Book Review – A Hard Day for a Hangover


Ah yes, how shall I start this ode to the newest Sunshine Vicram book, except it was absolutely *amazing.* Please just inject this series into my veins. I loved the audiobooks of the first two entries in the series, and the cliffhanger at the end of book 2 just about killed me, so when I saw the ebook for #3 on NetGalley, I jumped at the opportunity, and was NOT disappointed.

However, for the sake of the uninitiated (please start with the first audiobook and then we can all squeal together), I will try to keep my gushing spoiler free.

All of the elements we love from the first two books are here and in force: the witty banter is fun and a joy to read, Del Sol is as quirky and weird as ever, the muffins are back, The Dangerous Daughters and Sinister Suns are at play, the stakes are high, there’s a mystery to solve, and Levi plays his biggest part to date.

There were a lot of plot lines from the first two books (specifically regarding Levi & Sunshine) that came to a really satisfying end here. However, I am a little torn, because I’m seeing that this is supposed to be the end of the trilogy, and I feel like there is so many more questions/loose ends to tie up. So basically, if this WAS the end of the series, I think I would feel just a tiny bit disappointed because I’m still hoping to see a little more of Auri & Cruz, Hailey & Quincy, and the Dangerous Daughters.

But even if this is the last one, honestly, I can’t even hate, because I do feel like this *could* be the end of Levi & Sunshine’s story and it totally left me with such a gooey, satisfied feeling, I am TOTALLY okay with it.

Let’s just say, regardless of what Darynda Jones writes next, be it Sunshine or something else, I will *definitely* be reading it. Five wholeheartedly glowing stars.

Thanks so much to NetGalley for the free ARC! A Hard Day for a Hangover launches on 6 December!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Please tell me there will be more Sunshine books, Darynda. PLEASE!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Ugly Love


After loving It Ends with Us, I was super excited to read another by Colleen Hoover, but this one really didn’t work for me.

This story is told from dual POV (with Tate’s in the present and Miles’ in the past) as Tate and Miles start a benefits-only relationship. And, as always, Hoover’s writing drew me in immediately, and kept me flying through the pages, but on the whole, Tate and Miles’ relationship just didn’t work for me. Although Miles was clear up front that he was only in it for sex, Tate knew from the start that she wanted more than that. Not only that, but Miles was, in general, kind of a jerk to her, and she was always making excuses for him.

I feel like we got Miles’ backstory through his POV as also a kind of way of saying “oh but he’s not really a jerk at heart.” But… still, that didn’t really smooth things over for me, and his backstory didn’t hold my interest as much. Overall, if you’re a big Colleen Hoover fan, I might give it a look, but I can’t really say I was rooting for Miles and Tate in this one.

⭐⭐⭐¼

Not really for me, but it could be for you!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Instructions for Dancing


Instructions for Dancing follows Evie, a one-time romance book addict who is struggling with her father’s infidelity/her parents divorce/her parents impending remarriage, and essentially doesn’t believe in love anymore. Then after a chance encounter, she develops the ability to see people’s whole love story from beginning to end when they kiss.

So, it was in this book that I realize I am not a big fan of self-aware books. And Evie is constantly comparing the events of her life to the tropes of a romance novel, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. But, then X and his dance competition entered the scene with the save.

Overall, this was a bittersweet coming of age tale of a young person learning the hard lesson that nothing lasts forever. The banter between X and Evie was cute (LOVED The Cupcakes and Kisses discussion) and in general, Evie’s experiences/attitudes definitely seemed to reflect that of a true young adult’s.

Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a bittersweet coming of age young adult tale. (Especially if you don’t mind the trope-awareness.)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

But I really want to read Cupcakes and Kisses now! 😂

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – The Future Bride


I picked up The Future Bride by J.G MacLeod as the winner of my little free library contest when it totally hooked me with the tagline, “For adventure. For love. For kilts. (And strong gin)” and I absolutely love when a book is exactly what I think it’s going to be.

This is like a lighter, more fun Highlander. Brigid is a spunky, present-day barista (with martial arts skills) thrown into old Scotland, and she does not back down from the rough and tumble highlander life. The story moves really fast and I couldn’t believe I inhaled it in two days! I liked the interactions between

Brigid and Ferghus and found the portrayal of the old Scottish Gaelic language and culture really interesting. My only real critique was that I wish Brigid had been a little smarter/stronger in the final act. Overall though, really enjoyed this fun, romantic read and would totally recommend for anyone looking  for a romcom twist on Highlander!

⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Someone’s definitely going to love this find!

Thanks for reading!

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Unplanned

Unplanned

June 2022 (Round Two)
Genre: Romance
Word: Mine
Action: Hanging Wet Clothes to Dry
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 100 words

Emmy’s newborn mewl rattles my sleep-deprived brain as I hang her soiled, wet pajamas on the shower rod. This was never part of my plan—the fling turned unexpected pregnancy turned—

Emmy falls silent, and I freeze, ears straining. Did she smother? I rush from the bathroom and find Jake stretched on the carpet, humming “Baby Mine” with our tiny daughter curled on his bare chest. He peeks at me with a soft smile before inviting me in with an outstretched arm.

I slide into his warm, solid embrace, and everything else melts away in this perfection I never could’ve planned.

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed second in my group and got me to the final round! The feedback is below!

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY

{1943}  Oh my gosh, this was a lovely romance! I loved the unexpected nature of the ending, after you set up our anticipation of a bittersweet outcome from a “fling turned unexpected pregnancy”. The image of Jake on the floor with the baby was delightful. My heart melted at the end, as he invited her to join the embrace with the baby. Wonderful!

{1963}  This piece subtly explores the theme of life’s unpredictability, and whether it ultimately is a positive or negative thing. The unplanned pregnancy, the fear of a spontaneous death — the gloomy atmosphere gives way to the realisation that things worked out well quite by accident; perhaps fate is not so cruel after all?

{2121}  Despite the narrator’s doubts and stress at the beginning of the story, revealing that none of the following events or situation she finds herself in was planned, she realizes by the end that some of the best things in life are entirely unplanned, precisely because they never would’ve happened had they been.  

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK

{1943}  I thought your story was beautifully written. I would think about maybe adding some more sensory details to your narrative. You might also think about how to show the  mother’s panic, rather than telling us with “I freeze, ears straining”. I loved “did she smother?” but maybe this could stand alone, perhaps even using italics? I think there was more scope to create a very dramatic, heart stopping moment here?    

{1963}  The wording of the opening takes a couple of reads to understand that Emmy is the newborn, not that Emmy has a newborn. Additionally the hyphenation seems to artificially reduce the word count. Avoid risky tricks like these! You might be able to cut “Did she smother” to make room for small adjustments, since this doesn’t add anything not already implied by the rest of the story. 

{2121}  Instead of dwelling on how this was unplanned, the narrator could potentially express some conflicted feelings on new motherhood, another level of challenging because it was unplanned. Doing so would make her realization at the end that much more satisfying and coming full circle.

Audiobook Review – Today, Tonight, Tomorrow


ERMAHGERDDD. I loved this book. Seriously. Amazing. The MCs were cute and well-developed, and their enemies-to-lovers ARC was just perfect. I loved seeing the history between them evolve into begrudging alliance evolve into something more. And I also totally loved the senior class scavenger hunt through Seattle. It was seriously fun, and I sooo want to play too! The pacing is quick, the voice is tone is fun, while still probing deeper into character development. I loved Neil and Rowan’s banter, and their adventure just reminded me how fun YA can be!

Probably one of the best YA contemporary romances I’ve ever read. Cannot recommend enough, and BRING ME THE MOVIE! The audiobook was also perfectly performed. Just in general, fabulous read/listen. Don’t miss it!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Locke and I are totally spreading the word about this book! It is Amazing!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – R.I.P. Viola Winkle


R.I.P. Viola Winkle by E.P. Stavs is described as Rip Van Winkle x Beauty & the Beast x Celtic Fantasy, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen comp titles that match a book so well!

After reading may of E.P. Stavs’ other books, I did not hesitate to grab up this ARC and was definitely not disappointed. Every time Stavs’ writing style immediately pulls me in with smart dialogue, quick pacing, and strong plot flow.

The characters were all likable, and I really liked the feel of Ethan’s gothic home and the strong found-family vibes. Viola was fun and quirky as a 1950s librarian in a new world, and I loved her interactions with the 21st century child that was Sylvie. Red of course was my favorite, and I loved the conflict between him and Viola. The Buinnean family in general was also just an interesting Celtic addition to the mix!

Overall, I totally recommend this one to fans of a contemporary fairy-tale like romance that leaves you with the warm fuzzies of a happy ending and a well-told story.

Thanks so much to the publisher for the ARC! R.I.P. Viola Winkle launches 11 Aug on Amazon!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Elsa doing her best coonhound impression.

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts


First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts is a collection of romantic short stories centering on the sweetness of first love. I always find short story anthologies featuring multiple authors so interesting, because you never really know what you’re going to get!

This one is no different! There were some stories that were funny, some poignant, and some a little awkward, but overall I think this collection nailed the little bites of cute, clean romance.

The Castle of Ohno by S.E. White, an atmospheric, unique twist on Beauty and the Beast with voicey, interesting characters, was probably my favorite and definitely made me want to read on!

I also enjoyed Clyde and Coalesce by Kim Elliott, a super cute modern taken on Pride and Prejudice featuring an up and coming band and two roommates in a story that I wish was longer!

I also enjoyed how the stories of Marmalade Sunset and The Art of Making Doughnuts also showcased first loves at different stages of life with a more poignant take.

Overall, I thought this and enjoyable, light read, and would recommend to anyone looking for an uplifting collection of clean, sweet romance to fill an evening.

First Love: The Art of Making Donuts comes out Sep 6, 2022, and thanks so much to the publisher for the ARC!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

The world’s heavy enough as it is. I’m always here for a quick, light read!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – Bared Magic


What a charming story! Wynne lives in magical world full of were-beasts and other interesting magics, but as a siphon, she finds herself often on the run from those who would misuse her own gifts. And they manage to chase her right into the cottage of three were-bears.

This is a fast-paced, light story that takes place in a intriguing and yet cozy magical world. I really enjoyed all the characters, there’s quite a bit of fun action to keep them going, and I thought the audiobook narration was fantastic. The romance does happen rather quickly, but I really liked watching the connection grow from both POVs, and overall I just thought it was unique, clever adaption of Goldilocks that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thanks to the publisher for the free audible promocode!

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ 

Thumbs up for a fun, fast-paced fairytale retelling!

Thanks for reading!

Audiobook Review – People We Meet on Vacation


So after I read Beach Read by Emily Henry, I’ll admit, I jumped into this with some high expectations. After all, my husband and I go on a big traveling trip every year, this should’ve been right up my alley!

And there’s still a part of me that believes that I really should’ve liked this book… the characters were likable, I love traveling, and I like the writing style… but this one fell a little flat for me.

The premise is that Alex and Poppy are two very different (just) friends that take a summer trip every year for the last 10+ years. Half of the book is Poppy talking about those trips in flashbacks, and how basically for the last 10 years she’s been trying to convince herself she’s not into Alex. The other half of the book goes through their current trip, after they’ve gone two years without talking to each other, and it feels… super awkward.

And I can handle friends-to-lovers if it’s over a gradual (and relatively short) timescale, or if there’s something obviously in their way that needs to be fixed or lots of other if’s! But none of those things applied here, and in general, I felt like the concept of time was just way off in a lot of ways. Also their interactions felt strange to me- like in that uncanny valley between platonic love and not, and on top of that, if their vacations did have some kind of magic to them, I wasn’t feeling it.

But lots of people have liked this book, so maybe it was just me! If you like friends-to-lovers romance, don’t let me stop you! (But I might recommend Beach Read instead!)

⭐⭐⭐¼ 

Okay, I know I said more Emily Henry books… but now I’m having second thoughts. Time for something new!

Thanks for reading!