Review: The Sky Weaver (Iskari #3) by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Sky Weaver (Iskari, #3)The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sky Weaver is the third, and sadly, the final installment of companion novels within Kristen Ciccarelli’s Iskari series.

I started this series on a whim earlier this year and immediately fell in love with it. It’s so underrated.

In this edition we get to follow a character who has intrigued me from the very first book. Safire, a soldier and cousin to the new King, Dax, and his sister, the Last Namsara, Asha.

We also follow a new character, a pirate, Eris, known as the Death Dancer, who has the power to travel between worlds, thus making her next to impossible to catch.

When important items begin to be stolen from the kingdom, Safire, commander of the King’s forces, determines the Death Dancer may be plaguing them.

She’s correct and in fact, Eris has taken a special interest in the beautiful commander.

The two play cat and mouse for a bit, which only piques their interests more.

As their fates are pushed further together, both seeking Asha, albeit for different reasons, the two women build a tentative alliance, learning more about one another and about their greater world in general.

I loved this story so much. My favorite of the series. It was action-packed, full of reveals, high stakes and swoon-worthy pining.

An Enemies-to-Lovers trope set in a dragon Fantasy world, with beautifully told lore for the world sprinkled throughout. What is not to love?

Additionally, I enjoyed how the three storylines all really came together in this one. Ciccarelli wrapped it up nicely, although I will say, if she ever chooses to write more in this world, I will be the first one to line up to buy it.

One of my favorite aspects of this series, was the lush and lyrical legends Ciccarelli created as a base for this world. Those sections are included in all three books and are connected to Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Lore of the world of Iskari.

It connected so well with the main storyline and characters; absolutely seamless.

If you have had this series on your radar for a while, you should definitely check it out. I am so happy that I did and now consider it to be one of my favorite YA Fantasy series!!

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Review: First Comes Like (Modern Love #3) by Alisha Rai

First Comes Like (Modern Love, #3)First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

First Comes Like is the third companion novel in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series.

In this installment we follow Jia Ahmed, roommate of Rhiannon and Katrina, the stars of the first two novels.

Jia is a successful Beauty Influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers. Having been in that space for quite a few years, it is starting to feel stale for her. She dreams of one day owning her own make-up company.

She’s so focused on her career that it surprises her when she starts to fall for a man who begins DMing her.

The man in question is Dev Dixit, a successful actor from a powerful Bollywood family. They’re basically royalty.

Dev has recently moved to the United States to try to take his career in a different direction. He wants to be free from the shadow of his family; to forge his own path.

When Jia hears of a party she knows Dev will be at, she decides it is finally time for them to meet in person. They have been messaging for so long, but when she mentions meeting, he generally redirects the conversation.

Jia is ready to take matters into her own hands, but when she approaches Dev at the party, he acts like he has no idea who she is.

Jia is horrified and embarrassed. She flees the party like Cinderella at the ball, leaving a dumbfounded Dev in her wake.

From there we watch as the truth behind Jia and Dev’s online interactions comes to light.

When the tabloids begin covering their relationship, portraying it in a more intimate way than is true, the two develop a scheme to save face.

Thus an adorable Fake Dating trope develops. Bringing both of their families into the fray, ups the stakes for both Jia and Dev.

I know I’m in the minority opinion, but this was actually my favorite in the series.

I found it so refreshing to read a Romance following a different cultural perspective than my own. I loved all the characters and arc of Jia and Dev’s relationship. It left me swooning.

I really enjoyed both Jia and Dev’s perspectives and again, appreciated how Rai portrays her characters working through real-life issues with family, career and even self-confidence.

I think it makes her characters feel more complex, real and easy to relate to. I have felt that way with all three books in this series.

As far as the steam factor goes, there’s not much here; some, but not a lot. I feel like if you go into this, seeing Alisha Rai’s name on the cover, and think the steam train is about to roll into the station, you may be disappointed.

However, if you arrive looking for great character work and are willing to sit back and soak up the feels as an adorable intimacy is built outside of the bedroom, you could enjoy this as much as I did!

The audiobook is fantastic as well, definitely recommend that. In short, this was great. I really enjoyed my time spent with this story.

I would absolutely pick up future works from Rai!

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Review: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like ThisWe Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

You’ve swept me off my feet again, Rachel Lynn Solomon. I see you and it’s like you see me too.

Quinn Berkowitz is the harpist for her parent’s wedding planning business.

Tarek Monsour is a cater-waiter, and aspiring baker, whose family’s catering business is frequently hired on by the Berkowitzs for events.

Over the years, the two have worked a lot of weddings together.

Somewhere along the way, Quinn became a skeptic of the whole love thing, while Tarek went completely in the other direction. He’s now over-the-top romantic; full of positivity with regards to love.

Last summer, Quinn became fed up with watching Tarek’s grand gestures to other girls. Perhaps she had secretly grown to like him more than she admitted.

When she called him out on it though, her ire seemed to ruin everything. He left for college and they didn’t talk for a year.

As summer returns, so too does Tarek, home from college and again working with his parents.

The first wedding Quinn sees him at is uncomfortable as heck, but this is a romantic comedy, so y’all know what’s coming.

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is exactly as adorable as it sounds. Solomon always knows how to bring the cute, as well as relatable substance.

This book is full of incredible OCD rep, sex positivity and exploration of other issues a lot of young adults go through; like, what the heck do I want to do with the rest of my life?

Solomon is always able to handle serious topics well and seamlessly incorporates them into otherwise light-hearted narratives.

This is the YA Summer Romance that should be on everyone’s reading list. I highly, highly recommend it!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Rachel Lynn Solomon is an autobuy author for me and I can’t wait to see what cutesy-creation she dreams up next!!!

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Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last StopOne Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Casey McQuiston!!!

I’m going to find it close to impossible to write this review without swooning like a fangirl, but I’ll give it my best shot.

In One Lost Stop, we follow 23-year old college student, August, who has recently moved to New York City.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the city, August is on a journey of self-discovery. She’s on her own for the first time and is a little desperate to find her place.

Securing a room in an apartment with three other people and taking a job at a 24-hour pancake diner seem like steps in the right direction.

August is establishing herself as a functioning adult, no matter how meager her resources, yet she still feels alone.

The stars align one day, however, as she meets a girl on the Q. The sexy and mysterious, Jane, gives August a scarf in her hour of need. After that, August cannot get her out of her mind.

Subsequently, she runs into Jane every time she is on the train and a relationship develops. It very quickly becomes clear that something about Jane is a little off.

Jane’s not just a random punk rocker, razorblade girl with a cotton candy heart, taking her style inspiration from the 1970s. She’s actually from the 1970s, and somehow, someway, finds herself trapped on the Q-line.

I know this seems like a bit of a trippy idea, but it was such a phenomenally fun and creative way to frame this story.

August coming to the revelation that Jane cannot leave the train and trying to figure out what exactly that means and why; it was bloody fantastic and so incredibly entertaining.

August’s roommates, Myla, Niko and Wes, all become involved in the relationship, as well as their neighbor, Annie. Together this vastly diverse group of souls evolve into one of the most beautiful found-families that I have ever read.

Each person had their own unique story, voice, personality and contribution to August’s growth and maturation. I absolutely adored the way they interacted and supported one another.

Friendship goals, for sure. McQuiston packed so much into this book and watching the evolution of August’s character was immensely satisfying.

There were so many moments when I laughed, a few when I felt my heart-breaking and times where I was just left contemplating this thing we call life.

The release date for this book coinciding with the 1st day of Pride month, couldn’t be more perfect!

The representation includes a plethora of Queer identities and romances. I particularly enjoyed how OLS is just a story of Queer individuals living their lives in the way they choose.

It didn’t really have individuals having to hide who they were, or having to come out to anyone in a dramatic way.

They all just were living their day-to-day lives in New York City; dealing with family, work, relationships, LIFE. There was a certain sense of peace to be found in that, even when the narrative got a little crazy!

I think August learned a lot from her new friends. Particularly how to open up, be herself and allow herself to need other people in her life.

That it was okay if things were complicated, what with her love interest being trapped in time and all.

Jane was a fascinating character as well. I loved how her life was pieced together through her continual interactions with August.

It was particularly clever how McQuiston used Jane’s character, in a way, as a plot device to compare the experiences Jane had, as a Queer woman, in the 1970s, versus the experiences that August and her friends have in the present time. It felt like a subtle, respectful nod to those who came before.

At the end of the day, this book has it all. If you enjoyed Red, White & Royal Blue, you should love One Last Stop. It’s next level. This book made me overflow with feeling!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I greatly appreciate the opportunity!

A new favorite!!!

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Review: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Dial A for AuntiesDial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Meddy Chan works as a photographer for her family’s up-and-coming wedding planning business.

After completing college, where she did study photography, Meddy couldn’t seem to extract herself from her loving, though overly-involved, mother and aunties.

Since the men in the family, and all her cousins, have left, Meddy is the sole focus of Ma’s and the Aunties’ attention. Her family is cursed. That’s all there is to it.

When her mother fixes her up on a blind date, she agrees good-naturedly to go. How bad can it possibly be?

As it turns out, bad. Really, really bad.

Her date ends up dead. Meddy freaks, as you would, and in her panicked state transports his body back to her house in the truck of her car.

Fortunately, one of the best things about her Ma and Aunties is, they’re always there when Meddy needs them and right now, she REALLY needs them and right now, she REALLY needs them.

From there hijinks ensue, as the body of her dead date ends up being accidentally transported to the island where the over-the-top billionaire’s wedding they are working that weekend is being held.

Dial A for Aunties drew me in from the very start. Meddy, as a protagonist, is sharp and super relatable.

I loved her relationship with her Ma, as well as the relationships among all the Aunties. There is such a fun family dynamic throughout this entire story.

I think it could best be described as Weekend at Bernie’s with a Romantic Comedy twist, so if that sounds interesting to you, pick it up. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

I had an absolute blast reading this and am so happy books like this exist in the world!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate it!

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Review: 10 Truths and a Dare by Ashley Elston

10 Truths and a Dare10 Truths and a Dare by Ashley Elston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With 10 Truths and a Dare, Ashely Elston returns the Reader to the loving, yet chaotic, Messina family. You may recall them from Elston’s 2019-release, 10 Blind Dates.

In this installment, we follow Olivia, one of the cousins, at the very end of her Senior year in high school. In fact, there is just a week to go until graduation.

Olivia has always taken school very seriously, so it is no surprise to anyone that she will be graduating second in her class.

As Salutatorian, she will be giving the welcome speech at the graduation ceremony. It’s kind of a big deal.

What does come as a surprise to Olivia, is the email she receives from the school, saying her off-campus PE teacher never filled out the paperwork needed to show she completed her golf class.

Meaning, without that course officially completed, she is a half-credit short of the credits she will need to graduate!

Olivia cannot believe it. There has to be a mistake. Everything she has worked so hard for can all be taken away from her because of golf!?

She needs to get in touch with her PE teacher, Coach Cantu, in order to clear this up. Otherwise, she will never be able to enjoy all the graduation parties she has to attend this week.

After talking with the coach, it’s clear, she needs extra credit and the only way to get it, is by helping him with the 4-day golf tournament occurring that week.

Olivia needs to hide all of this from her parents, who are luckily out of town, but her Mom tracks her like a police dog. She literally has a tracking app on her phone.

Making matters worse, her Mom knows her graduation party schedule and is really excited for it. How can Olivia possibly be in two places at once?

She’s going to have to call in reinforcements. The other members of the Fab Four, her cousins, Charlie and Sophie, as well as their other best friend, Sophie’s boyfriend, Wes, agree to help and get Olivia through the week.

As with 10 Blind Dates, this story is full of wacky hijinks, romance, humor and touching family moments.

I laughed, cried and felt a whole host of emotions in between. I adored the dynamic of the Fab Four. They really go all in to help Olivia through, what turns out to be, the most difficult week of her life.

The narrative is so fast-paced. I completed it in under 24-hours. Once I started, I could not put it down. I had to know the conclusion.

While this story focused more on the Fab Four, and less on the extended family members, I didn’t mind that at all. The other family was still there around the periphery, bringing that classic Messina family chaos that I grew to love in the first book.

I hope Elston writes more books following this family. Could there be a book for Charlie in the works?

I highly recommend this, or any other book by Ashley Elston, actually. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. Also, be sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of this.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I appreciate the opportunity to provide my thoughts and opinion.

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Review: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Ex TalkThe Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her local public radio station since she graduated from college nearly a decade ago. She enjoys her job and can’t imagine ever working anywhere else.

Dominic Yun is Shay’s newest coworker. He’s fresh out of a Masters Degree program in Journalism at a top school and boy, does he love to tell you about it.

He’s the current hot-shot at the station that all the higher-ups seem to love, but frankly, his very presence drives Shay a little batty.

Sure, he’s good-looking, tall and smells nice, but why does he have to be so darn condescending?

Pitching ideas to try to boost the ratings of their slightly floundering station, Shay presents an idea for a relationship chat show.

The concept is that exs would cohost and explore what went wrong in their relationship, tying in other popular dating topics at the same time. To Shay’s surprise, her boss okays the project with enthusiasm.

The only catch is, he expects Shay and Dominic to co-host. It’s true they’ve never dated, but there is certainly enough animosity flowing between them to convince people that they have.

Neither of them feels good about having to deceive their audience, but they also feel like they don’t have much choice. Ultimately, both Shay and Dominic begrudgingly accept the assignment.

They first need to make up an entire story behind their 3-month dating life, memorize it and stick to it. With that comes the opportunity to get to know each other better.

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s work.

If I am not mistaken, this book is her debut in the Adult Romance space. I really enjoyed my time with these characters, although I will say they did both seem extremely young.

At times, I could have easily been convinced they were in high school interning at a radio station; except then I would be reminded of the fact they both had completed college and had their own apartments. Then, of course, there’s the steamy bits.

Those were well done. No further clarification required.

It’s true, I enjoyed this so, so much. I loved Shay. I loved Dominic. I loved Shay’s adopted dog. There’s miscommunication, flirting, workplace debacles and soft, romantic moments. It’s just a lot of fun.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

This story gave me all the feels and I look forward to picking up Solomon’s upcoming YA-release, We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This.

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Review: Love & Olives (Love & Gelato #3) by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & Olives (Love & Gelato, #3)Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jenna Evans Welch has done it again. I absolutely loved my time spent reading Love & Olives.

This brought back the tone, humor, heart and gut-punching familial relationships of Love & Gelato. I’m so happy.

Liv Varanakis is surprised when she receives a postcard from her father asking her to travel to Greece to stay with him. He needs her help with a mystery project; something involving the lost city of Atlantis.

Honestly, Liv has been trying to forget her Dad. She has had little, to no, contact with him since he left when she was only 8-years old.

He returned to his native-country, Greece, and her and her mom were forced to make ends meet without him. It wasn’t always easy, but her mom has since remarried and she even has a half-brother now, who she adores.

She has to go though. Her Mom is making her go. It’ll be fine. Even though she has to miss her boyfriend’s Senior Trip; it’ll be fine.

Arriving on the beautiful island of Santorini, Liv’s nerves begin to get the best of her. She has no idea what to expect. Will she and her Dad even get along?

Things get off to a bit of a rocky start when a strange boy shows up in her Dad’s place to pick her up from the airport. Should she even trust this person?

He claims his name is Theo and that he works for her father. It’s like something out of a movie. She’s pretty sure she shouldn’t just go with him. She’s seen, Taken.

This story is an absolute delight. The Reader gets to follow along as Liv and her father try to repair their broken relationship. She gets to live in his book shop, with Theo, and their relationship blossoms as well.

Central to the story is the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis and the documentary film her father is making on the subject. Liv, an artist, is put in charge filming, a task she excels at.

The story is told through Liv’s perspective and it is full of humor. She has such a sarcastic, honest view of the events; it’s hilarious to read.

I loved the interactions between characters and how Welch incorporated some heavier topics throughout. Liv really grows over the course of the story. Watching her relationship with her father change, as she learns more about him, and about herself, was really lovely.

I have read some reviews where people commented on the length of the story; that it is too long. It is long, over 500-pages for a YA Contemporary, but looking back on it, I cannot think of one scene that I would have removed.

For me, every detail was needed in order to become as attached to Liv and her story as I did. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Ultimately, I am so glad I picked this up. I didn’t have the greatest experience with Love & Luck, but I knew what Welch was capable of because of Love & Gelato.

I actually think this story is my favorite out of the three. Liv is my favorite protagonist, combined with the Atlantis lore and the documentary aspect, makes this a near perfect book for me.

As one of my favorite BookTubers always says, 10 out of 10, recommend! Let Greece sweep you away!

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Review: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Make Up Break UpMake Up Break Up by Lily Menon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Make Up Break Up is Sandhya Menon’s Adult Romance debut; here writing as Lily Menon.

Most people know Sandhya Menon from her cutesy YA Contemporary novels, When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle, with Love and There’s Something About Sweetie.

In this novel, we follow Annika Dev, the creator of a relationship app, Make Up. Even though the app is floundering a bit at the moment, Annika believes she can make her ‘Google translate for failing relationships’ work.

When a rival app, Break Up, created by the admittedly charming, Hudson Craft, moves into the office space next to Make Up, Annika is rattled.

Since their short fling in Las Vegas the previous year, Annika has watched Hudson’s star rise using an idea she feels he stole from her.

He took her Make Up, flipped it on its head, and Break Up was born. Most infuriating of all, he seems to be having an easier time getting his app off the ground than she is.

Now that their offices are next door to one another, they bump into each other all the time. He clearly isn’t as offended by her presence, however, as she is by his.

In fact, he seems to be trying to charm her. Either that, or get under her skin. He’s devious, it’s tough to figure out his intentions, but Annika’s head is swimming because of it.

Making matters worse, the two companies are set to compete against one another at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest. Make Up needs to win in order to continue. Annika must put her head down and focus, but Hudson is making that really difficult.

I like stories set in the tech world, so this definitely checked that box. Plus, having women in tech is always nice to see.

The flow of the narrative was smooth and it did have some solid, dramatic moments, as well as some light humor.

With this being said, I was never sold on the romance. Annika and Hudson, I just didn’t buy it. I knew I was supposed to be rooting for them to get together, but I wasn’t. I didn’t feel anything for either of them.

I’m sort of ambivalent about the whole thing. It didn’t really impact me one way, or another.

It also seemed to end rather abruptly, after a long-slow build-up. We finally begin to get some resolution and the credits start to roll. That’s it.

Overall, I think this is a good story, it just wasn’t one that I personally connected with. I am sure a lot of people will, however, and I hope Menon continues expanding into this space.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate it.

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Review: Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan

Ten Rules for Faking ItTen Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

Everly Dean is a producer of a radio show, working alongside her best friend, Stacey, the DJ.

On Everly’s 30th-birthday, she catches her boyfriend, Simon, with another woman. Not a great way to start a day.

Arriving at work, she proceeds to rant to Stacey about it. Unfortunately, the microphone was on and now all of their listeners know of the problems with Everly’s love life.

Trying to spin a negative into a positive, Everly agrees to participate in a Bachelorette-style dating show hosted by the station. Their numbers have been struggling and it may boost their ratings just enough to keep them going.

This is a really tough sell for Everly. She suffers from severe social anxiety, so even the thought of going out on a series of random dates with a bunch of strangers causes her to hyperventilate.

Her cute boss, Chris, the one who doesn’t seem to like her at all, thinks it is a great idea though; as does Stacey. She’ll give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

As it turns out, the dates aren’t too bad, but Everly can’t stop thinking about her boss.

Alternating between Chris and Everly’s perspective, the Reader gets a front row seat to all of their pinings, doubts and insecurities, as an adorable friendship develops.

The first half of this book, I was pretty into it. I liked the characters and although not super romance heavy, I enjoyed reading about their friendships and issues.

Everly’s anxieties were relatable and I thought she was doing a great job getting outside of her comfort zone and working at lowering her walls.

I really liked Chris as well. He was in a difficult position. His father owns the radio station, but he didn’t want any of the employees to know. He wanted to be judged on his own merit, not because of the fact that his father is super rich.

Chis has a huge crush on Everly, but doesn’t feel like he is in a position to make a move considering he is her boss. That makes sense. I get that.

Everything was going along nicely, but then somewhere around the 80% mark, it just went off the rails for me.

It got beyond frustrating. I actually started to get angry with the characters and the way things were going. I was yelling at them. Literally exclaiming things randomly while reading.

Everly ended up turning into one of my least favorite characters ever. She was so rigid. Holding everyone to these impossibly high standards. It was so freaking aggravating.

It was like she had never made a mistake before. She’s a 30-year old woman, judging people based upon decisions they made when they were 20-freaking years old.

I don’t know, something about that just rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t get over that distaste once it was in my head and the rest of the story suffered for it.

I rounded up to 3-stars, because I feel like this has the workings to be a good story, and if you don’t have the same issues with Everly that I did, this could work for you. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a great fit for me.

I did adore Chris though. He deserves better, in my opinion, than the end of this book.

Also, although this didn’t have an impact on my rating, I know for a lot of Romance Readers it might, there is zero steam in this story. There is more steam in a Hallmark movie than in this book, so if that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I do appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

While this didn’t knock it out of the park for me, I would definitely try more from Sophie Sullivan.

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