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

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.

Continue reading “ARC Review: No Ex Before Marriage by Portia MacIntosh (1/11/22!)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

Recommended: yes, for now…
for a quick pace with lots of travel and violence, for a deep dive into the folklore and beliefs of death around the world, for a morally grey characters (and a really boring sidekick)

Summary

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death… only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.

Thoughts

This book was EXCELLENT, until I read the epilogue. I might be the only one who thinks so, because I am bored by paladins and righteousness, but I was cheering the whole way though and fully committed to the characters and series —

Continue reading “Review: The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: An Accidental Odyssey, 12/14/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is An Accidental Odyssey by K.C. Dyer!
Expected Release: December 14, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • As ALWAYS, a book that takes me places will be on my list. This one is an actual journey around the Mediterranean. While I don’t love boats or sailing, my first trip abroad was to Italy and Greece, so I’m really excited to see them again in this story. 🥰
  • This sounds like it will have a dual trope punch o unexpected love and a fresh start. Someone realizing they deserve better than what they have — whether in a relationship, a career, a dream, anything — and then taking the risk to try and go after that something better? Those make me feel so lovely. Bravery inspires me and helps me reflect on my own actions and happiness, and sometimes helps spur me to make changes of my own.
  • How much of this will parody Homer’s Odyssey? I don’t know, and I’m not even sure I’d recognize the moments if they happen. But I still hope they happen, just in case I do recognize them. I love having old or classic stories imagined in a new context, or as a callback to a current story.

Summary

Gianna Kostas is on the cusp of a fairy-tale life. Sure, she’s just lost her job, but she’s about to marry one of New York’s most eligible bachelors. On her way to taste wedding cakes, though, things go sideways. Shocking news sends Gia off on a wild journey halfway around the world in pursuit of her ailing–and nearly estranged–father.

In Athens, she learns Dr. Kostas, a classics professor, is determined to retrace Odysseus’s famous voyage. This is a journey her father is in no condition to take alone, so Gia faces a tough decision. When an unexpected job offer helps seal the deal and quash the guilt Gia feels from her disapproving groom-to-be, the journey is on. But as Gia adventures–and eats–her way around the Mediterranean, she discovers that confronting epic storms and ripped surfer dudes might be the easy part.

Along the way, as she uncovers family secrets, finds heartbreak, and learns more about a certain archaeologist with a mysterious past of his own, Gia discovers that fairy-tale endings might be messy and complicated, but they can happen anywhere.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Bad Luck Bridesmaid by Alison Rose Greenberg (1/11)

Bad Luck Bridesmaid by Alison Rose Greenberg
Expected Release Date: January 11, 2022

Recommended: YES
For people who aren’t sure love necessitates marriage, for folks who are working on figuring out what’s important to them (and how to be honest about it), for a romance that handles some issues much bigger than just trying to get with the love interest

Summary

It’s official: Zoey Marks is the cursed bridesmaid that no engagement can survive. Ten years, three empire waist dresses, and ZERO brides have walked down the aisle.

After strike three, Zoey is left wondering if her own ambivalence towards marriage has rubbed off on those she loves. And when her building distrust of matrimony culminates in turning down a proposal from her perfect All-American boyfriend, Rylan Harper III, she and Rylan are both left heartbroken, leaving Zoey to wonder: what is it exactly about tying the knot that makes her want to run in the opposite direction?

Enter Hannah Green: Zoey’s best friend, who announces that she’s marrying a guy she just met (cue eye roll). At a castle. In gorgeous, romantic Ireland, where Rylan will be in attendance, and Zoey will be a bridesmaid. It’ll be fine.

Okay, the woman definition of fine (NOT FINE).

Determined to turn her luck around, Zoey accepts her role and vows to get Hannah down the aisle—all the while praying her best friend’s wedded bliss will allow her to embrace marriage and get Rylan back.

But as the weekend goes on, Zoey is plagued with more questions than answers. Can you be a free spirit, yet still want a certain future? Can you have love and be loved on your terms? And how DO you wrangle a bossy falcon into doing your bidding?

Thoughts:

ALRIGHT. I thought this would be a standard fair romcom. The premise of the bridesmaid whose brides never get married, which then makes her nervous about being in her best friend’s wedding, sounds lighthearted and quirky and overall pretty gentle right? WELL THAT’S NOT THIS BOOK.

Here’s how it differs. First, there’s a whole third of the book dedicated to the main character’s own relationship and life, all the things that shape her and her ideas of love, relationships, and marriage. Next, the lighthearted premise of the Bad Luck Bridesmaid has many more layers and impact than simply being a woman who’s nervous in a silly way. Next, there are truly heavy questions included, like: IS love enough? do spouses need to know everything about each other before they get married? SHOULD they? is it okay to keep some things a secret? how do you truly commit yourself to FOREVER?

Continue reading “ARC Review: Bad Luck Bridesmaid by Alison Rose Greenberg (1/11)”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Seoulmates, 12/7/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Seoulmates by Jen Frederick!
Expected Release: December 7, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Admittedly, this is kind of a weird pick for me: this is the second book in a series that I haven’t started yet. 😂 That’s just how confident I am that I’m going to enjoy the whole story. So that’s a big part of my reason for this one: once I read (and probably enjoy) the first book, I won’t have to wait long before diving back in with the second book!
  • Soul searching and identity tend to melt my heart because I’m a sucker for self-discovery. I like seeing people find their happiness!
  • And obviously, add in travel, and particularly Korea. Seoul is an incredible city, and it’s ALSO great for puns. It’s so fun for me to read books set in places I’ve traveled to because I can picture the people, the places, and just the overall experience so clearly.

Summary

When Hara Wilson lands in Seoul to find her birth mother, she doesn’t plan on falling in love with the first man she lays eyes on, but Choi Yujun is irresistible. If his broad shoulders and dimples weren’t
enough, Choi Yujun is the most genuine, decent, gorgeous guy to exist. Too bad he’s also her stepbrother.

Fate brought her to the Choi doorstep but the gift of family comes with burdens. A job in her mother’s company has perks of endless company dinners and super resentful coworkers. A new country means
learning a new language which twenty-five year old Hara is finding to be a Herculean task. A forbidden love means having to choose between her birth family or Choi Yujun.

All Hara wanted was to find a place to belong in this world—but in order to have it all, she’ll have to risk it all.

Posted in Book Talk

Where can I read We Are All Birds of Uganda?

Hey y’all!

I’ve run into a surprising issue recently. There’s a book I had wanted to read so much I even featured in in a Fast Forward Friday post a while back: We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan. Now that I’m finally getting around to it, I figured I’d track down a library copy to borrow or put on hold!

Oddly, neither library I’m a member of has a digital or physical copy. It’s not that they don’t have it available, they just straight up don’t have it! Both are ample state libraries, so I’m really surprised that there are no copies, since I thought this was a fairly popular and well-received title.

I even tried finding a way to request it via inter-library loan, but it weirdly looks like my main library doesn’t have it as an option! I had to email them and am waiting to hear back on if the librarians have any ideas. In the meantime, I checked Barnes & Noble to see what they had it listed for.

oh…. okay…

Apparently B&N doesn’t have it either, which is stunning because they even have Let’s Play volumes. I originally checked Bookshop.org but they ALSO DON’T HAVE IT! Why is this book so hard to find?? I did eventually find a copy on Book Depository but now I’m waiting to hear back from the librarians… I hope this book is fabulous by the time I get it. 🤣

Posted in Reviews

Review: Fire Within by Ella M Lee

Fire Within by Ella M. Lee
Verdict: OH MY GOD WHAT A FIND!!!! 😍

Recommended: yes!
For people with time because you won’t want to stop reading, for a fascinating and creative world of magic, for a blend of modern with magic, for a new-life kind of story, for action and emotional conflict

Summary

Fiona Ember’s life has been shattered to pieces. After an assassination attempt gone awry, her friends are dead, she’s lost her magic, and she’s now imprisoned by the magician she just tried to kill. To make matters worse, she learns he’s the infamous Auspex, who possesses the gifts of precognition and mind-reading, and who’s known for his deadly and unyielding reputation.

Resigned to torture and execution, Fiona is surprised when the Auspex offers her a chance to live—but first, she will need to demonstrate the value he’s seen in her future. Fiona must discover what he wants from her quickly, before his patience runs out.

Thousands of miles from home and alone in enemy territory, what are Fiona’s hopes of impressing the Auspex and reclaiming her life and magic? And what happens when she starts being drawn unwittingly into his dangerous and mysterious plans?

Thoughts

This book STARTS after an assassination attempt, which is what most stories would dramatically culminate with. So be assured that what follows is indeed even more epic than that, and continues through the series.

I was so hopeful that I would enjoy this, and I did even more than I expected. It was the kind of book where I squeezed in a few more pages as I was brushing my teeth, or falling asleep in bed, or right before I had to start work for the day. Any free moment, I was reading it, and any non-free moment, I was thinking about it. Read this in a day or two (would’ve been one session if it were the weekend!).

Continue reading “Review: Fire Within by Ella M Lee”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Replenishing the Sea of Galilee by Wagih Abu-Rish

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee: A Family Saga across Ethnicity, Place, and Religion: A Novel by Wagih Abu-Rish
Release Date: August 17, 2021

Recommended: yup!!
For folks interested in historical Palestine, for a novel about embracing female sexuality and equality, for sparse language that says a lot

Summary

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee: A Family Saga across Ethnicity, Place, and Religion: A Novel

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee is a sweeping story of love, loss and the power of loyalty in the face of conflicting ideologies and religious beliefs. The story begins in 1940s Palestine where twins Rasheed and Rasheeda Dinar work in their family inns. Educated by a Jesuit priest about the essence of his own Muslim religion, relative to love and sex, Rasheed follows closely the teachings of his mentor and includes Rasheeda, so that she learns those teachings as well.

When Rasheed falls in love with Natalia, a Jewish woman, he is able to apply what he learned from the priest to his budding relationship. However, it is the 1940s, and relations between Arabs and Jews are tense. Before long, those tensions come to a breaking point. Natalia mysteriously disappears, and Rasheed and Rasheeda are chased out of Palestine to Beirut, Lebanon.

Years pass, and though Rasheed continues to miss his beloved Natalia, he gets word of a surprising visitor—someone he didn’t even know existed. Rasheed’s life is upended, but in the most wonderful way.

As the Dinar family expands and enters the 1970s, their convictions are tested. In a dramatic final scene, the family reunites and proves once again that the thin line separating people because of their differences is powerless against the strength of family, love, and loyalty.

Thoughts:

Attracted by the historical aspect that I don’t know much about, and made all the more relevant by the forever present conflict between Palestine and Israel, I grabbed this book right up. I worried that it might be a little too literary and highbrow for me, but that was not the case. It’s a thoughtful story that spans a long period of time. I got to know the characters so so well, and I cared so much about all of them.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Replenishing the Sea of Galilee by Wagih Abu-Rish”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Where the Rhythm Takes You, 5/11/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass!
Expected Release: May 11, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • TOBAGO! That is a place I have never been in real life or in a book, and that is guaranteed to attract me to a story. While this story will primarily take place at a resort, I’m hoping I can learn some about the country and people.
  • A resort, a crazy successful DJ, and first-lost love. Also inspired by Jane Austen’s persuasion apparently? I haven’t read Persuasion, but Where The Rhythm Takes You sounds like it will blend grief and love and growing up and taking risks and moving on and all kinds of strong and difficult themes of LIFE together. The plot basically sounds really strong and like if it’s done well, it will be utterly captivating.
  • And, oooooooh I feel like this might also have some really delicious tropes to enjoy in the romance-y part of it! It’s a fancy resort? On a tropical island? And they have HISTORY TOGETHER? Yup, if there’s not some kind of accidental-falling-on-each-other moment, or getting caught in the rain, or the double take when they realize how close they’re standing, I’ll be surprised. The rest can be deliciously original. I just want a few! ^.^

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden – her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything – left the island to pursue his music dreams. Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.

And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life – as a VIP guest at the resort.

Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal – the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…

PS: here’s a map for anyone who has no idea where Tobago is. Learn something new every day! 😀

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: The Fox and Little Tanuki Vol. 3!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that The Fox & Little Tanuki, Volume 3 by Mi Tagawa published today! Check out the full review here or grab your own copy. 🙂

Recommended: always
If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, if you’re looking for a lovely lighthearted story, if you’re interested in Japanese bakemono-animals, if you like to have a little laugh 🙂
Expected Release: March 23, 2021

Summary

Legends say that Senzou the Black Fox is one of the most vicious and powerful supernatural beasts to ever roam the land. At least, he used to be. Now, 300 years after he was imprisoned by the Sun Goddess for his bad behavior, Senzou is back — in the form of a small black fox with no powers! Tasked with protecting a young tanuki called Manpachi as he fulfills various tasks for the gods, Senzou must earn his powers back by learning how to be a good guardian to the energetic little pup. Though Senzou is a grumpy and reluctant companion at first, even a hard-hearted fox can be tamed by cuteness… and the little tanuki quickly learns there are some family ties that aren’t decided by blood.

In the third volume, Senzou, Manpachi, and the wolf clan are among humans and investigating a string of missing bakemono. The wolf Hagiri takes this chance to find a small cat spirit he has a bond with, but he can’t ask his clan for help looking for a cat! Hagiri and Senzou make an unlikely duo, but they collide in the search as they discover everything may be more connected than they realized.