The Poison Season by. Mara Rutherford | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Title: The Poison Season

Author: Mara Rutherford

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 12/6/22

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Inkyard Press for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Outsiders are always given a choice: the Forest or the lake. Either way, they’re never heard from again.

Leelo has spent her entire life on Endla, coexisting with the bloodthirsty Forest and respecting the poisonous lake that protects her island from outsiders who seek to destroy it. But as much as Leelo cares for her community, she struggles to accept that her younger brother will be exiled by his next birthday, unless he gains the magic of enchanted song so vital to Endla.

When Leelo sees a young outsider on the verge of drowning in the lake, she knows exactly what she’s supposed to do. But in a moment that will change everything, Leelo betrays her family, her best friend, and Endla by making an unthinkable choice.

Discovery could lead to devastating consequences for both Leelo and the outsider, Jaren, but as they grow closer, Leelo realizes that not all danger comes from beyond the lake—and they can only survive if Leelo is willing to question the very fabric of her society, her people, and herself.

Content Warning:

This one is a DNF for me. I love the cover and I enjoyed some other books from this author but this one just wasn’t doing it for me. Here’s what I thought:

+ Interesting concept, was intrigued about the Forest and mysterious island.

~ I felt no connection to the characters and kept wondering what is happening and wishing the story would move faster.

~ I think it would appeal to teen readers. For me, I just wanted more. I was bored and didn’t want to struggle to finish it.

Tropes: secret island

Why you should read it:

  • you like the author’s other works
  • interesting concept – mysterious island, a poison lake, magic through singing

Why you might not want to read it:

  • too slow and wasn’t keeping my attention

My Thoughts:

I tried many times to finish this book but I think it was clear I was just not interested and it wasn’t for me. I think this will still appeal to young adult fantasy fans though.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Book Birthday | New Releases | 11/22/22

Happy book birthday to these new releases! Check out this list today:

Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh tales with unexpected reimaginings, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of acclaimed YA writers to breathe new life into a storied tradition.


Fifteen celebrated authors reclaim classic fairy tales for a new generation:


Dahlia Adler, “Rumplestiltskin”
Tracy Deonn, “The Nightingale”
H.E. Edgmon, “Snow White”
Hafsah Faizal, “Little Red Riding Hood”
Stacey Lee, “The Little Matchstick Girl”
Roselle Lim, “Hansel and Gretel”
Darcie Little Badger, “Puss in Boots”
Malinda Lo, “Frau Trude”
Alex London, “Cinderella”
Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Nutcracker”
Rebecca Podos, “The Robber Bridegroom”
Rory Power, “Sleeping Beauty”
Meredith Russo, “The Little Mermaid”
Gita Trelease, “Fitcher’s Bird”
and an all-new fairy tale by Melissa Albert


Once upon a time . . .


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The conclusion of the epic trilogy from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Awakening and The Becoming.

Talamh is a land of green hills, high mountains, deep forests, and seas, where magicks thrive. But portals allow for passage in and out–and ultimately, each must choose their place, and choose between good and evil, war and peace, life and death…

Breen Siobhan Kelly grew up in the world of Man and was once unaware of her true nature. Now she is in Talamh, trying to heal after a terrible battle and heartbreaking losses. Her grandfather, the dark god Odran, has been defeated in his attempt to rule over Talamh, and over Breen–for now.

With the enemy cast out and the portal sealed, this is a time to rest and to prepare. Breen spreads her wings and realizes a power she’s never experienced before. It’s also a time for celebrations–of her first Christmas in both Talamh and Ireland, of solstice and weddings and births–and daring to find joy again in the wake of sorrow. She rededicates herself to writing her stories, and when his duties as taoiseach permit, she is together with Keegan, who has trained her as a warrior and whom she has grown to love.

It’s Keegan who’s at her side when the enemy’s witches, traitorous and power-mad, appear to her in her sleep, practicing black magick, sacrificing the innocent, and plotting a brutal destruction for Breen. And soon, united with him and with all of Talamh, she will seek out those in desperate need of rescue, and confront the darkness with every weapon she has: her sword, her magicks–and her courage…

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.

Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash their hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.

To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder, what if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


An interior designer learns to rebuild her love life from the ground up with zero blueprints in this new romantic comedy by Ashley Herring Blake, author of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.

For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation that will be broadcasted on a popular home improvement show, Innside America, Astrid knows this is the answer to everything that is wrong with her life. It’ll be the perfect distraction from her failed love life, and her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and lead carpenter for the inn’s renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into a little light sabotage, ruffling Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other turns into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead, or the one she wants?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Struggling to find her modern-day Mr. Darcy, a Jane Austen fan gets more than she bargained for when she swears off men and adopts an adorable puppy. 

Dr. Charlotte Rodriguez is single—again—and she blames Jane Austen. She made brooding, aloof men sound oh sodreamy. But after years of failing to find her own Mr. Darcy, Charlotte decides it’s time to swear off dating. She’s going to lavish all her love and affection on someone who actually deserves it: her new puppy, Bingley.

And there’s no one better to give her pet advice than her neighbor and coworker George Leneghan. He’s quiet and patient and, best of all, way too sweet to ever be her type. But as their friendly banter turns flirty, the unimaginable happens—Charlotte starts catching feelings.

Just as Charlotte is trying to untangle what it is she truly wants, George announces he’s contemplating a cross-country move. Suddenly, Charlotte wonders if she’s kept her soulmate in the friend zone so long that she’s entirely missed her chance at a happily ever after. Dear Reader, could it be possible she’s had it wrong all this time?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Are you getting any new books this week?

Happy Reading!

Books I Am Thankful For  | TTT | 11/22/22

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Please check out her website for more TTT topics!

This week’s topic is: *Thankful Freebie*

Books I Am Thankful For

I’m going to be listing my 4.5-5 STAR reads of 2022 so far and I’m thankful for these books because they made my crazy/challenging year just a little bit better and that’s always a good thing!

5 STARS:


4.5 STARS:

I just realized how sparingly I dole out the 5 Stars for a book! But all of these books entertained me or touched my heart in some way and it’s all I ever want in a book.

Also, I am oh so VERY thankful for all of you who come by and stop to check out my blogposts. I appreciate every view, click, comment and that I found a community that love reading books as much as I do. Thank you all and happy thanksgiving to everyone that is celebrating the holiday.

My Mother’s Secret: A Novel of the Jewish Autonomous Region by. Alina Adams | Book Excerpt

Title: My Mother’s Smile: A Novel of the Jewish Autonomous Region

Author: Alina Adams

Pages: 353

Publication Date: 11/21/22

Categories: Historical Fiction

With his dying breath, Lena’s father asks his family a cryptic question: “You couldn’t tell, could you?” After his passing, Lena stumbles upon the answer that changes her life forever.

As her revolutionary neighbor mysteriously disappears during Josef Stalin’s Great Terror purges, 18-year-old Regina suspects that she’s the Kremlin’s next target. Under cover of the night, she flees from her parents’ communal apartment in 1930s Moscow to the 20th century’s first Jewish state, Birobidzhan, on the border between Russia and China. Once there, Regina has to grapple with her preconceived notions of socialism and Judaism while asking herself the eternal question: What do we owe each other? How can we best help one another? While she contends with these queries and struggles to help Birobidzhan establish itself, love and war are on the horizon.

New York Times Bestselling author Alina Adams draws on her own experiences as a Jewish refugee from Odessa, USSR as she provides readers a rare glimpse into the world’s first Jewish Autonomous Region. My Mother’s Secret is rooted in detailed research about a little known chapter of Soviet and Jewish history while exploring universal themes of identity, love, loss, war, and parenthood. Readers can expect a whirlwind journey as Regina finds herself and her courage within one of the century’s most tumultuous eras.

Part One: 1935 – 1940

Chapter One

Moscow, USSR

She had her ticket. All that was necessary now was to get on the train.

Regina glanced furtively over her shoulder. Yaroslavsky Railway Station was as bustling as ever. Men in grey suits and ties, patched jackets, and caps with brims that flopped into their eyes jostled women wearing wool coats trimmed with rabbit fur, some with kerchiefs over their heads, others sporting more fashionable berets. All rushed to board trains for Vladivostok, Kirov, Tomsk, and a host of other Eastern destinations. No one had any reason to pay attention to an eighteen year old girl struggling to drag a scuffed leather bag she’d thrown together a few hours earlier, blindly tossing in random items in Regina’s haste to be gone before the black-booted militsioners returned for her. They might only want to ask her questions about people she knew, people who’d already been arrested. They might arrest and then release her… if she provided them with the answers they were seeking. Or they might put her on trial. The kind of trial where an innocent verdict wasn’t an option. If Regina were braver, she might have stuck around to find out. If Regina were braver, she might have stuck around to defend her friends, who she knew had done nothing wrong, same as her. If Regina were braver, she wouldn’t currently be at the train station, glancing furtively over her shoulder.

She had her ticket. What she didn’t have was permission to leave. Or settle elsewhere. Soviet citizens were the freest in the world. Maintaining this freedom necessitated their leaders knowing where each was at all times. This led to stability, the seedbed of liberty. There were over two dozen scheduled stops between Moscow and Regina’s destination in the Far East. At any of them, the conductor could demand to review her propiska. If she failed to provide one, he had every right to yank her off his train and deposit Regina in the care of local authorities. Who would promptly, likely under armed guard, return her to Moscow. Where Regina’s attempt to run would bury her into deeper trouble. The proper course of action for those who wished to relocate to Birobiddzhan, the newly formed Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR) between the Bira and Bidzhan rivers of the Russian-Chinese border, was to register a request with KOMZET, the Committee for the Settlement of Jewish Toilers on the Land. KOMZET would authorize the appropriate travel documents. They might also bring her name to the attention of the authorities. She couldn’t risk that. Not until everything blew over. Which it would have to, sooner or later. Regina hadn’t done anything wrong. It wasn’t her fault she’d failed to realize until it was too late that those around her might have.

If only she could make it to Birobidzhan. Comrade Kaminsky, head of the village Soviet, would surely vouch for her loyalty to the state. They’d always had a good rapport whenever he’d visited Moscow. Regina had listened, enthralled, to his tales of Birobidzhan, its rich farmland, its plump livestock, the trees full of fruit and the rivers of fish. As Comrade Stalin had pronounced one month earlier, “For the first time in the history of the Jewish people, its burning desire for a homeland, for the achievement of its own national statehood, has been fulfilled.” It was one of the many reasons why all Soviet children, dressed in school uniforms of brown dresses with black pinafores for every day, white ones for special occasions for girls, or brown pants with white shirts for boys and crimson scarves for all began their day by reciting, “Thank you, Great Comrade Stalin, for my joyous childhood.”

KOMZET flourished under the oversight of Lazar Kaganovitch, Secretary of the Central Committee, Commissar of Communications, the most powerful Jew in the Soviet Union. “The nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant,” he quoted Karl Marx when establishing the JAR. “Emancipation from huckstering and money will be the self- emancipation of our time.” 

Regina had always intended to make her way there. She’d always intended to be part of the pioneer movement to build an independent, thriving, Jewish, socialist state, where Yiddish literature was taught in schools, Yiddish plays were performed in theaters, Yiddish newspapers educated the public, and Yiddish speakers could walk streets marked with Yiddish signs, safe from violent attacks. At the close of the Great October Revolution, Jews, like all worthy Soviet citizens, had been accorded their own plots of land to work. Unfortunately, the previous owners – kulaks Comrade Stalin needed to show the error of their ways a decade earlier – weren’t happy with the redistribution. Thus it was determined that, in the interest of keeping antisemitic violence to acceptable levels, the optimal course of action was to convince Jews living in the USSR and its surrounding territories to relocate to the furthest eastern point on the Trans-Siberian railroad, where they would be safe, out of the way, and no longer annoying their neighbors. 

Regina had always intended to go. She didn’t need the posters paid for by ICOR,  the American Association for Jewish Colonization in the Soviet Union; black and white lithographs promoting spending 50 kopeks on a lottery ticket to help “build a socialist Jewish Autonomous Region,” or garishly colored illustrations of workers with bulging muscles carrying sacks urging, “Let us give millions to settle poor Jews on the land and to attract them to industry.”

Regina had always intended to go. She simply hadn’t intended to go this soon. Or this hurriedly. She’d intended to finish University first. Regina was specifically studying agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, and medicine, human and veterinary, so that she could be of the most use once she arrived in her new home. 

She never intended to be sneaking out of town, feeling, though it was the middle of the day, like a thief in the night, a scarf tossed over her head, chin pressed nearly into her chest, not making eye contact with anyone. Regina attempted to take as little space as possible, to shuffle her feet along the concrete station floor lest the clack of her high-heels attract attention. 

She only looked up when it came time to hand her ticket to the conductor. She peered into his face, eyes open wide, lashes quivering, and offered her most dazzling smile – as well as a peek down her blouse. It was a maneuver she’d evolved during her early teens. It worked on male teachers wavering between a higher and lower grade on an exam. It worked on butchers to double-check if there was truly not a scrap of meat left for sale. It worked on boys who felt inspired to buy you a slice of Napolean cake. Regina could hope it worked on train conductors.

It did. He barely glanced at Regina’s ticket. He was too busy leering at her. And he never got around to asking for her travel documents.

The trip from Moscow to Birobidzhan took eight days. Regina passed every one sitting upright atop her barely cushioned seat, staring out the window, gritting her teeth to keep from clicking her fingernails, tapping her feet, or performing any other nervous tick which might betray her anxiety. Except whenever the conductor came by. Then, Regina lay on her side, face turned towards the seatback, knees tucked under, pretending to be asleep. It was the most stomach- churning portion of the journey. She could hear the conductor’s footsteps growing closer. Would this be the day he decided the hell with good manners and shook Regina awake to demand her travel documents? There was the moment he would pause above her, his breathing as audible as if he were puffing into her ear. Her impulse was to squinch her eyes tighter. She worried that wouldn’t look natural. Truly sleeping people weren’t tensed up. Truly sleeping people were blissfully relaxed. Regina attempted to imitate that state while her throat cramped, her lungs shriveled, and her intestines pinched each other mercilessly. For eight days, the conductor paused right above her. Then he moved on.

That wasn’t the worst part of pretending to be asleep, though. The worst part was how, the second Regina closed her eyes, her eyelids turned into a blank screen for the projection of her otherwise repressed panic. There were flickering images of her future, where she arrived in Birobidzhan to be judged wanting and unwanted. And there were images of her past. The nights of arguments and outbursts. The joking, the singing, the drinking, the planning. Comrade Berger. Comrade Kaminsky. Cecilia. They’d seemed so heroic, so united. So unaware of what was lurking on the outskirts of their grand dreams. Or maybe she’d been the one unaware. She’d been the fool. Mama and Papa had implied as much from the moment Regina first got herself entangled. They stopped implying, moving on to flat out saying it when Regina stood before them, begging for help. She’d trusted the wrong people. She’d listened to the wrong voices. She’d heeded the wrong advice. Regina vowed to never make such a mistake again.

If she ever got the chance.

Regina’s train pulled into Birobidzhan’s solitary station, Tikhonkaya, after one in the morning, the darkest possible hour. Regina suspected it would have appeared so even without the rain whipping her window. She was the only passenger disembarking. She felt like tiptoeing, as you would into a library. Or a funeral home. 

One more sweep past the conductor, one more smile, one more loosened button, and she would be home free. None of her efforts proved necessary. At one in the morning, the conductor wasn’t faking sleep like Regina had for over a week. He was deeply in it.

While in Moscow Regina had curled into herself, trying to appear insignificant, here, she strove to make a robust first impression. To appear confident, strong, the sort of woman who’d be welcomed to join in building a socialist Jewish state, not deported home in disgrace, trailed by disparaging laughter like a foul stench.

So Regina forced herself to stride down the train steps and onto the platform. A woman who had nothing to fear. A woman who had nothing to hide.

Her attempt to appear confident – and guileless – proved superfluous. There was no one there to see it. Rain poured down in torrents, soaking Regina the instant she left the cover of her train. She couldn’t make out an awning or a station door to duck through. No attendant manned the ticket office. She’d disembarked on the left side of a wooden platform between two tracks. There was a second train across from her. Not a passenger one, but freight. A flash of lightning corrected Regina’s perception. Each car was filled to burst with people. Men? Women? Regina couldn’t tell. They were pressed against the walls, faces peering out the few barred windows. They reminded Regina of Uzbekh, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz people who’d been coming to Moscow to work and study ever since their republics became members of the USSR. 

The idling train’s engine sputtered in preparation for pulling out. Which was when Regina caught sight of a second figure on the platform. A man was running alongside the departing train, holding a sack, reaching into it, pulling out a handful of something Regina couldn’t identify, and shoving it into the outstretched hands of those who’d managed to squeeze their arms through the window’s slats. As the train sped up, so did he, running so quickly he tripped at Regina’s feet, dropping his sack. She bent to help him retrieve the loaves of bread he’d fumbled. Not the kind she knew from Moscow, machine baked, uniform and soft, but misshapen lumps, coarse, heavy, soaked. He scrambled up, frantically continuing distribution as waiting hands whipped by at swifter and swifter speeds. Regina imitated his actions, lifting a grimy trio of loaves, standing on tip-toe to reach. The bread was ripped from her grip with such force that it knocked Regina down, back, and over her bag. 

She thrust out her hands behind her, hoping to break her fall, feeling the splinters of the wooden railway floor dig into her palms as her teeth painfully smacked against each other. She rolled onto her stomach and pushed herself up, first to her knees, then to her feet. Regina futilely dabbed at the front of her dress, as if a few swipes with dirty, bloodied hands would do any good against the streaks of mud, wondering why she was bothering, no one would see her. 

By the time she looked up again, the man with the sack was gone.

Regina stood, soaked, on an abandoned railway platform. She’d expected the town of Amurzet to be there, the way all of Moscow’s nine stations were within city limits. You stepped off the platform, and there you were. Regina stopped off the platform in Birobidzhan, and she was ankle deep in a swampy, unplowed field, surrounded by mountains in the distance, and the outline of a dirt road that led into more darkness. Tree branches whipped in the wind. Waist-high grasses bent and curled. The road, Regina reasoned, had to lead… somewhere. If she followed it, she would eventually emerge… somewhere. If it wasn’t the settlement she was looking for, it would likely be some other, where she could solicit directions to her desired destination. Regina started walking. No, Regina started dragging; her feet through the mud, her face through the sheets of rain, her bag behind her, bumping into every rock, slipping into every cavity. 

Her clothes clung to her skin, her feet slid in her shoes. Regina’s hair fell into her eyes and, after a half-dozen futile attempts, she quit trying to prevent it. She peered out into the world through a slit in her dripping bangs, which scratched her eyes like bugs crawling on her pupils. Regina stared ahead, willing herself to think only of her destination, ordering herself to ignore the voice in her head, the one reminding Regina she could turn around, retrace her sloshing steps, and catch the next train back to Moscow. What was waiting for her there might be worse, but at least it wasn’t the unknown. She was concentrating so hard on ignoring that voice, telling herself the danger in Moscow couldn’t possibly be less than the danger of a stroll in a light mist, it took several moments for her to comprehend the voice she was hearing – a male one – was coming not from inside her head, but from the side of the road. 

Regina craned her neck, raising an arm to rub the back of her wrist across her face to clarify her vision. Through the torrent, she caught sight of a horse, its hooves digging a parallel gulley of mud Regina’s way. Presuming it wasn’t the animal she’d heard addressing her, Regina squinted, following the horse’s reins to the accompanying wagon, where legs, wrists, and a head peeked out from beneath a loose muslin covering to beckon Regina. 

The man from the station had come back for her.

About the Author:

Alina Adams is the NYT best-selling author of soap-opera tie-ins, figure skating mysteries, and romance novels. She was born in Odessa, USSR and immigrated with her family to the United States in 1977. She combined research with family stories to write her first historical fiction, “The Nesting Dolls,” and for her November 15, 2022 release, “My Mother’s Secret: A Novel of the Jewish Autonomous Region.” Read more at: www.AlinaAdams.com

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Author Website

The Bodyguard by. Katherine Center | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Bodyguard

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Author: Katherine Center

Pages: 309

Publication Date: 7/18/22

Categories: Contemporary, Romance

She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Content Warning: violence, hostage situation

This has been on my TBR and I forgot it was then saw it on my online library and borrowed it. This was kind of an unexpected read and I enjoyed so much about it! Here’s what I thought:

+ A female bodyguard? Yes! And not the type of bodyguard we usually think about that tails someone closely wearing black. Those are usually huge, beefy guys but in this story Hannah is the kind of bodyguard that gets all the details and prevents something from happening to her client. This was such a unique take on a romance – I found it refreshing.

+ Hannah is going through some things! Her mom died, her a-hole of a boyfriend dumped her, and she’s not doing too hot mentally and her boss has noticed. So instead of giving her the international jobs she covets so she can escape, her boss gives her an assignment in town to prove she can handle bigger jobs. I like Hannah. She’s level headed, detailed, straight-forward and even though her life seems to be caving in – she still pushed forward.

+ The romance is so cute! Jack is a hot, famous actor but he has issues of his own to do with his family. I thought Jack and Hannah complimented each other well. He brought the fun and she brought the protection.

~ Because Jack and Hannah had chemistry I wish this book was steamier! But it’s super mild and perfect for the readers who like it that way. But a bodyguard and an actor? I was hoping for some action. There is barely any romance until the end! I wanted sparks but we get more of a friendship/comforting vibe between them.

~ I didn’t feel like there was much of a threat for Jack to have a bodyguard really. But it makes for a cute story.

Tropes: fake dating

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • fake dating trope
  • it’s a cute, sweet, slow burn romance – no spice at all (if that is your thing)
  • great banter and chemistry between Jack and Hannah, some heart warming situations

Why you might not want to read it:

  • needs more spice (in my opinion)

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one but I was very pleasantly surprised! I thought Hannah being Jack’s bodyguard was so cute because they were opposites in personality. This one is a light-hearted story and a super slow burn. My only issue with it was that it needed more sparks between the characters and spice would have been really nice! But if you like a sweet romance, with just one amazing kiss, then you will love this book.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Pride & Puppies by. Lizzie Shane | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Pride & Puppies (Pine Hollow, #4)

Author: Lizzie Shane

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 11/21/22

Publisher: Forever

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Dogs, Jane Austen, Friends to Lovers

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Forever for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Struggling to find her modern-day Mr. Darcy, a Jane Austen fan gets more than she bargained for when she swears off men and adopts an adorable puppy. 

Dr. Charlotte Rodriguez is single—again—and she blames Jane Austen. She made brooding, aloof men sound oh sodreamy. But after years of failing to find her own Mr. Darcy, Charlotte decides it’s time to swear off dating. She’s going to lavish all her love and affection on someone who actually deserves it: her new puppy, Bingley.

And there’s no one better to give her pet advice than her neighbor and coworker George Leneghan. He’s quiet and patient and, best of all, way too sweet to ever be her type. But as their friendly banter turns flirty, the unimaginable happens—Charlotte starts catching feelings.

Just as Charlotte is trying to untangle what it is she truly wants, George announces he’s contemplating a cross-country move. Suddenly, Charlotte wonders if she’s kept her soulmate in the friend zone so long that she’s entirely missed her chance at a happily ever after. Dear Reader, could it be possible she’s had it wrong all this time?

Content Warning:

I got sucked into requesting this arc because of the title. Pride & Puppies? The two things I love in one book: Jane Austen and dogs? I had to read it and this is what I think about it:

+ Two people, Charlotte and George are friends and now both are dog owners. Charlotte has given up on men and decided to get a puppy. The dogs are so cute especially with Charlotte naming hers Bingley! Loved all the Jane Austen love in the story. They are two good people that find love.

+~ There is a whole cast in this book – Charlotte has a tight group of friends and her sisters. Then George has all his sisters too! Thing is I didn’t know this was book #4 in a series! I wish I knew that before requesting it. Thing is I didn’t feel totally lost reading it without reading the others but now I wonder is that how Charlotte and George already knew each other?

+ It’s a sweet romance. They go from friends to lovers so not too much big drama happen between them.

~ I don’t think I connected to the romance very much even though it was cute because of the dogs. I did like how sweet they were together but I guess I wanted more.

Tropes: small town romance, friends to lovers, meddling families

Why you should read it:

  • sweet romance
  • its has Jane Austen love and dogs
  • both Charlotte and George have large families that you get to know throughout the story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • it’s book number 4 in a series

My Thoughts:

I thought this was a cute and sweet romance between two nice people who both love dogs and their families. For me, I wanted a little more chemistry between the two characters but I think it was still cute how they bonded. It’s light-hearted and heart warming, definitely perfect for Jane Austen lovers.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

On Vacation!

Hi everyone so today we go on our trip to Philadelphia, PA for one week and then Poughkeepsie, NY for Thanksgiving at my in-laws. So I will be taking a break from blogging for two weeks!

I do have posts I pre-made like my usual Top Ten Tuesday and New Releases posts. I have some book reviews here and there so if I don’t respond, it’s because I’m not checking my blog for the two weeks.

I’m hoping the kids get to see some fall foliage? Anyway the trip should be fun and I’m just praying we all stay healthy throughout. See you in two weeks!

Happy Book Birthday | New Releases | 11/15/22

Happy book birthday to these new releases! Check out this list today:

After winning her mother’s freedom from the Celestial Emperor, Xingyin thrives in the enchanting tranquility of her home. But her fragile peace is threatened by the discovery of a strange magic on the moon and the unsettling changes in the Celestial Kingdom as the emperor tightens his grip on power. While Xingyin is determined to keep clear of the rising danger, the discovery of a shocking truth spurs her into a perilous confrontation.

Forced to flee her home once more, Xingyin and her companions venture to unexplored lands of the Immortal Realm, encountering legendary creatures and shrewd monarchs, beloved friends and bitter adversaries. With alliances shifting quicker than the tides, Xingyin has to overcome past grudges and enmities to forge a new path forward, seeking aid where she never imagined she would. As an unspeakable terror sweeps across the realm, Xingyin must uncover the truth of her heart and claw her way through devastation–to rise against this evil before it destroys everything she holds dear, and the worlds she has grown to love… even if doing so demands the greatest price of all.


Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Celeste, a card sharp with a penchant for trouble, takes on the role of advocatus diaboli, to defend her sister Mariel, accused of murdering a Virtue, a member of the ruling class in the mining town of Goetia, in a new world of dark fantasy.

High in the remote mountains, the town of Goetia is booming as prospectors from near and far come to mine the powerful new element Divinity. Divinity is the remains of the body of the rebel Abaddon, who fell to earth during Heaven’s War, and it powers the world’s most inventive and innovative technologies, ushering in a new age of progress. However, only the descendants of those that rebelled, called Fallen, possess the ability to see the rich lodes of the precious element. That makes them a necessary evil among the good and righteous people called the Elect, and Goetia a town segregated by ancestry and class.

Celeste and Mariel are two Fallen sisters, bound by blood but raised in separate worlds. Celeste grew up with her father, passing in privileged Elect society, while Mariel stayed with their mother in the Fallen slums of Goetia. Upon her father’s death, Celeste returns to Goetia and reunites with Mariel. Mariel is a great beauty with an angelic voice, and Celeste, wracked by guilt for leaving her sister behind, becomes her fiercest protector.

When Mariel is accused of murdering a Virtue, the powerful Order of the Archangels that rule Goetia, Celeste must take on the role of Advocatus Diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) and defend her sister in the secretive courts of the Virtue. Celeste, aided by her ex-lover, Abraxas, who was once one of the rebels great generals, sets out to prove Mariel innocent. But powerful forces among the Virtues and the Elect mining barons don’t want Celeste prying into their business, and Mariel has secrets of her own. As Celeste is drawn deeper into the dark side of Goetia, she unravel a layer of lies and manipulation that may doom Mariel and puts her own immortal soul at risk, in this dark fantasy noir from the bestselling mastermind Rebecca Roanhorse.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


In this riotous young adult romp for fans of Recommended for You and A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, a teen girl has the worst Valentine’s Day ever—only to relive it over and over again.

After living through a dumpster fire of a Valentine’s Day, Emilie Hornby escapes to her grandmother’s house for some comfort and a consolation pint of Ben & Jerry’s. She passes out on the couch, but when she wakes up, she’s back home in her own bed—and it’s Valentine’s Day all over again. And the next day? Another nightmare V-Day.

Emilie is stuck in some sort of time loop nightmare that she can’t wake up from as she re-watches her boyfriend, Josh, cheat on her day after day. In addition to Josh’s recurring infidelity, Emilie can’t get away from the enigmatic Nick, who she keeps running into—sometimes literally—in unfortunate ways.

How many days can one girl passively watch her life go up in flames? And when something good starts to come out of these terrible days, what happens when the universe stops doling out do-overs?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


The only one who can save Sera now is the one she spent her life planning to kill.

The truth about Sera’s plan is out, shattering the fragile trust forged between her and Nyktos. Surrounded by those distrustful of her, all Sera has is her duty. She will do anything to end Kolis, the false King of Gods, and his tyrannical rule of Iliseeum, thus stopping the threat he poses to the mortal realm.

Nyktos has a plan, though, and as they work together, the last thing they need is the undeniable, scorching passion that continues to ignite between them. Sera cannot afford to fall for the tortured Primal, not when a life no longer bound to a destiny she never wanted is more attainable than ever. But memories of their shared pleasure and unrivaled desire are a siren’s call impossible to resist.

And as Sera begins to realize that she wants to be more than a Consort in name only, the danger surrounding them intensifies. The attacks on the Shadowlands are increasing, and when Kolis summons them to Court, a whole new risk becomes apparent. The Primal power of Life is growing inside her, pushing her closer to the end of her Culling. And without Nyktos’s love—an emotion he’s incapable of feeling—she won’t survive her Ascension. That is if she even makes it to her Ascension and Kolis doesn’t get to her first. Because time is running out. For both her and the realms.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Anna Xu moving out of her parent’s home and into the dorms across town as she starts freshman year at the local, prestigious Brookings University. But her parents and their struggling Chinese bakery, Sweetea, aren’t far from campus or from mind, either.

At Brookings, Anna wants to keep up her stellar academic performance and to investigate the unsolved campus murder of her childhood babysitter. While there she also finds a familiar face – her middle-school rival, Chris Lu. The Lus also happen to be the Xu family’s business rivals since they opened Sunny’s, a trendy new bakery on Sweetea’s block. Chris is cute but still someone to be wary of – until a vandal hits Sunny’s and Anna matches the racist tag with a clue from her investigation.

Anna grew up in this town, but more and more she feels like maybe she isn’t fully at home here — or maybe it’s that there are people here who think she doesn’t belong. When a very specific threat is made to Anna, she seeks out help from the only person she can. Anna and Chris team up to find out who is stalking her and take on a dangerous search into the hate crimes happening around campus. Can they root out the ugly history and take on the current threat?

The Lies We Tell is a social activism/we all belong here anthem crossed with a thriller and with a rivals-to-romance relationship set on a college campus.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Are you getting any new books this week?

Happy Reading!

Favorite “Aww” Moments In Books  | TTT | 11/15/22

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Please check out her website for more TTT topics!

This week’s topic is:

Favorite “Aww” Moments In Books

(Share those sweet/cute moments in books that give you warm fuzzies.)

When Jack says this to Adaira: “From your life came mine. I would not exist if you had been born in the east. I am but a verse inspired by your chorus, and I will follow you until the end, when the isle takes my bones and my name is nothing more than a remembrance on a headstone, next to yours.” 🥺


The ending when Florence goes to Ben’s office, wondering if he remembers what happened in the past week…and she says “set the scene”…ugh…my heart!❤️


All the cats in this book. 🐱


Audrey’s meet-cute with Fred was the things “love at first sight” is made of but her steady relationship with Josh was what I was rooting for. Loved how her whole wedding was a disaster but by the end it all works out perfectly.


Everything about Willow and Mason together – their nights looking through a telescope. ✨


The moment when this terror of a Dachshund finally relents and trusts her new owners. 🥺


Every time she makes him Cuban food and he brews her tea. Match made in heaven. ❤️

These are just from my most recent reads. I know there are more somewhere in my memory bank lol but I’ve read too many books to try and remember. What’s on your TTT today?

Weekly Wrap Up | 11/13/22

Aloha friends!

We got through this week! Almost thought my daughter’s cold was coming back but it’s been allergies because mine has been acting up too so Flonase for her and Claritin for me has helped. She did get eaten by mosquitoes on Thursday when she went on her first field trip – she doesn’t get a break does she? 😅 But she is a trooper!

I’ve started packing just to see what will fit in my luggage and honestly, packing warm clothing is taking lots room (our summer trip would have been filled with shorts and tank tops 😅). And it’s so sad – my kids barely own any long pants and definitely no long sleeves. My daughter always tells me her feet sweat in socks and I told her oh well she’ll be wearing them on the trip! It will be such an experience for them. My son has been to Nebraska to visit relatives but this will be my daughter’s first plane trip and it’s an 8 hour one. I guess it will be practice for when we visit their dad in Japan next year! We are excited, but I’m excited/anxious/worried – mostly because my indoor dog will have to be an outdoor dog for a few days when he goes to my mom’s house. So I’m worried my spoiled boy will be a little stressed. He gets to hang out with his cousin Tucker who is fully an outside dog. 😆

So I’ll be gone on Wednesday – I’ll still have post go live while I’m gone because they are pre-written but I won’t be replying to any messages until I come back Nov. 30th.

My sister also wanted to do an early Thanksgiving Lunch today since we won’t be here for actual Thanksgiving, so we get to eat today! I don’t think we’ll have turkey but we will have food and pumpkin pie.

Blog Posts:

I was kind of in the mood for rom-coms and started on some arcs that I was gonna save for later. But it works out and helps me knock them off my list!

Books I Read:


Currently Reading:

Shows/Movies I Watched:

  • Falling for Christmas (Netflix) – it’s kinda nice to see Lindsay Lohan doing movies again. This one was cute and christmassy.

How was your week? Did you get a lot done? Watch anything good? Read any amazing books or books you didn’t finish? What are you reading?…Leave me a comment below!