Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck (9/20/22)

Take It from Me by Jamie Beck
Expected Release: September 20, 2022

Recommended: yep
For a book about a person writing a book, for some free therapy, for two characters who blend beautifully well, for a nuanced look at mental illness (Specifically one that’s usually played for laughs, dismissed, feared, etc)

Summary

Wendy Moore hides her collection of pilfered bric-a-brac from everyone, including her husband. He thinks she licked her kleptomania in therapy more than a decade ago. Therapy did help, as did focusing her attention on motherhood. But now Wendy’s gardening and furniture-refinishing hobbies fill up only so much of the day, leaving the recent empty nester lonely and anxious—a combination likely to trigger her little problem. She needs a project, fast. Luckily, Harper Ross—a single, childless younger woman in desperate need of highlights—just moved in next door.

The only thing Harper wants to change is the writer’s block toppling her confidence and career. Then a muse comes knocking. Sensing fodder for a new antagonist, Harper plays along with Wendy’s “helpful” advice while keeping her career a secret so Wendy keeps talking. Sure, she’s torn about profiting off her neighbor’s goodwill—especially when Wendy’s matchmaking actually pans out—but Harper’s novel is practically writing itself.

Just as a real friendship begins to cement, their deceptions come to light, threatening Wendy’s and Harper’s futures and forcing them to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. Easier said than done. 

Thoughts

If you read the blurb for this and worried that the character with kleptomania would be the all-too-common rep of a quirky mental illness that gets her into awkward shoplifting situations, etc: you are happily incorrect in that fear. I feel like it’s important to start with this, because the book itself even acknowledges how often that’s done in books, movies, and other media. The author in the book learns a lesson about it, and that allows readers to as well (if they need to). I really appreciated that it felt like a truly nuanced look at how it affects people who have it as well as those they love and are around them.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Happyish by Jeanette Escudero (9/20/22)

Happyish by Jeanette Escudero
Expected Release Date: September 20, 2022
Recommended: yep
For a story with “last day to live” vibes, for a lot of character reflection, for lovely settings and journeys that’ll make your feet itch to wander

Summary

It was supposed to be a good day.

On the one-year anniversary of her divorce, Alex Martinez is getting closure—and margaritas with her two best friends. But just before the celebratory meetup, Alex is clobbered by life once again. Damping the cheer is the diagnosis of a brain tumor she can’t pronounce, a procedure she’d rather postpone, and the prospect of what to say to an already heartbroken mother. Not that Alex plans to tell her anything anytime soon.

Going from blissful to blindsided in one afternoon, Alex has other plans: to be impulsive and embark on an adventure she’ll never forget. Expected destinations: the Grand Canyon, Puerto Rico, and zip-lining through Costa Rica. Unexpected companion: a hiker named David who’s found a woman after his own heart. But no matter how enriching the journey, how long can Alex keep running?

It’s time to accept past griefs, reconnect with her mother, and find her way back to happy. For Alex, whatever the future holds, maybe everything she really needs to face is right where she left it. 

Thoughts

Key point to jump straight to because there’s one big, obvious question when the blurb and point of the book is about a woman learning she has a brain tumor: the ending was unexpected, but in a good way. I felt like I learned a lot about myself through the way the ending was handled, and that was an interesting (and maybe humbling) experience in itself. I won’t say exactly what happens, just that it was done well and added to the rest of the story building up to that critical moment.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Happyish by Jeanette Escudero (9/20/22)”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa (8/9/22)

You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa
Expected Release Date: August 9, 2022

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BOY! This was WAYY better than I expected. Kudos. What a ton of fun this was to read!

Recommended: yep
For a flashback timeline mystery, for a tricky narrator, for a mystery where everyone has motive

Summary

When Amaya is invited to Kaavi’s over-the-top wedding in Sri Lanka, she is surprised and a little hurt to hear from her former best friend after so many years of radio silence. But when Amaya learns that the groom is her very own ex-boyfriend, she is consumed by a single thought: She must stop the wedding from happening, no matter the cost.

But as the weeklong wedding celebrations begin and rumors about Amaya’s past begin to swirl, she can’t help but feel like she also has a target on her back. When Kaavi goes missing and is presumed dead, all evidence points to Amaya.

However, nothing is as it seems as Jayatissa expertly unravels that each wedding guest has their own dark secret and agenda, and Amaya may not be the only one with a plan to keep the bride from getting her happily ever after…

Thoughts

The book is almost entirely set in Sri Lanka besides a few portions of current day and flashback that are set in the United States with Amaya. An important note right there: the story does have a good number of flashbacks. You could in fact argue that almost the whole thing is a flashback, as it starts with Amaya being detained and picks up at that point late in the book after establishing how everyone got there. It also intersperses narrated chapters with interview transcripts of people in the story, usually one seen in the previous narrated chapter. I loved this, as I find some variation in the type of text gives the story a lot more texture (texture 😁).

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Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Boys I Know by Anna Gracia!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Boys I Know by Anna Gracia release today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: yup
For women learning about themselves (especially romantically/sexually), for a story about a young woman figuring out what she wants and how to go after it

Summary

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June Chu is the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with a slew of third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet literally any of her Taiwanese mother’s unrelenting expectations or to get Rhys to commit to anything beyond a well-timed joke.

While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship to Northwestern (to study pre-med), June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.” But after her methodically-planned, tipsily-executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word “girlfriend.”

But as the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin (7/12/22)

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin
Expected Release Date: July 12, 2022


Recommended: YES!
For lots of laughter, for a delicious take on the regency husband-catching story, for a romance you can cheer for, for dramatic scenes full of tension (sexual and dangerous!)

Summary

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.

Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.

Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.

The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn…

Thoughts

Y’all, this book was so good that when I finished it, I wanted to turn back to page one and start it over again immediately. I very nearly did, but I felt like that might be too ridiculous. The first read gave me the pleasure of discovering everything that happened, and I feel like my ensuing second-and-beyond reads will give me the pleasure of anticipating my favorite moments all over again. 🥰

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo

We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo
Expected Release Date: June 7, 2022

Recommended: not really
For folks who like character identity exploration, for almost-meetings and vague magic saturating the real world. Not for a strong, clear plot or robust exploration of magic

Summary

In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.

Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life―work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists―not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differentials, even between people who love each other―and how it is possible to be queer and turn out just fine.

Thoughts

I really struggled to get sucked into this. It was a strange bunch of flip flopping. The first 50 pages had me hooked. By 150, it felt like nothing was happening and when I put the book down, picking it back up felt like a chore. By halfway, I was relatively invested and curious to see where it was heading. But by the end again, I wasn’t sure why any of what I read was important to the next part of the story.

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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.

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