The Charmed List by. Julie Abe | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Charmed List

Author: Julie Abe

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 304

Publication Date: 7/5/22

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Teen Reader, Romance, Contemporary, Magical Realism

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


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

After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia.

But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it.

In The Charmed List, Julie Abe sweeps readers away to a secret magical world, complete with cupcakes and tea with added sparks of joy, and an enchanted cottage where you can dance under the stars. 

Content Warning:

This one is a cute read with some fun elements to it: magic, enemies to lovers romance, a bucket list, and a road trip.

The magic element to the story is just kind of thrown in. Ellie and her family are part of the magic community, and Jack her ex-friend/enemy and his dad are part of it too, her best friend Lia – is not. There are some rules about being part of the magic community and we do see some mild magic being done. Ellie has a bucket list for the summer and I think it was nice for her to go through with it to help her get out of her shy-girl shell. Also there is the romance between Ellie and Jack, they used to be friends, until Jack closed himself off to her, with his dad’s encouragement. But on the road trip they are forced to spend time together which means they start liking one another.

The story reads more for teenagers so I didn’t quite connect to the story or characters, I’m not the audience for this one. But I think someone who wants a light hearted teen romance that has magic would really enjoy this book.

Why you should read it:

  • magic, romance, a bucket list and a road trip
  • sweet, coming of age story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • this is more for teen readers

My Thoughts:

I’m not the target audience for this book but I thought it was a sweet story about a girl who is trying to break out of her shell. Some parts were a bit dramatic for me, like when Ellie’s best friend finds out about magic but like I said – I wasn’t connecting to the book or characters. I think if you want a light-hearted romance filled with magic, and some angst you will enjoy this one.

📚 ~ Yolanda

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

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Magic Steeped in Poison

Author: Judy I. Lin

Format: hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 3/29/22

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Categories: Fantasy, Tea, Politics, Romance, Chinese Mythology, Young Adult

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”

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. 

Content Warning: poison, death

I’ve been wanting to read this book since I saw the gorgeous cover. It’s even more beautiful in person! I really enjoyed this story.

+ The magic system of the shennong-shi, is unique and cool! The magic is in the tea and the preparer and I totally believe it because whenever I drink a hot cup of tea, it’s a healing experience – so I loved learning about the shennong-shi. The competition to be the shennong-shi for the Emperor gives the story high stakes.

+ Ning’s story is relatable in that she’s doing the competition for the love of her sick sister. I love her memories of her family and of home. I like Ning’s bravery and her ability to think on her feet whenever difficult situations arose. She goes through a lot of challenges in the competition.

+ I enjoyed the politics taking place in the story as well. The emperor hasn’t been seen, so the Princess has been present for the shennong-shi competition. Ning meets a boy who happens to be the son of the emperor’s brother who was banished and exiled. There is talk of unrest in the empire and Ning is caught in the intrigue. She’s labeled a traitor and rebel but we learn more about what’s going on in the empire and the role of the Princess.

+ The little romance storyline between Ning and Kang is sweet, in a way it’s a forbidden kind of love, since Ning isn’t sure where his loyalties lie. It doesn’t overtake the story though which is nice and I look forward to seeing what happens in book two.

+ The author did a great job with the setting! I was definitely transported in Ning’s world of tea and the palace. Lovely world-building.

~ Would love to learn more about Kang in book two because we do learn some things about him but he still stays a bit mysterious.

Why you should read it:

  • it’s a magic tea brewing competition! so unique
  • lush world-building
  • Ning’s love for her family, the politics she gets embroiled in and the romance that’s brewing for her

Why you might not want to read it:

  • it’s a little bit of insta-love-ish but I think it was okay because the story didn’t fully focus on the romance

My Thoughts:

The gorgeous cover lured me in and then I was hooked by the tea competition and lush world building. I found this a quick read and with a unique concept. I loved this one and I’m glad I finally got to read it!

📚 ~ Yolanda


Quotes From the Book:

Life has a way of taking the wind out of our dreams sometimes…”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Tea for me is home, is joy, is family.”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Human hands make mistakes, Ning, but they are the hands the gods gave us. We use them to make amends, to do good things.”

Judy I. Lin, A Magic Steeped in Poison

Things We Never Got Over by. Lucy Score | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Things We Never Got Over (Knockemout, #1)

Author: Lucy Score

Format: ebooks (KU)

Pages: 570

Publication Date: 1/13/22

Categories: Romance, Adult Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon. Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.

Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order.

Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.

There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.

At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.

Content Warning: abuse, single parent, parental abandonment

I decided to read my first Lucy Score book because I kept seeing it on Kindle Unlimited and I can see why it’s very popular. Here’s what I like and didn’t like:

+ So many tropes are in this story – grumpy guy/sunshine girl, small town romance, fake dating and then some. I thought Naomi and Knox had good chemistry, and they had lots of hot times in and out of bed 🔥

+ I did like Naomi’s story about coming to help her twin and ended up taking care of her 11 year old niece, Waylay. Naomi makes the best of things and tries her best to be the best guardian to her niece.

+ I love all the characters from Naomi’s best friend, the new people she meets, and her parents. And on the other end, Knox’s family and friends were fun to get to know also! I’m looking forward to reading Lucian and Sloane’s story.

+ I like the messages about messy relationships and how to let go of fears. Knox fears relationships and Naomi can’t survive without her lists. Naomi was used to taking care of everyone and never putting herself first.

~ My biggest issue about this story is the length of it. It’s way too long! And I was enjoying it so much and thought okay it’s ending soon and we get the happy ending and yet it kept going on. I almost didn’t want to pick it up the next day because I pretty much knew what would happen. I did read it to find out what happens to Tina though. But this would have been perfect if it ended before 400 pages.

~ Did the fake dating have to happen in the middle of the story? I thought it was funny when Naomi’s parents found them but that was halfway into the story – I don’t think it was needed at all. It’s like Knox and Naomi didn’t have enough challenges to deal with in their relationship already. And Knox breaking up with her like that? Like no dude. Get outta here.

Why you should read it:

  • if you love romance tropes you will love this one – it’s filled with it
  • Love the characters
  • A fun, sexy and sweet at times love story between Naomi and Knox
  • Some emotional moments

Why you might not want to read it:

  • This was way too long and that was my biggest issue. I almost didn’t finish the book even though I was enjoying it.

My Thoughts:

This seems like a light read at first between a very grumpy dude and miss sunshine but it gets more complicated because of Tina. But the situation teaches Naomi how take care for her 11 year old niece and herself. She has to basically start from scratch in a new town. I love that she has a wonderful support group in her parents and her bestie Stef. I loved all the characters I met in the book. The romance is cute – even though Knox is a bit of an alpha male, it’s hot at times between them and a bit bumpy in the end but things work out as they should. My biggest issue and it was a big issue – was the length of this book. I almost didn’t finish it even though I considered it a funny, cute, romance story and it was emotional too…but there was a point I was like, do I have to keep reading? I am eager to read Lucian and Sloane’s story – I just hope it’s shorter.

📚 ~ Yolanda


Quotes From the Book

You get to decide how you show up in this world. No one else gets to dictate to you who you are…”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

Because sometimes people don’t know how to ask for what they really need. You needed a hug.”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

You know what they say about fine. Fucked up. Insecure. Neurotic. And emotional…”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

So is setting an example for your niece about how she doesn’t need to turn herself inside out to be loved. How she doesn’t need to set herself on fire to keep someone else warm. Demanding to have your own needs met isn’t problematic—it’s heroic, and kids are watching. They’re always watching. If you set an example that tells her the only way she’s worthy of love is by giving everyone everything, she’ll internalize that message.”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

There’s a difference between taking care of someone because you love them and taking care of someone because you want them to love you…”

Lucy Score, Things We Never Got Over

The Blood Traitor by. Lynette Noni | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Blood Traitor (The Prison Healer, #3)

Author: Lynette Noni

Format: ebooks (own)

Pages: 464

Publication Date: 6/14/22

Categories: Fantasy, Romance, Series, Found Family

She’d failed them. All of them. And now she was paying the price. 

Kiva thought she knew what she wanted—revenge. But feelings change, people change… everything has changed.

After what happened at the palace, Kiva is desperate to know if her friends and family are safe, and whether those she wronged can ever forgive her. But with the kingdoms closer to the brink of war than they’ve ever been, and Kiva far away from the conflict, more is at stake than her own broken heart.

A fresh start will mean a perilous quest, forcing mortal enemies and uneasy allies together in a race against the clock to save not just Evalon, but all of Wenderall. With her loyalties now set, Kiva can no longer just survive—she must fight for what she believes in. For who she believes in. But with danger coming from every side, and the lives of everyone she loves at risk, does she have what it takes to stand, or will she fall?

Content Warning: drug use, physical abuse, violence

I finally read the last book of The Prison Healer series and this is what I thought:

+ So much great characters! I love Cresta and Ashlyn, they were my favorite characters in this book. Caldon was amazing as always, but Cresta had fire, humor, sass, and strength. Ashlyn had leadership and bravery. Really great female characters.

+ Kiva goes through so much in this book, it is an emotional, traumatic ride for her but she faces her demons – no matter how hard it is for her.

+ The story moves quickly, there is a lot going on but it’s written well – it takes off running after book two, Kiva’s back in Zalindov but in really bad shape. Once she’s out she has a long journey to get back to Vallenia. There is a great found family trope story line here where two enemy families

+ The romance was one where Kiva had to do a lot to make it up to Jaren. Jaren was hurt and angry and he had a lot of issues to deal with. It was super frustrating at times but it pays off in the end for the two of them. There are a lot of romances going on actually, almost like everyone was pairing off.

+ This story is about messy families, messy relationships and I like that it shows the imperfections in relationships and how to navigate and mend them.

~ Jaren was tough to crack but I mean he went through some stuff. I just wish he and Kiva could talk their problems either. Kiva was stuck in her head a lot, she is the worse at communicating with anyone – thank god she had Caldon and Cresta. Where would she be without them? At times I was just so frustrated with her because she just didn’t know how to be honest after everything that happened in book two. This was her time to tell her truth but I also understand how she had to do it in her own time. I just wanted Kiva and Jaren to talk and it takes awhile for that to really happen.

~ There is a bunch of traveling in this one because there is a quest but the story bounces from location to location a lot. It was okay for me but at one point she was with King Navok and then he isn’t in the story again until the very end.

~ Kiva’ storyline was one big pity party. Cresta had to literally kicked her butt about a lot of things, shake some sense into her because Kiva could not get out of these overwhelming thoughts. And I was Cresta and tired of it! lol…Cresta had more patience than I did. I loved Cresta’s message about strength and pain and moving on…so powerful. But I also understand some people need patience and that was Kiva – she needed patience and Caldon was there to give that to her. Cresta was there to tell her straight on what she needed to do though.

Why you should read it:

  • It’s a great fantasy series and a good ending – Kiva characters comes a long way
  • The found family and side characters are great
  • Great story telling, some twists

Why you might not want to read it:

  • Kiva is going through so much trauma but we are in her head so much I was hoping it would let up a bit – it started to turn into a pity party and I was getting annoyed with her actions.
  • Jaren and Kiva’s drama was really dragged out almost to the end of the story – I wanted them to work it out earlier.

My Thoughts:

This isn’t a light read, there is a lot of trauma to be dealt with in this whole series. This book alone there is abuse, drug abuse, broken families, broken people but I loved the inspiration and motivation that came through characters like Cresta, Caldon and Ashlynn – Cresta being my favorite because she was funny and yet said what she wanted to say. Caldon always brought the lightness to a hard situation and thank goodness for that. Ashlynn was always so steady, I admired her for it. I’m glad Kiva and Jaren worked things out but for me, I think it took too long. This was Kiva’s story about overcoming so many challenges and trauma in her life, but everyone in this book was going through something – it’s what helped them bond and become a found family, which was heartwarming. For the series as a whole, I enjoyed it a lot. For the third book, I did enjoy it but wished we weren’t so much in Kiva’s head.

📚 ~ Yolanda

One Night on the Island by. Josie Silver | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️💫

Title: One Night on the Island

Author: Josie Silver

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 2/15/22

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Adult Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Spending her thirtieth birthday alone is the last thing that dating columnist Cleo wanted, but she is going on a self-coupling quasi-sabbatical–at the insistence of her boss–in the name of re-energizing herself and adding a new perspective to her column. The remote Irish island she’s booked is a far cry from London, but at least it’s a chance to hunker down in a luxury cabin and indulge in some quiet, solitary self-care while she figures out her next steps in her love life and her career.

Mack is also looking forward to some time to himself. With his life in Boston deteriorating in ways he can’t bring himself to acknowledge, his soul searching has brought him to the same Irish island in search of his roots and some clarity. Unfortunately, a mix-up with the bookings means both solitude seekers have reserved the same one-bedroom hideaway on exactly the same dates.

Instantly at odds with each other, Cleo and Mack don’t know how they’re going to manage until the next weekly ferry arrives. But as the days go by, they no longer seem to mind each other’s company quite as much as they thought they would…

Written with Josie Silver’s signature warmth, charm and insights into the human heart, One Night on the Island explores the meaning of home, the joys of escape and how the things we think we want are never the things we really need.

Content Warning: broken marriage

I thought this was going to be a good one but unfortunately this turned out not for me. But let’s see what I liked and didn’t like:

+ Cleo was an interesting character from the beginning and I wanted to see how her vacation to Salvation Island would help her grow. She’s dreading turning 30, she has a successful career but she’s single and she still dreams about being a published author. I thought she was a nice young woman and seeing her get to know the other women on the island gave this story some fun moments.

+ Mack and Cleo meeting and getting to know each other went at a slow pace but maybe that was okay because he was still married when he met Cleo.

+ The setting of Salvation Island was wonderfully written. You get a real sense of life there, it’s the perfect small town feel.

~ Mack is married – yes he has trouble in his marriage but he still wants to be with his wife so that turned me off a bit, especially when Cleo admits she wants him.

~ The story started off good but it’s slow and I was getting bored. In my head, Mack was off-limits so what was happening between these two? It was going to be messy.

~ I felt the chemistry between Mack and Cleo was lacking. Yes they don’t like one another at first, but they eventually get friendly and talk a lot about their lives. There is a lot of talking.

Why you should read it:

  • you like women’s fiction where the characters are going through some emotional things
  • slow burn romance
  • beautiful setting

Why you might not want to read it:

  • more women’s fiction than romance
  • Mack is a married man and that may not appeal to some readers – his marriage is rocky but he is not divorced yet

My Thoughts:

I did love the setting of Salvation Island in Ireland, that was probably my favorite part of the book.. It’s a slow burn romance, with lots of emotional turmoil on Mack’s part and Cleo is trying to figure out her life as she hits 30 years old. The story was a little too slow for me. I think if you love women’s fiction, you might enjoy this story but I was thinking it was going to be some rom-com and it wasn’t.

📚 ~ Yolanda

BLOG TOUR} Here for the Drama by. Kate Bromley | ARC Review

Welcome to the blog tour for Here for the Drama by. Kate Bromley!

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Here for the Drama

Author: Kate Bromley

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 6/21/22

BUY HERE: Bookshop.org | Harlequin | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Publisher: Graydon House Books

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Playwright, Theater, Rom-Com, Women’s Fiction

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


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

This summer, it’s much ado about everything.

Becoming a famous playwright is all Winnie ever dreamed about. For now, though, she’ll have to settle for assisting the celebrated, sharp-witted feminist playwright Juliette Brassard. When an experimental theater company in London, England decides to stage Juliette’s most renowned play, The Lights of Trafalgar, Winnie and Juliette pack their bags and hop across the pond.

But the trip goes sideways faster than you can say “tea and crumpets”. Juliette stubbornly vetoes the director’s every choice, and Winnie’s left stage-managing their relationship. Winnie’s own work seems to have stalled, and though Juliette keeps promising to read it, she always has some vague reason why she can’t. Then, Juliette’s nephew Liam enters stage left. He’s handsome, he’s smart, he is devastatingly British, and he and Winnie have sizzling chemistry. But as her boss’s nephew, Liam is definitely off-limits, so Winnie has to keep their burgeoning relationship on the down-low from Juliette. What could go wrong?

Balancing a production seemingly headed for disaster, a secret romance, and the sweetest, most rambunctious rescue dog, will Winnie save the play, make her own dreams come true, and find true love along the way–or will the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune get the best of her?

Content Warning: death of parent, divorce

I found this to be a sweet romance with a likable main character who is clearly in love with theater and working on the play that hopefully will make her a famous playwright. For now she is an assistant to Juliette Bassard who is what Winnie aspires to be. They have a best friend type of relationship, which I found endearing. Juliette, Winnie and Roshni the second assistant all take a trip to London for a staging of Juliette’s most famous play and a lot of things happen while they are there.

I’m more of a musical than play kind of person, but I found the playwriting and staging process in this book quite fascinating. You can feel the passion in Winnie and Juliette as one is beginning her career as a playwright and then other is coming into a time of transition. Of course there is a dog is in this story, just makes the story even sweeter, because Ollie is a sweet prince! The romance is sweet as well, there is some heat between Winnie and Liam but for the most part, it’s a relationship between two mature people who may have met each other at the wrong time – at least the wrong time to start a relationship and for them…it works out because they are mature to let one another go.

Of course this can’t be a story about drama and theater without drama. Juliette has a whole past in London and it comes back to haunt her. Winnie has her own things to deal with like finishing her play, figuring out her life after London and what to do about Liam. Juliette and Winnie also confront things about their relationship but in the end it all works out beautifully. I thought the epilogue did a great job to give us a very happy ending.

There were some parts that I found slow and I felt like Juliette and Winnie’s relationship was the main focus of this story as opposed to the romance growing between Winnie and Liam. It is very much a story about Winnie’s life journey.

Why you should read it:

  • you love drama, theater, plays – I found Winnie’s passion for playwriting really come through in her character
  • it’s a story about friendship, romance and life’s journey
  • it has a cute dog named Ollie

Why you might not want to read it:

  • this is more women’s fiction than romance, so if you expect full on romance, this is not it

My Thoughts:

I was pleasantly surprised with this story but I did wish there was more romance between Winnie and Liam. Winnie is a woman in her late 20’s trying to figure out her career, trying to not give up on her passion and having some romance in the process – I found her sweet and relatable. I would categorize this as more women’s fiction than romance though, but regardless I thought it was an enjoyable read and it has a great happy ending.

📚 ~ Yolanda


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

KATE BROMLEY lives in New York City with her husband, son, and her somewhat excessive collection of romance novels (It’s not hoarding if it’s books, right?). She was a preschool teacher for seven years and is now focusing full-time on combining her two great passions – writing swoon-worthy love stories and making people laugh. She is also the author of Talk Bookish to Me.

Author Website

Twitter: @kbromleywrites | Instagram: @katebromleywrites | Facebook: @katebromleywrites | Goodreads

Garden of Serpents by. C.N. Crawford | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Garden of Serpents (The Demon Queen Trials, #2)

Author: C.N. Crawford

Format: ebooks (KU)

Pages:

Publication Date: 7/13/22

Categories: Romance, Urban Fantasy

Once, Orion and I were lovers. Then, the gorgeous demon king broke my heart. He kicked me out of the City of Thorns, exiling me to the mortal world.

Now, I have plans to get back at him–and save the world while I’m at it. Orion wants revenge on all the mortals. If I steal his crown, I can stop the bloodshed. All I have to do is beat him in a series of trials, proving that the gods chose me as queen.

But Orion seems determined to seduce me with his apologies and sensual charm. And the fact is? He’s hard to resist. In the City of Thorns, nothing is ever as it seems, but figuring out who to trust is the most important trial of all. Because if I get it wrong, I’ll have the blood of thousands on my hands.

Content Warning: violence, torture

This is the third book in The Demon Queen Trials series and I was enjoying it for the most part but the ending was too rushed. Here’s what I liked and didn’t like:

+ Rowan has trained and grown into her Succubus powers so she can now go toe to toe with Orion.

+ Rowan and Orion are meant to be. There are some challenges they have to deal with, like trust issues and they already got together in the last book but this felt like another slow burn round between them. There are many sensual and sexy parts though.

+ The epilogue was unexpected and interesting – makes me sort of interested to see where the story goes. But…I’m still on the fence.

~ The pacing of this book was an issue for me. Everything felt rushed. Rowan has to pass these trials but it doesn’t feel high stakes at all. We know Orion will give her whatever she wants. There are new characters introduced to us, but new characters in the last book, especially a villain? There wasn’t enough time to get to know them and their motivations or schemes.

~ Rowan is powerful now, so I wanted to see more of that in her trials but the trials didn’t feel like much.

~ What was up with Shai? Not sure what was going on with her.

~ The ending was super rushed. It felt like the story raced up to the betrayal, Orion and Rowan are united and the end. And the epilogue is 13 years later! So it sets up another story.

Why you should read it:

  • to finish the series if you started it
  • Rowan and Orion’s romance

Why you might not want to read it:

  • wanted so much more and it fell short
  • the story felt rushed, new characters introduced without much time to really get to know them

My Thoughts:

I was a bit disappointed by this one. I did love Rowan and Orion together, even if they were fighting but I felt like the whole story was rushed to get to the end. This one fell short for me but I’m glad I finished the series. The first two books were great, and this one was rushed with less intensity. The epilogue suggests a new spin-off but I don’t know if I will be reading it.

📚 ~ Yolanda

It Happened One Summer by. Tessa Bailey | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: It Happened One Summer (Bellinger Sisters, #1)

Author: Tessa Bailey

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 397

Publication Date: 7/13/21

Publisher: Avon

Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Adult Fiction, Opposites Attract

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 

Content Warning: death of spouse

Lately I’ve been thinking what qualities make for a good summer-pool-beach read – then I read this book and THIS would be an ultimate summer read!

Piper is rich and an instagram influencer – she is superficial, a social media queen, comes off as an airhead but despite all of that, she’s really a sweet person. Her best qualities? She can adapt to new situations, no matter how out of her comfort zone she is, she’s fun and she loves her younger sister, Hannah, to pieces. I absolutely love Piper and Hannah together – they have a tight sisterly bond and a very loving and supporting one at that.

Brendan is Piper’s opposite – he’s grumpy, loves routine, he is a fisherman, good at his job and he’s a widower. When Piper comes into his life, he doesn’t know what hit him. Piper and Brendan are hot, hot, hot together! Their sex scenes are steamy and spicy but their growing relationship is so sweet. I thought they were perfect for one another. Brendan gave her comfort, and security and likes her for who she is. Piper makes him laugh and he falls for her so hard and fast. But like I said, they really complimented one another – I love their opposites attract love affair and how it grows into so much more.

Brendan’s crew are too funny! I love when they were together and joking with Brendan. I love how Fox is soft on Hannah too – I thought that was cute and can’t wait to read their story!

Overall I loved the story about a rich girl who has to atone for her mistakes by going to a small fishing town where her birth dad is a legend. Piper is such a softie and I like that she was herself, even if she was high-maintenance. She really is a sunshine girl and Brendan is mister grumpy who can’t help himself around her.

Why you should read it:

  • romance feels – steamy and sweet, Piper is sunshine, Brendan is grumpy
  • Piper and Hannah’s sister relationship is beautiful, I love the two of them
  • great book for summer reading, lots of humor and makes you feeling happy

Why you might not want to read it:

  • too much steaminess? I thought it made the story better because these two were so hot for each other lol

My Thoughts:

I loved this book and read it in one sitting. I found Piper sweetness and Brendan’s gruffness perfect – the steamy scenes between them added to their amazing relationship – because miss Piper was not sweet in bed! I loved reading about them falling for one another and seeing Piper try to figure out what kind of life is right for her. Also the humor is great! But mostly I loved all the heart warming feelings I got from Piper and Hannah’s relationship. The romance is great and all, but the family bond between them really made me want to hug those girls. This is a wonderful book, great for summertime reading or if you want a romance story with a little bit of everything in it. I look forward to reading Hannah’s story!

📚 ~ Yolanda


Quotes From the Book:

Had she ever dated a real man before? Or had they all been boys?”

– Tessa Bailey, It Happened One Summer

This girl. He’d be keeping her. There was no way around it.”

– Tessa Bailey, It Happened One Summer

This Wicked Fate by.Kalynn Bayron | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: This Wicked Fate (#2)

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 6/21/22

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Categories: Greek Mythology, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Family

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


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

How much would you risk to save the ones you love? Would you tempt even the most dangerous fate?

Briseis has one chance to save her mother, but she’ll need to do the impossible: find the last fragment of the deadly Absyrtus Heart. If she is to locate the missing piece, she must turn to the blood relatives she’s never known, learn about their secret powers, and take her place in their ancient lineage. Briseis is not the only one who wants the Heart, and her enemies will stop at nothing to fulfill their own ruthless plans. The fates tell of a truly dangerous journey, one that could end in more heartache, more death. Bolstered by the sisterhood of ancient magic, can Briseis harness her power to save the people she loves most?

Content Warning: violence

The second book in the This Poison Heart series continues right away from events in book one. This time, Briseis has to help save her mom but she has lots of help.

There is a lot of action in this one as Briseis and her group come up with a plan to find the last piece of the Absytrus Heart to save her mom. The story immerses us even more into Greek mythology so if you love mythology, you will love this book. The story is fast paced and full of adventure especially when they go after the Heart.

A lot of characters from book one are here again: Marie, Nyx, Mo, Circe and Persephone. Even Karter makes an appearance towards the end. The lovely LGBT+ representation is in the story again with Marie and Briseis’ budding romance. It’s not the main focus of the story but it was nice to see. And of course I was rooting for Bri’s mom to be saved!

Only thing for me was I have to be in the mood to read stories about Greek mythology and I had a little trouble getting back into the story in the beginning.

Why you should read it:

  • LGBT+ representation
  • Greek mythology, magic, and adventure
  • love of family

Why you might not want to read it:

  • not into Greek Mythology

My Thoughts:

I think this was the perfect conclusion to this duology series. It’s got action, adventure, romance, magic, Greek mythology, LGBT+ representation and it’s a beautiful story about family.

📚 ~ Yolanda

The Inadequate Heir by. Danielle L. Jensen | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Inadequate Heir (The Bridge Kingdom, #3)

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Format: ebooks (borrowed)

Pages: 625

Publication Date: 5/24/22

Publisher: CLA

Categories: Series, Romantasy, Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Forbidden Love, Fantasy, Kingdom Politics

Return to the world of The Bridge Kingdom in this sensuous fantasy full of romance and intrigue that is perfect for fans of From Blood and Ash and A Court of Silver Flames.

A soldier raised as heir to an empire, Zarrah is motivated by two truths. The first is that the Veliant family murdered her mother. And the second is that her pursuit of vengeance will put every last one of them in their graves.

The Endless War between Maridrina and Valcotta has raged for generations, leaving thousands of Zarrah’s people dead and countless more orphaned. So when she’s given command of the contested city of Nerastis, Zarrah is prepared to do whatever it takes to destroy the Maridrinian forces who oppose her. And to kill the Veliant prince who leads them.

Yet a chance encounter with an anonymous, and handsome, Maridrinian causes Zarrah to question whether the violence she’s perpetrated is justice or a crime. And as she continues to meet the nameless man each night, she finds common ground – and fiery passion – in his arms.

But when identities are revealed, Zarrah must decide whether to embrace a chance at peace…or march to the drums of war.

Content Warning: violence, torture, death

This is Keris’ story and I thought it was interesting how it runs parallel to The Bridge Kingdom timeline. So this is basically happening while Lara is infiltrating Ithicana and falling for Aren! I did like Keris’ and Zarrah’s perspectives on the different sides of the war because it’s a war between kingdoms. The wonderful world building is back and because this is from outside Ithicana we get a broader scope of the different kingdoms at war with one another. I love everything about the war between kingdoms, the players in it – the unsuspecting ones like the Harem, and I think it’s just written so well! You feel the high-stakes politics being played out from the beginning to the end of this book.

As for Keris, I expected nothing less than the bookish, non-fighting, womanizer that we meet. This is Lara’s full brother! He is charming and clever, staying out of the limelight so he can scheme but Zarrah is his downfall and the way it ends is tragic. Zarrah is a warrior and I love that she’s tough! They are both trying to find their way to peace between their kingdoms while falling for one another. And let me tell you – these two together are scorching hot! Zarrah is a woman not shy about what she wants and Keris gives it to her.🔥

King Silas and the Magpie are in strong villain form but the ending indicates Zarrah’s aunt Petra, the Empress is even worse than they are and I look forward to reading the next book to find out what she has done and see if Keris and Zarrah can ever be together.

By the way, I loved seeing Aren and Lara in this through Keris and Zarrah’s perspectives, I’ll always love those two.

The only thing about this being parallel to The Bridge Kingdom events is that it’s a longer book and smashes the events in the first book into this one. I kept trying to remember the things that happened in the first two books and I’m glad I remembered because it really is a story that I stuck in my head.

Why you should read it:

  • you love the first two books in the series – Aren and Lara make an appearance in this book also since the timeline coincides with events in The Bridge Kingdom
  • Keris and Zarrah are hot together! Enemies to lovers, forbidden love, all the feels
  • high-stakes politics, great world building

Why you might not want to read it:

  • you haven’t read the first 2 books

My Thoughts:

I liked how this paralleled The Bridge Kingdom as we get to see another perspective and this time from Keris and Zarrah. There are many factors at play in this high stakes political romance story and it fits so well in the series. I love Keris and Zarrah but I can see they have a few challenges to overcome between them. I can’t wait for the next book to see how Keris and Zarrah can make their love work – I’m rooting for them!

📚 ~ Yolanda


Quotes from the Book:

I do want to remake the world so that I can be with you. So that I can get down on my knees and ask you to be my wife. So that I can put a crown on your head and make you my queen. So I can build a shrine and worship you as my goddess. I want all of these things, yet I face a future with none of them, and I don’t know whether I want to fall on my own blade or burn everything to ash because I do not want to let you go.”

– Danielle L. Jensen, The Inadequate Heir

A lifetime wouldn’t be enough. Eternity wouldn’t be enough. Not when I want to map every star in the sky with you in my arms.”

– Danielle L. Jensen, The Inadequate Heir