Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Never Ever Getting Back Together

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales


Recommended: sure
for a cute reality-show-esque love story, for vengeance satisfactory, for characters who make bad choices often but you can love them anyway

WARNING: you probably will have the T. Swift song stuck in your head every time you pick up this book. Recommend reading in one sitting to minimize earworms. 😅

Summary

It’s been two years since Maya’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.

Thoughts

People say it’s not about the journey, but the destination. In the case of this book, the destination is also incredibly satisfying. What I’m saying is I really liked the ending. This story is based on vengeance, and vengeance comes up constantly as it’s the main focus for one of the MCs (at least one!). That comes with all the drama required of sacrifices made to pursue vengeance and questioning what truly matters in life. In this case, I enjoyed the way each character came to their final decisions, and the “results” of it all in terms of the show.

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Review: June, Reimagined by Rebekah Crane

June, Reimagined by Rebekah Crane

Recommended: noooo
Hateable characters, rampant sexism, lust-not-love, conflict would be 100% solved by talking to each other at any point, and a dead brother is used as a convenient but insignificant plot point. Lots of possessive male bullshit in this one. Lots of the female MC thinking “I’m just being oversensitive, too emotional” and that never being resolved into her saying “hey fuck those guys, I’m entitled to my feelings and also they’re being total assholes and trying to control me and my body!”

Summary

June Merriweather is on the run—from her own life. Her brother is dead, her parents are liars, and her college major is a joke. Apart from her best friend, Matt, June is desperate for reinvention. And a one-way ticket out of Cincinnati to the Scottish Highlands is a good place to start.

With a backpack, an urn, and a secret, June begins again. She snags a job at a café and finds lodging at a quaint inn with a quirky cast of housemates. The only problem: the inn’s infuriatingly perceptive (and sexy) owner, Lennox. He’s suspicious of June. After all, no one comes to Scotland in the winter unless they’re running from something. From rocky start to sizzling temptation, June’s new world is exhilarating…and one detour away from disaster.

With her past and her future both vying for attention, June can’t begin to picture where her reimagined life is headed next. And falling in love with the last person she expected is only the beginning.

Thoughts

Here are all the reasons I would have DNFd this book at 20% if it hadn’t been a review copy. Note: lots of swearing follows.

1. I hated all the characters, except Hamish. June is 20 or 21 and this is billed as an adult novel, but BOY does she act like a child. She’s petty and stubborn and reactive and judgmental. I really really did not like her from early on, and honestly I didn’t care for her by the end, either. Lennox doesn’t really have a personality, either. The side character who is a writer conveniently spells out all the events of the book in a sort of meta way, and I found that really dull. The best friend, Matt? He was SO annoying! He seems like a total prat, and at the big climax all I could feel was a mild spite because he was such a douche in my eyes. What a possessive, entitled asshole. And Angus. Angus will get an entire bullet point of his own later on here. 😐

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Review: The Quarter Mage by Angelina J Steffort

The Quarter Mage by Angelina J. Steffort


Recommended: Yes!
For a magical adventure, for a familiar story structure, for some interesting magical creations and rules, for VENGEANCE, and for family

Summary

Perfect for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

WHEN DESTINY FAILS YOU, WHO WILL YOU BECOME?

A forgotten princess. A cruel realm. A Mage who might be her salvation.

Sanja is a princess on the run. And when she flees her father’s court to escape an arranged marriage to a tyrant, the one thing she doesn’t expect, is to be killed for her throne.

But magic that shouldn’t exist in her kingdom saves her, and Sanja is thrust into the daunting fairylands where, as a human, she’s prey…

Fighting to survive, Sanja signs herself into the service of the most powerful Mages in the fairylands, determined to master the magic to save her kingdom—and finds herself stuck with a brooding Mage with a knack for keeping secrets.

As Sanja’s feelings for Tristan turn from dread to attraction, she learns that she isn’t the only thing the fairies are after. And Sanja must risk her life and her heart, or she will lose both him and her kingdom forever.


Dive into Angelina J. Steffort’s latest heart-wrenching upper YA fantasy romance and find out what makes the world of The Quarter Mage so special.

Thoughts

Y’all, we’ve been sleeping on this book. Let me start this review by saying I’m already anticipating the second book which is out early 2023 (but not early enough for me with the ending of this!). It was a good find from BookBub and I’m so pleased with it!


Okay, praise sung, now to acknowledge that as much as I enjoyed this book, it really didn’t blow me away or anything with it’s originality or style. There are a lot of scenes and plot structure points that felt very reminiscent of other books (especially Sarah J Maas’ titles). Part of that is because it’s fairly common fae-and-magic plot lines in general for the genre, and part of it did feel a little more directly inspired by specific books. The thing is, I didn’t really care. Even though I wasn’t stunned at the direction of the plot, I was fully hooked in for the ride and cheering the characters on.

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ARC Review: Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine (11/8/22)

Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine
Expected Release Date: November 8, 2022

Recommended: yup!
For a feel-good story set during the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a look at what it was like for folks in Wuhan where it originated, for absolutely delicious food (complete with recipes!!)

Summary

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home. 

Thoughts

I’ve been reading book about Covid-19 since Covid-19 was still locking everyone at home. For me, it’s cathartic in a way to read about so many other people’s experiences of this one global experience. It’s a connection to basically everyone in the world, which I find quite incredible, though of course it’s not the connection I’d have asked for. Point being, while the topic can be difficult because of the recent and ongoing pain around it, I do still love reading about it, and this book is a prime example of why.

Mei is my tiny hero. I aspire to be more like Mei. Though this is a book about Covid-19 and it’s onset, it’s also a book about perseverance and generosity and just being a really decent person. Mei not only steps up to help those around her, but she encourages others to do so as well. Standing up to anyone can be tough, but especially tough when you’re a young teenage girl and you’re standing up to a scared mob of large adult men. What a powerful moment that was, among so many others.

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Review: The Office BFFs by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey

The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer

Recommended: yes
for people who like the show The Office (the American version, anyway), for fans of the authors in general, for some insight into the details of the show but also of the people in the show (including those we don’t directly see but who affected it so much!) and a little bit of showbiz side

Summary

Receptionist Pam Beesly and accountant Angela Martin had very little in common when they toiled together at Scranton’s Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. But, in reality, the two bonded in their very first days on set and, over the nine seasons of the series’ run, built a friendship that transcended the show and continues to this day. Sharing everything from what it was like in the early days as the show struggled to gain traction, to walking their first red carpet—plus exclusive stories on the making of milestone episodes and how their lives changed when they became moms—The Office BFFs is full of the same warm and friendly tone Jenna and Angela have brought to their Office Ladies podcast.

Thoughts

I think the obvious point to make about this book is the one I’ll just get out of the way first: yes, it’s got lots of fun and near-deadly anecdotes and insight into the show, the characters, and the people. I like The Office, and I enjoyed this book (plus it made start a new rewatch). For people who LIVE AND LOVE THE OFFICE — yeah, you’ll like this one. But even if you’re a casual viewer, you’ll enjoy it! If you’ve never seen The Office, this book is probably confusing and definitely full of spoilers, but you can still read it if you want! Why not?

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Review: Dune, The Graphic Novel Book 1 by Brian Herbert

Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 by Brian Herbert

Recommended: yes!
for a lot of help understanding the story through visuals, for condensing some of the weird longwinded parts in the prose novel, for a simple color palette that conveys so much of the world and characters

Summary

Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic science-fiction masterpiece set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar society, tells the story of Paul Atreides as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism, and politics, Dune is a powerful, fanstastical tale that takes an unprecedented look into our universe, and is transformed by the graphic novel format. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s adaptation retains the integrity of the original novel, and Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s magnificent illustrations, along with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, bring the book to life for a new generation of readers.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for….

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Thoughts

Boy am I impressed with this one! I have a weird relationship with Dune at this point, because I started reading the novel, stalled on it about halfway through before finally allowing myself to give up and admit it wasn’t for me, then I saw the movie, and now I’ve read the graphic novel. So through it all I’ve had a lot of confusion, understanding, disappointment, appreciation, intrigue, and more. I’ve loved it and hated it at various points.

This graphic novel has me firmly on the “loving it” side! Yay!!

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ARC Review: Jokes to Offend Men by Allison Kelley, Danielle Kraese, Kate Herzlin, & Ysabel Yates

Jokes to Offend Men by Allison Kelley
Expected Publication: October 25, 2022

Summary

A man walks into a bar. It’s a low one, so he gets a promotion within his first six months on the job.
 
Four comedy writers transform classic joke setups into sharp commentary about the everyday and structural sexism that pervades all facets of life. Jokes to Offend Men arms readers with humorous quips to shut down workplace underminers, condescending uncles, and dismissive doctors, or to share with their exhausted friends at the end of a long day. A cutting, cathartic spin on the old-fashioned joke book, Jokes to Offend Men is a refreshing reclamation of a tired form for anyone who’s ever been told to “lighten up, it’s just a joke!”

Thoughts

The title is a bit tongue in cheek, but the jokes themselves pull no punches. This collection is sometimes funny jokes, but often read more to me like social commentary on the form of anti-joke format (where it’s set up like a joke, but is actually just a fact or point instead of a traditional punchline). So yes, I had some smiles and a few laughs, but overall it was less funny and more grim. The mood is very much like when you laugh at terrible things because the alternative is to give up.

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DNF Review: Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore

Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore
DNF @ 65%

Recommended: not really, but maybe for you
For folks who love a story that suits audiobook format really well, for folks who love investigative reporting, for folks who enjoy lots of short-form formats mixed together (this is an easy book to read in small chunks because of the natural breaks)

Summary

Nearly a decade ago, iconic magician Violet Volk performed her greatest trick yet: vanishing mid-act. Though she hasn’t been seen since, her hold on the public imagination is stronger than ever. While Violet sought out the spotlight, her sister Sasha always had to be the responsible one, taking over their mother’s hair salon and building a quiet life for her beloved daughter, Quinn. But Sasha can never seem to escape her sister’s orbit or her memories of their unresolved, tumultuous relationship. Then there’s Cameron Frank, tapped to host a podcast devoted to all things Violet, who is determined to finally get his big break–even if he promised to land an exclusive interview with Sasha, the one person who definitely doesn’t want to talk to him.

As the ten-year anniversary approaches, the podcast picks up steam, and Cameron’s pursuit of Sasha becomes increasingly intrusive. He isn’t the only one wondering what secrets she might be keeping: Quinn, loyal to the aunt she always idolized, is doing her own investigating. Meanwhile, Sasha begins to experience an unsettling series of sleepwalking episodes and coincidences, which all seem to lead back to Violet. Pushed to her emotional limits, Sasha must finally confront the most painful truths about her sister, and herself, even at the risk of losing everything.

Thoughts

After not coming back to this for about a week, and forcing myself to pick it up for about 20% prior to that, I am finally calling it on this book for me.

I think this might be a better experience as an audiobook, particularly as I’ve read a few audiobook reviews that said the production value was great with unique narrators for characters and such. Considering about 30% of the writing is from a “podcast” style, this makes a lot of sense to me that it would be effective to be read aloud.

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Review: Zeus is a Dick by Susie Donkin

Zeus Is A Dick by Susie Donkin

Recommended: sure
For people who love and recognize the absurdity of Greek myths, for those who want to learn about the absurdity of the Greek myths, for people who enjoy a bit of crass humor, for people who enjoy sassy banter and dick jokes

Summary

In the beginning, everything was fine.* And then along came Zeus.
*more or less

Ahh Greek myths. Those glorious tales of heroism, honour and… petty squabbles, soap-opera drama and more weird sex than Fifty Shades of Grey could shake a stick at!
It’s about time we stopped respecting myths and started laughing at them – because they’re really very weird. Did you know Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, was born of some discarded genitals? Or that Hera threw her own son off a mountain because he was ugly? Or that Apollo once kidnapped a boat full of people while pretending to be a dolphin?
And let’s not even get started on Zeus – king of the gods, ruler of the skies and a man who’s never heard of self-control. In fact, if there’s one thing most Greek myths have in common, it’s that all the drama could have been avoided if SOMEONE could keep it in their toga…
Horrible Histories writer Susie Donkin takes us on a hilarious romp through mythology and the many times the gods (literally) screwed everything up! Stephen Fry’s Mythos by way of Drunk History, Zeus is a Dick is perfect for those who like their myths with a heavy dollop of satire.

“It’s about time someone called him out on all this.” – Hera, Goddess of Marriage, wife of Zeus
“Worst. Father. Ever.” – Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt, daughter of Zeus
“Oh yeah, focus on him. I never did anything wrong. Nothing to see here.” – Poseidon, God of the Seas, brother of Zeus
“Just a real dick, honestly.” – Many, many people

Thoughts

I got a pretty good sense of the writing style and humor early on with this, and it’s quite consistent throughout. I was able to enjoy it, though I was just shy of it being A Bit Much for me. I think some people would be turned off by it, and maybe not right away, but after multiple chapters it could get tiring. There was so much else I enjoyed that it wasn’t an issue for me, thankfully. To be aware, though, it’s very much catchy slang phrases you might hear from ages 12-32 year olds (at time of writing, anyway). So there’s a lot of cussing and “AF” and pop culture references and the like. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, this miiiight not work for you. I encourage you to give it a try though!

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ARC Review: How to Heal a Gryphon by Meg Cannistra (10/04/2022)

How to Heal a Gryphon by Meg Cannistra
Expected Release Date: October 4, 2022

Recommended: yes!
As a sweet magical middle grade read for anyone, for kids who love animals, for witchy Italian lore

Summary

With her thirteenth birthday just around the corner, Giada Bellantuono has to make a big decision: Will she join the family business and become a healer or follow her dreams? But even though she knows her calling is to heal vulnerable animals, using her powers to treat magical creatures is decidedly not allowed.

When a group of witches kidnaps her beloved older brother, Rocco, and her parents are away, Giada is the only person left who can rescue him. Swept into the magical underground city of Malavita, Giada will need the help of her new companions to save her brother—or risk losing him forever.

Thoughts

I adore our main character, Giada. She’s so unabashedly herself, and has such a strong sense of who she is! I think that’s something a lot of kids have, then lose, and many adults take a long time to get back there (or maybe never totally do). Giada holds tight to it, and isn’t afraid to call out people (even adults!) when they are being rude (which at least one adult ABSOLUTELY was). She doesn’t let people shame her about enjoying sweets and food, and she devises her own brilliant salve for thigh chafing which lets be honest, who wouldn’t benefit from that?

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