Format: eARC

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love Me

Posted July 31, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews / 2 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Published by Ballantine Books on May 4, 2021
Pages: 476
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The MartianArtemis

Thoughts: I don’t give out five stars too often, but this one was one spectacular book. I was a bit apprehensive at first: the plot centers around an astronaut that wakes up alone on a spaceship with no memory of where he is, or even who he is. Rather than being provided a backstory, we’d suddenly get these bursts of memory, but they were written kind of sloppily I felt. He’d be doing something on the spaceship, have some memory, and realize oh! That’s because I was a science teacher, or whatever. It was really off-putting and happened frequently in the first several hundred pages. The rest of the book was so amazing that I was able to overlook the issues I had with that.

Verdict: The major aspect of this book is actually a huge spoiler and it is 100% better to experience it firsthand, so, I’m going to do my part and not even try to allude to it. Well worth a read.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Gif space loop 5 » GIF Images Download

five-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeThe Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 18, 2021
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night StandJosh and Hazel’s Guide to Not DatingLove and Other WordsThe UnhoneymoonersTwice in a Blue Moon

Thoughts: I’m always on board for new CL, and I was completely in love with this plot when I read the blurb. Not only do we have some fun science shit, but we’ve got an enemies-to-lovers thing going on (which I l-o-v-e). Unfortunately, there’s usually a lot more sizzle between a pair when they realize that they don’t actually hate one another as much as they thought. The sizzle fizzled instead, and we were left with a whole lot of talk of soulmates but not much showing.

Verdict: Being able to find your soulmate through a scientific experiment is quite an intriguing concept: too bad the soulmates in this story have practically no chemistry.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Soulmates GIF | Gfycat

three-half-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeThe Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink
Published by Quill Tree Books on July 20, 2021
Pages: 288
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Thoughts: The Halloween Queen has frozen time in Esther’s small town and it’s up to her and a few friends to break the curse. The premise of this was really creepy and perfect for Goosebumps fans, young and old alike, but Fink tried to do a little too much within these pages. I appreciated the thought he put into the diversity of the characters and the progress of Esther’s coming-of-age story, however, it definitely detracted from reaching peak horror. ​Being chased through town by a guy throwing razor blade-filled apples was quite creepy but there was so much other stuff going on it was hard to determine whether or not there was actually any threat.

Verdict: I’m not actually sure if this would have just been better suited to the targeted age group, but either way, it was still a thrilling little Halloween in July sort of tale.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Top 30 Poison Apple GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Fire Reviews | Hail Mary, The Soulmate Equation, The Halloween Tree, You Love MeYou Love Me (You, #3) by Caroline Kepnes
Published by Random House on April 6, 2021
Pages: 385
Genres: Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Hidden Bodies

Thoughts: Joe and his stalker romantic tendencies are still going strong. He’s moved to a new town, has a new job at the library, and has a new woman to become weirdly obsessed over for no particular reason. Honestly, despite the occasional curve balls that kept this installment slightly interesting, You Love Me just felt like a recycled version of what’s been told twice before now. The only difference was the excessive use of “lemonhead” and “Murakami”. 🤢

Verdict: I believe this is one of the rare cases where the show is actually better than the book so I’ll be sticking with that from this point on.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

The Office Ugh GIF by Romy - Find & Share on GIPHY

two-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

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Life’s Too Short | The Final Girl Support Group, To Sir, with Love, The Apocalypse Seven

Posted July 3, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 4 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Final Girl Support Group, To Sir, with Love, The Apocalypse SevenThe Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
Published by Berkley Books on July 13, 2021
Pages: 352
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


dnf

A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who's left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she's not alone. For more than a decade she's been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette's worst fears are realized--someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

DNF @ 10%

The concept of this book was interesting: all of the cult classic 80s horror movies are all true stories and all of the final girls are in a support group together. It was the basis of the plot, however, the author doesn’t really expound on it past that. The main character, Lynette, doesn’t have much of a life outside of the support group. She follows the same routes home, only goes to get groceries or the mail on certain days, and still lives every day with the expectation that someone is going to kill her. It’s gotta be hard living with that mindset day in and day out… and it was hard reading about. We’re introduced to other final girls that had managed to heal and form some semblance of a life, but Lynette acted like the incident that scarred her happened recently. Reading this story through the eyes of someone constantly on edge was more than a bit unsettling. It was especially frustrating (and what ultimately had me calling it quits) when she started falling into the stereotype trap: doing stupid shit like the girls in horror movies that think running upstairs from the maniac with a knife is a great idea.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Final Girl Support Group, To Sir, with Love, The Apocalypse SevenThe Apocalypse Seven by Gene Doucette
Published by John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books on May 25, 2021
Pages: 432
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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dnf

Scott Sigler called Doucette’s cozy apocalypse story, “entertaining as hell.” Come see how the world ends, not with a bang, but a whatever...

The whateverpocalypse. That’s what Touré, a twenty-something Cambridge coder, calls it after waking up one morning to find himself seemingly the only person left in the city. Once he finds Robbie and Carol, two equally disoriented Harvard freshmen, he realizes he isn’t alone, but the name sticks: Whateverpocalypse. But it doesn’t explain where everyone went. It doesn’t explain how the city became overgrown with vegetation in the space of a night. Or how wild animals with no fear of humans came to roam the streets.

Add freakish weather to the mix, swings of temperature that spawn tornadoes one minute and snowstorms the next, and it seems things can’t get much weirder. Yet even as a handful of new survivors appear—Paul, a preacher as quick with a gun as a Bible verse; Win, a young professional with a horse; Bethany, a thirteen-year-old juvenile delinquent; and Ananda, an MIT astrophysics adjunct—life in Cambridge, Massachusetts gets stranger and stranger.

The self-styled Apocalypse Seven are tired of questions with no answers. Tired of being hunted by things seen and unseen. Now, armed with curiosity, desperation, a shotgun, and a bow, they become the hunters. And that’s when things truly get weird.

DNF @ 13%

I was admittedly quite curious about this one (in the beginning) but having given up the ghost at a mere 13%, that curiosity clearly died quite rapidly. The Apocalypse Seven opens from the POV of a college freshman who woke up confused as to where he was, thinking that he was late for class, and worrying about how he smelled because he fell asleep in yesterday’s clothes. The sympathy is not strong for this one. But there were subtle curiosities, like the fact that he couldn’t find any of his personal belongings in the room, but he was for sure in the dorm room he was assigned. The world outside his dorm has become overgrown with vegetation and animals roam freely, a far cry from the world that he fell asleep in just a few hours prior. The subtle curiosities kept popping up (the strange wolves, the breakfast place that was a completely different business, the lack of electronics, and more so, the complete lack of people) but everything else about this “whateverpocalypse” (a name given by one of the characters) was unfortunately too dry for my liking.

This “whateverpocalypse” may very well have developed into a full-fledged story if I had actually given this one more of a chance, but unfortunately, I just felt, well, whatever about it.

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Final Girl Support Group, To Sir, with Love, The Apocalypse SevenTo Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne
Published by Gallery Books on June 29, 2021
Pages: 288
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


dnf

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

DNF @ 16%

I feel like the entire summary of this book was deceiving.

Gracie is trying to save her deceased father’s business while a corporation, by way of Sebastian, is trying to buy her out to build a parking garage. Around the same time, she’s quickly falling for a guy she met on a dating app but she’s never even seen a picture of him nor learned his name; she only refers to him as Sir (which is full of cringe). I’m sure you can guess who Sir ends up being. The part of the summary that was deceiving was the fact that while she’s chatting with Sir, he’s got a girlfriend and she knows it. I recently DNF’d another contemporary romance that also had a cheating subplot. There’s just no justifying this for me and I don’t want this a part of any of my romance reads. Hard pass.

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Release Day Feature | The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Posted May 18, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Adult, Book Reviews, Release Day Feature / 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature | The Hunting Wives by May CobbThe Hunting Wives by May Cobb
Published by Berkley on May 18, 2021
Pages: 368
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Goodreads

The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder.

Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.

Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.

When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.

About May Cobb

May Cobb earned her MA in literature from San Francisco State University, and her essays and interviews have appeared in the Washington Post, the Rumpus, Edible Austin, and Austin Monthly. Her previous novel is The Hunting Wives. A Texas native, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

“…the pool was the first place I saw her. A week later, she was dead.”

Tired of the hustle and bustle of Chicago life, Sophie and her husband move their young son to the town of Mapleton, Texas in the hopes of creating a simpler life. Sophie becomes a stay-at-home mom, hoping to be the kind of mom that she never had, to her son and she spends her free time writing blog posts and sharing snippets of her life on Instagram. This quiet life that she thought she wanted begins to take on a dull sheen but then Sophie becomes engrossed in a local socialite named Margot Banks who invites her to become a part of The Hunting Wives.

“It wasn’t envy, though; I didn’t want to be her. It was so much more than that. I wanted to be near her. For her to notice me, too. The idea of it took my breath away. It became powerful and even consuming.”

I was drawn to the very Desperate Housewives meets Real Housewives sound this book had and I got to say, it pretty much fits the bill. The Hunting Wives consists of Callie, Jill, Tina, and of course Margot, their de facto leader. None of these women are exactly likable but they’re certainly interesting. They love drinking, shooting guns, and men… and not necessarily in that order. When Sophie is invited to Margot’s lake house to have some drinks and shoot some skeet, she’s intrigued by these wild women that don’t seem to have a care in the world but doing what they want to do. After the past months where she only had herself for company, being around these women makes Sophie realize just how stifled she really was. Each new night she spends with them, the wilder they get, but when a local teenager turns up murdered, the excitement comes to a dead stop.

The Hunting Wives starts out as a tale of suburban ennui but shifts gears into a murder mystery without missing a beat. It was undeniably one wild ride.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Ten Mini (Review) Reads + A Ton of DNFs

Posted May 4, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Top Ten Tuesday, Uncategorized / 5 Comments

Of This River by Noah Davis | Published August 1st 2020 by Wheelbarrow Books
four-stars

Of This River is an impressive debut collection of poetry with a distinct Appalachian theme. Noah Davis is one to watch.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens | Published December 1st 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
four-stars

An adorable story of missed chances that is full of convenient coincidences but will still manage to melt even the hardest of hearts.

Highway Blue by Ailsa McFarlane | Expected publication: May 18th 2021 by Hogarth Press
two-stars

This book lacked a pulse. The plot seemed to meander despite the intriguing blurb, the characters were one-dimensional, and the ending only gave the guise of a resolution.

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella | Published October 27th 2020 by Dial Press
dnf

I think I quit this book faster than the main character’s date did after she started talking about butternut squash soup having a soul on their first date.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) by David Levithan | Published February 2nd 2021 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
dnf

While I’m clearly not the targeted reader for this novel, I love the occasional Middle Grade and I’m always up for anything by Levithan. This story felt like an ode to The Chronicles of Narnia but one that never really went anywhere and I just wanted more from this fun concept of a story.

Broken (In the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson | Published April 6th 2021 by Henry Holt and Co.
dnf

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened remains one of my favorite books of all time, however, Broken was a massive disappointment. I’m not sure if Lawson’s sense of humor changed (or mine) but I found her antics to be far more preposterous than entertaining.

Astrid Sees All by Natalie Standiford | Published April 6th 2021 by Atria Books
dnf

This was recommended for fans of Fleabag and this couldn’t be further off base. I personally loved Fleabag because of the realness and how darkly comedic it is and honestly, this book didn’t possess a single funny bone in its pages. It was dreary and pretentious and none of the characters left any semblance of an impression on me.

The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories by Kevin Brockmeier | Published March 9th 2021 by Pantheon Books
dnf

I’ve developed a taste for short stories only recently, but flash fiction is something different entirely. There simply wasn’t enough substance in any of these snippets to keep me invested.

 

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy | Published August 4th 2020 by Flatiron Books
two-stars

Migrations is definitely your standard literary fare full of fanciful descriptions and an oftentimes hard-to-follow storyline that likes to bounce between the present day and flashbacks. I don’t think I was in the right mood to try this one (or if I honestly even possess a mood that is “right” for reading literary fiction.)

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper | Published November 10th 2020 by Grand Central Publishing
two-stars

I got major I’ll Be Gone in the Dark vibes from this true crime tale, but I’m not sure I mean that as a compliment. There’s an exceptional amount of information regarding the investigation within these pages, however, once I discovered that this case was actually solved in 2018 it made me wonder why the story seemed to have been written as if this wasn’t knowledge the author possessed. I’m unclear when the author started writing this story, but I felt like at the very least an addendum could have been added prior to publication.

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Release Day Feature | Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Posted April 27, 2021 by Bonnie in 2021, Adult, Book Reviews, Release Day Feature / 1 Comment

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature | Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. SutantoDial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Published by Berkley on April 27, 2021
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

A hilariously quirky novel that is equal parts murder mystery, rom-com, and a celebration of mothers and daughters as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture, by debut author Jesse Q. Sutanto.

1 (accidental) murder
2 thousand wedding guests
3 (maybe) cursed generations
4 meddling Asian aunties to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is accidentally shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working, at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for their family wedding business—“Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!”—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream cake flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

About Jesse Q. Sutanto

Jesse Q Sutanto grew up shuttling back and forth between Jakarta and Singapore and sees both cities as her homes. She has a Masters degree from Oxford University, though she has yet to figure out a way of saying that without sounding obnoxious. She is currently living back in Jakarta on the same street as her parents and about seven hundred meddlesome aunties. When she's not tearing out her hair over her latest WIP, she spends her time baking and playing FPS games. Oh, and also being a mom to her two kids.

“It’s going to be a crazy weekend, isn’t it?”
You have no idea, I want to say.

Meddelin Chan is terrible at dating but when her mother tells her she’s found her the perfect date (and that she has been posing as Meddelin on a dating site to get to know him for her) she realizes that it’s probably too late to establish boundaries. When the date goes riding off the rails (and straight into a tree) Meddelin finds herself alone with her now dead date and the fear that no one will believe her that it was self-defense, so she decides that shoving him in the trunk and calling her family for help in getting rid of his body is the best decision. Naturally.

The body gets accidentally included in the supplies for the wedding that Meddy and her family are working on the next day, on an exclusive island with no possible transport to get back to the mainland. And as if there wasn’t enough on her plate, Meddy runs into her first love who she never quite fell out of love with. The story is interspersed with snippets from the past when Meddy and her ex were together and explains how the duo found themselves crossing paths yet again.

The cringe-worthy yet hilarious moments were aplenty and the story keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat, convinced that the family has finally backed themselves into a corner that they can’t escape from. It’s a roller coaster ride full of accidents and misunderstandings, drama and levity, and while it requires some suspension of disbelief (how they weren’t caught is beyond me) the hijinks were hilarious and had me genuinely laughing out loud. I thought while reading this story that it would make an amazing movie so I’m delighted to hear that this is actually happening!!

‘Trust Ma to take pride in my etiquette when I’ve just shown her my date, whom I’ve killed, in the trunk of my car.’

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Release Day Feature | The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Posted April 20, 2021 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Release Day Feature / 3 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature | The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. ReichertThe Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert
Published by Berkley on April 20, 2021
Pages: 336
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Ghosties
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, The Simplicity of Cider

three-stars

Jobless and forced home to Wisconsin, journalist Sabrina Monroe can tolerate reunions with frenemies and kisses from old boyfriends, but not the literal ghosts that greet her in this heartwarming tale of the power of love and connection from acclaimed author Amy E. Reichert.

For Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Wisconsin Dells–the self-described Waterpark Capital of the World–means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina’s always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who’s much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina’s side all through her lonely childhood.

Her personal life starts looking up when Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He’s charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn’t have time for romance–she needs to focus on finding a job. Except the longer she’s in the Dells, the harder it is to resist her feelings for Ray. Who can turn down a cute guy with a fondness for rescue dogs and an obsession with perfecting his fried cheese curds recipe?

When the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time and with Ray in her corner, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is.

About Amy E. Reichert

Amy Reichert earned her MA in Literature from Marquette University, and honed her writing and editing skills as a technical writer (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds). As a newly minted member of the local library board, she loves helping readers find new books to love. She’s a life-long Wisconsin resident with (allegedly) a very noticeable accent, a patient husband, and two too-smart-for-their-own-good kids. When time allows, she loves to read, collect more cookbooks than she could possibly use, and test the limits of her DVR.

“Two days, twenty-three hours, and thirty-two minutes. Almost three full days since Sabrina Monroe had last spoken to someone who wasn’t a relative.”

Introvert extraordinaire, Sabrina’s goal in life is simple: avoid human interaction as much as possible. Her evasion tactics have succeeded up until the point when she finds herself in the middle of a fight at the water park covered in strawberry margarita slush. It’s there that she meets a human named Ray that she actually wants to speak to, but her severe anxiety and her insistence that her stay in Wisconsin is only temporary keep her from thinking that there could actually be something between them. Sabrina’s need to leave Wisconsin and to get back to her real-life centers around her inability to be a part of what makes the females in her family special: they can see spirits. And Ray has moved back to Wisconsin to uncover a long-buried family secret and Sabrina and her abilities may be able to finally bring them to light.

Even though that seems like enough plot for an entire novel, there were (too?) many other facets to this story. Ray has his own complete backstory surrounding the aforementioned family secret, Sabrina has a bully from her school days that still terrorizes her and is the root cause of her debilitating anxiety, and Molly, one of the spirits that Sabrina sees which has become something of a best friend to her, has her own backstory as well. As a result, the plot felt a little busy at times and turned this potentially light-hearted and quirky tale into something unexpectedly heavy. One of my favorite aspects of Reichert’s novels is her delicious depictions of the most mouth-watering sounding foods. Cheese curds took center stage in Kindred Spirits.

‘In a line, he had the curds, flour, and a beer batter – a simple mixture of Spotted Cow beer, flour, salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne – each in its own tray.”

Reichert posted a cheese curd recipe inspired by the delicious ones mentioned in the novel and if you’re the drinking type, there’s a recipe for a Wisconsin-Style Brandy Old-Fashioned. Both recipes sound to die for.

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Rapid Fire Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return

Posted November 12, 2020 by Bonnie in 2020, Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews / 1 Comment

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Shadows by Alex North
Published by Celadon Books on July 7, 2020
Pages: 336
GenresHorror
FormateARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Thoughts: North’s evocative writing turns this coming of age story into quite the haunting tale. The Shadows tells the tale of a group of boys who begin using lucid dreaming as a temporary way out of their every day lives, but when one of the boys thinks he’s uncovered the secret to making this dream world something much more permanent, things turn very dark. The story uses my favorite dual narrative, alternating between past and present and shooting forward in time by thirty-five years where one of the boys has moved back to the small town only to find that the things he thought he escaped still linger. As the story progresses, things feel a bit frayed with new characters showing up much too fashionably late and a twist at the end that may impress some but felt ill-fitting with where the story was going.

Verdict: Tagged as horror, I feel this definitely fits more in the realm of “psychological thriller”. I skipped out on North’s debut and while this wasn’t perfect I very much loved his writing style and will definitely be picking up The Whisper Man.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

GIF oooh scary spooky - animated GIF on GIFER - by Anatus

three-half-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Hollow Ones by Guillermo del ToroChuck Hogan
SeriesBlackwood Tapes #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on August 4, 2020
Pages: 336
GenresHorror
FormateARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The StrainThe Night EternalTrollhunters

Thoughts: I will forever be a fan of Guillermo del Toro. He’s created some of the most fascinating yet horrific worlds but I don’t think I can ever get past how every single one of his books seems to be written in the hopes of them someday being turned into a film. The summary of this gave me the idea it could be like an old X-Files episode: a young FBI agent investigating a terrible crime turns to a man of the occult after being unable to rationalize the supernatural aspects of the case. No, we’re not talking aliens, but the supernatural aspect actually reminded me far too much of another book which I had only recently read. I’m not sure the close comparisons were what ultimately left me unimpressed or if it was the considerable amounts of gratuitous violence and the fact that I didn’t realize this wasn’t a standalone novel until the final page.

Verdict: I just realized that every single Guillermo del Toro book I’ve read has been him paired up with someone else. Makes me want to give Hogan’s individually written books a shot. In regards to The Hollow Ones, while I can see where the authors plan to take this series, I’m not sure the first installment left me feeling invested enough to continue.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Meh GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Return by Rachel Harrison
Published by Berkley on March 24, 2020
Pages: 304
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Thoughts: Oh, how I wanted to love this. The Return doesn’t start off creepy, just mysterious, and it builds the characterization of each and every character slowly. Possibly a little too slowly. The girls in this story are written so immaturely I kept having to remind myself of their non-high school ages. The horror elements finally start making themselves known in the final 50 pages of the story and to Harrison’s credit, she transforms the memory loss plot into something wholly unexpected and original. The concept as a whole wasn’t fully fleshed out and the supernatural elements were laid on extra-thick but it was still definitely unique.

Verdict: I liked it, but I didn’t. The supernatural aspects and the answer to the whole mystery was just a bit too odd-ball to wrap my head around. Harrison is going to stay on my radar, however, because this didn’t have the feel of a debut and definitely showcased her storytelling abilities.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

The Office - MIchael Scott -I Don't Know What The Fuck That Was on Make a GIF

two-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

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Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Posted December 28, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews / 5 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect WifeThe Lost Man by Jane Harper
Published by Flatiron Books on February 5, 2019
Pages: 340
Genres: Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

four-half-stars

Short Summary: The Bright brothers run a large area of land in the Australian outback with hours separating each but when one of the brothers dies under mysterious circumstances, his death brings everyone together to question whether he decided his own fate or if someone else was responsible.

Thoughts: I think I’m finally beginning to understand what makes Jane Harper’s books so special: the setting. The Australian outback is so vibrantly written it becomes something of a character itself. It sounds beautiful and ethereal but I’m not sure you could pay me to venture into that deadly terrain.

Verdict: Harper’s stories always read like a breath of fresh air and it’s rare I continue to stay on top of subsequent releases from any particular author but I’m always eager for more from her.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

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I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect WifeGhoster by Jason Arnopp
Published by Orbit on October 22, 2019
Pages: 496
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

three-stars

Short Summary: Kate is moving in with her boyfriend, Scott, but when she shows up in her moving van he’s gone, the house completely empty except for his cell phone. Determined to find him, wanting to know why he’d do this, she starts looking through his phone but the things she finds have her questioning everything.

Thoughts: I wasn’t anticipating the supernatural aspects but it sure did make for a suspenseful, gotta keep flipping the pages to figure out what the heck is going on, and unsettling read.

Verdict: Honestly, I was loving how entertained I was by this one, but the ending was super bizarre and Arnopp went a bit overkill on the “technology is evil message”.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect WifeTo Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
Published by Harper Voyager on September 3, 2019
Pages: 153
Genres: Sci-fi
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

two-stars

Short Summary: To Be Taught, If Fortunate is a tiny but mighty science fiction story about humans discovering the ability to transform themselves to live on other worlds and about a crew exploring the galaxy learning everything they can to send back home.

Thoughts: Considering this novella was meant to be a letter sent to Earth from the crew, there sure was a lot of rambling and a complete lack of a sense of urgency, and lol if they included the parts about how everyone is sleeping with each other. Honestly, I’m not sure I got it.

Verdict: Becky Chambers is a fantastic writer and her extreme research is evident, unfortunately, this focuses heavily on the scientific aspects of everything (that can be quite confusing at times) and far less so on the characters or even a plot and thus just wasn’t my style.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews | The Lost Man, Ghoster, To Be Taught, If Fortunate Recipe for a Perfect WifeRecipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
Published by Dutton Books on December 31, 2019
Pages: 336
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

two-stars

Short Summary: When Alice and her husband leave New York City to live in the suburbs, she immerses herself in piecing together the life of the woman who lived there before from an old cookbook that was left behind.

Thoughts: The story is told from the viewpoint of Alice in the present day and Nellie, a housewife from the 1950s, but the similarities the author attempted to draw between the two characters were fairly baseless.

Verdict: This story ended up being shockingly dark and while I love a good ambiguous ending, this one leaves you with far more questions and fewer answers.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless Sea

Posted December 26, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short / 8 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaThe Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren
Narrator: Allan Corduner, Bahni Turpin, Dion Graham, Dominic Hoffman, Fiona Hardingham, Jorjeana Marie
Published by Gallery Books on March 24, 2020
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon

dnf

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.
James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.
Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…
From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.
From the New York Times bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author) The Unhoneymooners comes a delightfully charming love story about what happens when two assistants tasked with keeping a rocky relationship from explosion start to feel sparks of their own.

DNF @ 23%

I’ve read a ton of Christina Lauren books and my ratings have gone steadily down with each new release, however, this is my first official DNF. I just couldn’t do it. This one rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning with how similar the plot was to Chip and Joanna Gaines and their home improvement show, Fixer Upper. In The Honey-Don’t List, they’re Rusty and Melissa, with their home improvement show and their perfect life… except it’s all a lie. I don’t know, for me, it felt like they were just taking something good and wholesome and ruining it. But I kept reading. Until I got to this quote which is referencing Rusty’s extra-marital affairs:

“I know her well enough to get that she doesn’t like my intrusion, but we’re all in this awkwardness together, and there’s no one to blame but Rusty. And to be fair, probably Melly, too.”

Oh, I’m sorry, what was that? We’re blaming Melissa for being the reason Rusty cheated on her?

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaFollow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford
Published by Scribner on January 21, 2020
Pages: 208
Genres: Magical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


dnf

A haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly young woman, her father, and her lover that culminates in a shocking moment of betrayal—one that upends our understanding of power, predation, and agency.
Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.
Follow Me to Ground is fascinating and frightening, urgent and propulsive. In Ada, award-winning author Sue Rainsford has created an utterly bewitching heroine, one who challenges conventional ideas of womanhood and the secrets of the body. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairytale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.

DNF @ 29%

This is one of those books that’s going to be amazing for a certain kind of reader. I am not that certain kind of reader. This was magical realism with a dash of weirdness but the more you keep reading you realize that the lid must’ve come off and the whole bottle of weirdness ended up in there. The utter strangeness of this reminded me a lot of The Library at Mount Char, so if you were a fan of that, definitely pick this one up. (That one also didn’t work for me. lol) Here’s a quick summary of the weirdness: this girl and her father were both “born from the dirt” or something, her father transforms into a beast at night and eats the local wildlife, they take out the yucky stuff from people that causes them pain/sickness, etc. The writing is lyrical and the only reason I got to 29% but the story is extremely weird. Take this scene for instance:

“First time I tried to lie down with a boy, I didn’t know what I was doing. I lay down and he lay down over me and I held on tight. He went to put it in and there was nowhere for it to go and he got scared and bit me. […] By the time I took Samson inside, I’d grown myself an opening that I’d a dozen names for.”

Image result for the fuck just happened gif

Life’s Too Short | The Honey-Don’t List, Follow Me to Ground, The Starless SeaThe Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Allan Corduner, Fiona Hardingham, Jorjeana Marie
on November 5, 2019
Length: 18 hrs and 37 mins
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


dnf

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

DNF @ 30 minutes into the audio

I knew quickly that this one wasn’t going to work out for me. I know I didn’t really give it a chance, but I was completely lost and had no idea what was going on and there didn’t even seem to be a freaking plot. It was full of extremely beautiful writing that was always describing something in explicit detail and never actually amounting to much. Maybe this would be better in print but I’m not sure I’ll be giving it that opportunity. Truth is, I DNF’d The Night Circus in print AND in audio (I tried it in both ways just to make sure it wasn’t a format problem) and I’m just not sure Morgenstern is the author for me.

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Rapid Fire Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Posted October 4, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Rapid Fire Reviews / 12 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. Sometimes you’re just trying to clean up the backlog of reviews because you’ve been a terrible blogger lately. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire FlamesTwice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on October 22, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: When eighteen-year-old Tate fell in love with Sam, she couldn’t foresee that he’d not only break her heart but her trust. Fourteen years later everything has changed but when Tate sees Sam for the first time since that day, she realizes that her heart never truly recovered and never truly got over him.

Thoughts: This story felt completely mediocre until the last 20%. Then it felt like I was sledding down a hill on a piece of cardboard and that fucker was deteriorating before I had even hit the bottom.

Verdict: This was not the standard of book I’ve come to expect from this duo. Between the lackluster side characters, the laughable subplots, the super “I don’t even buy this crap” type of romance, and the ridiculous ending, I’m just going to pretend like this didn’t happen.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Image result for what the fuck was that gif

 

two-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del Rey Books on July 2, 2019
Pages: 800
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: After a comet passes over the Earth, seemingly random individuals in a sleepwalk state begin walking as a group in the same direction towards an unknown destination.

Thoughts: This one had a lot of layers between the sleepwalkers, their loved ones following their progress across the United States, the religious nutters, the multitude of characters, and then the explanation of everything, but in all honesty the comparisons to The Stand were erroneous.

Verdict: Wanderers starts out very strong but between the unnecessarily long page count and a few curveballs in the plot that I found wholly unnecessary, this one essentially lost me when it was all said and done.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Image result for disappointed gif

 

two-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #13
Published by DAW Books on September 3, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Short Summary: The Unkindest Tide, the thirteenth installment, when the Sea Witch decides it’s time for the Selkies to finally fulfill their promise and Toby must be there to help her bring the Roane back.

Thoughts: This installment was the most tedious since this series began and I’m not sure if it was my expectations of awesomeness, the plot, the marshmallow ending, or Toby’s proclamations like “Someone call for a hero? I asked, and punched her in the face, but reading this was like slogging through quicksand.

Verdict: This installment felt like a whole lot of filler and did little to nothing to progress the actual storyline. Or maybe not, maybe the small moves in this series will amount to something far greater later, but as it stands, I was simply expecting more from this.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

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three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – Twice in a Blue Moon, Wanderers, The Unkindest Tide, Sapphire Flames

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Published by Avon on August 27, 2019
Pages: 393
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Catalina Baylor, the new Head of House Baylor, begins investigating a double murder that just so happens to involve her teenage crush Alessandro Sagredo.

Thoughts: The original Hidden Legacy series was filled with snarky humor, off the charts chemistry, and fascinating worldbuilding. This spinoff series is lacking everything but the latter.

Verdict: I absolutely adore this magical world that IA has created and while I’m pleased that they decided to continue writing stories set in this world, Catalina and Alessandro just aren’t Nevada and Rogan. I’m still satisfied with the story itself so it’s not a complete loss.

In a nutshell, GIF style: 

Image result for no chemistry gif

 

three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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