HOLIDAY BOOK MINI REVIEWS

I’ve finished these three (plus a few more that I forgot to photograph) since I started reading holiday books and I am hoping to squeeze in a few more before the end of the season. So far they’ve been really sweet – here’s a little mini review of each!

THE HOLIDAY SWAP by Maggie Knox – this sweet twin story made me wish I had a sister myself! I enjoyed the banter between the characters and their unique storylines. It’s a Christmas-y version of The Parent Trap! ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

CHRISTMAS BY THE BOOK by Anne Marie Ryan – you know I love a book set in a bookstores, and this one brought a quaint little story about one to life! Read this one if you love character driven novels that feel like a hug in a book, this one is for you! ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

THE MATZAH BALL by Jean Meltzer – I really enjoyed the look into the Jewish traditions both in day to day life and during the Hanukkah holiday. This romance had some great chronic illness representation – I learned a lot! ⭐️⭐️⭐️.💫 Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

REVIEW: MOM JEANS AND OTHER MISTAKES by ALEXA MARTIN

Click the following links to read the book synopsis on Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

This book made me laugh, made me feel seen, and provided an escape into a story of a realistic, loving friendship.

4 things I loved about this book:
⭐️ Lauren – she’s a QUEEN and I adore her. A brilliant, rockstar single mom that also keeps it real? Here for it.
⭐️ The dual perspective helped me get to know the main characters and had very distinct voices – if I zoned out, I could pick up mid chapter and know who I was reading because the MCs are super unique.
⭐️The love interest was sweet, charming, and not too focused on. It was healthy and I love seeing that in books!
⭐️ The emotions that Martin was able to evoke from me 👏🏻 I am not a sensitive reader, but I FELT something when I read this book.

I recommend this book to any mom who needs an escape and wishes she could have a girlfriend there through everything.

To purchase this book, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org links. These give me a small commission at no cost to you!

REVIEW: YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME by KAREN MCMANUS

Thank you Delacorte press for an early readers copy in exchange for an honest review!

To read the synopsis of this book, click the following links to Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

Thank you Delacorte Press for a free ecopy in exchange for a review!

Karen McManus is back at it again with a compelling storyline about seemingly unconnected teenagers who are connected in a twist way. Another random murder that teens are caught in the middler of and trying to investigate? I’m here for it. Karen McManus is one of my favorite authors and writes fast paced, page turning thrillers.

This one took a little bit to get invested, for sure, and I think the reason for that is that the three main characters all have similar “voices”. While the book is written in first person with chapters rotating between each of the MC’s voicing, I found myself getting lost mid chapter, trying to figure out who was behind each one (in the beginning particularly). They all “sounded” the same – nobody was particularly interesting or unique, either.

Around the halfway point was where it picked up for me, and I read the remainder of the book in 36 hours. Once the ball got rolling, it moved quickly.

But at the end of it, I only really liked one character – the rest were just “meh” for me. I have trouble getting invested in a story if I don’t feel anything for the main players, and that’s exactly what happened here.

All in all – the storyline, while slow in the beginning, was a solid 4 stars from me. An intricately woven tangled web, McManus delivered with juicy plot twists driven by untrustworthy characters.

The characters, however, get a 3 star “meh” from me, averaging this book out to a 3,5/5 stars.

Will I read her next one? 100% I will. this one wasn’t a total miss, just took a hot minute to get revved up.

To purchase this book, please consider using my affiliate links to Amazon or Bookshop.org. It releases 11/30 in the USA. This provides me with a small commission at no cost to you.

REVIEW: HEARD IT IN A LOVE SONG by TRACEY GARVIS GRAVES

Click the following links to The StoryGraph or Goodreads to read the synopsis of the book!

Thank you St. Martin’s press for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This is my the fourth book I have read by Tracey Garvis Graves, and sadly, my least favorite. What I loved about her previous novels (fast pacing, a storyline that pulls me in quickly) definitely was not present in this one. While I found the premise of the book intriguing and the characters to be mostly compelling, I had a tough time getting through it. It took me a couple of weeks to read it, something that did not happen to me with any of her previous books.

While I did not dislike most of the story or the characters, I found the storytelling to be poorly paced and clunky. The switching back and forth between past and present day did not fit together as seamlessly as I think Graves is capable of, and I do wonder if maybe the spacing (or lack thereof) in the ebook affected my reading experience. It felt like being tossed around in a teacup rollercoaster ride at times, with no real direction and also giving me the feeling of, “Can this be over already?”

I did find both of the main characters to be likable for the most part, something that is important for me in a novel, so Graves nailed that one. They were realistic, flawed, and human without being unbelievable.

The romance was the slowest burn of anything I’ve ever read by Graves, and while I don’t mind a slow burn, this was…barely an ember at times. I felt like I was reading a story of cousins or something. And not only was the romance itself slow, the entire PLOT of the book was slow. It read more like a family drama than a romance, and while slow pacing isn’t necessarily BAD, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

All in all, the book had great bones, just lacked something I cannot quite put my finger on. 3/5 stars with the hopes that TGG next book is a better fit for my reading tastes!

Content warnings: divorce, animal death

If you would like to purchase this book, please consider doing so through my Bookshop.org or Amazon affiliate links. These provide me with a small commission at no cost to you!

REVIEW: MALIBU RISING by TAYLOR JENKINS REID

To read the book synopsis, please click the following links to Goodreads or The StoryGraph!

Oh, Taylor Jenkins Reid, you’ve done it again. You’ve pulled at my heartstrings in the best way and have made me fall in love with people who don’t exist. How dare you!

This atmospheric, engrossing read had me hooked from the start, with a slow paced, steady burn that kept the pages turning easily. Reid knows how to write flawed characters that are lovable and dialogue that feels real. I was so invested in the Riva family and felt like they were distant family members of mine.

I took off a star because the ending fell a little flat for me. I was hoping for something more explosive, but I felt Reid wanted this to be “quieter” novel, and she accomplished just that.

A wonderful, engrossing book that made my heart break and think about the importance of family and loyalty.

Content warnings: alcoholism, death of parent, abandonment, drug use, infidelity, sexual content, car accident

To purchase the book please consider using my Bookshop.org or Amazon affiliate links. These provide me a small commission at no cost to you! I appreciate the support more than you know.

REVIEW: LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS by AIDEN THOMAS

To read the synopsis on this book, click the following links to The StoryGraph or Goodreads.

Before I get into the actual review, let me tell you the story of how I picked this book up (since it is not at all along the lines of what I typically read). While in the library with my two little kids a few weeks ago, I got the wild idea to try to pick out a book for myself – this task can feel impossible for moms chasing multiple kids that get “bored” easily (my 5 year old) or walk away (my 1 year old). So I frantically did a search on Google for “YA horror books 2021”, because I wanted something a little scary, but not “keep me up at night” scary. While scrolling the lists and frantically searching the library catalog, I was able to snag a few off the shelves without reading the synopsis (because, again, kids) and ended up bringing it home.

Alas, this is how Lost in the Never Woods ended up in my hands (and ears, after I checked out the audiobook as well in case I didn’t have time to read the print), and the story of how I accidentally read a Peter Pan retelling/spinoff. What’s the difference in a retelling and a spinoff? I’m not sure, but here we are.

Without further adieu, here are 4 things I really enjoyed about this novel:

  1. The atmospheric writing! Loved the description of the woods, the scenery, and the overall spooky vibe of the book. It was entertaining without making me question every noise in my house in the midnight hours.
  2. The mystery of the book – our main character, Wendy, had a large period of time where she lost her memory, and we are just as in the dark about it as she is. I loved uncovering all of it with her.
  3. The ending had me super surprised and honestly wasn’t something I was even expecting to see resolved. Love that it took me by surprise.
  4. Peter Pan himself was just so delightful. I loved his character.

Here is one thing I felt could’ve been done better in the book (this is a mild spoiler so proceed with caution):

  1. The weird chemistry between Wendy and Peter. Were they friends? Did they want to be more? I was just super confused. I don’t know the full original Peter Pan story so I wasn’t sure what to think, but it felt a little “off” and forced.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story! 4 stars.

Content warnings:

Anxiety
Trauma/flashbacks
Blood
Death of a child
Murder
Gun violence
Kidnapping
Disappearance of a child & family members
Car accident (minor)

If you would like to pick up a copy, please consider using my affiliate link to either Amazon or Bookshop.org. These provide me with a small commission at no cost to you.

REVIEW: THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by ALISON COCHRUN

To read the book synopsis, click the following links to Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

It has been since May since I gave a book 5 stars, so please don’t take this review lightly. I thought I would never read another book that made me laugh, give me a punch in the gut, and warm my heart all at once. Alison Cochrun has done it with The Charm Offensive.

This is a review I knew I needed to write right after I finished the book (well, 10 hours later). I don’t want to risk forgetting the tenderness, the beauty, the overall..charm…of the story. These characters have been forever sorted in my brain with all of my old favorites (lookin’ at you, Lara Jean Covey, Peter Kavinsky and Monte Montague) and I am certain this book will float around in my brain for a LONG time.

Here are FIVE things I loved about this book:

  • As someone who lives with mental illness, the depression representation in this book was perfection. I’ve never seen a character that felt like they were living my experience, but I got to see that in Dev. The, “I don’t know, sometimes I get into these moods, but I’m fine” bit? That’s me. And it was SO great to see it on a page. Reading a book about two men falling in love may not seem like something I can relate to, but I RELATED SO HARD to this aspect of the book (and it’s absolutely a good chunk of the story).
  • The parallel to ABC’s The Bachelor tv show was what pulled me in in the first place. As an avid watcher of the show (that I definitely know is mindless trash television), it cracked me up to see it written out. The show is ridiculous, I know, but reading it? Even more ridiculous and I loved every second of it.
  • Cochrun’s writing style was engaging from start to finish. While written in third person, we still can see into Dev and Charlie’s brains as the readers. We got a great picture of who they are as individuals.
  • And while reading into Dev’s thoughts helped us get to know Dev (and Charlie’s thoughts helped us get to know Charlie), it also helped us learn about their love interest. Seeing Charlie through Dev’s eyes? Oh, my heart. Seeing Dev through Charlie’s eyes? Even better. Instead of only hearing someone think poorly of themself, we got to see their partners perspective, too. Cochrun nailed it.
  • Romance often portrays love in unhealthy ways. This book did not. These characters were kind, compassionate, loving, and respectful. It was refreshing to see it portrayed this way.

I do want to urge readers that this book may not be a knock out of the park for everyone. The main reason this one touched me the way it did was the mental health portrayal, something that may not be as important to other readers. But ratings are subjective, and that’s why I gave this one five glowing stars.

Content warnings: vomit, biphobia, cracked door steam (not fully open, not fully closed, either), and descriptions of panic attack/depression. If these things are triggering for you, you may not want to read this book.

To purchase this book, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org affiliate links. These provide me with a small commission at no cost to you.

REVIEW: THE SANTA SUIT by MARY KAY ANDREWS

Click the following links to Goodreads and The StoryGraph to read the synopsis of this book!

This was my first Mary Kay Andrews and I was pleasantly surprised by the storyline and characters. I really enjoyed the depth to the story and how it all came full circle at the end. The characters each had their own little side story, too, which kept me engaged in each conversation throughout the story.

I liked the main character, Ivy, and how she worked so hard to be strong, independent, but also a good friend to others. She is someone I would aspire to be like if I ever found myself in her situation (divorced and living on my own unexpectedly)! The town she moved to seemed charming and welcoming, and she didn’t hesitate to make social connections and to get involved with the community.

I also really liked Ezra. My biggest complaint about this book is that we didn’t get to hear anything from his end – I think the book would’ve benefited from a dual perspective. I would’ve liked more back story on him, too. He was intriguing and genuine and kind, something I love to see in male leads.

Overall this was a solid read and I would read another by her!

If you would like to purchase this book, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org affiliate links. These provide me with a small commission at no cost to you.

10 HOLIDAY BOOKS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the new books that come out with it! 2021 is no different, and I cannot wait to get my hands on some of the books that are ready to come out (or have already come out)! Here are 10 books that I am adding to my wishlist this year.

All links are affiliate links that provide me a small commission at no cost to you!

THE SANTA SUIT by Mary Kay Andrews
GENRE: Women’s fiction
OUT NOW!

I had the pleasure of reading this sweet story early thanks to Netgalley, and this is one that women’s fiction lovers won’t want to miss. A small town setting coupled with a swoon worthy love interest makes for the perfect holiday read. Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

THE MATZAH BALL by Jean Meltzer
GENRE: Adult contemporary romance
OUT NOW!

This book set in the publishing world about a Jewish woman who secretly loves Christmas sounds heartwarming and eye opening. I am already kicking myself for not picking it up when I visited the bookstore this morning! Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

KEEP ME WARM AT CHRISTMAS by Brenda Novak
Genre: Women’s fiction
Out September 28

This is technically part of a series, but from what I understand they can all be read as stand alone novels. This one features a Hollywood starlet and her new handsome roommate. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

THE HOLIDAY SWAP by Maggie Knox
GENRE: Adult contemporary romance
Out October 5

I love a good amnesia story, so this one seems right up my alley! If you are looking for a Christmas read that isn’t as romance centered, this may be the one for you. Click the following links to purchase it via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

SO, THIS IS CHRISTMAS by Tracy Andreen
GENRE: Young adult contemporary romance
Out October 5

This may be the one I am most excited about! I love love love young adult love stories at Christmas, so this may be the one I read first. click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

NICK AND NOEL’S CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST by Codi Hall
GENRE: Adult contemporary romance
Out October 5

Any book with a dog on the cover and is described as friends to lovers makes me want to read it! I need it stat. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

A HOLY JOLLY DIAWLI by Sonya Lalli
GENRE: Adult contemporary romance
Out October 5

I enjoyed Serena Singh Flips the Script by this author and am looking forward to another story with strong Indian roots! Use the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

THE CHRISTMAS BOOKSHOP by Jenny Colgan
GENRE: Women’s fiction
Out October 26

Anything set in a bookshop is 100% a book I want to read. Jenny Colgan has published so many hits and this one should be so sweet and fun! Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

CHRISTMAS IN PEACHTREE BLUFF by Kristy Woodson Harvey
GENRE: Women’s fiction
Out October 26

Kristy Woodson Harvey has written so many hits in recent years, so I expect nothing less from Christmas in Peachtree Bluff. And I am loving this cover! Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE by Beth Garrod
GENRE: Young adult contemporary romance
Out November 2

This one sounds LOL funny and like so much fun! With a boy next door (well, across the street), I think this one will be a smash hit for a lot of YA readers. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.