Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
There are some authors who take the risk of always trying something new. Sarah Hogle is one of them. Some of you will really enjoy Hogle’s latest release Just Like Magic. Others of you might be like nope.
Where was I? In the former camp. This is a really fun, supremely strange, marvel-filled, very funny book. I’ll be honest: I was a bit worried about where the plot would go, but in the end Hogle handled it really well & my final feeling was of being entertained, relieved, & warm & fuzzy instead of majorly annoyed .
Bettie Hughes undergoes quite the transformation throughout Just Like Magic that’s facilitated by Hall, an embodied Holiday Spirit that she ends up meeting because of how she plays her Mariah Carey “All I Want For Christmas Is You” album one lonely night.
If just that sentence is too much this book may not be for you ;) .
Bettie is spoiled, her family is sometimes not the nicest to each other & often distant, & Bettie herself is on a mission of revenge that’s somewhat unlocked when she realizes Hall can make her wishes come true *Alexa, cue Mariah Carey holiday music.* Even if he sometimes messes her wishes up a tad .
Imagine the movie Elf but darker, & those are Hall & Bettie’s opposites attract vibes. Hall is warmth & happiness & love & understanding & vulnerability & being around him helps bloom in ways she never anticipated.
There are some truly hilarious lines in here, a fake dating situation, & some moments of defending each other to various members of her family. Plus lots of magic. All big wins on my end!
But Hall comes across a bit flat at times, as others have said, one-note, especially at the beginning.
Be advised that this book is closed door, which actually made it work better for me. Turning unexpectedly steamy wouldn’t have worked for this book’s dynamic at all.
Overall I just leaned into this book & had a really good time. I’m here for the bizarre, hilarious holiday romances .
4.5 ⭐️. Out now!
CWs: Former emotional abuse.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC and the publisher for the complimentary finished copy. All opinions provided are my own.
If I’m looking for soft & cozy Roan Parrish is always a good bet & the title of this upcoming release--The Rivals of Casper Road—(not to mention those adorable FREAKING PUMPKINS on the cover!!) sucked me in.
Give me all the fall stuff.
This ended up being everything I said in the first paragraph: soft, cozy. Sweet. Pumpkin-y ;).
The basic set-up of this one is that after suffering a big heartbreak Bram Larkspur has moved to Garnet Run, Wyoming, home to some of Parrish’s other beloved characters.
His new neighbor is prickly Zachary Glass, a stiff, reserved type who has won the neighborhood Halloween decorating competition several years in a row.
Thanks to a couple of unfortunate moments they end up as rivals for a brief moment, & then they become something else (hint: something with smooching).
This is just a fast, heartwarming read between a prickly & the sunshine one with an epilogue that ended things on an awww note.
I’m really happy that these two Harlequin releases of Roan’s just go for it & these covers make me all kinds of happy.
4⭐️. Out now!
CWs: references to former anti-Semitism & bullying. Zachary has self-consciousness and insecurities about appearance now. Zachary’s sister disappeared when they were teens. Bram was cheated on in past.
Thanks to the publisher for the complimentary finished copy. With that being said I chose to read this book via audio. All opinions provided are my own.
I’m going to start this review with the caveat that I did not know a lot about outer space before beginning Moiya McTier’s The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy. (I still wouldn’t call myself an expert but that’s no fault of McTier’s 😆).
But this book enhanced my understanding of how big space is so much (trying with all of my willpower not to say astronomically 🤣). Wow, I really had no idea.
There were so many other “wow” kind of moments as I listened. Moments when my mind boggled.
Moiya was easy to listen to. McTier—an astrophysicist & folklorist—is clearly very passionate about their book & the subject & the creative project the author took on by dramatizing the Milky Way’s life is admirable.
But sometimes the dramatization goes too far for me, like when the Galaxy discusses suicide ideation because of how the Galaxy created the black hole “Sarge.”
My knowledge of space is so limited that honestly I’m not sure what level this book is best for 😆. I learned a lot, but quite a bit went over my head as well—mostly because I didn’t always have the time or opportunity or ability to absorb it all. But again, that’s not a fault of the book—I’m sure those facts will please a lot of people.
Overall I’m glad I checked this one out. It did what I hoped it would do: teach me more about space & even changed my understanding of it.
3.5 ⭐️. Out now.
[ID: a white woman holds a copy of the book in front of a plant stand.]
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
I’ve been dipping my toes into holiday romance novels so to speak & Helena Greer’s Season of Love has some winning qualities but ultimately falls somewhat flat for me.
Miriam Blum is an antique upcycler who’s estranged from most of her family, including her horrible father, her mother who remains married to him, & the beloved aunt who owned the one place she felt totally comfortable, a Christmas tree farm.
At the beginning of the book Miriam’s aunt has passed & Miriam’s going to return to that farm after many years away to sit shiva. Back to the other people she loved but hasn’t had a meaningful relationship with in years, including a cousin.
But there’s a new person living on the farm, Noelle Northwood, who immediately dislikes Miriam, & Miriam’s time at home is complicated by the presence of this person who doesn’t like her but whom she’s attracted to.
There’s a lot to appreciate about this Queer romance, including Jewish rep, romantic moments on the ice, & how Miriam finds her way back home & to an old artistic love.
But in general, I wasn’t a huge fan of Noelle (whose brashness & personality might feel authentic in some ways but also gets a little off putting for me in moments) and a secondary storyline which is a little puzzling at times. Also, a lot seems to happen to Miriam personally & professionally & it’s a little unsettling how quickly it did.
Overall, there’s potential here & I can see a lot of people relating to & enjoying this sweet romance, but it didn’t really work for me.
3 ⭐️. Out 10/11.
CWs: Noelle has a tattoo of “deadly women” including Lizzie Borden & I just found that choice a bit odd. Death in the family. Difficult relationship with mother & father. Noelle is a recovering alcoholic and was drinking as a youth. Dad destroyed her paintings.
Thanks to author KD Casey for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Baseball? In real life I don’t know ya 😆. But serve it to me in bookish romance form & I am one very excited person.
KD Casey & Lauren Blakely have released another MM sports novella, Dirty Steal, & it offers a satisfying hookup ➡️ teammates ➡️roommates ➡️ lovers again arc.
Derek Miller & Adam Chason are two baseball players who hook up one night, neither of them exactly looking for something permanent. Later, Adam is traded to Derek’s team & they unexpectedly become apartment-mates. Awkward forced proximity, anyone? 🤣
These leads have a sweet & winning love story with some steam thrown in. While I didn’t feel the zip, the zest, as much in this one as I loved in the first novella, this one too is sure to please so many of us looking for that lovely trifecta of sports + kissing + novella.
4⭐️. Out now!
[ID: an ebook sits on a wooden desk. To the upper left is two orange zinnias in a vase & a red prayer plant. Centered above is a woven brown pumpkin.]
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC and the publisher for the complimentary hard-copies. All opinions provided are my own.
If you’re in the mood for a brother’s best friend romance, you long for those days you studied learned Greek mythology in school, & you are a creature who thrives on secondhand pining, you should check out Amanda Bouchet’s A Curse of Queens.
Though it’s book 4 of the Kingmaker Chronicles this book focuses on a different couple & I don’t think it’s necessary to read the series from the beginning (although obviously there are advantages to doing that).
This book finds healer & sister of the King, Jocasta, “Jo,” quietly longing for a love & a home of her own & still hurting from being rejected by her brother’s best friend Flynn when she was 18.
For his part, Flynn has big feelings for Jo which he will not share or act on because of his tremendous fear since losing so many of his loved ones.
Luckily for us, Jo & Flynn decide to go on a mission to save the royal family that takes them adventuring across the kingdom & sea, to places no other mortals dare go.
Jo has to really fight for Flynn & throughout the book she becomes the leading lady of her own life—to borrow a quote from Hannah of Tessa Bailey’s Hook, Line & Sinker.
Filled with lots of potential danger, acts of bravery, & finally…kissing & declarations, A Curse of Queens is a captivating fantasy with heart & thrills that ends with an intriguing set-up for the next book (which I’m guessing will focus on a different couple).
This fantasy romance offers first class adventuring-writing with pockets of sweetness & it was a lot of fun.
4.5 ⭐️. Out 10/04.
CWs: Implied attempted rape by soldier. Violence. Death.
Thanks to Partner @bibliolifestyle for the complimentary finished copy . All opinions provided are my own.
R. F. Kuang’s Babel roped me in from the first striking line & left me with my jaw gaping. I really didn’t know what was coming, particularly in the ending.
When he’s 11, a young boy dying of a disease that’s already killed everyone he lives with is rescued by a mysterious British man named Professor Lovell. The professor works at Babel, in Oxford, a magical & inspiring place to so many who study language & translation there, & a place that literally helps Britain, that behemoth, keep its Empire working.
Lovell tells the boy he must change his name, & he does, to Robin Swift. What follows is Robin’s experience at Babel as someone who is of Chinese & British ancestry (we are given lots of hints about his paternity) & from Canton, China but living in Oxford.
Kuang plays those tensions so beautifully & grippingly, showing how Robin wants to be included in this Britain juxtaposed with how others view him, and his longing for acceptance and approval and from whom.
The storytelling is quiet & powerful & I quickly became invested but the ending left me a bit confused about what I’m supposed to take away from Robin’s story, his decisions, & his motivations. It left me thinking about his journey throughout the book. Maybe that’s a good thing but I guess I wanted the comfort of something more clear cut.
4⭐️. Out now.
ID: a white woman wearing a salmon colored skirt holds a copy of the book above a wooden table. To the upper right is a white pot; to the left is a sliver of tan curtains.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
This or That: Historical Romance
18th century or 19th century
Marriage of convenience or class difference
I hate everyone but you MMC or dutiful, uptight MMC
Wow, let’s give a round of applause for Finn Ransome, his sweetest soft secret heart & his basically 12 pack 😆. He was the standout of Eva Leigh’s How the Wallflower Was Won for me. Unfortunately some other parts of the book—including the heroine and conflict—don’t work for me as much.
That could probably be my review in its entirety but I’m going to add more 😆 .
This is a marriage of convenience tale with a cerebral wallflower heroine & a bold & studly gambler hero who is secretly very self-conscious about his intelligence, particularly when it comes to reading.
From the beginning of their marriage these two burn up the sheets but the emotional intimacy is a long time coming, especially for our very smart heroine Miss Tabitha Seaton.
Tabitha has big ambitions & she wants to use her brain & her drive to help others. All of that is admirable, & I loved seeing gambler Finn appreciate those aspects of her over & over again.
But the conflict made me have bad feelings 😆, especially how Tabitha handles it all.
Setting that frustrating moment of the plot, on paper this book has so much going for it. But while there are some moments that had me feeling the swoons (like the steam—Tabitha seems to have a lot of climaxes —), overall this one left me a little cold.
3⭐️. Out 09/27.
CWs: Finn’s father makes insulting comments about his intelligence. Finn is self conscious and anxious about intelligence, especially when it comes to reading & books. Misogyny against women & Tabitha specifically when she tries to join a special club for learned people. This list isn’t exhaustive.
Thanks to the publisher for the complimentary hard-copy ARC & the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone *is* very very cute (sorry) & just an overall positive read where people support & love each other. Then factor in the steam (sex in a church, anyone?) & you have something that is wholesome & love affirming & also pretty darn dirty.
Adult performer Bee Hobbes is offered the chance to act in a Christmas Hallmark-ish movie but she has to be careful that no one realizes she’s actually adult film star Bianca von Honey.
But her costar & former boy band member Nolan Shaw recognizes her right away bc he’s a huge fan.
He keeps her secret & when the sparks finally ignite, the book went up in flames & I grabbed my fire extinguisher .
The steam in this book is stellar. But I think what really makes the book stand out for me is how much respect the leads have for each other, their total lack of judgement, their support for each other’s goals & wishes, & just how harmonious they are, in bed & out.
It really felt to me like this couple is going to go the distance.
The support didn’t just extend to the leads either. There are so many loving secondary characters, so many people rooting our precious & libido-happy leads on.
Other things I love? Their confidence & maturity, the body positivity, the bisexual rep, how you can tell how much Nolan has grown since his boy band days (but how he still likes to have fun), & the funny mix-up when the other adult film employees show up to work the Hallmark-ish movie set.
This is a great time!
4.5⭐️. Out 09/20.
CWs: a former revenge porn attempt. Some fatphobic members of porn community. Reference to a previous death. Mother is bipolar.
Give me that HEA, please.
Join my mailing list.
Want to receive a weekly email with links to my latest blog posts? Sign up below!