Blog Tour Review: Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Blood and Moonlight
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: 28 June 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Thriller

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Rising above the city of Collis is the holy Sanctum. And watching over its spires is Catrin, an orphan girl with unique skills—for she alone can spot the building’s flaws in construction before they turn deadly.

But when Catrin witnesses a murderer escaping the scene of his crime, she’s pulled into the web of a dangerous man who will definitely strike again. Assigned to capture the culprit is the mysterious, brilliant, and enigmatic Simon, whose insights into the mind of a killer are frighteningly accurate.

As the grisly crimes continue, Catrin finds herself caught between murderer and detective while hiding her own secret—a supernatural sight granted by the moon, destined to make her an outcast, and the only thing that might save her and those she loves from becoming the next victims…

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty”

Blog Tour Review: The Kaya Girl by Mamle Wolo

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Kaya Girl by Mamle Wolo and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Kaya Girl
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 28 June 2022
Genre: Middle-Grade Literary

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Writing with effortlessly engaging prose, Wolo showcases the interweaving layers of Ghanaian culture to create a prismatic, multifaceted world in which two young girls, against all odds, are able to find each other.
 
When Faiza, a Muslim migrant girl from northern Ghana, and Abena, a wealthy doctor’s daughter from the south, meet by chance in Accra’s largest market, where Faiza works as a porter or kaya girl, they strike up an unlikely and powerful friendship that transcends their social inequities and opens up new worlds to them both.
 
Set against a backdrop of class disparity in Ghana, The Kaya Girl has shades of The Kite Runner in its unlikely friendship, and of Slumdog Millionaire as Faiza’s life takes unlikely turns that propel her thrillingly forward. As, over the course of the novel, Abena awakens to the world outside her sheltered, privileged life, the novel explores a multitude of awakenings and the opportunities that lie beyond the breaking down of barriers. This is a gorgeously transporting work, offering vivid insight into two strikingly diverse young lives in Ghana. 

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ARC Review: Take the Lead by Jaqueline Snowe

Special thanks to Jaqueline Snowe for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Take the Lead (Central State #3)
Published: 28 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Falling for my fake girlfriend was never part of the plan…
Daniella Laughlin might seem put together in her dance gear and captainship, but on the inside, she’s figuring out who she is without her mom’s beauty pageant influence. Constantly being critiqued and set up by her mom, she dreads going home for the holidays.

Enter her best friend’s older brother, hockey captain Gabriel Van Helsing. Dani and Gabe have been friends for two decades, and sure, she’s harbored a secret crush on him forever, but she never acted on it because his sister would’ve killed her. Gabe’s a player, on and off the ice, and the longest relationship he’s had is with his hockey stick. He offers to drive her home for Thanksgiving break and proposes the most bonkers idea—they should fake date until New Year’s to get her mom to leave her alone.

Gabe might wear the C on the ice, but he’s always been passive. Here for a good time, never rocking the boat. But after his latest hookup wouldn’t take a hint, he uses Daniella’s predicament for the perfect solution: if he was unavailable, people would leave him alone.

Things begin easily with their friendship, but with every touch and fake kiss, Daniella can’t hide her feelings anymore. And for Gabe, who sets deadlines for every fling he’s ever had, he struggles to fight for what he wants. When their timeline is up, Daniella’s insecurities clash with Gabe’s inability to commit. For two people terrified to take a chance, they must risk their decade-long friendship for a shot at love.

TL;DR: Take the Lead was such a good time and there’s something about Snowe’s romances that is just fun and enjoyable, not to mention fantastically steamy! This new adult college sports romance served tropes that I really enjoyed including: best friend’s brother, friends-to-lovers, and fake dating. The chemistry in the romance was amazing and the friendships even better. I loved Dani and Gabe together!

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ARC Review: Taproot by Keezy Young

Special thanks to Oni Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Taproot
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication date: 28 June 2022
Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)


Blue is having a hard time moving on. He’s in love with his best friend. He’s also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart’s content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hamal’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means… leaving him.

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ARC Review: Sweeter Than Honey by Joy Avery

Special thanks to Montlake for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Sweeter Than Honey (Honey Hill #2)
Publisher: Montlake
Published: 28 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

A talented baker and a small-town sheriff forced into a fake relationship decide whether to take a chance on love in this delectable romance from Joy Avery.

Baker extraordinaire Rylee Harris has a recipe for everything—except love. It’s been five years since she lost her husband, but romance is still a struggle for Rylee. In her small hamlet of Honey Hill, North Carolina, Rylee knows she’ll be the talk of the town when she finds someone new.

To ease her mother’s worries about her love life, Rylee impulsively invents a fake relationship with the only man who’s caught her eye: the town sheriff, Canten Barnes. It’s supposed to be a secret, but secrets don’t last long in Honey Hill. One bit of gossip leads to another, and soon the whole town thinks Rylee and Canten are an item.

As Rylee and Canten embark on a make-believe relationship to save face, they slowly realize that their feelings for each other aren’t fake at all. Can Rylee and Canten keep the charade going—or will the town’s prized baker and respected lawman take a real chance on love?

TL;DR: There was a lot about this small-town romance between the sheriff and the baker that I really enjoyed, but certain aspects made it a little difficult for me to really get into. While I definitely had fun with all of the characters and our main couple, I’m bummed that I didn’t enjoy this one more; although I do feel like I’m in the minority with this feeling. Sweeter Than Honey had: brother’s best friend/best friend’s little sister, friends-to-lovers, fake dating, and a small-town setting complete with meddling parents and nosy and gossiping elderly folk.

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ARC Review: The Devil You Know by Elizabeth O’Roark

Special thanks to Valentine PR for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Devil You Know (Devil #3)
Publisher: Elizabeth O’Roark Books
Published: 23 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

There’s a devil on my shoulder, and every Monday morning she announces herself. She’s this delicious flame in my chest, a flurry of whispered suggestions in my ear. Suggestions I ignore…because every single one of them is about Ben Tate.

Ben—Stealer of Clients, Evicter of Homeless Women, Nemesis. Sitting across from me every damn Monday with his lovely, smug smile and his too-perfect teeth, the living symbol of everything I hate. It’s been my policy to avoid him, but when a case comes into the firm—one that could change his career and mine—I make an exception. It means weekends and evenings by his side. It means enduring his smirk and his smart mouth and never taking the bait.

Until the night Ben says, “Beg.”
And that devil on my shoulder decides to make a few demands of her own.

TL;DR: This was probably my favourite book in the series so far. This is a rivals-to-lovers office romance done so perfectly! I absolutely loved Ben and Gemma’s snippy banter, their insanely hot chemistry that could set the world on fire, and the way they built trust and a relationship together. Seriously, SO GOOD that it will have you swooning hard!

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ARC Review: Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley

Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Fake It Till You Bake It
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Published: 21 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

A reality star and a cupcake-baking football player pretend to be a couple in order to save his bakery in this sweet and sexy romance from Jamie Wesley, Fake It Till You Bake It.

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

Fake it Till You Bake It is a sweet confection of a novel, the perfect story to curl up with and enjoy with a cupcake on the side. 

TL;DR: This was such a delightful romance and while I did have some issues with it at the beginning, I’m so glad that I ended up loving it as much as I thought I would! Jada and Donovan were such a great couple and their romance made me so giddy. If you love fake-dating, great banter, fun playful chemistry between H/h, and A FOODIE ROMANCE, I would recommend picking this up. Also, prepare to get hungry and crave cupcakes while reading this because all the flavours sounded *exquisite*! 🤤

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Blog Tour Spotlight: Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard

Today I’m shining a spotlight on Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard. This is a historical fiction about a young Jackie Kennedy before she was a Kennedy. Special thanks to Algonquin Books for having me on tour!

Goodreads: Jackie & Me
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: 14 June 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction

In 1951, former debutante Jacqueline Bouvier is hard at work as the Inquiring Camera Girl for a Washington newspaper. Her mission in life is “not to be a housewife,” but when she meets the charismatic congressman Jack Kennedy at a Georgetown party, her resolution begins to falter. Soon the two are flirting over secret phone calls, cocktails, and dinner dates, and as Jackie is drawn deeper into the Kennedy orbit, and as Jack himself grows increasingly elusive and absent, she begins to question what life at his side would mean. For answers, she turns to his best friend and confidant, Lem Billings, a closeted gay man who has made the Kennedy family his own, and who has been instructed by them to seal the deal with Jack’s new girl. But as he gets to know her, a deep and touching friendship emerges, leaving him with painfully divided alliances and a troubling dilemma: Is this the marriage she deserves?
 
Narrated by an older Lem as he looks back at his own role in a complicated alliance, this is a courtship story full of longing and of suspense, of what-ifs and possible wrong turns. It is a surprising look at Jackie before she was that Jackie. And in best-selling author Louis Bayard’s witty and deeply empathetic telling, Jackie & Me is a page-turning story of friendship, love, sacrifice, and betrayal— and a fresh take on two iconic American figures.

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ARC Review: Defiant Heart by Brighton Walsh

Special thanks to Wildfire Marketing Solutions and Brighton Walsh for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Defiant Heart (Starlight Cove #1)
Publication Date: 14 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

(3.75 pandas)

I’ve slapped my cuffs on Luna Lancaster too many times to count and not a single one was for fun.

As the sheriff of Starlight Cove, I shouldn’t crave her, but I do. She’s chaos, mayhem, and sunshine wrapped up in too-tight yoga pants. The lawbreaker might have the town enamored with her free spirit, but she’s a thorn in my side, even if she is the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen.

I want her out of my town and out of my head.

Trouble is, she’s made it perfectly clear she’s not going anywhere. And her spree of minor infractions—who runs a yoga class without a license?—is hitting dangerously close to home. Her latest protest has her chained to a tree on the boundary of my family’s resort. The last thing we need is bad press ruining the short tourism season when the resort is already one bad month away from bankruptcy.

I’ll do whatever it takes to save Starlight Cove. Even if that means handcuffing Luna to my bed.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Defiant Heart by Brighton Walsh”

Romance Mini-Reviews: Enemies-to-Lovers/Hate-to-Love Edition

Hi, friends! I’m excited to share two mini-reviews for romances I’ve read and loved in the last few weeks. I picked up Moon Shot on a whim because I’ve enjoyed the few Tara Wyatt romances I’ve read so far and this was so much fun! Falling for the Enemy is the second book in Katie Golding’s Malibu Millionaires series and I loved it. It’s a bit more on the erotica side of romance but I liked the balance of steamy + heartfelt.

Goodreads: Moon Shot
Publication Date: 18 August 2020
Genre: Sports Romance
Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Dallas Longhorns manager Javier Flores’ plate isn’t just full—it’s overflowing. Not only is he focused on taking the Longhorns to the World Series this year, but he’s also fighting his ex-wife for shared custody of his two daughters. He doesn’t have room for distractions, even if he is lonely. But when he wakes up beside his nemesis, sports agent Aerin Stone, the morning after a few too many drinks at a wedding reception, he is definitely distracted.

Aerin knows better than most what it’s like to have her heart ripped into a million pieces. She knows what it means to have her entire world crash and burn. And she knows that she’s better off alone, even if she did have the best sex of her life with Javi Flores. It doesn’t matter how good it was, because it can’t ever happen again. After all, she doesn’t even like him. He’s too uptight, too bossy, too sexy. Too dangerous. Too risky for her wounded heart.

But one night isn’t enough to quench the pent-up lust burning between Javi and Aerin, and for once they agree on something: they want more, even if it’s the worst idea either of them has ever had. Because everyone knows what they say about the best laid plans… 

My chaotic self jumped straight into book four of the Dallas Longhorns series without reading the other ones (gotta love standalone romance series) but it’s safe to say that it was a success! There was little that I didn’t enjoy about this—the character development, the chemistry, and the banter were all great! This does involve an ex-partner that kinda became the OW, which I didn’t particularly enjoy, and it did involve Javi’s kids from his first marriage, which was okay and an understandable part of the conflict. The third-act conflict was a little irritating because why on earth did this man make such a stupid decision in the first place? It felt a bit out of character for him which was frustrating considering how much he knew it’d impact Aerin’s feelings. Thankfully, it wasn’t overly angsty and it resolved in a minimally dramatic way.

Aerin and Javier were two jaded twin souls who fit so well together, despite starting off as enemies, and I loved seeing them go from not being able to stand each other to frenemies with benefits and eventually to lovers. Their chemistry was seriously incendiary and holy wow, THE STEAM. If you love your H’s with a bit of a filthy mouth in the bedroom, you’re in for a treat with dirty-talking Javi cos the mouth on this man? 🥵 It is a little sex-heavy at the beginning but it does balance out with more getting-to-know-you moments and sweet romantic gestures in the latter half. Overall, I really enjoyed this and thought it was a fun time. If the other books in this series are anything like this then I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy them all!

Goodreads: Falling for the Enemy
Publication Date: 17 May 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Sometimes, the perfect guy…
Is the one you hate the most.

Jasper Brooks has everything—with his smooth-talking ways and devilish good looks, he’s signed some of the hottest bands of the moment. If only he could get the wrong-number woman he’s been texting for months to reveal herself.

Blake Harris absolutely hates Jasper with every fiber of her being. Avoiding her professional rival is next to impossible in the Malibu music scene, and when a new band puts them head-to-head, their pent-up frustration explodes in a raw session of hate sex. A mistake they keep repeating.

With feelings spinning out of control, Blake bolts back to the mystery man in her phone, determined to finally meet Mr. Perfect. Not realizing that all along, she’s been secretly falling for the enemy… 

Ever since Katie Golding shared a sneak peek of Blake and Jasper earlier this year I’ve been super excited to read their story. I had a feeling I’d love the rivals to lovers and hate to love you vibes and I was not wrong—this was everything I was hoping it’d be and more! I enjoyed The Forever Night Stand but it was too insta-love and insta-perfect for me, but in this one, I felt the tension and chemistry from the very beginning.

I thought the balance between the softer getting-to-know-you moments and the steamy scenes was great in this book. Yes, there are still lots of wildly steamy AF scenes that set my Kindle on fire (holy wow, these two! 🥵) but those moments with them simply talking and falling into a comfortable and easy routine melted my heart. I’m realising lately that I’m a sucker for those domestic moments with couples just doing their thing together at home (cooking, hanging out, etc.) and this served on that front!

Jasper and Blake had such amazing chemistry! Oof, I loved their antagonistic rival banter at the beginning and the way their emotional connection grew stronger each time they’d get intimate. I also really loved the epistolary moments via text messaging which played into the “You’ve Got Mail” retelling aspect. Save for one aspect that plays into the “conflict” between them, I really appreciated their openness and honesty and how they let themselves be vulnerable with each other. I also liked that although there’s a bit of conflict, there is no third-act breakup. There was still enough tension and angst to keep the stakes high and to keep me invested in how things would play out though. Even with some ‘insta’ moments I didn’t mind because of how invested I was in both Jasper and Blake and I just really loved them individually and together! I’m definitely eager to read more from this series (and I do hope we get more).

Do you like the enemies-to-lovers/hate-to-love trope? What’s your favourite book with this trope? Have you read these books or are they on your TBR?