I loved it so much.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The Last Heir to Blackwood Library Review

Hello, all!

Are there any authors who you feel should get more hype? For me, it's Hester Fox. I've enjoyed all of her books, and her latest release, The Last Heir to Blackwood Library was no exception.

Pub Date: 4-4-23
Adult - Historical Fiction

After losing her family, Ivy Radcliffe is left with only a cramped room in a boarding house that she shares with her best friend. But then Ivy receives a mysterious letter that changes everything. Suddenly, Ivy finds herself the sole heir to an estate called Blackwood Abbey. Ivy has never heard of the house or the ancient bloodline she's supposedly descended from, but with nothing keeping her in London, Ivy packs up her meager belongings and heads to the Yorkshire moors.

When Ivy gets to Blackwood Abbey, nothing is as she expected. The manor is cold and unwelcoming, and the servants are antsy and suspicious. The one highlight is the abbey's magnificent library. As a book lover, Ivy can't wait to spend all her days curled by the fire, reading to her heart's content. But instead of becoming her refuge, the library soon becomes Ivy's downfall. She begins to experience strange headaches, nosebleeds, and forgetfulness. Soon, Ivy learns about the abbey's dark history tied to a cursed manuscript hidden in its walls and the toll it takes on her family. Will Ivy be able to rid the abbey of evil before she loses herself forever?

My favorite thing about any of Fox's books is the atmosphere. She has this way of transporting you to whatever time and place she's describing. Everything plays out like a movie in your head, and it's so compelling. I felt like I was in this big, sprawling abbey with Ivy searching for ghosts. I love books about books or libraries and loved how Fox made this one feel so sinister. You could feel the tension in the air every time Ivy walked into the room, and it made you want to keep reading to find out why. At times I felt I was missing chunks of the story, but that could've been deliberate, given what Ivy was going through and the effects the library had on her. Other than that, I thought this was a solid and enjoyable read, and I'd recommend it if you like Gothic-inspired, spooky reads.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, July 7, 2023

Library Haul

Hello, all!

I took off work today, so of course, I went to the library.

1. The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies- Alison Goodman
2. The Dollhouse- Fiona Davis
3. Don't Go to Sleep- Bryce Moore
4. Rolling in the Deep- Mira Grant
5. These Fleeting Shadows- Kate Alice Marshall
6. Redshirts- John Scalzi

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Book Haul

Hello, all!

I'm super excited about this book haul because I'm working with to let you all know about their Anti-Prime Day Campaign.

If you aren't familiar, is a website created as an alternative to Amazon where every purchase you make financially supports independent bookstores all over the world. Indie bookstores are such a pillar of the book community, and makes it possible for them to survive in a world that's dominated by bigger chains. You can also pick which indie bookstore you want to support with your purchase which is so cool. 

For Anti-Prime Day, is offering free standard shipping on all orders from July 11th to July 12th, and any orders over $100 even get a free tote bag! I highly recommend checking out their website  because let's be real, we all have a book buying addiction so we might as well support our local indies while we're at it.

Here are all the books I picked up from them. Let me know if you've read any, and again, massive thank you to for working with me!

1. The Secret Service of Tea and Treason- India Holton
2. Ahsoka- E.K. Johnston
3. The Naturals- Jennifer Lynn Barnes
4. In Nightfall- Suzanne Young
5. The First Binding- R.R. Virdi

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Business or Pleasure Review

Hello, all!

You can bet that if Rachel Lynn Solomon writes a book, I'll be picking it up. Big thanks to the publisher for the copy of her latest release, Business or Pleasure!

Pub Date: 7-4-23
Adult - Contemporary

Being a ghostwriter isn't Chandler Cohen's dream, but it pays the bills. But when she attends a signing for a book she wrote, and the author doesn't recognize her, Chandler is left rethinking everything. In the mood to wallow, Chandler grabs a drink at a bar where she meets a charming guy and immediately hits it off. The sexual tension between them is hard to ignore, and Chandler finds herself sneaking out of his hotel room hours later after the worst hookup of her life. Chandler is ready to move on and put the awkward encounter behind her but finds it hard to do when the man turns out to be the actor she's been hired to write for.

Finn Walsh is a C-list actor best known for his role as an adorkable nerd on a popular teen werewolf show. Finn is now mostly known for appearances at fan conventions all over the country, but he has a story to tell, and he wants Chandler to be the one to write it. Chandler is determined to keep things as professional as possible, but when Finn finds out she was left unsatisfied after their night together, the pair strike up a deal: when they aren't working on his book, Chandler will teach Finn how to take his bedroom skills up a notch. But when real feelings start growing, the pair learn that maybe there's a reason you don't mix business with pleasure.

Something Solomon never fails to do is charm me. I always have such a fun time reading her romances. I loved the premise of this one, and it was brimming with Solomon's signature wit. The banter between her characters is always on point, the relationships feel honest, and the characters always feel fleshed out. Chandler and Finn were so open and vulnerable with one another. Their relationship felt very mature, and I loved how they communicated their needs with one another. Aside from the romance, I found the plot engaging as well. It was fun seeing all the fan conventions, but my favorite aspect was the mental health representation. I thought Solomon did a nice job shining a light on OCD in a respectful manner. There were a few pacing issues and overuse of pop culture references, but other than that, I really liked this.

Rating: 4/5