What I Read: Catching Up

It’s been a few weeks since I shared a review post, so I’m going to get caught up with a sentence or two for each book I’ve read recently.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne: Surprisingly amazing. In the running for one of my favorite romcoms of all time.

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James: This had a promising start, but ended up with a lot of unanswered questions and loose ends. Thank you Once Upon a Book Club for the gift box!

Stuck With You (The STEMinist Novellas #2) by Ali Hazelwood: Didn’t love this quite as much as the first, but these two had great chemistry! A worthwhile, short romance read.

Space Cowgirl: Houston, All Systems Go (Space #2) by Sara L. Hudson: Great male lead, insufferable female lead (tragically afflicted with “Not Like Other Girls” syndrome). However, I think this series is worth reading and I’ll be picking up book three sooner rather than later.

Everything For You (Bergman Brothers #5) by Chloe Liese: I’ll recommend this series to anyone and everyone – especially if you like a good romcom with an extra dose of big feelings. The grumpy/sunshine trope is extra fabulous when the grump is a literary version of Roy Kent.

Upgrade by Blake Crouch: A total downgrade from the Crouch novels I’ve loved before. Read those and skip this.

Nobody’s Princess (Wild Wynchesters #3) by Erika Ridley: A Regency-era romance with two superhero-adjacent leads. And the Wynchester family is delightfully chaotic as usual. Thank you Forever for the finished copy! | Check out my review on Instagram

40-Love (There’s Something About Marysburg #2) by Olivia Dade: Good but not great. Someday I’ll learn my lesson and stop reading books by Olivia Dade.

Bomb Shelter: Love, Time and Other Explosives by Mary Laura Philpott: Philpott’s writing makes me feel seen (or wonder if I blacked out and wrote this book myself). Funny and heartfelt; feels like a hug from a big sister or a beloved friend.

The Stand-Up Groomsman (Donut Fall in Love #2) by Jackie Lau: Asian representation, a short (5’6″!) male lead, and a great opposites-attract dynamic. Thank you Berkley for the e-ARC! | Check out my review on Instagram

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center: Katherine Center can do no wrong. I absolutely LOVED this.

What I Read: May 30-June 5

Dim Sum of All Fears (Noodle Shop Mystery #2) by Vivien Chien: This is easily one of my favorite cozy mystery series – I’ve read a few out of order, and have slowly gone back to the beginning (book two has been on my TBR shelf for a year now…) Chien always includes a good amount of humor, and the small community vibes set in a larger city (Cleveland!) keep this from being too sugary sweet. Also, the book covers and food descriptions always make me crave Chinese food.

Dukes Do It Better (Misfits of Mayfair #3) by Bethany Bennett: This is a fantastic little historical romance series – I found myself loving Mal in Dukes Do It Better, even though I’m pretty sure book two is my favorite of the bunch. Thank you Forever for the finished copy!

CURRENTLY READING: East of Eden by John Steinbeck – it’s been a while since I’ve read a classic and this is going pretty well so far. I’m a few pages short of being a quarter of the way through. Once I got used to the writing and the general premise, I’ve found that this has read a lot easier and quicker than anticipated.

What I Read: May 23-29

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum #1) by Janet Evanovich: After reading the two more recent books in the (very) long-running Stephanie Plum series, I decided to start from the beginning. Luckily, these books are pretty easy to find at most used bookstores. Keep in mind, this book was released in 1994, so some of the jokes are a little cringey and outdated – but overall, it was a decently fun read. I will continue on in the series because I think the books will improve.

Always Be My Duchess (Taming of the Dukes #1) by Amalie Howard: I had really high hopes for this, because I was under the impression that it was going to be a fun (and funny) romcom. However, this was much more serious than I anticipated and some of the grand gestures were just a little too cheesy for me. Thank you Forever for the ARC!

The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1) by Agatha Christie: One of my goals for 2022 was to start reading more Agatha Christie (especially now that I’m caught up on Karin Slaughter’s backlist). The Agatha Christie “estate” is releasing some really beautiful paperback editions of the Miss Marple books, so I figured that would be a great place to start. Unfortunately, The Murder at the Vicarage was a little lackluster – Miss Marple is barely a character, only making small appearances throughout. The story is narrated by the vicar, who isn’t the brightest bulb nor the most interesting mind to be inside. It’s worth noting that when most readers rank their top Miss Marple books, they almost never include this first entry. However, I’ve had pretty good results with the few AC books I have read in the past, so I’ll be continuing on with the series (I also have already purchased books one through six, so I’ll at least get that far before deciding if I’ll finish all twelve).

CURRENTLY READING: I’m in the mood for a short nonfiction read, so I’m starting Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse today.

What I Read: March 7-13

The Rebel and the Rake (League of Scoundrels #2) by Emily Sullivan: Rafe and Sylvia both have their secrets (Sylvia is hiding a scandalous past and Rafe is basically a SECRET AGENT). I enjoyed reading this but it’s a slower burn with a LOT of setup, which could be frustrating for some readers. Thank you Forever for the finished copy!

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: Phew, okay. I really enjoyed this at first and then…it lost me. I found myself skimming sections towards the end because I just didn’t care anymore. The writing is very matter-of-fact, and although I recognized the tragedy of the events in this book, nothing really hit me, emotionally. Not sure if this one is for you? I’ll sum it up like this: no one in this book is happy. Nothing good happens. Life sucks, and then you die (or you watch all of your loved ones die). However, this has a crazy high rating on Goodreads, so maybe i’m the problem.

Mermaid Inn by Jenny Holiday: This was the perfect little romcom to pick up after the absolute downer that Pachinko was (see above). Mermaid Inn is a second-chance romance: Eve and Sawyer are easy to root for, and their reconciliation doesn’t come fast (or easy) but the payoff is worth it. There are a lot of lovable supporting characters in this book (including Sawyer’s buddies who are the focus of books two and three). I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, and i’m honestly a little peeved that the Mermaid Inn isn’t a real place. Great book for fans of Gilmore Girls (MAJOR Stars Hollow vibes here). Thank you Forever for the finished copy!

End of Watch (Bill Hodges #3) by Stephen King: Oh, Steve. This trilogy started off really strong and then sort of fizzled out. End of Watch as a whole is a great story, with a heck of an ending. Unfortunately, I was so through with the unbelievable supernatural elements that I couldn’t fully appreciate the good parts. I don’t mind supernatural elements (especially in King’s work, of course) but because this series started off grounded in reality, the wild elements of the last book seemed a little out of left field. As usual, this is still worth reading (especially for diehard King fans).

CURRENTLY READING: In an effort to finish the Bridgerton series before season two airs later this month, I am reading On the Way to the Wedding (Bridgerton #8), which is Gregory’s story. Gregory isn’t mentioned much throughout the series, so this one feels a little detached from the rest. However, it’s still relatively enjoyable and I am really looking forward to wrapping this up and moving on to some different historical romance series.

What I Read: Feb. 28-March 6

It’s in His Kiss (Bridgerton #7) by Julia Quinn: Hyacinth’s book has a little bit of everything: a secret diary (that needs to be translated from Italian), family secrets, hidden treasure, espionage, the infamous Smythe-Smith musicale and a lot of Lady Danbury sass. Gareth might be the second or third best male lead in this series (no one dethrones Michael Stirling, though – NO. ONE.)

Heart of Ice (Louis Kincaid #11) by PJ Parrish: I picked this up on vacation last summer, solely because i’ll always be interested in books set on Mackinac Island. Although this was published in 2013 it takes place in 1990, which I thought was an interesting (and maybe unnecessary?) choice. It’s a solid mystery overall – the plot is good but the execution is a little messy.

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott: This was SUCH a pleasant surprise. Mary Laura Philpott and I might be long-lost best friends or kindred spirits – I saw so much of myself in this book. I also learned that she has another book coming out next month with a TURTLE on the cover and I NEED IT.

The Recovery Agent (Gabriella Rose #1) by Janet Evanovich (available 03/22/2022): I’ve recently turned to Janet Evanovich when I need quick, funny reads that are reliably ridiculous. Readers were introduced to Gabriella in Fortune and Glory (Stephanie Plum #27) and i’m pleased that she has her own series. The Recovery Agent was fun (and hilarious) but seemed a little disjointed at times with inconsistent pacing. However, I did enjoy the characters and will definitely give book two a read. (Thank you Atria for sending me an ARC!)

CURRENTLY READING: I’m about a third of the way through The Rebel and the Rake (League of Scoundrels #2) by Emily Sullivan and i’m enjoying it so far. Rafe and Sylvia are both wonderful leads and i’m excited to see how their story plays out. (Thank you Forever for the finished copy!)

REVIEW – West End Earl by Bethany Bennett

West End Earl was a super delightful and heartwarming romance – Calvin and Ophelia are lovable characters and I found myself rooting for them right from the start.

Ophelia has had a rough life, and she’s spent the last decade hiding who she is just in order to survive. Calvin has to work hard to clean up his father’s affairs (literally.) and finds himself feeling more like the parent than the child when he has to deal with dear old dad.

When Calvin discovers Ophelia’s secret, he immediately works to support her and make sure she stays safe. And, yes, they fall in love in the process (duh!)

I haven’t read the first book in the series yet, but it’s sitting on my tbr shelf and i’ll definitely be picking it up soon! I’m also very excited for book three (you’ll hate Emma and then you’ll love Emma and she deserves to get her own story!)

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

I had SO MUCH FUN reading Satisfaction Guaranteed. Stetz-Waters pulls you right in from the first chapter – with countless laugh-out-loud moments packed into just a few pages. Not only is Satisfaction Guaranteed hilarious, but it’s also sweet (and spicy). What’s not to love about a sex-positive romance, filled with adorable, lovable characters and effortless humor? Even in the sweet moments, I found myself giggling at some of the subtle details and witty one-liners.

I don’t usually like to compare new books to other things, but I will say this: Fans of The Roommate, you’ll like this. Fans of huggable characters you want to be best friends with, you’ll like this. Fans of joy, you’ll like this.

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of Satisfaction Guaranteed!

REVIEW – How to Survive a Scandal by Samara Parish

What a delightful historical romance! From the first chapter I was pulled into the story. Amelia has been engaged to a duke practically since birth, but when she’s caught in a compromising situation with Benedict (a misunderstanding!), everything she’s worked for is ripped away.

I never thought the marriage of convenience trope would be something I would enjoy, but here we are. Parish handles the situation well – yes, Amelia and Benedict are married before really getting to know each other, but they take their time warming up to one another and eventually (I mean, duh) fall in love.

I absolutely loved Benedict – he’s a delightful character. His little sister, Cassandra, is precious (I hope we see more of her in future books!)

I’m also looking forward to book two, which will focus on Fiona (don’t worry, you’ll meet her and you’ll LOVE her!)

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of How to Survive a Scandal!

REVIEW – A Rogue to Remember by Emily Sullivan

I’m still new to historical romance but slowly reading more (and buying more…) and A Rogue to Remember was a great debut from Emily Sullivan. Lottie and Alex are characters you can root for – both running from complicated pasts and uncertain (or certain and awful) futures. I’d consider this a great book for those new to the genre – if you’re thinking of giving historical romance a try, start with this one!

I’m also excited for the next book in the series – we get a relatively small glimpse of Rafe in this book, but he definitely makes an impression.

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley

Let’s cut to the chase – i’m already excited for book two of this series! I’m a new romance reader and I never thought historical romance would be a genre that I enjoyed, but here we are. If you watched or read Bridgerton and found yourself looking for something to fill the gap before season two, this is the book you need in your life.

We’re introduced to the Wild Wynchesters – a ragtag group of former orphans who were taken in by a kind, wealthy man with no family of his own. Each sibling has a particular skill or ability, and as a group, they’re unstoppable (and whip-smart, and hilarious and endearing…I could go on).

The Duke Heist focuses primarily on Chloe, who is really fantastic at…being forgettable. Truly. She’s been introduced to the same people multiple times, without a hint of recognition on their part. She blends seamlessly into “polite” society and uses this ability to try to steal back a painting that was wrongfully taken from her family months prior.

When Chloe accidentally abducts (seriously!) the Duke of Faircliffe, it throws a wrench in her plans…and in his.

Thank you Forever Publishing for sending me a copy of this book!