Book Review: Window Shopping by Tessa Bailey

Goodreads: Window Shopping
Published: 19 October 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

A sizzling, standalone, feel-good holiday romance from Tessa Bailey, New York Times bestselling author of It Happened One Summer.
Two weeks before Christmas and all through Manhattan, shop windows are decorated in red and green satin.
I’m standing alone in front of the famous Vivant department store, when a charming man named Aiden asks my opinion of the décor.

It’s a tragedy in tinsel, I say, unable to lie.
He asks for a better idea with a twinkle in his eye.
Did I know he owned the place? No. He put me on the spot.
Now I’m working for that man, trying to ignore that he’s hot.
But as a down on her luck girl with a difficult past, I know an opportunity when I see one—and I have to make it last.

I’ll put my heart and soul into dressing his holiday windows.
I’ll work without stopping. And when we lose the battle with temptation, I’ll try and remember I’m just window shopping.

TL;DR: This reverse grumpy-sunshine romance was incredibly adorable, delightful, and so full of positive and festive holiday vibes! I think this is also the first romance/book I’ve read that directly references the pandemic, and while it was admittedly a little jarring to see things being so ‘normal’ when it’s still so not normal (and the pandemic so far from over) IRL, it was also nice and hopeful! I loved Stella and Aiden and despite the insta-love moments of their romance, I was sold on their connection and sizzling chemistry and they more than deserved their HEA! 

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Book Review: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Goodreads: In a Holidaze
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: 06 October 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

TL;DR: It has been a long time since I’ve read a CLo book and now I’m wondering why! This book was such a fun and wonderfully festive holiday romance and it served a good dose of feel-good family vibes, a swoony albeit slightly cheesy romance, and likeable characters that you can’t help but root for and wish you were friends with, too! If you’re looking for a holiday read to lose yourself in for a little while, I would definitely recommend this one.

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Book Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Goodreads: The Love Hypothesis
Publisher: Sphere
Published: 27 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive on her way to a happily ever after was always going to be tough, scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting woman, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when he agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire and Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support (and his unyielding abs), their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion.

Olive soon discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

TL;DR: I honestly don’t know what else to say about this book other than to keep gushing about how swoony the romance was and how happy their interactions made me. I’m so glad that I finally shook off the nerves and dove into this romance because it was amazing. The only regret I have is that it’s over and I already can’t wait to read it again at some point because this has fast become one of my favourite romances—and definitely one of my top reads in 2021! All I can say is READ IT! 

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Book Review: A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn

Goodreads: A Not So Meet Cute
Published: 02 November 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

How did you two meet?
The quintessential question asked to every couple. And the answer is usually some bubbly, lovey dovey tale of being struck in the bum by Cupid’s arrow.

My meet cute (well not so meet cute) is slightly different. I was trolling a wealthy neighborhood in Beverly Hills, searching for someone to take me as their bride, you know, to make my arch nemesis jealous who consequently just fired me. He was stomping around the block like some sort of gorgeous ogre, mumbling about a business deal gone wrong and attempting to finagle his way out of it.

And that’s when we bumped into each other.
There were no sparks.
Not even a hint of blossoming love.

But next thing I knew, I was scarfing down free chips and guac, listening to this man lay out all of his problems which led to his big ask . . . he wanted me to be his Vivian Ward, you know, from Pretty Woman–minus the frisky behavior.
We’re talking about living in a mansion, intimate double dates, and pretending we were head over heels in love . . . and engaged. Can you imagine?
The absolute audacity.
But people do crazy things when they’re desperate. And I reeked of desperation. So, I struck up a deal.
My one big mistake, though . . . big . . . HUGE? I accidentally fell for the incomparable Huxley Cane

TL;DR: I got exactly what I wanted with A Not So Meet Cute—a slightly cheesy, sometimes OTT romantic comedy with lots of cheeky banter, sizzling chemistry between our H/h and all the steamy moments! Overall, this was an entertaining rom-com that maybe started off on the not-so-cute side for me but ended up getting to that entertaining place that Meghan Quinn always brings us to with her romances.

Continue reading “Book Review: A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn”

Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

I’ve got a few reads going but I’ll be spending the rest of my Sunday in bed reading In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren. This has been on my TBR for… a while but I finally decided to pick it up last night cos this is about as “complicated” as my brain can handle right now. I’m about 60% through and I’m really enjoying it but I’m also kinda waiting for the other shoe to drop? Things are going *too* well and it’s making me nervous! 😂 But what I can say is that it’s one of the most festive and magical holiday romances I’ve read to date!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

What are you currently reading?

Continue reading “Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp”

November 2021 Monthly Wrap Up

Wow, why does it feel like I just wrote my September wrap up… Yesterday? Anyone else or is it just me? 😂

I don’t know what happened in November. I feel like it was a pretty weird month as I fell into a bit of a funkier mood and lost motivation when it came to work, which eventually bled into pretty much all other aspects of my life. How dramatic! 🙈 But I honestly didn’t do much and nothing of note happened. I baked a bit, I ate at a restaurant for the first time since the second wave hit Indonesia in mid-2021, got obsessed with playing Zelda BOTW, and of course, obsessed over Taylor’s Version of Red. Better Man is my current favourite track from the vault, mostly cos the lyrics hit so close to home in maybe not the best ways, but as much as I’m an emotional reader, I’m also an emotional listener and this has me wrapped up in my feels!

I think I read 20 books in November! I feel like maybe I read a romance or two and didn’t note them and uh, forgot? 😂 Brain fog was kinda my November… I thought I got a little bit of my reading mojo back at one point but no, my reading mood has still been a little erratic and slump-ish even though I stopped gaming for a week+ thinking it would help (don’t think it did).

Surprisingly though I had THREE 5-star reads with a new favourite fantasy and a new favourite small-town romance series to add to my faves list! I think if I had to pick my favourite of the three, it’d be The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse, which is an amazing fantasy debut. That said, Brighton Walsh had me wanting to set up in Havenbrook asap, please! 😂 So, I guess I really can’t choose between my 5-star reads? LOL!

My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.

I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path . . . a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by Empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation.

But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves…

MY REVIEW

Also, a quick update on my #NetgalleyNovember BINGO reading: I read 6 out of 9 titles, which is a little sad but also, ngl, I’m pretty chuffed to have managed those six books! 😂 As my super funky reading mood continues I was pretty worried I’d struggle to finish even two books, so this is a win for me!

Image is titled #NetGalleyNovember BINGO.

Below the title are nine book covers chosen for the bingo prompts. 

Book 1: Skin of the Sea - a book published this year (Marked as read)

Book 2: The Vanishing Season - your oldest approval (unmarked, not read)

Book 3: Never Saw Me Coming - a book beginning with 'n' (Marked as read)

Book 4: You'll Be the Death of Me - your latest approval (Marked as read)

Book 5: A People's History of Heaven - a book with a green cover (Marked as read)

Book 6: How to Love Your Neighbor - a book yet to be released (Marked as read)

Book 7: The Hand of the Sun King - a book beginning with 'the' (Marked as read)

Book 8: She Who Became the Sun - a debut author (unmarked, not read)

Book 9: Chef's Kiss - most excited for (Marked as read)
Continue reading “November 2021 Monthly Wrap Up”

Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

I’ll be spending the rest of my Sunday night in bed reading Battle Royal. I’ve been having a bit of a time concentrating on anything other than romance cos my mind just won’t let me focus for more than 2 seconds before it fixates on the things that are currently making me an anxious wreck (lol 🥲). So it’s taken a while to get into the story but I’m loving the humour and Lucy Parker’s writing style! Just read a funny scene unknowingly involving absinthe that had me laughing out loud and oh, these two are a treat! 😂

Ready…
Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.

Set…
Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker, the go-to for sweet-toothed A-List celebrities, and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that the irksome Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.

Match…
When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they’re both determined to come out on top.

The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.
In this royal battle, can there be room for two? 

What are you currently reading?

Continue reading “Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp”

ARC Review: A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for the gifted ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: A People’s History of Heaven
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Published: 19 March 2019
Genre: Literary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Heaven is a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new, high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore. In this tight-knit community, five girls on the cusp of womanhood-a politically driven graffiti artist; a transgender Christian convert; a blind girl who loves to dance; and the queer daughter of a hijabi union leader-forge an unbreakable bond.

When the local government threatens to demolish their tin shacks in order to build a shopping mall, the girls and their mothers refuse to be erased. Together they wage war on the bulldozers sent to bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that wishes that families like them would remain hidden forever.

Elegant, poetic, and vibrant, A People’s History of Heaven takes a clear-eyed look at adversity and geography and dazzles in its depiction of love and female friendship.

TL;DR: A People’s History of Heaven is a beautifully crafted literary debut full of so much heart! With her lyrical prose and vivid descriptions of everyday life, it was as if Mathangi Subramanian reached through the pages of this novel and pulled me right into Heaven itself. This is a story about the strong and proud women that live in Heaven—the grandmothers, the mothers, and the daughters, who do whatever it takes to survive the hardships of not only living in a slum but being part of an oppressive patriarchal society that was not designed for women and girls to succeed.

Continue reading “ARC Review: A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian”

Book Review: Captain Heartbreaker by Brighton Walsh

Check out my review for the prequel novella Pact with a Heartbreaker!

Goodreads: Captain Heartbreaker (Havenbrook #4)
Publisher: Bright Publishing
Published: 31 March 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Adventure’s in Captain Hudson Miller’s blood. For the past ten years, he’s spent his days in the sky, serving as a pilot for the Army. But where adventure called him away, something—someone—else is calling him home. On post-deployment leave, he escapes to the one place he hasn’t been since he enlisted: Havenbrook, Mississippi. Hometown of his momma’s peach cobbler, enough memories to last a lifetime, and the only girl who ever left an imprint on his heart.

Mackenna Haven thought she’d have her life figured out by now. Instead, she’s a twenty-seven-year-old college dropout who works at her soon-to-be brother-in-law’s bar and lives on her parents’ land. No husband or kids to her name. Not even a consistent weekend booty call. She’s been pretending she’s happy working dead-end jobs in an even deader-end town, but she can’t stop thinking she was meant for more than this.

After a childhood as best friends and a single weekend exploring more, Mackenna and Hudson haven’t seen each other in ten years. But they made a pact that long ago weekend, and Hudson’s coming to make good on his promise. Except she has no interest in it or him. After all, he walked away from her once already, and she’s not interested in opening her heart and allowing him a second chance at destruction. 

TL;DR: If you’re a fan of friends-to-lovers romances and second-chances between two people who have a wonderfully goofy friendship and sizzlingly hot chemistry, then I would definitely recommend this book! This couple is my favourite in this series and probably one of the best friends-to-lovers couples that I can remember reading! Also, if you’re a fan of small-town romances with a memorable cast of supporting characters, then I’d highly recommend checking out the Havenbrook series!

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Mini ‘Friends-to-Lovers’ Reviews: Guarding Temptation & Pact With A Heartbreaker

Goodreads: Guarding Temptation
Publisher: Nixon House
Published: 22 April 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:


Protective. Obsessive. And rough around the edges.

James Foster knows the rules: you don’t fall for your best friend’s little sister. Nina is too young, too reckless, and too busy saving the world to be tied down by the commitment he craves.
If he was smart, he’d stop wanting her. But she’s the one thing on earth James just can’t quit.

Fierce. Principled. And impossible to resist.

Political campaigner Nina Chapman is sick of one-time things. She wants forever, and she wants it with her brother’s best friend—but James still sees her as a child to be coddled.
So when a controversial article lands Nina in hot water, she finds herself under his protection and under his roof. It’s a shame James doesn’t want her in his bed, too.
…Or does he?

Continue reading “Mini ‘Friends-to-Lovers’ Reviews: Guarding Temptation & Pact With A Heartbreaker”