Review: Love and Let Bark by Alanna Martin

Goodreads

Release date: November 21, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

When Nate Porter left Helen, Alaska, to become a firefighter with the Forest Service, he claimed it was because he craved adventure. The truth was, he couldn’t stand to hang around, pining for a girl the town’s century-old feud meant he could never have. But Nate got over Lydia Lipin years ago, or so he thought until he learns that an old rival has come sniffing around. The solution—a trip home with his rescue puppies to prove to himself he completely extinguished that old flame.

Lydia Lipin has always been satisfied being the “good” Lipin daughter—dutiful, practical, and always putting others before herself. But that role begins to chafe as Nate’s return ignites old memories. No one in town knew about their secret friendship or those forbidden kisses they stole the summer after graduation. Suddenly, Nate and his puppies are everywhere, and sparks are flying.

When Nate realizes he never got over Lydia, he’ll risk everything for a second chance. But Lydia’s not a risk-taker, and she has to make a choice—play it safe and pretend their summer fling was just puppy love, or step out of the family shadow and unleash her heart.

Review:

This is the third book in a series and I haven’t read the first two, which may have been a mistake. I wasn’t confused or anything, I just wasn’t very connected to the characters and I’m not sure if it was just the leads here and it wouldn’t had mattered if I had read the first two, or maybe I needed to be more invested in the town. I know part of the reason that I wasn’t that invested was because the conflict centered around Nate and Lydia having to keep their relationship a secret due to an ongoing feud between their two families. While I understood their need to keep things under wraps as teenagers, I didn’t quite buy it now that they’re adults. It just seemed really silly and trivial and since that was a main part of the issue, I never fully got behind them as a couple. There was still stuff to like here, it was pretty cute especially if you’re a dog lover and the setting was pretty and well described. I would definitely try this author again, this just wasn’t my fave but if you like second chance romance and cute pups you may like this more than I did.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: The Fields by Erin Young

Hey everyone and happy Tuesday! Im sharing some info on a new thriller that’s out next week and I’m really excited to start it.

Release date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Flatiron

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

A breakneck procedural that is beautifully written and masterfully crafted, Erin Young’s The Fields is a dynamite debut—crime fiction at its very finest.

Some things don’t stay buried.

It starts with a body—a young woman found dead in an Iowa cornfield, on one of the few family farms still managing to compete with the giants of Big Agriculture.

When Sergeant Riley Fisher, newly promoted to head of investigations for the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, arrives on the scene, an already horrific crime becomes personal when she discovers the victim was a childhood friend, connected to a dark past she thought she’d left behind.

The investigation grows complicated as more victims are found. Drawn deeper in, Riley soon discovers implications far beyond her Midwest town.

Doesn’t that sound good?!

Audiobook Review: Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

Goodreads

Release date: January 18, 2022

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money. 

After announcing their pronouns on national television, London Parker has enough on their mind without worrying about the klutzy competitor stationed in front of them. They’re there to prove the trolls—including a fellow contestant and their dad—wrong, and falling in love was never part of the plan.

As London and Dahlia get closer, reality starts to fall away. Goodbye, guilt about divorce, anxiety about uncertain futures, and stress from transphobia. Hello, hilarious shenanigans on set, wedding crashing, and spontaneous dips into the Pacific. But as the finale draws near, Dahlia and London’s steamy relationship starts to feel the heat both in and outside the kitchen—and they must figure out if they have the right ingredients for a happily ever after.

Review:

Ok this one was really good y’all! I’m a sucker for foodie fiction and while I’ve read plenty of books that center on food I don’t think I’ve read one featuring a reality cooking show with amateur home cooks. It was also my first romance with a nonbinary lead too and I really appreciated getting some insights into the struggles London faced. Anymore when I read a romance I want the usual spice, humor and depth but what really makes a romance stand out for me is when the characters are authentic, relatable and messy. I may not be a queer reality show contestant but I still found myself relating to Dahlia as I’m a bit of a hot mess myself. Both Dahlia and London’s issues and struggles were really well drawn and I was rooting so hard for them both as a couple and separately. This one brings the humor, the heat and the heart, lots of tender and sweet moments and plenty of sexiness as well. Definitely recommended by me, especially if you like food and adorable couples who make you a little swoony.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Secrets of Our House by Rea Frey

Goodreads

Release date: February 8, 2022

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

A thrilling domestic drama set against the power of the wilderness, Secrets of Our House is a deeply-felt novel of long-held secrets and the strength of family.

Desi is the mastermind behind her dream getaway house. Nestled high into the mountains of North Carolina, it is a sleek place, a luxurious place, a dark place.

A place full of secrets.

Secrets about the man she longs for, a man who is not her husband. Secrets about the roots of her family that must never, ever, see the light of day. When Desi and her family arrive from Chicago to spend the summer in the mountains, the seeds for the tumultuous months to follow are planted–her marriage on the rocks, not knowing which way they’ll go. Her seventeen year-old daughter Jules, falling in love for the first time with a local boy–and forging a new path that will take her to uncharted places. And Carter–a man Desi knew long ago, before she expunged him from her life for good.

All hurtling toward events none of them can undo.

Engaging, propulsive, and with a dramatic, heart-pounding final act, Secrets of Our House is a dazzling novel, richly-drawn, that shows no matter how hard outside forces may shake you, the bonds of family are stronger than the harshest winds.

Review:

The very beginning of the synopsis for this one calls it a thrilling family drama so I assumed I was about to read a tense, suspenseful book. I was wrong and so is the synopsis this is NOT a suspense, a mystery or a thriller whatsoever and had I know I was going to be reading regular old fiction (or women’s fiction whatever) I may have liked this one more. Expectations are so important to me as a reader and mislabeling it did this book no favors at all. I will say the very end did have some tension but that is not enough for me to call it a thriller. Just wanted to get that all out because I have a feeling had I known what I was getting into here this would’ve earned a higher rating from me. It was dramatic but in a soap opera kind of way with the characters making very stupid choices and then the secrets? Really predictable and honestly disappointing. I’ve really enjoyed this authors books in the past, but man this one just didn’t do it for me. I spent most of the book wondering what the point was and I’m still sorta feeling that way now. If you do read this go into knowing it’s fiction and try the audio because I swear that’s the only way I finished it.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Unmissing by Minka Kent

Goodreads

Release date: February 15, 2022

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Synopsis:

A return from the past knocks a family dangerously off-balance in a novel of spiraling suspense by Washington Post and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Minka Kent.

Merritt Coletto and her husband, Luca, have the life they dreamed of: a coastal home, a promising future, and a growing family. That dream ends with a late-night knock on the door.

Weak, broken, and emaciated, it’s Luca’s first wife, Lydia. Missing for ten years, presumed dead, and very much alive, she has quite a story. Her kidnapping. A torturous confinement that should’ve ended with her dead. And finally, escape. Racked with guilt over the beautiful life they’ve built, Merritt and Luca agree to help get Lydia back on her feet—it’s the least they can do.

But the more enmeshed Lydia becomes in Merritt’s family, the more questions Merritt has. What is it about Lydia that’s especially unnerving? Why hasn’t she gone to the police with her harrowing tale? What does she really want of them? The answers, when they come, are terrifying.

Because Lydia isn’t the only one with secrets.

Review:

Ok now this was a clever little thriller! A missing person returning years later may not be the most unique plot but that is just the tip of the iceberg here. It went in several completely unexpected directions that I definitely didn’t predict, and honestly half of what makes me enjoy a thriller is not being able to see what’s ahead too early. Bonus points for a very fast pace and enough twists to keep me engaged, yet not so many that it bordered on the ridiculous making this one very was fun. As usual with this author I can’t say much more without getting into spoilers but this was one of her best books for me and I always recommend them to anyone who likes short, bingeable reads where things always get a little crazy.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Goodreads

Release date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Synopsis:

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Review:

Ohhh another winner for me early in the new year! When I start the year off reading amazing books right from the jump I get so giddily excited about what books are still to come. If you like Emily Henry this had a similar feel to it for me with mature characters and depth of plot, also maybe because of the two main characters as authors too now that I think about it. 🤔 The characterization is where this one shines, Nathan and Katrina were both complicated and also in complicated situations throughout both the flashbacks and present day, very multilayered and deep. This was a super slow burn (almost frustratingly so) but I see the authors purpose with that too. It was angsty but not in an annoying way and also desperately romantic with gorgeous writing and some forced proximity. A super well rounded romance and I’ll definitely be waiting for more from this duo!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

Goodreads

Release date: January 4, 2022

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Synopsis:

Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream to become a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super-introverted dad, who after raising Millie alone, doesn’t want to watch her leave home to pursue her dream. Not her pesky and ongoing drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not the “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm, always at maddeningly inconvenient times. Millie needs an ally. And when a left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do. She’s going to find her mom.

There’s Steph, a still-aspiring stage actress and receptionist at a talent agency. There’s Farrah, ethereal dance teacher who clearly doesn’t have the two left feet Millie has. And Beth, the chipper and sweet stage enthusiast with an equally exuberant fifteen-year-old daughter (A possible sister?! This is getting out of hand). But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one, without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you’ve had all along?

Review:

This is my third Emma Lord book and now it’s a firm fact for me, when I want an absolutely adorable book that will make me laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy the author will deliver. The premise was both interesting and it tugged at my heartstrings too, Millie’s search for her birth mom made my own parental heart ache, both for her and her unknown mom. Millie wormed her way into my heart immediately, she’s larger than life, over the top and dramatic which made her so endearing to me, I really wanted to mother her myself. As much as I adored her the rest of the characters were all amazing as well, such a well rounded and fun cast. Add in Millie’s absolute love and obsession of all things musical theater and she was just the quirkiest most lovable heroine I’ve met in a long time. Just a really fun and entertaining read and such a bright start to my new year!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: All I Want by Darcey Bell

Goodreads

Release date: January 11, 2022

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

When Emma’s husband, Ben, falls in love with a large Victorian mansion for sale in upstate New York, he swears to her the fixer-upper will be worth the risk. With a baby on the way, Emma would like to live in a charming, safe community, after all—and in a space larger than a one-bedroom New York City apartment. On impulse, she agrees to Ben’s plan and they put in an offer on the house.

Sure, the mansion has a somewhat creepy backstory and is a bit dilapidated, but Emma and Ben are in this together, aren’t they? When strange things start happening, Emma begins to experience a little buyer’s remorse. What’s the real history of this house? Is its dark history repeating itself? Why does her husband suddenly seem so distant? Is she in danger? Is her baby?

Combining the domestic anxiety of Liane Moriarty and the haunting twists and turns of Shirley Jackson, All I Want is an intensely absorbing novel that will change the way you look at your neighbors.

Review:

This was bananas y’all. I’m not even sure what to say here honestly. It started out ok, (besides that bizarre prologue) and by 25 percent or so I was decently invested. I liked the creepy atmosphere and I liked Emma for the most part even though I felt like she was naive as to what was going on, but I was still interested. And then around 75 percent I was totally reeled back in again so basically lots of up and downs here. Parts were oddly compelling and parts were totally boring. By the time I got to the second to last chapter I was like ok this may be a 3.5-4 and then there was a totally unnecessary final chapter with a terrible twist that annoyed me SO bad and made me really dislike the book. Super disappointing and made me mad I even read it because it did have potential and a unique aspect that worked but there was just too much up and down for me to let it go.

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.