Category: awesomeness

Book Review: Part of Your World, by Abby Jimenez

Image belongs to Forever.

Title:    Part of Your World
Author:    Abby Jimenez
Genre:    Romance
Rating:  5 out of 5

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?

I have to tell you:  this book made me laugh out loud many times. The dry wit, the easy banter, the sheer chutzpah of some of these characters was an absolute joy to read. I think I started laughing out loud about three minutes in, and it really never totally stopped. I binge-read the entire thing in one late-night sitting. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up immediately. Your abs will thank you.

Abby Jimenez is a bestselling author. Part of Your World is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Forever in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in April (2022)

In April, I only read 10 books. My work schedule was absolutely nuts, and there were family things going on, too, so no time to read or write. I thought two of the ten were really good:

The Might, by Siri Petterson. I thought this trilogy was absolutely fantastic, and I’d happily read more in a hot second! The characters and world-building are both relatable and phenomenal, and I couldn’t put it down. All the stars!

This May End Badly, by Samantha Markum. Okay, the main character was kind of a jerk at times, but she at least learned from it and began to actually care about what other people wanted–not just herself. And the love interest wad absolutely adorable.

Book Review:  This May End Badly, by Samantha Markum

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books.

Title:   This May End Badly
Author:   Samantha Markum
Genre:   YA
Rating:  5 out of 5

Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.

To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.

As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.

This book was just good, plain fun!  Sure, Doe did some pretty crappy things—and I never really understood her animosity towards Three—but I enjoyed this book from the very first page. Doe’s group of friends was great, and I liked that the guys were actually good guys, too, even if the girls couldn’t see that at first. Doe grows a lot in this story, and while sometimes that change was painful, I enjoyed the story very much. Especially the interactions between Doe and Wells. Her “stranger danger” made me laugh a lot.

Samantha Markum lives in St. Louis. This May End Badly is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in March (2022)

In March, I read 20 books. A few of those were really excellent reads. All are fantasies this month.

In a Garden Burning Gold, by Rory Power. This was a unique tale (to me). I liked the culture and world, but the main family was mostly unlikable. However, Rhea really grew on me as she became her own person instead of her father’s puppet. Definitely a solid read!

A Magic Steeped in Poison, by Judy I. Lin. I was hooked from the very first page! Setting, culture, characters, I loved it all. I think linking tea and tea ceremonies with magic is so unique, and as a tea fanatic, I really appreciated it.

A Forgery of Roses, by Jessica S. Olson. This was another good fantasy read. I liked the magic system, and the characters were both relatable and likable.

Book Review:   A Magic Steeped in Poison, by Judy I. Lin

Image belongs to Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends.

Title:    A Magic Steeped in Poison
Author:    Judy I. Lin
Genre:    Fantasy, YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu. 

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.

 But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.

I really enjoyed this read! The culture and world were fascinating, and I loved all the sensory details that brought it to vivid life. The characters were believable, and I really loved Ning and the friendships she formed—and the intrigues she landed in. I can’t wait to read the second book in the duology!

Judy I. Lin grew up in Canada. A Magic Steeped in Poison is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends in exchange for an honest review.)


Book Review:  The Suite Spot, by Trish Doller

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Suite Spot
Author:   Trish Doller
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Rachel Beck has hit a brick wall. She’s a single mom, still living at home and trying to keep a dying relationship alive. Aside from her daughter, the one bright light in Rachel’s life is her job as the night reservations manager at a luxury hotel in Miami Beach—until the night she is fired for something she didn’t do.

 On impulse, Rachel inquires about a management position at a brewery hotel on an island in Lake Erie called Kelleys Island. When she’s offered the job, Rachel packs up her daughter and makes the cross country move.

 What she finds on Kelleys Island is Mason, a handsome, moody man who knows everything about brewing beer and nothing about running a hotel. Especially one that’s barely more than foundation and studs. It’s not the job Rachel was looking for, but Mason offers her a chance to help build a hotel—and rebuild her own life—from the ground up.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read! It was fun to get to see a bit more about Rachel’s sister from Float Plan (loved that, too!), but Rachel’s story was engrossing. I can’t even imagine having her original job catering to the rich and famous and their every whim, but life on Kelleys Island sounds so much more interesting.

I enjoyed how Rachel recognized her faults and made a concerted effort to change throughout the story, growing in her confidence in herself and making good choices. I loved Mason and his honesty about what he was dealing with, and watching these two get together was just pure fun.

Trish Doller was born in Germany but lives in Florida. The Suite Spot is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Edgewood, by Kristen Ciccarelli

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Edgewood
Author:   Kristen Ciccarelli
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:  5 out of 5

No matter how far she runs, the forest of Edgewood always comes for Emeline Lark. The scent of damp earth curls into her nose when she sings and moss creeps across the stage. It’s as if the woods of her childhood, shrouded in folklore and tall tales, are trying to reclaim her. But Emeline has no patience for silly superstitions. 

When her grandfather disappears, leaving only a mysterious orb in his wake, the stories Emeline has always scoffed at suddenly seem less foolish. She enters the forest she has spent years trying to escape, only to have Hawthorne Fell, a handsome and brooding tithe collector, try to dissuade her from searching.

 Refusing to be deterred, Emeline finds herself drawn to the court of the fabled Wood King himself. She makes a deal—her voice for her grandfather’s freedom. Little does she know, she’s stumbled into the middle of a curse much bigger than herself, one that threatens the existence of this eerie world she’s trapped in, along with the devastating boy who feels so familiar.

 With the help of Hawthorne—an enemy turned reluctant ally who she grows closer to each day—Emeline sets out to not only save her grandfather’s life, but to right past wrongs, and in the process, discover her true voice.

I really loved this!  From the opening scene, when the forest encroaches on Emeline singing, to the mystery of what was really going on in the forest, I was captivated. I thought the setting itself was very cool, and the idea there was an entire secret world nestled up against Emeline’s neighborhood (Isn’t that what every kid imagines?). The characters were a lot of fun, and I enjoyed getting to know everyone. I found this highly entertaining and a true pleasure to read.

Kristen Ciccarelli is a bestselling author. Edgewood is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)


The Best Books I Read in February (2022)

In February, I had a lot of extra free time due to having surgery on the 1st: I read 26 books, and DNFed nine more (that’s really a lot for me, but if I found it the slightest bit boring, I just couldn’t do it). That brings me to 48 books read so far this year (only 202 to go to hit the goal I missed by six books last year…). Out of those 26, three of them really stood out:

The Bright Side Running Club, by Josie Lloyd. (So, the surgery I had this month was to remove an intermediate melanoma. I was blessed that the surgeon removed everything and the lymph node he removed was negative for metastatic melanoma—despite him thinking it looked very abnormal—so maybe I related to the ladies in this book a bit because of all that.)

This is about a group of women all going through different stages of breast cancer treatment, who meet and form a running club and an unbreakable friendship. This made me laugh and cry, and it was so, so good!

Sword and Shadow, by Michelle Sagara. I love the Chronicles of Elantra series and Severn is one of my favorite characters in that, so reading this series was a no-brainer. Getting to see what he was doing with his life before he and Kaylin met again is just pure enjoyment.

Edgewood, by Kristen Ciccarelli (review forthcoming 3/4). This was just pure magic from the very beginning! I loved everything about it, and couldn’t put it down. And the cover is gorgeous!

Book Review:  Sword and Shadow, by Michelle Sagara

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   Sword and Shadow
Author:   Michelle Sagara
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  5.0 out of 5

In exchange for information about his past, Severn Handred joins a Barrani lord on a mission to the West March—an enclave well outside the boundaries of the Empire. Granted a leave of absence from the Wolves, Severn is in danger the moment he steps outside the reach of Imperial law. But the instincts that led him to the Wolves and the sense of duty that keeps him there can’t be discarded as easily as the tabard he wears.

 In the heart of the West March, enmeshed in a tangled web of secrets that have been kept for centuries, Severn’s belief in justice is going to be tested. There are murders to solve, people to protect, and truths to uncover. It’s one mortal man and his single Barrani friend against a community of immortals who will die and kill to keep their secrets. But they’re up against the Wolves now.

I do love Michelle Sagara’s The Chronicles of Elantra series, and I think this spinoff series is fantastic as well. Severn is one of my favorite characters in the original series, and it’s lovely to get to know him better here. I love the verbal back-and-forth in these books, and the characters are such strong presences that I feel like I’m there with them. Detailed worldbuilding, nuanced plot, and plenty of action makes these books a must-read.

Michelle Sagara is a bestselling author. Sword and Shadow is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Bright Side Running Club, by Josie Lloyd

Image belongs to Alcove Press

Title:   The Bright Side Running Club
Author:   Josie Lloyd
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

When Keira first receives her breast cancer diagnosis, she never expects to end up joining a running group with three women she’s only just met. Totally blind-sided, all she can think about is how she doesn’t want to tell her family or step back from work. Nor does she want to be part of a group of fellow cancer patients. Cancer is not her club.

 And yet it’s running – hot, sweaty, lycra-clad running in the company of brilliant, funny women all going through treatment – that unexpectedly gives Keira the hope she so urgently needs. Because Keira will not be defined by the C-word. And now, with the Bright Side Running Club cheering her on, she is going to reclaim everything: her family, her identity, and her life.

 One step at a time.

 I enjoyed this book so much! I loved Keira as a character, and I loved all the secondary characters as well (except her horrible coworkers). Her journey was both terrible and inspiring as she deals with a terrifying diagnosis and the treatment that isn’t much better. I loved how much she learned about herself and the people in her life, and I’ll admit the book brought me to tears a time or two. I highly recommend!

Josie Lloyd is from Brighton. The Bright Side Running Club is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Alcove Press in exchange for an honest review.)