Review: Nocturne by Alyssa Wees

NocturneNocturne by Alyssa Wees
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let’s start off this review with a little confession, shall we?

I participated in a Readathon this week where one of the prompts was to read the lowest rated book on your TBR. While this isn’t the lowest rated book overall, it was the lowest rate ARC that I currently had to read.

Always trying to check off some ARCs, I decided to give it a go, but I didn’t go in with high expectations.

Luckily for me, Nocturne turned out to be a pretty great example of why I tend not to look at ratings and reviews before I pick up a book. I know that goes against everything we’re doing here, but it’s the truth.

Reading is an incredibly subjective activity. Pair the right book, at the right time, with the right Reader and magic can happen. Read that same book when your in a certain mood and it can be a total flop.

I’m clearly the right Reader for this book. This story is set in 1930’s Chicago and seamlessly blends Historical Fiction with Dark Fantasy and light Romance.

Our main character is Grace Dragotta, who after being orphaned, ventures out on her own and joins a dancing company. A life she dreamed of. When we meet Grace, she is a teen and on the cusp of being elevated to prima ballerina within her company.

Unfortunately for Grace, raising to this rank is bittersweet. She only gets the role after her best friend, Emilia, leaves her spot as prima to be married. Grace is losing the closest person to her in all the world. She doesn’t know how she’ll get by without Emilia’s comforting presence.

Not long after her ascendancy, Grace receives word from her Mistress that she has caught the eye of a mysterious, wealthy patron. In order to keep her dance house afloat, the Mistress essentially sells Grace to this man.

Grace is forced to live at his estate, only traveling back to the studio to train and perform. There’s a lot of whispers about her new life, but Grace tries her best to just get on with it.

As she learns the shocking truth about her patron, it’s clear that the life she dreamed for herself will never come to be.

Y’all, I really enjoyed this. It’s not a complicated story. It’s pretty straight-forward, well-written and the concepts are easy to understand.

I should note that I grew up in dance and playing the violin, the two artistic pursuits that the main character engages in. Having my own personal experience and passions in those two areas did increase my connection to the story. I loved Grace and learning about her life.

This feels very much inspired by Beauty and the Beast. I loved those elements. I wasn’t expecting them and every time I would come across something that made me think of that classic tale, it would make me happy.

The relationship between Grace and her Master, was lush and evocative. I really enjoyed the truth of him and what he was offering her. Additionally, I enjoyed the evolution of her feelings for him and her place in his world.

Wees writing is quite beautiful and I liked the way she wrote the initial set-up and then progressed the plot. I thought the pacing of this was fantastic, it kept me engaged the entire way through.

Overall, I found Nocturne to be lyrical, dark and enchanting. Wees successfully swept me up and away into a whole other world. In a way, it felt like a love letter to the healing power of artistic expression. I’m so glad I finally made time for it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was gorgeous and I look forward to reading more from Wees in the future!

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Review: The Plus One (A Brush with Love #3) by Mazey Eddings

The Plus One (A Brush with Love, #3)The Plus One by Mazey Eddings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Plus One is the newest installment in the A Brush with Love series by Mazey Eddings. This series consists of companion novels, set in Philadelphia, following a strong and supportive friendship group of women in their late-20s.

Each of the women we meet over the course of the series is incredibly-well fleshed out, with their own distinct strengths, weaknesses and personality quirks.

In this third book, it is Indira’s turn to take the leading role. We have met Indira in the previous two books, but it was nice to really get to know her through this story. I’ve always liked her, after this though, I love her.

This starts off horribly for Indira after she walks in on her live-in boyfriend, Chris, having a bit of a tug and cuddle with a stranger. It’s clearly not the first time.

Indira is horrified, she can’t believe her eyes, like really can’t believe her eyes. Is that peanut butter?! She’s ticked, she’s done, she wants out.

Quickly packing her things, including her adorable cat, Indira races over to her brother, Colin’s, house, heartbroken and distraught. Well, maybe not heartbroken per se, but definitely distraught.

Adding insult to injury, when she gets to Colin’s she discovers his best friend, Jude, is currently staying there as well. Ughhhh, life is unfair.

Of course he is. With Colin and his fiance’s wedding rapidly approaching, of course Jude would be there, it just couldn’t be worse timing for Indira. She can’t stand Jude. Even growing up, they were always at odds with one another.

Jude, a surgeon, has been traveling the world for the past few years working in the most dire circumstances, war-torn and impoverished communities; humanitarian crisis zones. Returning to the United States for Colin’s wedding, Jude is having a hard time adjusting.

He’s suffering from lack of sleep, paralyzing guilt and anxiety stemming from the things he has seen; the patients he has lost. The last thing he needs now is Indira.

While Indira is happy to have a place to go to escape Chris and his new lady friend, that doesn’t solve all her problems. Chris is friends with Colin and part of the wedding party.

With many pre-wedding events planned and the actual event itself looming on the horizon, she’s rattled with anxiety, how can she possibly face him?! It’s going to be awful.

Knowing of her predicament, Jude feels for Indira. He’s not heartless. Together they form a pact to fake date over the course of the wedding festivities. It will be great for both of them to have support during those events.

Indira has noticed something off about Jude since he’s been back. She’s hoping she’ll be able to provide some help for him if he begins to get overwhelmed.

As Indira and Jude spend more time together, it becomes clear that maybe their opinions of one-another have changed. It’s hard to deny the spark that fires between them. Will it last, or will it fizzle out once their need for fake dating is over?

Mazey Eddings is becoming quite the star in my eyes. My goodness, this series just keeps delivering the steam, the humor and all the feels!!

I loved both Indira and Jude. I also love how Eddings brings real-life issues to the page for her characters. No one is perfect in these stories. Everyone has something, sometimes multiple things, that they are working on, or through.

I was again impressed with how quickly Eddings is able to develop such flawed, sympathetic, witty and charming characters. It’s gripping right from start, mainly because you get sucked into the characters lives.

Jude’s story. in particular, I felt was incredibly well done. It was powerful, hard-hitting, eye-opening and honestly, quite serious. His PTSD was laid at your feet. It’s a heavy topic to tackle in an otherwise funny, romantic story.

I thought Eddings did a great job balancing the serious with the more light-hearted aspects. With this being said though, I did feel the tone of this one was a little different, heavier in a way, than the previous two.

It’s still fantastic, don’t get me wrong. I think part of it actually may stem from the relationship dynamic between our two mains. Jude and Indira have known each other a long time. They have an established relationship.

In the first two books, some of the fun and excitement came from two characters meeting, dating and falling in love. There’s always some underlying excitement in that process because it’s all new.

Here the exploration of the relationship was different because they came in with a history. That history did allow them to go deeper though, I felt, than the previous two couples. That’s not a bad thing, it just tackles romance from a different angle.

The humor, wit, steamy scenes and hilarious situations did not change though. Eddings knows how to shock, surprise and impress. I was completely absorbed in this story. Jude and Indira will always have a special place in my heart.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am in love with this series and cannot wait for the next book!

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Review: Stars and Smoke (Stars and Smoke #1) by Marie Lu

Stars and Smoke (Stars and Smoke, #1)Stars and Smoke by Marie Lu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stars and Smoke is the newest release from veteran-YA author, and one of my personal favorites, Marie Lu.

In this story we meet Winter Young and Sydney Cossette. Winter is an international pop star and Sydney is a top-spy for a special-ops group. They’re as opposite as opposite can be, but through an unusual set of circumstances they end up coming into one another’s orbit.

It begins when the organization approaches Winter with the hopes of recruiting him. A major crime boss, Eli Morrison, who they have been trying to take down for years, has a daughter, Penelope, with an upcoming birthday.

Daddy Dearest is throwing the party of a lifetime for the occasion and wants Winter to perform at the event. The organization, Panacea, sees this as an opportunity to infiltrate Morrison’s world. If Winter agrees to work with them, he can be their eyes on the inside.

Not just Winter though. They can’t send an unseasoned operative in by himself. Sydney will be going with him, posing as his bodyguard. She has plenty of experience for the both of them.

I wouldn’t say that Sydney is necessarily excited about the assignment. She just knows this guy is going to do nothing but get in her way, but alas, orders are orders.

The tension between the two is palatable. Will they be able to put it aside long enough to complete a successful mission, or will they crash and burn, risking everything, even their lives?

I had a blast reading this. I found this to be such a refreshing change of pace from my normal reads. It’s unique, fast-paced and thrilling, with well-created characters and an exciting plot.

I really enjoyed both Winter and Sydney. Initially, I was most excited for Winter because I tend to love characters who are musicians. This story didn’t really focus much on that aspect, it was more about Winter’s fame, but I was still here for it.

As I got deeper into the story, I found myself drawn to Sydney’s story more. I love her character. A girl from a difficult background, Sydney joined Panacea as a way to escape her earlier life.

It’s interesting because as agents of Panacea, they aren’t supposed to really build prominent relationships because it makes it difficult to focus on their missions. This reminded me of the Jedi in a way and I feel like Sydney, in another time and place, would make an INCREDIBLE Jedi.

Nerdy-epiphanies aside, Sydney is just fantastic. I did enjoy watching the relationship between Sydney and Winter play-out as well, although I will say, I disagree with the synopsis calling this, a smoldering enemies-to-lovers story.

I get it, but I wouldn’t say that’s accurate. I felt like, while some of that may come into play, anyone expecting ‘smoldering’ romance may be disappointed. Just a little warning and of course, my personal opinion. You’re idea of smoldering may be completely different than mine.

I did really enjoy the twists and turns over the course of the story and as a start to a series, I think this is a great base on which to build. I am looking forward to seeing the direction Lu takes this one. I will absolutely be continuing on with it.

One final note, the audiobook has incredible narration, so I definitely recommend that format for my fellow Audiobook Lovers out there!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Roaring Brook Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copies to read and review. Lu’s writing never fails to transport me into her stories.

Stars and Smoke is available now!!!

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Review: Immortality (The Anatomy Duology #2) by Dana Schwartz

ImmortalityImmortality by Dana Schwartz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Immortality is the second book in Dana Schwart’s YA-Gothic Fantasy Romance The Anatomy Duology.

First, let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way. This cover is absolutely stunning and the two novels together…

They’re perfection. They also fit this story nicely. These books follow Hazel Sinnett, who after the tumultuous events of Anatomy: A Love Story finds herself on her own.

Not one to give up in the face of adversity, however, Hazel continues to plug along, doing what she does best; learning about human anatomy, while also putting her knowledge to good use helping the underprivileged of Edinburgh.

When a young woman comes to Hazel, scared and distressed, she never even considers turning the sick woman away, even though the procedure she requests is against the law.

Unfortunately for Hazel, her efforts that day don’t go unnoticed and she is arrested and imprisoned. The punishment, possibly execution. This is no joke.

Just when Hazel thinks it’s the end of the road for her, a confounding message arrives that saves her skin. She has been specifically requested to be the personal physician of Princess Charlotte, the sickly daughter of King George IV.

Before she knows it, Hazel is freed from prison and transported to the Palace, where she must befriend the Princess, a task easier said than done, and figure out just what the heck is wrong with her.

As Hazel becomes more involved with the royal court, it’s clear to her that something is afoot. If she can’t figure out what it is, and soon, there could be a lot more than just her life at stake. We have a mystery on our hands!

Immortality is a very solid sequel. Sometimes it can be difficult with a second book to create the same magic as the first, but I think Schwartz pulled it off overall.

I was delighted from the get-go to be back with Hazel. I really grew to love her over the course of the first book and she was sticking true to herself in this follow-up.

As a girl who goes against the grain of what family and society expect of her, Hazel’s personality rings true and is quite intriguing. I love how she never backed down, even when her family basically shunned her. She took risks and although doesn’t live the most extravagant lifestyle, I think she’s able to sleep pretty comfortably at night.

I was sorry to see her get into a bit of a pickle early on in this one, but it was fun watching how she got out of it. Of course it was more pure luck and her reputation than anything else, but we’ll take what we can get.

I also liked her immersion in the royal court. There were definitely some interesting characters flitting about around there and as expected, a ton of royal drama.

While this one didn’t feel as dark and gothic to me, mainly due to the different road the plot went down, it was still well done as far as the atmosphere and overall vibe.

I also missed the dynamic we had between Hazel and Jack in the first one. As they were getting to know one another, the pining and tension was fantastic and you really couldn’t have that same thing here. I missed it, but obviously understand why that couldn’t be a part of this continuation.

However, we do get another intriguing man, a doctor no less, circling around Hazel like a bee to honey, so that definitely brought some more cute fun.

I’ve enjoyed watching Hazel grow over the course of this story, as she became even more committed to her vocation, in spite of the contempt, disrespect and disregard she received from most of her male peers.

I also enjoyed the light fantastical elements sprinkled throughout the duology, the idea of the immortality serum; to learn more, you’ll have to read the book, by the way.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I enjoyed my time with this duology and am looking forward to reading more from Dana Schwartz.

I hope she sticks to the gothic-feeling, light-fantasy romance style that she brought us here. She does it so well!

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Review: Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake (A Brush With Love #2) by Mazey Eddings

Lizzie Blake's Best Mistake (A Brush With Love, #2)Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake by Mazey Eddings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake is the second book in Mazey Eddings’ adorable A Brush With Love series. These novels are Adult Romances that follow a friendship group of women.

I loved getting to know a little bit about Lizzie at the end of A Brush with Love, so I was super excited when I learned she was to have the starring role in this next novel!!!

Lizzie, a professional baker, is known to be the chaotic one in their friendship group. She really tries, but yeah, she messes up sometimes, forgets things, gets distracted, makes reckless decisions, etc. It’s just who she is.

Although some people may look at these things as personality quirks, for Lizzie, who lives every day with uncontrolled Adult-ADHD, they are a lot more than that. She struggles to stay on track, with even every day functions oftentimes being difficult for her.

One mistake she doesn’t make is getting into a serious relationship. Hook-ups, sure, yes, she loves that one night of intimacy and pushing boundaries. Anything more than that brings complications. No, thank you.

That’s why when her most recent hook-up with a super charming, sexy Australian man named Rake, turns into a 2-night affair, it really throws her for a loop.

Rake, who was only in the States for a business trip, returned to Australia shortly thereafter. Regardless of the distance, he can’t seem to get that charming redhead off his mind. He’s given up on relationships though, so just needs to accept it for what it was; two wild nights.

But when Lizzie calls him to tell him she’s pregnant, it very suddenly becomes much more than that. What will this non-couple, this long-distance non-couple, do?

I had a ton of fun with this book. The audiobook is delightful, the narration was so engaging. It’s wild, charming, funny, OTT and 100% a page-turner.

I loved both of these characters so much, as well as getting to watch their relationship evolve. Eddings writes some incredible banter and her characters are always well-developed, often dealing with relatable issues.

Additionally, the steamy scenes are fantastic. And yeah, it’s super steamy, so please don’t go into this thinking it’s rated-PG. It’s not, this is R. However, it’s not overwhelmingly so. This novel is about the story of the relationship more than the great sex.

I can definitely say after this book that Mazey Eddings is one of my go-to Romance writers. I will pick up anything she writes in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I enjoyed this so much and am looking forward to the next book in the series where Lizzie’s friend, Indira, gets her time to shine!!

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Review: Wildblood by Lauren Blackwood

WildbloodWildblood by Lauren Blackwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Exotic Lands Touring Company offers tourists the opportunity to go on the excursions of their dreams through the magical and mystical jungle landscapes of Jamaica.

Victoria is an 18-year old Wildblood, who after being kidnapped as a child, is made to work for the Company. Wildbloods use their powers to guide tourists safely through the dangerous parts of the jungle.

The Company’s latest mission is to help a successful miner, a young man named Thorne, reach an area in the jungle thought to hold vast deposits of gold.

Victoria, recently turned down for a position of team leader in favor of her less talented, jerk of an ex-boyfriend, Dean, is slightly disgruntled as the tour gets under way. One look at Thorne though and she begins to reconsider. He’s quite handsome and he seems to be taken with her too.

Each member of the excursion is assigned their very own Wildblood and as luck would have it, Thorne and Victoria get paired up. The rest, as they say, is history.

I really enjoyed Blackwood’s 2021-debut, Within These Wicked Walls. I loved the atmosphere, rich with gothic vibes and found the plot to be dark and engaging. Therefore, when I heard about Blackwood’s sophomore effort, Wildblood, I was super excited to get to it.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to connect to this as well as I did with Blackwood’s first book. I feel like this is a personal taste issue, the plot just wasn’t something I found to be engaging, but I know that a lot of Readers will.

Additionally, I was a bit disappointed by the atmosphere. Being set in the magical wilds of a fantasy version of Jamaica, I expected it to be lush, ominous and exciting, but personally, I felt like it could have taken place anywhere.

I did appreciate the various themes explored. The power dynamics amongst the characters working for the Tour Company was of particular interest to me.

Also, the exploitation of local culture, people and resources by wealthy outsiders via eco-tourism was examined. It’s a bit of an overriding concept in the book and I thought that was well done and an important topic to consider.

I found the main character, Victoria, to be interesting. I enjoyed learning a bit about her past and actually wish we could have gotten more of it. Furthermore, I wish the whole-concept of the Wildbloods, their magic system, could have been more detailed as well.

For me, the relationship between Victoria and Thorne took over the show and personally, it was my least favorite part of the entire story. I would have preferred more balance with the other aspects.

Perhaps, if I would have gone into this expecting more Romance than Fantasy, I may have ended up feeling a bit differently about it.

Overall, I recognize that this is a good story, one that a lot of Readers will enjoy. Blackwood is a beautiful writer and I look forward to reading more of her work, even though this one wasn’t a perfect match for my tastes.

I would still recommend this one to anyone who is intrigued by the synopsis, especially if you enjoy romantic fantasy. Also, as an aside, I did listen to the audiobook and loved the narration. I absolutely recommend that as a medium for reading this story.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

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Review: Begin Again by Emma Lord

Begin AgainBegin Again by Emma Lord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emma Lord and I have a special relationship. It’s like she sees me, she gets me, she channels what interests me into her stories. Every time I pick up one of her books, my heart is filled to the brim with love.

Okay, I’m not delusional. I know we don’t actually have a special relationship, but I definitely connect with her stories in a remarkable way; one that stands out to me amongst the many books I read.

For her latest release, Begin Again, I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the synopsis. I don’t really care what it is about, if her name is on the cover, I’m picking it up.

I went into this blind and was absolutely delighted with how this story began to unfold. Something completely wild happens in our protagonist’s life right off the bat. I was shocked and laughed, is this what this book is about?

This story follows Andie, who is navigating her first year post-high school. After spending her first semester at a local community college, remaining at home with her grandmothers, Andie has recently transferred to the college of her dreams.

Blue Ridge State is 2-hours from Andie’s home and once she is there, she quickly realizes that she is on her own for the very first time. Honestly, the wide-open freedom is jarring and a bit overwhelming.

Andie is a girl who always has a plan and right from the start her plans for her time at Blue Ridge don’t go as she anticipated. Her long-term boyfriend, Connor, who attended Blue Ridge first semester actually transferred to Andie’s old community college to surprise her.

She transferred to Blue Ridge with the hopes of surprising him. Huge whoopsie!

That enormous flub really sets the stage for Andie’s first term. She’s sort of thrown for a loop, but she isn’t someone who gives in easily. She slowly starts to build her own life; establish her independence.

Andie finds a group of friends, passions to pursue and a boy who is super kind and shares her interests. Blue Ridge is beginning to feel like home.

Life isn’t always smooth sailing though, as we all know and before too long the stress-monster is rearing his ugly head.

Connor is trying to maintain his presence in Andie’s life and she has mixed feelings about the status of their relationship. Then some startling secrets are revealed and of course, there’s some family drama happening that Andie can no longer ignore.

It’s a lot for her to try to navigate successfully. She’s sort of torn between the person she was and the person she has the potential to become. I became super invested in Andie’s life and all the issues swirling around her.

This story is set in that pivotal time of life when you are transitioning from high school, living with your family, to adulthood, living on your own. It’s that sweet spot where the building blocks of your future really begin to solidify.

Andie had some trauma in her family. She lost her mother when she was younger and her father skipped out a bit after that. It was a very impactful experience in her life.

As you would expect, Andie brings that into college with her. Her relationship with her father is still strained, even though he is making an effort, she’s not entirely sure she’s ready to forgive him just yet.

I love how Lord’s stories always include the complexity of family life. Families are just that, they’re complicated. Even the ones that appear perfect, there’s always something there; some issue or issues that can be explored.

Andie being on her own for the first time was also so compelling. She was on quite a journey of self-discovery, even if she was the last one to realize it.

Emma Lord brings so much love to her stories. You can tell she writes with care. She cares about her characters and how the issues are presented. While the stories overall have a feel-good tone, there are always deeper meanings and connections to be made.

I connected particularly well with this story. I’m not entirely sure what it was, but I developed such empathy for Andie. Additionally, the friend group, the found family feel, really touched me and the ending was completely satisfying.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

While I figured I would love this story, I had no idea how much I would LOVE this story. I cannot wait to see what Emma Lord gifts us with next!!

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Review: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries: Book One of the Emily Wilde SeriesEmily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries: Book One of the Emily Wilde Series by Heather Fawcett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is the perfect, snuggled-under-a-blanket, Winter read.

A Cozy Fantasy with low-stakes, light romance, enchanting atmosphere and easy-to-love characters. This was exactly what I needed for January!!

This book follows Miss Emily Wilde. Emily is a Cambridge Professor, who specializes in the study of faeries. In fact, when we meet her, Emily is fastidiously researching her latest project, the first ever encyclopaedia of fairy lore.

Emily has traveled all over the world studying various culture’s magical beings and the legends and lore surrounding them. She has one destination left, a remote village in the Scandinavian country of Ljosland.

Emily is used to field work, so she’s not put off at all by the stark, isolated village life. However, she wasn’t aware that it would be so rustic that she would need to chop her own wood to keep warm.

Needless to say, Emily, along with her trusty companion, her dog, Shadow, have a bit of a learning curve to overcome in Ljosland.

As they’re settling in, Emily receives a letter from one of her Cambridge colleagues, Wendell Bambleby, that he’s planning to join her. He can’t be serious? Emily works best alone.

Alas, arriving as unexpectedly as his earlier correspondence, there he is. Wendell Bambleby on her doorstop, two student research aides in tow. Good grief.

As days pass, and Emily’s research deepens, she begins to suspect that Bambleby knows more about the fae than he is letting on and there may be an unconventional reason for that. Will Emily’s research be a success? Will she figure out the mystery of the Hidden Ones near her cottage?

Most importantly, will she figure out the mystery of the man residing within?

Emily Wilde’s was such a lovely, cozy, warm hug of a read. I’ll be honest, I teared up at the end. I just didn’t want to part from these characters. I’m so happy this is just the start of our journey with Emily.

There’s a lot to love about Emily as a character. She’s a true academic. Not one for small talk, she struggles a bit interacting with other humans. It’s not her favorite thing.

I loved the whole idea of her setting off into the great unknown, Shadow by her side, to complete her research. She is fearless. In fact, her life is in jeopardy more than once over the course of this story, yet she seems to navigate it all so well.

Emily has her ups-and-downs over the course of this story and I felt for her every step of the way. She’s definitely the type of character you would want to be friends with. I found it so easy to connect with her.

Wendell was so fun too. He’s handsome, charming and has a natural ease with people that instantly gets under Emily’s skin. Everything seems to come so easily for him and if you’re struggling, as Emily is with some of the villagers, that can definitely be frustrating.

I loved their sort of love-hate relationship. All love on his side, a little less so on hers. I wouldn’t say hate, but she definitely rolled her eyes at him more than once.

I really enjoyed the cold, barren setting with the backdrop of the magical faerie realms as well. There were quite a few whimsical scenes that I thought were done really well.

Additionally, I liked how Fawcett chose to format this. It reads like you are reading Emily’s journal entries. It felt intimate and real-time with her adventures.

There are footnotes though, just a warning, I know not everyone is crazy about those. I felt they worked here though by adding to the vibe of the story.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic start to a series. I am definitely attached to these characters and look forward to reading more about them in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a lot of fun with this one and definitely recommend it to fans of Cozy Fantasy and stories involving the Fae!

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Review: For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa

For Butter or WorseFor Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Nina Lyon has worked hard to make a name for herself as a chef. When she decided to host a culinary reality television show, some people felt she was selling out, but Nina chose to take the risk anyway.

Nina views the show, The Next Cooking Champ!, as a great way to secure her name, brand and the success of her restaurant.

Her co-host, Leo O’Donnell, is a thorn in her side however, the only real downside to the show. Dealing with him every day; good grief.

Leo doesn’t mean to drive Nina nuts. He’s not like aiming to tick her off or anything, it just happens. The stress of filming gets to him and he seems to direct that towards her. Whoops.

When Leo takes a joke a smidge too far, Nina quits the show, live on air.

Later when Leo and Nina get caught in what appears to be a compromising position by paparazzi, the fans go absolutely nuts. Has there been a secret relationship unfolding when the cameras are off?

Well no, but it would certainly help both of their careers if that were true. Thus, their agents arrange a fake dating relationship in the hopes of salvaging these two celebrity chefs’ reputations.

For Butter or Worse is a cute and satisfying enemies-to-lovers meets faking-dating story. I enjoyed my time reading this and loved the idea of two celebrity chefs having a bit of a romance.

I wish that they would have spent more time actually involved in the reality cooking show though. That’s sort of what sold me on this, so I was a little disappointed it wasn’t more of a setting for the actual story.

With this being said, it was still enjoyable reading about two chefs as main characters. They come from different worlds in the culinary business and I liked reading about their challenges within their careers.

I also always enjoy an enemies-to-lovers trope and this one was well-done. I will say, I personally prefer when the banter has a bit more wit and humor, but it could be that this just wasn’t fit to my sense of humor. I definitely enjoyed it, but I wasn’t giggling along as Nina and Leo were exchanging barbs.

The sex scenes in this were great. I will say I enjoyed the level of steam La Rosa brought to the page here. There was just enough to keep me fanning myself, without crossing into eye-roll territory.

I also liked the sweet scenes a lot. The scenes were Nina and Leo really started to connect. While there was miscommunication, of course, it never got overplayed or annoying for me. I think the tension was well-built and resolved, so great job by the author on that.

Overall, I enjoyed this. It is a good, fun story, with believable characters and an interesting set-up. I would recommend this to fans of Jasmine Guillory ((me)), or Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series ((also, me)).

I am definitely looking forward to picking-up more from this author. I think she really did a lot of things well here and I look forward to following her skills grow with future work.

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

This is a fun book and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. It made me hungry…for delicious food and for more steamy romance!

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Review: Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

Love in the Time of Serial KillersLove in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ph.D. candidate, Phoebe Walsh, has always been obsessed with True Crime. It’s a great way to focus her attention and avoid thinking about her own life for too long.

Phoebe and her younger brother, Connor’s, parents divorced when the two were kids. After that, Phoebe went to live with Mom and Connor stayed with Dad in their childhood home in Florida. Needless to say, it is a complicated family history.

After their father passes away, Phoebe agrees to live in his home and help prepare it for sale. It will be nice for her to have some privacy to continue working towards her degree; she has a lot of writing to do. She’s also looking forward to reconnecting with her brother.

They don’t know each other as well as you would assume siblings do, just due to the circumstances of their upbringing. Additionally, it can definitely be hard for Phoebe to let down her defenses to connect with people. At this point, she is willing to give it her best shot.

Truth be told, most people make her a little uncomfortable.

She arrives at her Dad’s late at night and is just deciding how much she wants to unpack in the dark, when a strange man pops up out of nowhere and offers his assistance.

A serial killer. That’s where Phoebe’s mind goes first.

This story begins there and then follows Phoebe as she grapples with her feelings involving her family, being reunited with an old friend and her quest to discover the truth about the mysterious neighbor, Sam.

There’s a lot of exploration of Phoebe as a character and why she views the world the way she does. I actually really enjoyed Phoebe. I liked her dry sense of humor and sort of cynical way of viewing life and love.

I also enjoyed Sam as a character. He would be the perfect golden boy of any romance. I mean, if he wasn’t a serial killer that is.

Even though I liked the characters individually, I wasn’t super sold on the two of them together. My interest waxed and waned over the course of the story and I wound up just being underwhelmed.

I liked it. It’s a good story. I did like Phoebe’s general sensibilities, but for me it just lacked like…I don’t know, heart, maybe?

It’s like when someone sings something technically very well, but there is zero emotion in it. That’s how I felt about this book.

It even took me two tries to get all the way through. The first time I stopped around 30%, deciding I just wasn’t in the mood and I would wait for an audiobook copy to come through from my library.

When the audiobook hold came through, Spooky Season was officially over, so I figured I would give it another shot. I’m glad I finished it, but it definitely wasn’t a memorable experience for me.

With this being said, just because this story didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If the premise sounds intriguing, you should definitely give it a go. You could end up absolutely loving it. I know many Readers did.

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

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