Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Dear Dana by Amy Weinland Daughters

Dear Dana: That time I went crazy and wrote all 580 of my Facebook friends a handwritten letter by Amy Weinland Daughters
Expected Release Date: May 17, 2022

Recommended: sure
For people who like to see the good in others, for a real story about human connection, for a story that makes you feel inspired and motivated

Summary

When Amy Daughters reconnected with her old pal Dana on Facebook, she had no idea how it would change her life. Though the two women hadn’t had any contact in thirty years, it didn’t take them long to catch up—and when Amy learned that Dana’s son Parker was doing a second stint at St. Jude battling cancer, she was suddenly inspired to begin writing the pair weekly letters.

When Parker died, Amy—not knowing what else to do—continued to write Dana. Eventually, Dana wrote back, and the two became pen pals, sharing things through the mail that they had never shared before. The richness of the experience left Amy wondering something: If my life could be so changed by someone I considered “just a Facebook friend,” what would happen if I wrote all my Facebook friends a letter?

A whopping 580 handwritten letters later Amy’s life, and most of all her heart, would never, ever, be the same again. As it turned out, there were actual individuals living very real lives behind each social media profile, and she was beautifully connected to each of those extraordinary, flawed people for a specific reason. They loved her, and she loved them. And nothing—not politics, beliefs, or lifestyle—could separate them.

Thoughts

Yes, 580 two page front and back letters is a lot. And that was the goal. What was also a lot were the often emotional responses Amy received back from folks.

As you might imagine, there are snippets of letters from the 580 with the stories behind them when there is something especially notable about it, such as a person important to Amy, a difficult letter to write, or a response that provoked thought. I’d guess there are maybe 50ish letters included this way, which might not seem much, but it is a lot!

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Posted in Chatty

May TBR: MAYbe I’ll read these! 😁

Hey y’all! It’s about a week into the month, so of course my TBR is now becoming my ABR (already been read? no?) as I finish books early. Still, here’s the plan I came in to the month with… even though some of these are already checked off. 😂 I do have a habit of this after all…

Those ARCs I said I wouldn’t request

Look. I usually have very good self control with ARCs and am always sure to only request ones I genuinely think I’ll enjoy and can commit to reading and reviewing before the publish date if it’s not out yet. This time… well, I’ll still do all those things, but I was trying to clear out my shelf books that haven’t been read yet. 😂

Of these, I’ve, uh, actually already finished A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin (FABULOUS, pub Jul 12 2022) and A Hundred Silent Ways by Mari Jojie (also FABULOUS). Luckily for you, A Hundred Silent Ways is actually already published, so you can go get a copy yourself which you totally should. I’m in progress with The Olympus Trinity!

The books I said I’d finish

And this is my batch of books that I’ve been in the middle of reading — some for a bafflingly long time that I planned to finish and… didn’t.

Continue reading “May TBR: MAYbe I’ll read these! 😁”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Blame It on the Brontes by Annie Sereno (5/3/22)

Blame It on the Brontes by Annie Sereno
3.5 ♥
Expected Release: May 3, 2022

Recommended: sure
For a hometown-style second-chance romance, for some fun literary references throughout, for a light mystery to carry forward the romance

Summary

Go ahead. Read the names on the books. I’ll wait. 😊

English professor Athena Murphy is an authority on the novels of the Brontë sisters. But as they say in academia, publish or perish. To save her job, Athena decides to write a biography of C.L. Garland, the author heating up bestseller lists with spicy retellings of classic literature. Tracking down the reclusive writer and uncovering her secret identity, though, means Athena must return to her small midwestern hometown where Garland—and her ex-boyfriend, Thorne Kent—live.

Seeing Thorne again reminds Athena that real life never lives up to fiction. He was the Heathcliff to her Catherine, the Mr. Rochester to her Jane. Not only did their college breakup shatter that illusion, but they also broke each other’s hearts again a second time. Now she has to see him nearly every…single…day.

The only solution is to find C.L. Garland as quickly as possible, write the book, and get the heck out of town. As her deadline looms and the list of potential C.L. Garlands dwindles, Athena and Thorne bicker and banter their way back to friendship. Could it really be true that the third time’s a charm?

Athena and Thorne have a love story only a Brontë could write, and the chance for their own happily-ever-after, but first, they’ll need to forgive the mistakes of the past.

Thoughts

First of all, I haven’t actually read any works by a Bronte so maybe I was a weird target audience for this. xD Folks who have will probably get more out of the references and the constant Heathcliff references in the plot and from the characters themselves. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t familiar, though, because they were included naturally and added rather than alienated.

There are a few chapters from the Thorne’s perspective, just enough to give a little insight into his mind. I enjoyed those being sprinkled in, though I wasn’t always sure what decided when we would hear from him or not. The bulk of it is entirely Athena, though, and she is definitely the focused perspective and character.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: How to Be the Best Third Wheel by Loridee De Villa (5/3/22)

How to Be the Best Third Wheel by Loridee De Villa

Recommended: yup!!
For a trope-y book that ends up going way past the tropes, for a lighthearted yet fairly deep story, for a whirlwind set over 3 months but feels like so much more than that

Summary

After spending summer vacation in the Philippines with family, Lara returns to school eager to catch up with her close knit group of girlfriends. But within minutes of reuniting with her friends, she learns that not one, not two, but all three of them are now in relationships that blossomed over the summer. And to make matters worse, Lara’s long time frenemy, James, won’t stop bugging her in class and eventually forces her into tutoring him everyday after school.

Surviving high school was never easy to begin with, but with occupied friends, a hectic Filipino family, and her annoying childhood enemy pestering her more than ever, Lara tries to juggle everything, while trying to figure out her own place in the chaos.

Thoughts

What hit me most with this story was how much more there was to it than I expected. From the silly title and cutesy cover, I figured this would be a lightly angsty YA book about discovering oneself that would probably end in a romance. While that wasn’t totally incorrect, there was so much more to it. Amazingly, it never felt crammed or forced to me. It was more like a three-act play, where one arc of the story would resolve and a new one would begin.

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Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Scorpica by G.R. Macallister!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Scorpica by G.R. Macallister released today! Check out the full review here or grab your own copy!

Recommended:
For a world of many characters, for a book that’s more about the journey than the destination, for a lot of backstory and build up and a very sudden resolution

Summary

Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.

Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Scorpica by G.R. Macallister

Scorpica by G.R. Macallister
Verdict: 😴

Recommended: for other people
For a world of many characters, for a book that’s more about the journey than the destination, for a lot of backstory and build up and a very sudden resolution

Summary

Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.

Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.

Thoughts

Alright, here’s my biggest gripe: the ending was terrible. It was extraordinarily disappointing and underwhelming, and it annoyed me that I waited all this time to see it and it was spectacularly crap. Both endings, I’ll say, since there’s kind of two key plot points that get wrapped up. This is why I say this book is about the journey, and definitely not the destination. There’s no strong resolution here, and ultimately, you could probably read the second book in the series without reading this one and be well off.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: The End of Getting Lost by Robin Kirman

The End of Getting Lost by Robin Kirman
Expected Release Date: February 15, 2022

Recommended: sure
For a frantic sprint through Europe, for unexpected knowledge discovered, for a domestic thriller on the run, for a desperately mad and all-consuming kind of love

Summary

The year is 1996—a time before cell phones, status updates, and location tags—when you could still travel to a remote corner of the world and disappear, if you chose to do so. This is where we meet Gina Reinhold and Duncan Lowy, a young artistic couple madly in love, traveling around Europe on a romantic adventure. It’s a time both thrilling and dizzying for Gina, whose memories are hazy following a head injury—and the growing sense that the man at her side, her one companion on this strange continent, is keeping secrets from her.

Just what is Duncan hiding and how far will he go to keep their pasts at bay? As the pair hop borders across Europe, their former lives threatening to catch up with them while the truth grows more elusive, we witness how love can lead us astray, and what it means to lose oneself in love… The End of Getting Lost is “atmospheric, lyrical, and filled with layered insights into the complexities of marriage” (Susie Yang, New York Times bestselling author of White Ivy). “Kirman is wonderfully deft with suspense and plot” (Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks) in this “electric page-turner” (Courtney Maum, author of Costalegre and Touch), a novel that is both a tightrope act of deception as much as it is an elegant exploration of love and marriage, and our cherished illusions of both. With notes of Patricia Highsmith, Caroline Kepnes, and Lauren Groff, Robin Kirman has spun a delicious tale of deceit, redemption, and the fight to keep love alive—no matter the costs.

Thoughts

I started this one for the different countries and the traveling, and I stayed for the question of who knew what, exactly. I honestly couldn’t tell for the majority of this book what was going to be the end. I did have a suspicion, but I wasn’t confident in it, just thinking that it was the most reasonable and likely ending based on what I had to work with.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Verdict: come on, y’all, it’s RUTA SEPETYS. You know it’s good.
Expected Release Date: February 1, 2022

Recommended: yes, it’s Ruta
For Ruta’s trademark history that’s ignored by American schools (mine at least…), for a story of true events told in one possible existing story, for revolution and oppression and determination and risk, for a bite-history of Romania’s not-so-distant past of becoming their own country again

Summary

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.

Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.

Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

Thoughts

As are all of Ruta’s young adult historical novels, this is very thoroughly researched in many different ways, from conversations with people who lived during the time to artifacts from it to written works about it and so much more. It really shows in the details of the story how Ruta learned about Romanian’s lives. After finishing reading this, I really appreciated the notes at the back with details about references within the book. I was so curious about the woman who dubbed so many western films, and found a name to start my own research into her some more.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: No Ex Before Marriage by Portia MacIntosh (1/11/22!)

No Ex Before Marriage by Portia MacIntosh
Expected Release Date: January 11, 2022

Recommended: sure
For characters who might make you cackle in delight every now and then, for a plot that flirts with absurdity just enough to make you smile, for a slow wind into more serious territory where you’re there without realizing when it went from silly to somber

Summary

It’s not over until someone says ‘I do’…
While her friends join the “Wife Club” one by one, Poppy feels like that part of her life is done and dusted. Already married and divorced she’s not desperate to go through all that again.

But what if her divorce never actually went through…?

After a shock revelation Poppy not only discovers she is still married, but that Zac is about to have his second wedding!

Coming face to face with her (almost) ex-husband after six years apart is never going to be easy. And when Zac panics and tells his new wife-to-be that Poppy is family, things can’t get much worse as she is welcomed with open arms as part of the wedding party!

As the memories flood back, can Poppy really leave the past where it is? And can she watch the first love of her life walk down the aisle to say ‘I do’ once again?

Thoughts

I think the simplest way to sum this up is by saying that if you read the blurb and it makes you smile and think it sounds like something you might enjoy, you probably will. It definitely delivered, even though going into it I was like “how on earth will they explain that this guy introduced her as his cousin when that would be SO stupid of him??” And yet, in the moment, I was totally on board and thinking that the only way out of the situation was to pretend they were cousins. Yep.

This is a romance of course, and I’d say that the romance in it was a definite slow-burn and honestly a little bit secondary to the main issues of the relationships. Since Poppy and Zac have already had a relationship built and even been married, that initial falling in love stuff happened more or less off screen. We get some nostalgia and reminiscing, but no real flashbacks. So if you’re coming into this hoping for steamy or swoon-worthy moments, you’re probably not going to be satisfied. It’s more of an element to the character’s story rather than the singular focus.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson (1/18/22)

Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson
Expected Release Date: January 18, 2022

Recommended: yes!
For an MC who makes truly questionable decisions, for some honest struggles, for a look at the publishing world and whether or not it can make a reader jaded, honestly not much here for the romance

Prepare yourself for a L O N G review because I have so much to share about this book!!! 🥰

Summary

When Nora landed an editorial assistant position at Parsons Press, it was her first step towards The Dream Job. Because, honestly, is there anything dreamier than making books for a living? But after five years of lunch orders, finicky authors, and per my last emails, Nora has come to one grand conclusion: Dream Jobs do not exist.

With her life spiraling and the Parsons staff sinking, Nora gets hit with even worse news. Parsons is cutting her already unlivable salary. Unable to afford her rent and without even the novels she once loved as a comfort, Nora decides to moonlight for a rival publisher to make ends meet…and maybe poach some Parsons authors along the way.

But when Andrew Santos, a bestselling Parsons author no one can afford to lose is thrown into the mix, Nora has to decide where her loyalties lie. Her new Dream Job, ever-optimistic Andrew, or…herself and her future.

Thoughts

I love this book for the intense look at the happiness in career success (and in general) that the main character Nora has. Sure, it’s billed as a romance, but it’s really more like a self-discovery or identity read to me. Nora’s romance shows her how much she’s missing romance in other parts of her lives: career, hobbies, friends. Once one element of her life starts to glow, she realizes how dingy and dull the others are. That more than anything is her motivation to seek change.

If you’ve ever been in a job that made you hate your life, this book will be immensely relatable. So many of the thoughts Nora has sound like they’re pulled directly from my head circa four years ago. And if you currently hate your job, this book might be a breath of air that you can draw inspiration from (or at least live vicariously through).

Continue reading “ARC Review: Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson (1/18/22)”