Book Review: Meet Me Halfway by Lilian T. James

Goodreads: Meet Me Halfway
Published: 29 March 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Madison gave her heart to a boy at the age of sixteen, but all she got in return was a broken heart and a swollen belly. Alone with a baby and desperate for the love she hadn’t found, she turned to a man who sealed his claim of devotion with a diamond ring. He promised her a family. A life. A future. But his lies had only been a cover for the personal hell he introduced her to daily.

Now, at twenty-five, Madison has long since stopped believing in love. It’s simply not a square on her bingo card. Balancing single parenthood, three jobs, and online courses, she doesn’t have the time anyway.

So when the broody neighbor living in the other side of her duplex leaves a rude note on her door, she’s not interested. Not in his dark hair, not in his physique, and definitely not in the dimples she’s only seen a hint of. She’s one hundred percent, absolutely, not interested.
Not even a little.

Author’s Note: Head to the author’s website for a full list of all content descriptions, tropes, etc.

TL;DR: I stayed up all night reading this and basically finished it in one sitting because I didn’t want to put it down! This had so many of the things I love:
– Single parent trope
– Grumpy neighbour/hate to friends to lovers
– Slow burn romance
– Amazing friendships, adorably angry doggo, and ALL. THE. BANTER!
– Explosive chemistry and the sexual tension, folks!!!
🥵
– Gentleman in public but a dirty talking alpha in private
😌
– So many sweet domestic couple moments at home ft. cooking, taking care of her when she’s sick, bonding with the kid, falling asleep in the backyard while stargazing… I can go on!


A note: Maddie deals with a lot of things that led to situations that were hard to read, so I would advise checking the CW/TW below but the author also provides a list at the beginning of the book and on her website!


CW/TW: topics such as mental and emotional recovery from previous spousal abuse, stalking, alcoholism, sexual harassment, and assault, sex on-page


Continue reading “Book Review: Meet Me Halfway by Lilian T. James”

ARC Review: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Special thanks to Clarion Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Ivory Key (The Ivory Key Duology #1)
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publish Date: 04 January 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good. 

TL;DR: My journey reading this was quite an experience! Although it was a bit of a rough first half, I ended up enjoying this Indian-inspired fantasy and the characters plus the strong focus on family and sibling relationships. We get several POVs but the author does a great job in creating distinct voices for each sibling. The second half was so full of Indian Jones-style mystery adventure and I sped through it so quickly! With the surprising twists and baby-cliffhanger ending, I’m excited to know what happens next and how this duology concludes.

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ARC Review: Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting

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

Goodreads: Starry-Eyed Love (Spark House #2)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: 10 May 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.

TL;DR: I genuinely enjoyed this so much more than the first book! Although it was slow at the start and there were communication issues that I wished had been handled better, London and Jackson had great chemistry and I liked how their romance played out. They had sweet moments with just the right amount of cheese to make it cute and I really liked how they supported each other. I also loved the sibling dynamic between the Spark sisters and although I’m not sure if Hunting’s books are 100% for me, I’m looking forward to Harley’s story because she’s my favourite sister so far!

Continue reading “ARC Review: Starry-Eyed Love by Helena Hunting”

First Lines Friday – 13 May 2022

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“The myths of my people say only a true bride of the Sea God can bring an end to his insatiable wrath. When the otherworldly storms rise from the East Sea, lightning breaking the sky and waters ripping up the shore, a bride is chosen and given to the Sea God.
Or sacrificed, depending on the measure of your faith.”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

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ARC Review: Impossible by Darcy Burke

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

Goodreads: Impossible (The Phoenix Club #6)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Published: 19 April 2022
Genre: Historical Romance

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Ada Treadway has been in love before, and it brought nothing but heartache. Still, she retains her cheerful optimism and is fiercely protective of the independence and respect she’s earned as bookkeeper of the Phoenix Club. When the owner enlists her help to organize his friend’s estate ledgers, she’s eager to prove her expertise and her worth. But his friend turns out to be a disagreeable, unpleasant beast, and Ada works to find the warm-hearted gentleman she’s sure lurks beneath.

Maximillian Hunt, the Viscount Warfield doesn’t care if he lives to see tomorrow, and he certainly doesn’t want to recall yesterday. The arrival of the meddlesome and effusively positive woman who will put his accounts in order not only reminds him of the past he’s desperate to forget, she sparks something within him he thought dead. Tempted by a future he never imagined, he must do the impossible: convince her that he’s worth risking her heart a second time.

TL;DR: Overall, while this started off strong, the romance felt a little too half-baked for me to fully enjoy it. That’s not to say that I didn’t like these characters or enjoy their story because I did, and I was actually quite convinced that this was going to be a favourite in this series, so it was quite disappointing that their romance ended up being a bit unsatisfying for me. I am looking forward to the next book in the series though as we finally get McDougal’s story!

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Book Review: Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Goodreads: Gallant
Publisher: Titan Books
Published: 01 March 2022
Genre: Young Adult Gothic Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him? 

If it weren’t for my buddy read with Leslie @Books Are the New Black, this probably would’ve ended up sitting unread on my shelf for a while. Sadly, she didn’t have as great a time with this one as I did and although I liked it, I can totally understand why she didn’t!

TL;DR: I had a bit of a hard time figuring out how I really felt about this book. Although I did end up enjoying it, I can also really understand why people wouldn’t like it. While I don’t think this fully lived up to the hype for me, I was still able to get on board with Olivia’s search for the truth about her family and for a place to call home. If you like slow-moving plots and spooky atmospheric writing, not to mention a pretty quick read, I’d recommend checking this out!

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ARC Review: Burning Up by Tara Wyatt

Special thanks to the author for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Burning Up (The Prescotts #6)
Publication Date: 26 April 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

We have to burn to rise from the ashes.

Nearly two years after her divorce, Felicity Hawthorne is ready to date again. At least, she thinks she would be, if the idea of dating wasn’t so freaking terrifying. But then she wins a date with sexy, swoony firefighter Noah Prescott at a charity bachelor auction, and everything changes.

FDNY captain Noah isn’t looking for a relationship. Since losing his father as a teenager, he’s spent the past twenty years shouldering heavy responsibilities, and he knows he doesn’t have the time or energy to be anyone’s boyfriend. But one date with sweet, charming Felicity has him wanting things he shouldn’t want.

Which is why Noah suggests Felicity practice her budding dating skills with him. He wants more of her, and practice dates are as close as he can come to having her in his life without hurting her. But then dating practice turns into practice of another kind—the kind that involves moans and sighs and orgasms—and Noah knows he’s going to fall. Hard.


GET A COPY:

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ARC Review: Tanked by Mia Hopkins

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

Goodreads: Tanked (Eastside Brewery #3)
Publisher: Little Stone Press
Publication Date: 26 April 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

A fighter without a purpose. A crusader with nothing to lose. Can she trust him with her heart, or is he just another lost cause?

Angel
By day, I do all the grunt work at my family’s struggling L.A. brewery. By night, I blow off steam at an underground fight club. I never thought the pandemic would bring Deanna Delgado back into my life—the woman who ghosted me three years ago after one unforgettable night. But the brewery needs a miracle to survive. And that miracle could cost me the only person who’s ever had faith in me.

Deanna
My family calls me an idealistic do-gooder, but I see a better, brighter future for my community. My biggest problem? I’ve just lost the job I love. To ease my pain, I’ve hooked up with Angel Rosas, the filthy-sweet one-night stand who’s somehow dropped back into my life. There’s so much more to Angel than he lets on. Is he the man I can trust with my body and my heart? Or is he just another lost cause?


GRAB A COPY:

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Blog Tour Review: Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley and I’m excited to share my review and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books 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: Sofi and the Bone Song
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: 19 April 2022
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

In this gorgeous, queer standalone fantasy, a young musician sets out to expose her rival for illegal use of magic only to discover the deception goes deeper than she could have imagined—perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens!

Music runs in Sofi’s blood.
Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.
Almost like magic.

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley”

Blog Tour Review: An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan and I’m excited to share my review and journal spread 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: An Arrow to the Moon
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 12 April 2022
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Magical Realism

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology in this magical novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Astonishing Color of After

Hunter Yee has perfect aim with a bow and arrow, but all else in his life veers wrong. He’s sick of being haunted by his family’s past mistakes. The only things keeping him from running away are his little brother, a supernatural wind, and the bewitching girl at his new high school.

Luna Chang dreads the future. Graduation looms ahead, and her parents’ expectations are stifling. When she begins to break the rules, she finds her life upended by the strange new boy in her class, the arrival of unearthly fireflies, and an ominous crack spreading across the town of Fairbridge.

As Hunter and Luna navigate their families’ enmity and secrets, everything around them begins to fall apart. All they can depend on is their love…but time is running out, and fate will have its way. 

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan”