Genre: Romance

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
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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
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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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Can’t Wait Wednesday | Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens

Posted May 19, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 3 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie CousensJust Haven't Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on November 9, 2021
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
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Also by this author: This Time Next Year

From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Next Year comes a heartwarming and hilarious tale that asks: What if you pick up the wrong suitcase in an airport, only to fall head over heels for its unseen owner?

Laura's business trip to the Channel Islands isn't exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she's ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she's grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura's dream man--she's sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.

The mix-up seems written in the stars. After all, what are the odds that she'd find The One on the same remote island where her mom and dad had first fallen in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their epic romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents' footsteps. And if beneath Ted's gruffness lies a wit that makes their cab rides strangely entertaining, so much the better. But as Laura's long-lost luggage soulmate proves difficult to find--and as she realizes that the love story she's held on a pedestal all her life might not have been that perfect--she'll have to rethink her whole outlook on love to discover what she really wants.

About Sophie Cousens

Sophie Cousens writes romantic comedies. Before becoming a full time writer, she worked as a TV producer in London for more than twelve years, working on shows such as The Graham Norton Show, Russell Howard's Good News and Big Brother.

She now lives on the island of Jersey in the UK, and balances her writing career with taking care of two small children. Sophie yearns for a time when she can add a miniature dachshund to her brood, and wishes for the ability to read books faster than she keeps buying them.

I thoroughly enjoyed Cousens’ This Time Next Year and this one sounds all sorts of cute.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Ex Hex: A Novel (Ex Hex #1) by Erin Sterling

Posted May 5, 2021 by Bonnie in Uncategorized, Waiting on Wednesday / 2 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | The Ex Hex: A Novel (Ex Hex #1) by Erin SterlingThe Ex Hex: A Novel by Erin Sterling, Rachel Hawkins
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on October 5, 2021
Pages: 320
Genres: Romance, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
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Also by this author: Hex Hall, Demonglass, Spell Bound

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

About Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins is the author of Rebel Belle and theNew York Times bestselling series Hex Hall. Born in Virginia and raised in Alabama, Rachel taught high school English for three years before becoming a full-time writer.

Eeeee! New *secret* Rachel Hawkins!!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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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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Can’t Wait Wednesday | Bright Midnight by Karina Halle

Posted April 28, 2021 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 2 Comments

Can’t Wait Wednesday | Bright Midnight by Karina HalleBright Midnight: A Second-Chance Romance by Karina Halle
on May 6, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: eBook
Amazon
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Also by this author: Come Alive, Shooting Scars, Bold Tricks

After years of bartending her way across Europe, Shay Lavji has seen almost everything Europe has to offer, but there’s one country she hasn’t crossed off her bucket list yet: Norway. It’s not that she doesn’t want to visit the land of the midnight sun—far from it; she’s obsessed with the culture and is dying to see the majestic fjords for herself.

What she’s not dying to do is run into her Norwegian ex-boyfriend, Anders Johansson, who broke her heart in America eight years ago before returning to his ancestral home. The last time she saw Anders, he was a cocky, rebellious, and tortured teenager who couldn’t stop himself from pushing all of her buttons—both good and bad. But Shay isn’t going to let Anders stand in the way of her wanderlust, and besides, it’s a big country, right?

She doesn’t count on Anders seeking her out the moment he learns she’s on his home turf. When Shay sees him again, she’s shocked at his transformation into a bearded, tattooed farmer and fisherman who values family over everything else. Is it possible that time has tamed this former bad boy? Shay wants to believe that everything can be new and bright again under the summer sun, but she knows, when it comes to Anders, the darkness is never too far behind.

About Karina Halle

Karina Halle is a screenwriter, a former music & travel journalist, and the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of The Pact, A Nordic King, and Sins & Needles, as well as sixty other wild and romantic reads.

She, her musician husband, and their adopted pit bull, Bruce, live in a rainforest on an island off the coast of British Columbia, where they operate Raven Ridge, a B&B that’s perfect for writers’ retreats and romantic getaways.

In the winter, you can often find them in California or on their beloved island of Kauai, soaking up as much sun (and getting as much inspiration) as possible. For more information, visit www.authorkarinahalle.com/books.

Halle is represented by Root Literary and is both self-published, and published by Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin, and Montlake. Her books have been published in numerous languages around the world.

Awww… I remember hearing about this when I first became a Karina fan YEARS ago. It’s so awesome to finally see it being released in the wild!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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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
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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
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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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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
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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
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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.”

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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:

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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:

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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: 

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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.

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Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become Lovers

Posted May 7, 2019 by Bonnie in 2019, Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review / 4 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.

Book Review | In ‘The Unhoneymooners’, Enemies Become LoversThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 14, 2019
Pages: 432
Genres: 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, Twice in a Blue Moon, The Honey-Don't List

three-stars

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

Olive’s twin sister Ami just got married to a dudebro named Nate yet before the party was even over, everyone had become violently ill from the free seafood buffet Ami had won in a contest. Everyone except Olive (due to a fortunate shellfish allergy) and her new brother-in-law Ethan (because of a general aversion to buffet style eating). Being too sick to go on their free honeymoon (also won in a contest) Ami convinces Olive to go for her and Nate convinces Ethan to go for him. Ten days in Maui would be a complete dream, however, Olive and Ethan hate each other so it’s not expected to feel like paradise. Their plan to stay as far away from each other as possible goes awry when Olive runs into her new boss and quickly buries herself in the lie that she’s actually there for her honeymoon. Then Ethan runs into his ex who is there with her new fiancé and suddenly he’s telling her that he and Olive are there on their honeymoon too. Suddenly they find themselves spending far more time than planned together, only to keep up appearances, of course. It’s not like they’re enjoying each others company or anything.

Do you know how you showed someone in fifth grade that you had a crush on them? By being the rudest prick on the playground? Well, Olive and Ethan act like they never graduated to sixth grade. Their rudeness slowly begins to morph into playful banter and they finally started to leave their fifth-grade antics behind. The characters themselves weren’t the easiest to like (which made it hard to root for them) what with Olive’s continued insistence that she possesses the worst luck on Earth, convinced that everything she touches is going to end up going wrong somehow. She can’t even manage to enjoy her day at the spa while she’s being pampered in Maui.

‘This type of blissful, transcendent spa experience isn’t for me. I’m the one who gets a fungal infection from a pedicure in the Cities and a bikini wax burn at a spa in Duluth.’

It became tiresome, quickly. Ethan wasn’t much better with his strange attitude he has towards Olive that wasn’t explained away till the latter half of the story and not in the most explainable way either. The biggest flaw in this romance, and what makes this my least favorite Christina Lauren to date, is the overwhelming amount of drama. There are multiple sub-plots that are clearly meant to cause that “necessary” tension in a romance, but it felt like they had gone overboard with the unnecessary angst. Admittedly though, the authors turned my doubts around with some stellar character development that made these intolerable people actually likable. They manage to create such enviously romantic pairs (yet still never straying into far-fetched territory) that you can’t help but hope to find a love that makes you feel just as good.

“What are we doing tonight?” he asks […]
“Do we really want to push it?” I ask. “We’ve been together for…” I pick up his arm and glance at his watch. “Like eighty years straight. There are bruises, but no bloodshed yet. I say we quit while we’re ahead.”
“What does that entail?”
“I get the bedroom and Netflix, you wander the island to check on your hidden horcruxes.”

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