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 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 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 Reviews

ARC Review: Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim (12/7/21)

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim
Expected Release Date: December 7, 2021

Recommended: yesssss
For a literary story that’s still easy to read, for characters who draw you in whether you like them or not, for a dramatic and complex history of a tiny country that has seen unbelievable change very quickly

Summary

In 1917, deep in the snowy mountains of occupied Korea, an impoverished local hunter on the brink of starvation saves a young Japanese officer from an attacking tiger. In an instant, their fates are connected—and from this encounter unfolds a saga that spans half a century.

In the aftermath, a young girl named Jade is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school, an act of desperation that will cement her place in the lowest social status. When she befriends an orphan boy named JungHo, who scrapes together a living begging on the streets of Seoul, they form a deep friendship. As they come of age, JungHo is swept up in the revolutionary fight for independence, and Jade becomes a sought-after performer with a new romantic prospect of noble birth. Soon Jade must decide whether she will risk everything for the one who would do the same for her.

From the perfumed chambers of a courtesan school in Pyongyang to the glamorous cafes of a modernizing Seoul and the boreal forests of Manchuria, where battles rage, Juhea Kim’s unforgettable characters forge their own destinies as they wager their nation’s. Immersive and elegant, Beasts of a Little Land unveils a world where friends become enemies, enemies become saviors, heroes are persecuted, and beasts take many shapes.

Thoughts

The triumph in this book is the characters, and it’s a masterful example of the joy one can have in seeing people grow and change in a story. There are several characters introduced, and yet it’s never hard to remember who did what or where they left off. They fall widely within the gray areas of good and evil, and yet every one is a fascinating read with whom you can typically empathize if even in the most unexpected ways.

They bring the history of Korea to life. If you’re not familiar with it already, this will provide coherent insights into the whole saga; if you’re already familiar, you will see the visions of lives inside while it all unfolded. For many many years, Korea was ruled by others, and the victory and independence they found was conversely combined with a division that persists to this day between North and South.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim (12/7/21)”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams released today in paperback! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: yes!
For a fun travel adventure, for a cheeky attempt at no-strings-attached fun, for the “vacation with a stranger” trope that’s a little less scary because they were classmates way back when

Summary

ONE CANCELLED WEDDING

When the day finally comes for Annie to marry Alexander, the last thing she expects is to be left standing at the altar. She was so sure he was Mr Right. Now, she has no idea how she could have got it so wrong.
 
ONE UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER

After a chance meeting with Patrick, an old friend who reminds her of who she used to be, Annie takes a vow of her own: she’ll say yes to every opportunity that comes her way from now on.

ONE SPARE TICKET FOR THE HONEYMOON

Could a spontaneous trip with Patrick be the way to mend Annie’s heart? She’s about to find out as she embarks on her honeymoon – with a man who’s not her husband…

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams (11/2/21)

The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams – Expected publish date: November 2, 2021!
Verdict: a touching love story through Australia

Recommended: yes!
For a fun travel adventure, for a cheeky attempt at no-strings-attached fun, for the “vacation with a stranger” trope that’s a little less scary because they were classmates way back when

Summary

ONE CANCELLED WEDDING

When the day finally comes for Annie to marry Alexander, the last thing she expects is to be left standing at the altar. She was so sure he was Mr Right. Now, she has no idea how she could have got it so wrong.
 
ONE UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER

After a chance meeting with Patrick, an old friend who reminds her of who she used to be, Annie takes a vow of her own: she’ll say yes to every opportunity that comes her way from now on.

ONE SPARE TICKET FOR THE HONEYMOON

Could a spontaneous trip with Patrick be the way to mend Annie’s heart? She’s about to find out as she embarks on her honeymoon – with a man who’s not her husband…

Thoughts

In short, yes, read this book. ^.^

This is a travel book, and a romance book, and a finding-yourself book. It’s a couple of stories woven together, and it’s seamlessly done. Things move pretty quickly too, so you don’t have to wait much to really get into the action and fun.

Because there are so many themes to the story, I got to know the characters really well. I loved them both so much, and I really enjoyed them together as they reconnected and built a relationship (even if they didn’t always know what kind of relationship they were building). These folks had literal baggage for their trip, plus the emotional baggage to boot. Slowly cracking them open and watching them light each other up, and heal, and figure out what they wanted and needed in life, was sweet enough to make me smile with every page.

Continue reading “ARC Review: The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams (11/2/21)”
Posted in Chatty

I’m home from vacation!

Hey y’all!

If you recall earlier this week I had mentioned writing posts using the WordPress app on my phone, and how it was… a bit clunky. 😅 I was using the app since I was away from home on a much needed vacation. The original plan was to write all of my posts ahead of time and schedule them nicely so I didn’t need to do too much while away, but of course that didn’t happen. xD

So I spent some time in sunny Florida and pretended summer isn’t disappearing here at home. AND I EVEN MANAGED NOT TO GET SUNBURNED! And my feet didn’t fall off despite walking about ten miles each day on average. Compare that to my usual two-ish miles a day at best and, uh, it was a change.

But did I manage to read? Welllll…. not really. 😂

Typically for me, a vacation or trip is pretty much synonymous to time spent reading. Even on my most active overseas explorations, there’s usually lots of time on trains, planes, buses, or at local parks to crack open a book. This time, I focused on intense daily activities that didn’t leave much time or energy for reading! I was usually out and about for 14-15 hours each day. It was really different than how I usually operate, but so much fun! I will definitely be doing it again.

Besides: it’s getting colder where I live and that means soon I won’t want to go outside and walk ten miles day. There will be plenty of time for reading. 😊

Posted in Reviews

Review: Anna K Away by Jenny Lee

Anna K: Away by Jenny Lee

Recommended: sure
For a followup to the first one, for an easier read than the first one, for a short story following each character

Summary

How the mighty have fallen. Anna K, once the golden girl of Greenwich, CT, and New York City, has been brought low by a scandalous sex tape and the tragic death of her first love, Alexia Vronsky. At the beginning of the summer, her father takes her to the other side of the world, to connect with his family in South Korea and hide her away. Is Anna in exile? Or could this be her chance to figure out who she really is?

Back in the U.S., Lolly has forgiven Steven for cheating on her, and their relationship feels stronger than ever. But when Lolly meets a boy at her beloved theater camp, she has to ask herself how well Steven will ever really know her. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, everything between Kimmie and her new boyfriend, Dustin, is easy–except when it comes to finally having sex. And Bea escapes to LA, running away from her grief at her beloved cousin’s death, until a beautiful stranger steals her heart. Is Bea ready to finally forgive Anna, and let herself truly fall in love for the very first time?

Thoughts:

I was excited to see the characters again, and particularly interested in seeing what Jenny Lee invented as a followup story since this one is not based on other material, as the first one was. The plot moves much more steadily in this than the first book, and generally each character we follow is interesting. I think people who were a bit bored in the first book but liked the characters may enjoy this one more.

Continue reading “Review: Anna K Away by Jenny Lee”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Tokyo Ever After, May 18

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 Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean!
Expected Release: May 18, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Izzy is actually a Japanese princess thanks to her unknown father, and when she learns this, I imagine there will be a WHOLE LOT TO RECKON WITH. I get total Princess Diaries vibes from this, except with Japan instead of vaguely-European-Genovia.
  • When you’re a princess of Japan, you should probably visit Japan, right? So Izzy is heading on over there to meet her new-old-father as well as a country she’s inextricably tied to and yet feels so foreign. I’m always up for a trip to Japan! Throw in standard royalty/court tropes and it only gets better! 😍
  • Obviously the frenzy of learning you’re royalty AND learning about your estranged father, AND learning about a new country and culture is going to lead to a lot of soul-searching. I’m big on books with characters learning their own identity and looking at who they are and who they hope to become.

Summary

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

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! 😀