Tuesday, October 8, 2019

September Reads // Library Finds & Mood Reading

It. Is. Book Day!!!! I read a ton of random things this month, a LOT of library reads, which means I'm behind on my ARCs and my TBR. LOL, oh well! Let's get to it!

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy humorous contemporary romance.

When Kailyn meets her TV crush, Daxton Hughes, and finds out that he goes to her law school, she instantly makes a fool of herself. She also gains a very gorgeous rival for the remainder of her law school program. When he throws her under the bus at the end of school, she never wants to see him again. Years later they meet again, setting up a trust for his younger sister, Emme. When his parents unexpectedly die he becomes his Emme's guardian and inherits his parent's estate. He's trying to navigate his own emotions, let alone issues that preteen girls deal with. And his aunt is suing for custody. The two will be legally brought together for the good of Emme and change opinions of each other as they go along.

This was my first book by Helena Hunting. I thought it was really cute, and actually had a decent amount of depth to it too. It definitely had the super funny parts, but also bits that made me teary. I thought that the awkward meeting was funny and cute, and set them up for an awkward reunion later on. I honestly loved the parts with Emme the most. I'm apparently a sucker for the "single dad" trope, even though he's not Emme's dad, this really pulled at my heartstrings. I thought that Dax trying to navigate preteen parenthood was super funny, and of course the period section was particularly hysterical! I enjoyed the chemistry between Dax and Kailyn, but I loved the emotional depth even more. Overall I would recommend this one if you enjoy contemporary romantic comedies.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

3.5 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy urban fantasy, and teen drama. I am not personally familiar with Kdrama, but I would imagine it has a lot of inspiration from that genre!

Gu Miyoung is a gumho (a nine-tailed fox) who survives on the gi (energy/life force) of men. Her mother is a ruthless killer, but Miyoung hunts only criminals. When she moves back to Seoul she is attacked by a dokkaebi (goblin) in the woods, and meets a boy, Jihoon, who was also being attacked her fox bead (soul) falls out. She quickly becomes very sick, but makes friends with the boy, who won't stay away from her despite her warnings. When Miyoung's shaman friend tries to perform a ritual to replace the bead things take a turn for the worse. Who can Miyoung trust? Can both her and Jihoon survive against so many forces of evil?

This was really good for a debut novel! I loved the unique urban fantasy setting, and the inclusion of Korean folklore. I thought that it was all very different to read, and fascinating. I liked Gu Miyoung and Jihoon and was interested in the fantasy element of the story. I enjoyed all of the glimpses into Korean culture, especially in terms of Jihoon's relationship with his halmeoni (grandmother). There is so much respect and love in their relationship. Overall I would have loved a bit more atmosphere in the setting. I would have loved to hear more about the description of the city and the forests too. I love that kind of thing in a fantasy novel! I felt that the conflict and dramatic elements of this story were very strong, as I said above I would imagine a lot of this is influenced by kdrama, but I don't have personal experience watching it. It did feel just a bit too dramatic for me at times, and I felt like the main conflict drug out a bit too long as well. I felt overall that that part could have been shortened and the book itself could have been a bit shorter. All that being said I thought that the action was compelling, and the ending was as well. I wish I would have known more about the other characters. Perhaps other books in this series will be about them? Overall I definitely recommend this if you are looking for a change in your urban fantasy. I will be excited to see what else Kat Cho ends up writing! Also, as a heads up, in the end of the book there is a glossary, I wish I would have known that before I started reading this! It would have been helpful since I am not familiar with Korean terms, means of addressing one another, etc.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

3.5 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance.

When Emily moves to a small town to take care of her injured sister and teenage niece, she has to sign up for the Renaissance Faire as a chaperone. Along the way she will meet quirky characters both in and out of costume including a kilted gym teacher, Mitch, and an uptight rule following English teacher, Simon. Emily finds that Simon becomes a whole different person at the Faire, a roguish pirate captain. Along the way she'll question what is real, and what is part of the Faire, and if this is the place she is meant to call home.

Overall I enjoyed this book, but my hopes were just a bit too high I think. A romance novel set at the renaissance festival??? SIGN ME UP! This book did have those two things, but it ended up being a bit more of a story about a girl and her family finding their home in a small town. To start there was just a bit more set up than I'd have liked. They don't actually get to the Faire until about page 95. Once they were there I loved the world, all of the characters, and the interactions. I thought that Emily's wench persona Emma's interactions with Simon's pirate persona a pirate captain were fantastic. I loved the chemistry and the banter. I wanted more of that! I did appreciate that Emily made the move to figure out how much of their relationship was left at the faire vs. real, but the continued worry about that was a lot for me. I didn't understand all of their miscommunication. I like where things ended up and that this will become a series. I like the town and the everyday characters too, so I am excited to see where this will go. Overall I just wanted more tension and swoony moments, and more of the actual faire.

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA fantasy.

Evie has just returned from a summer away at a mental health facility, where she unlearned the dangerous things that her "crazy" grandmother taught her. She returns to school to find that a new bridge built in their area means that some of the Cajun population will be joining her class, including the mysterious Jack Deveaux. When the voices in her head cease to go away, and the apocalypse comes, she and her mother must survive on their own. Evie soon learns that her blood can grow plants, which helps them to make ends meet. When Jack shows up at her plantation, he warns them of an army on the move planning to overtake the plantation and put Evie and her mother into slavery, where most women have ended up post-apocalypse. Evie leaves with Jack to try to escape the army and try to get to her grandmother. She might be the only one who can tell Evie what is happening, why she is hearing voices, and what she needs to do to survive.

I didn't know anything about this going in, which is how I prefer to start books. I thought that the way the author blended so many things together (teen angst, fantasy elements, post apocalyptic elements, etc.) was really seamless. It would have been easy to be super overwhelmed by the amount of things going on, but it all worked for me. Despite Cole's reputation for writing super steamy books, this one felt like YA to me (which it is). I wondered if it would be more like NA, but it was fairly tame overall. We'll see how the next books go, after all our heroine is just 16. I liked the idea behind the tarot cards and the teens being the major arcana characters. I liked the glimpse into Acadian/Cajun culture, and thought that Jack had his swoony moments... but he is also very possessive, kind of mean, and gave me whip lash a lot. I get that this is literally the end of the world and people are bound to be intense and hard on each other for mistakes... but I had a hard time love, loving him... and their relationship, which makes me wonder if they're endgame. We'll see!

The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, and the slowest of slow burns.

When Lenny met Jonah in Europe, they had a great, but short relationship. After he is injured in a rugby match, she never hears from him again. Much later, he shows up at her gym, and he has a lot of explaining to do. (I don't want to give spoilers, so you get a short synopsis!)

OH. MY. HEART. This book was so sweet. I absolutely adored the plot elements which I will keep a secret since they are not in the description. I adored Jonah. He's such a softie and I can't help but imagine him as a cross between Vance Joy, Taika Waititi, and a rugby player. He was so nice, and so gosh darn cute. The accent was a bonus, but his personality was the best. He was such a stark contrast to Lenny who is super angry and brash a lot of the time. I liked their relationship and how comfortable they were together. I ADORED Lenny's whole family. He grandpa and her uncle were adorable in the way that they were like her parents, and their entire family dynamic just gave me all of the feels. I will say, this is the slowest of slow burns. Like 90% folks. The epilogue had me crying. So just be ready to feel all the feels. I definitely recommend this one if you enjoy slow burn contemporary romance, with a lot of great family elements.

Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

4 Stars - I recommend if you have read Poison Princess.

The second book in the Arcana Chronicles.

I really enjoyed the second installment of the Arcana Chronicles series! I was a bit on the fence about accidentally starting such a long series, but this book confirmed that I will keep going for the foreseeable future. I liked that we got to see a bit more of the world post-flash. Those cannibals, yikesers. I also like that we meet more characters, and get to know a bit more about "the game". HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILERS: I definitely kept my feeling that Jack is kind of possessive and a hot mess. He's always drunk, and doesn't treat Evie well at all. I looooved everything up until the very very end! It felt like Evie very randomly thought of Jack before getting together with Aric... and then he was acting unreasonable. Agh. Is this going to be one of those series where the male romantic leads just do garbage things all of the time... and we just have to go for the least awful of the two? I hope not. Also, I felt like Evie's battle lust was confusing. Most of the time she seemed in control of it... and other times she was back to the back stabbing Empress. I'm not sure what to make of those shifts. Overall I enjoyed this and it definitely ended on a mega cliffhanger, so I am excited that my library has the next books in this series.

Naughty or Nice by Lauren K. McKellar*

2.5 Stars - I might recommend if you love Christmas fiction.

Claire and Hamish are top runners for a promotion at work, which will be announced after the office Christmas party. The problem is, Hamish has been attracted to Claire since he moved to her branch. Can they work together without getting together?

I was definitely drawn to this one by the cover. I love cute Christmas fiction, and with this being a novella I wasn't too worried about not liking it. This started out very cute and festive. I enjoyed the holiday elements and the office competition for promotion, however I felt like there were several too many dramatic issues also included in the novella. It is very short, so both characters having money/family issues, medical issues, jerks at the office, etc. etc. it just felt like a bit too much for such a short length. Overall it was cute, but it had a bit too much going on for me.

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

3.5 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy adult fantasy.

When Evie's entire family, and royal line is killed in a massacre, but she survives, she must find a way to defeat her evil cousin. She hides her identity joining a gladiator troupe, in hopes of being trained by it's leader Serilda Swanson and someday overthrowing her cousin. She quickly learns that the gladiator world is just as brutal as her life at court was. When her cousin makes it clear that she has it out for the gladiator troupe, they flee the city to warn other nations of coming war, but are attacked on the road. Can Evie trust Serilda with her secret? Can she possibly compete against her warrior and magier cousin for the throne?

You know when there is a book that you just expect to LOVE? It is your favorite genres, and has themes that you love? This was one of those books for me.....but I didn't end up loving it as much as I thought I would. The beginning of this book was a bit slow for me. On the first page it tells you that the royal massacre will occur, but it takes many chapters to get there. Once it did, the action picked up and I was more invested in the plot. GoT fans, it will remind you an awful lot of The Red Wedding. I was interested in Evie as a character, and her revenge plot. I thought that the magic systems (while a little complex, and under explained) was interesting, and made for a very diverse world. I liked the group from the Black Swan as well. I loved Sullivan, and I am excited to see how that relationship will play out, at apparently the slowest burn speed, lol. I thought that the contrast between super brutal and kind of silly didn't quite work for me, and that is one thing that just continually threw me off. There was a lot of onomatopoeia, "plop plop plop" and that just is one of my biggest pet peeves when it is not written as, "the shirt plopped to the floor" but rather, "the shirts fell to the floor. Plop plop plop." It just is a personal pet peeve. I can't explain it. There were also times when members of the gladiator troupe were really silly, and then someone is being poisoned or killed. That type of humor mixed with the super brutal was a bit jarring for me. I know it is possible to have both, but it threw me off here. All that said, I'm excited to see where things go, so I have picked up the second book. Depending on how long the series ends up being, and how the second book goes, I might stick with it.

Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy romance and Christmas fiction. These are not Hallmark romances, expect some decent steam.

An anthology of Christmas romance novellas by popular romance authors.

A Christmas Abduction by Madeline Hunter - 4 Stars - I enjoyed this unusual historical romance. I liked that Caroline abducts the rakish Baron Thornhill, and keeps him captive at her modest country home. It was fairly easy to guess why he was abducted, but it was awfully fun getting there. I enjoyed the country setting quite a lot, and of course the forced proximity. I thought that the chemistry between Adam and Caroline was great. The only thing I didn't love was that it was a bit hard to tell when it switched perspectives from time to time... and then all of a sudden people were referred to by different names and I'd realize, ah ha, the perspective has switched.

A Perfect Match by Sabrina Jeffries  - 4 Stars - I liked the impossible dilemma of Colonel Heywood needing to marry for money, and Cassandra needing to marry for love. They both have exactly what the other needs, and what they both want... but they have to be brave to get there. I liked the romance between these two sparring characters. I thought that at first Heywood was not very appealing skulking on the terrace, smoking... but his character and wit later had him growing on me. His thoughts and outbursts are priceless and so swoony. I enjoyed the family dynamics between Heywood and his mother and siblings, as well as Cass's interactions with her cousin. Though I could tell that many of these characters likely had their own books, it wasn't too distracting. The amount of lyrics just thrown in from Christmas songs and carols really made me chuckle.

One Wicked Winters' Night by Mary Jo Putney - 3 Stars - This second chance romance started out with quite a lot of what felt like inside knowledge about the characters, likely things happening in other books. As the story went there was quite a lot more of this which I found distracting. If you'd read the other books, I am sure it would be delightful, but on it's own I felt like they could have scooped a lot of that out and given a bit of summary instead. However, I really enjoyed the intensity of the romance between Diana and Anthony. The reasons that she left him in the past, and how they can make it work in the future. I do wish this was just a bit steamier than it was. There were a lot of cats in this novella, which was simultaneously silly and cute. Not my favorite of the bunch.

A Highlander Walks into A Bar by Laura Trentham

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy light hearted contemporary romance.

Izzy is well known in Highland, GA for living at Stonehaven manor and putting on the Highland Festival each year. Highland was founded by the Scottish, and therefore pays tribute to that from tartan swagged lamp posts, to kilt stores, to the annual festival. When Izzy's mom comes back from her trip to Scotland with a Scotsman in tow, she doesn't know what to think. It's clear that her mom is enamored with the Scotsman, Gareth, but Izzy is suspicious of his motivations. Alasdair, Gareth's nephew is sent to retrieve him and send him back to Cairndow (their estate), and is equally suspicious of Izzy's mom. When it becomes clear that Gareth hasn't told Izzy and her mother about his true identity, Gareth gets to know them both, and their town quite well. What will happen when they return to Scotland? How can the two couples own estates on two continents?

My thought process related to this book was: "oooh Scotland!" "oh ok, Scottish guy in Georgia...?? I dunno about this." "No this is totally fine!" I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to! I'm not going to lie, the idea of a Scottish guy coming to Georgia is not nearly as appealing to me as the other way around, but it really worked out for me. I really liked Rose and Gareth, and Izzy and Alasdair. I enjoyed the quirkiness of the town, and their Scottish obsession and heritage. I loved Izzy, she was so awkward and fierce. I loved her little blurts of inappropriate things she said, and Alasdair's reactions to that. I enjoyed how everything was described, all the senses are engaged, and I loved how magical it all sounded. The woods, the wildflower field, etc. I liked that the conflicts seemed believeable, and it wasn't quite as fluffy as a Hallmark movie. It was, however, mostly hopeful and positive. It was a perfect mix for me of fluff and quirky, with steamy and a little bit serious. I loved the epilogue, and how it introduces the next book! I'm excited to read more of Trentham's books in the future!

Monthly totals:

Read - 10
Owned - 4
Ebook - 3
Physical book - 7
ARC - 3
Library/Borrowed - 4
Bought - 25 (9 physical books, 16 ebooks) - 12 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 6

Yearly Totals:

Read - 74
Owned - 21
Ebook - 42
Physical book - 33
ARC - 31
Library/Borrowed - 19
Bought - 138 (102 physical books, 42 ebooks) - 26 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 55

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books today. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Anyone else hate onomatopoeia in their fiction??

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Penguin First to Read!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading! I love seeing your sweet comments and visiting your lovely blogs! XO