Book Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas

Goodreads: Credence
Publisher: Penelope Douglas LLC
Published: 13 January 2020
Genre: New Adult Dark Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Three of them, one of her, and a remote cabin in the woods. Let the hot, winter nights ensue…

Tiernan de Haas doesn’t care about anything anymore. The only child of a film producer and his starlet wife, she’s grown up with wealth and privilege but not love or guidance. Shipped off to boarding schools from an early age, it was still impossible to escape the loneliness and carve out a life of her own. The shadow of her parents’ fame followed her everywhere.

And when they suddenly pass away, she knows she should be devastated. But has anything really changed? She’s always been alone, hasn’t she?

Jake Van der Berg, her father’s stepbrother and her only living relative, assumes guardianship of Tiernan who is still two months shy of eighteen. Sent to live with him and his two sons, Noah and Kaleb, in the mountains of Colorado, Tiernan soon learns that these men now have a say in what she chooses to care and not care about anymore.

As the three of them take her under their wing, teach her to work and survive in the remote woods far away from the rest of the world, she slowly finds her place among them.
And as a part of them.
She also realizes that lines blur and rules become easy to break when no one else is watching.
One of them has her.
The other one wants her.
But he…
He’s going to keep her.

*Credence is a full length, stand-alone romance suitable for readers 18+.

TL;DR: This book is not going to be for everyone but I’m glad I gave Penelope Douglas another try with this book. It’s taboo AF and there’s a lot of outrageous things that won’t sit well with many readers (dub con, bullying, violence) so I would highly recommend checking out content/trigger warnings before picking it up. That said, Penelope Douglas masterfully sets the scene in the remote mountains and it really does feel like anything can happen—and it does, obvi. PD also does something with these characters that had me wholly invested in their story that I literally stayed up all night to finish this almost 500-page book.

Continue reading “Book Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas”

Blog Tour Review: The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan

Hello, friends! I’m thrilled to be taking part in my first blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours for The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities: New Stories about Mythic Heroes by Rick Riordan, Carlos Hernandez, Roshani Chkoshi, J.C. Cervantes, Yoon Ha Lee, Kwame Mbalia, Rebecca Roanhorse, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Sarwat Chadda and Graci Kim.

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY (US only, sorry international friends)—details are at the end of my post, and don’t forget to check out the other blogs on tour in the schedule posted after my thoughts!

Special thanks to Rick Riordan Presents for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Publish Date: 28 September 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents ten new stories–including one of his own–about beloved heroes that sprang from the imaginations of some of the best middle grade authors working today.

A cave monster . . . an abandoned demon . . . a ghost who wants to erase history . . . a killer commandant . . . These are just some of the challenges confronting the young heroes in this highly entertaining anthology.

All but one of the heroes previously starred in a popular book from Rick Riordan Presents. You”ll be reunited with Aru Shah, Zane Obispo, Min the fox spirit, Sal and Gabi, Tristan Strong, Nizhoni Begay, Paola Santiago, Sikander Aziz, and Riley Oh. Who is the new hero? Read Rick Riordan”s short story to find out!

Ten bestselling and award-winning middle grade authors contributed to this collection: Roshani Chokshi, J.C. Cervantes, Yoon Ha Lee, Carlos Hernandez, Kwame Mbalia, Rebecca Roanhorse, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Sarwat Chadda, Graci Kim, and Rick Riordan, who also served as the editor.

The cultures represented by these own-voices stories are: Indian, Mesoamerican, Korean, Cuban, Black American, African, Navajo, Mexican, Mesopotamian, and Celtic.

There’s something for everyone in this collection of fast-paced and funny adventure stories that show what it takes to be a hero in any time, setting, and universe.

GET A COPY:

Click on the author names to be taken to their websites!

TL;DR: For readers who are new to the worlds found in Rick Riordan Presents books, this will give you a wonderful taste of what lies in store when you finally dive into them head first! For those who are returning, these stories will take you on fun (mis)adventures with some of your favourite characters from your favourite stories! This was such a fun collection full of magic and it’s rich in diversity and cultural representation! Highly recommended for all readers but especially those who love action-packed (mis)adventures, an abundance of magic, diverse mythology, most likely demons and ghouls, and lots of cheeky and witty humour! 😊

I was completely immersed from the moment I set foot into this Multiverse Mansion and I was itching with eagerness to open each door to the different worlds held within. These stories are rich with diverse cultures and a wild kind of magic courses through each of the pages that hold you enthralled as the characters and their stories unfold. Honestly, these are the kind of stories that I wish had been available to younger me because it would’ve meant so much to see parts of myself in characters who look like me and have roots in parts of the world I’m from. Not to mention that it would’ve been amazing to learn about the different mythologies, too! Luckily, they’re stories that adult me can read and greatly appreciate and it makes me so happy knowing that such diverse heroic tales are available for younger generations to read and identify with!

We get small glimpses into magnificent worlds and we meet many new characters that I was eager to learn more about the minute their story ended. What makes me love a short story is when the story comes full circle, the questions are answered and it can essentially stand on its own, and the majority of stories in here did that! I often found myself going into deep(ish) dives on the interwebs to read up about the mythologies and creatures and I love when a story can pique my curiosity in that way because it makes the experience that much more unforgettable. While I enjoyed all of the stories my top three are: The Demon Drum by Rebecca Roanhorse, My Night at the Gifted Carnival by Graci Kim, and… it’s a tie between The Initiation by Yoon Ha Lee and Bruto and the Freaky Flower by Tehlor Kay Mejia (sorry, I really can’t choose)! 😜

Although I had only met the characters from one of the stories in this collection (Gum Baby forever!), I had no trouble following along with the adventures, so it’s okay to go into this without prior knowledge of the stories. I think it would be perfect for readers who want to get a taste of the worlds found in the Rick Riordan Presents books and I can guarantee that it will leave you wanting more as soon as possible!

3 WINNERS (US ONLY) WILL WIN A FINISHED COPY OF THE CURSED CARNIVAL AND OTHER CALAMITIES!

Tour Schedule

Week One:

9/1/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt
9/2/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
9/3/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
9/4/2021@CurlygrannylovestoreadReview

Week Two:

9/5/2021#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee BlogReview
9/6/2021A Dream Within A DreamReview
9/7/2021Nonbinary Knight ReadsReview
9/8/2021The Bookwyrm’s DenReview
9/9/2021Log Cabin LibraryReview
9/10/2021Lifestyle of MeReview
9/11/2021Emelie’s BooksReview

Week Three:

9/12/2021@pagesofyellowReview
9/13/2021Locks, Hooks and BooksReview
9/14/2021More Books Please blogReview
9/15/2021Little Red ReadsReview
9/16/2021Don’t Judge, ReadReview
9/17/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
9/18/2021booksaremagictooReview

Week Four:

9/19/2021The Phantom ParagrapherReview
9/20/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
9/21/2021Cindy’s Love of BooksReview
9/22/2021dinipandareadsReview
9/23/2021hauntedbybooksReview
9/24/2021Books a Plenty Book ReviewsReview
9/25/2021Books and Zebras @jypsylynnReview

Week Five:

9/26/2021The Momma SpotReview
9/27/2021Zainey LaneyReview
9/28/2021@fictitious.foxReview
9/29/2021Two Points of InterestReview
9/30/2021PopTheButterfly ReadsReview

Have you read The Curse Carnival and Other Calamities or is it on your TBR?

Book Review: Wolf Girl Series

Paranormal romance is not my usual jam but I picked up the first book in a new spin-off series from this one and was intrigued by the history of many of the characters we met, so I decided to check this out. Overall, the Wolf Girl series was pretty engaging and I sped through all four books in just over a day! Despite having major #dramallama I needed to know what happened next, how Wolf City would fare, and how Demi and Sawyer’s relationship would work out. If you’re looking for an entertaining paranormal romance-heavy read that helps you escape reality and is totally binge-able, I would recommend checking this out. Beware the angsty drama though! 😂

*For those who are interested, this series is available on Kindle Unlimited!*

Wolf Girl (Wolf Girl #1)
Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Lost Girl (Wolf Girl #2)
Panda Rating:


(2.75 pandas)

Alpha Girl (Wolf Girl #3)
Panda Rating:


(3 pandas)

Mated Girl (Wolf Girl #4)
Panda Rating:


(3 pandas)

Wolf Girl (Wolf Girl Series #1) by Leia Stone

Wolf Girl spends a lot of time building up the world of Magic City and the various creature factions living in it: wolves, vampires, trolls, dark fae, light fae, and witches, but we also get a small glimpse into the world of banished creatures living in the magically enclosed part of the human world. I thought the world-building was done well and not overly complex. The romance is also quite heavy in this book as a majority of the plot revolves around our heroine, Demi, taking part in the ‘mate selection year’ activities which she likens to The Bachelor (but “Wolf Bachelor”) and though I’ve never watched the show, I can imagine it’s quite similar from what I’ve heard. Thankfully, there’s not a lot of angst between the women, but there’s definitely a lot of angst between our H/H! 🥲

I liked all of the characters but I wasn’t overly invested in any of them. Demi‘s family was banished from Wolf City and she grew up in the human world, so she doesn’t know a lot about Magic City or living in a wolf pack, and we discover her split shifter abilities and wolf customs alongside her. She’s a bit “not like other girls” but she doesn’t let herself get sucked into any drama. I loved her friendship with Sage though! Sawyer was a generally sweet and well-intentioned guy though he doesn’t go about things the right way (at all) and I was pretty miffed about some of the things he did. There was a big hell-no moment for me towards the middle and I was a little miffed that Demi gave in and forgave him so quickly for it. That said, the ending had me really shaking my head in disbelief as it escalated really quickly but it did the trick and made me want to continue reading on!


Lost Girl (Wolf Girl Series #2) by Leia Stone

Lost Girl picks up right where the first book ends and is pretty much non-stop until the very end. We only get Demi’s perspective, though as Demi and Sawyer are separated, it would’ve been great to get his perspective to see how the shit hit the fan back in Wolf City from the moment she was captured.

The majority of this book follows Demi as she journeys back from Troll Valley through various territories (Troll Valley, Dark Fae, Light Fae, Wildlands) and I liked getting to see how different they are. Again, I think the world-building was done well and I had a clear picture in my head of the magical races and their lands. It was slower-paced as there are a lot of reflective moments and being in Demi’s head was a bit repetitive. We do see her gain strength and we get to see her wield her powers more now that the secret is out. That said, I was honestly disappointed by Demi’s quick forgiveness of Sawyer’s actions. Like, woman, please. Stick up for yourself? Where’s your backbone? He did you real dirty and you’re gonna capitulate that easily? Hmm…

Sawyer didn’t play much of a role in this book but he grovels a lot and becomes a stage five clinger. I wasn’t impressed… We also meet new characters that I liked, such as Astra, Arrow and my new fave: Marmal. I really hope these characters come back! At this point, it’s not that I’m even particularly invested in Demi and Sawyer’s relationship or the trials they face, but I am curious to see how the war plays out.


Alpha Girl (Wolf Girl Series #3) by Leia Stone

Alright, Alpha Demi, you’re okay. I’m a little conflicted about Alpha Girl because not much happens. The war has full-on escalated, people are dying all around them, and Wolf City is frankly being destroyed as all the other territories have banded with the vampires all to get their hands on Demi’s tasty power. Demi and Sawyer are still separated and Sawyer is still kind of a stage-five clinger at the start but he does mellow down.

It’s disappointing that we don’t see more of the war because this focuses on Demi’s alpha trial in the Dark Woods. Demi has to stay until she’s shown the magic cave and can harness the Alpha’s powers, and while it’s technically supposed to take three days… we know that’d be too easy, right? 😉 The pace is definitely slow as we spend so much time on the day-to-day of Demi surviving this trial and it takes a while!

That said, one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about this series is the friendship between Sage and Demi, so I enjoyed the focus on them. I love their unconditional support for each other and they’re truly ride or die. Give me more strong women and strong friendships like this, please!

At this point, I’m just ready to know how everything is resolved!


Mated Girl (Wolf Girl Series #4) by Leia Stone

Despite the drama piled on top of drama (because some parts were really #dramallama to the power of max), I thought Mated Girl was a pretty satisfying conclusion to this series. Plus, it sets things up nicely for the spin-off!

Wolf City might still mostly be in ruins, but I’m always a sucker for those new beginnings where people come together despite their differences in order to create a better world and more inclusive future. Demi has a great pack, and I loved that Marmal came back and this time, we even get a dragon that flies and has old magic! 😉 I love the empowered empowered women in this series and it was satisfying to see them take on this rescue mission. Demi really does make a great alpha! Sawyer also comes back a more confident alpha and is no longer a stage five clinger (phew).

I think Magic City is an interesting place and I’ve actually already read the first book in Luka’s series so I’m curious to see what happens next with the tensions still extremely high between the territories, and especially with these nasty vampires. I know I’m definitely gonna be in for a lot more drama 😂

Have you read the Wolf Girl series or is it on your TBR? If you read paranormal romances, what’s your favourite or what do you recommend I check out?

Mini Reviews: Swoony Steamy Romance Novellas!

I’ve been in a pretty big romance mood over the last few months and that has led me to discovering quite a few books, authors and series that I’m eager to explore further. I’ve also read a surprising number of novellas that have worked for me and that I ended up really enjoying so I thought I’d share mini-reviews for three of them!

I Think I Might Love You (Love Sisters #1)
Publication Date: 25 April 2019
Genre:
Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Jaclyn Love is a magnet for trouble – it seems to follow her wherever she goes.

Unfortunately for Kadan Davenport, she also seems to be a magnet for him – even after a disastrous first impression that leaves him – literally – black and blue.

Jaclyn is busy trying to find some sort of balance, and Kadan is just trying not to get swept up in the chaos.

In a small city like Blakewood, it’s hard to avoid each other… especially when each additional encounter makes them wonder if they really want to.

“I Think I Might Love You” is a first-in-series novella.

This had me laughing out loud pretty much from the first scene! Jac and Kadan’s meet-cute was hilarious (although painful for him) and it was so bizarre but it set the tone perfectly for our characters and how the rest of the book would go.

Jac is a notorious rule-breaker in this small-town and she has a fairly long history of getting on the wrong side of the law, but she’s doing her best to set up a calmer life for herself. She’s bold, sassy and had such great energy on the page! Kadan was pretty much Jac’s direct opposite, and well, it’s no wonder that there’s a little animosity between them considering how they first meet! 😂 He’s a vet and overall a pretty stand-up guy who’s trying to build a solid and quiet life for himself, which isn’t working out well for him since he finds himself very attracted to Jac’s “bold personality and attitude problem”. I wouldn’t say theirs is an “enemies-to-lovers” romance, it’s more “hate to love” thanks to their disastrous meet-cute but their banter was so good! It’s the kind that comes across as dislike when, in reality, nobody is fooled and they know it’s attraction.

There are cats in bowls of chicken, dairy-free ice cream mix-ups, (disturbingly funny) farting disasters, a bit of fake dating and a whole lot of sizzling chemistry! I’ve never read a novella series before but this was the perfect palette cleanser between reads and I’m keen to read on about the other sisters!


My Dirty Duke: A Victorian Novella
Publication Date:
07 June 2021
Genre: Historial Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Violet knows that her father’s best friend, the Duke of Ravensthorpe, is the most powerful man in all of London with a reputation for sin.

But nothing can stop Violet from wanting to shed her wallflower ways and fulfill her darkest, most forbidden desires…even if it means seducing a man twice her age.

“Shupe is a true queen of filth, expert at spinning heartfelt love stories alongside tantalizingly wicked scenarios.”
—Entertainment Weekly


Note: My Dirty Duke was originally published in the Duke I’d Like to F… anthology.

I’d never heard of this author before but Twitter romance led me to this book and I can’t say that I’m mad about it! I’m gonna be honest, I read this for the smut and it definitely delivered! 😂 This is an age-gap taboo romance, which is not something that I normally ever read (for no particular reason just don’t feel that it really interests me) so I wasn’t bothered by it in this story.

As this is a novella there’s not much in the way of character development or a strong plot, and their relationship to each other is already an established thing. I liked the Duke and Victoria. I thought they were both interesting characters and that the author handled the emotional and moral struggle (especially on his part) pretty well. I liked that Victoria was the one who pursued him—this girl knew exactly what she wanted and she managed to be bold despite being a little shy. I enjoyed reading about her passion for photography and of course, I liked how photographs had a role in their play, but I also liked how the Duke supported and encouraged the pursuit of her passion. Obviously, I liked the steamy bits and it did get quite steamy pretty quickly. The Duke ticked that dirty-talking hero box and so if that’s your thing, I would definitely recommend checking this out (especially if you have Kindle Unlimited)!

Were there some questionable moments in the characters’ actions and the progression of the plot? Sure, but I also didn’t really expect much to be developed or expanded upon in a novella, so I didn’t think too much about it. Overall, I enjoyed this and would be curious to check out more by this author in the future! If you’ve read her books, what’d you recommend checking out next?


Surrender: An Erotic Short
Publication Date: 16 August 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

“In twelve years unless we’re with other people I’ll fly you somewhere and you’ll give me two nights…”

The pact was so ridiculous, Yara forgot about it soon after it was made.
What were the odds she and Lennox would still be single in twelve years?
What were the odds they’d still have the hots for each other?
Practically zero, right?
Until they weren’t.
Yara is tempted to decline when Lennox emails her plane tickets and a reminder she promised him two nights for the full exploration of her body, but her curiosity gets the best of her.
What follows is more than either of them could ever bargain for and Yara learns that sometimes the key to indescribable pleasure is to surrender.

I picked this up immediately after seeing this terrifying yet hilariously thirsty image on Nick’s review. Her reviews have yet to steer me wrong and I’m glad I picked this up! It was fun, fast and super steamy and the perfect transition read to my next (presumably less erotic) romance.

This is basically about two people who come together to fulfil a sex pact they made after uni. Yara and Lennox promised each other that if they were single after 12 years they’d get together for two nights and wow hey, here they are and it was F-I-R-E! Despite only being 52 pages long, I was still able to get a good feel for both characters’ personalities and I loved them. Plus, the chemistry was intense and the sexual tension was almost palpable! Yes, there’s a lot of sex in this book but they (surprisingly) don’t just bang the day away and we see them reconnect as friends but also explore the potential of this connection they have being more serious than a sex pact. But, the steamy is definitely worth the build up! 😉

I hadn’t read anything by Rilzy Adams before this but I’ll be looking their books up now and I’m keen to check out more.

Have you read any of these novellas or are they on your TBR? Do you have romance novella faves to recommend? I’m definitely keen on trying more novellas soon!

Blog Tour Review: It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi.
Special thanks to HarperCollins Children’s Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: It All Comes Back to You
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Publication Date: 14 September 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Coming-of-Age

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close. Then out of the blue, Amira announces that she’s dating someone and might move cross-country with him. Kiran is thrown.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend, even if it’s getting serious quickly. Maybe now their parents’ focus will shift off Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect son.

When Deen and Kiran come fact to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago–before Amira and Faisal met–Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen ghosted Kiran with no explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother’s relationship, to keep her from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi”

Blog Tour Review: The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis.
Special thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Raven Heir (The Raven Heir #1)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Publication Date: 05 August 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

A set of magical triplets, two warring dynasties, and a broken crown waiting for its rightful owner…

Deep within an enchanted forest lies a castle where a set of triplets and their sorceress mother have lived for years — safe from the decades-long war for the Raven Throne that rages in the kingdom beyond. Cordelia, one of the triplets, has the power to become any animal with just a thought, and she yearns to discover more about the world outside her castle.

But one day, the world comes to her, when the eldest of the triplets becomes the newest heir to the throne. Knowing that being named heir means certain death, Cordelia’s mother hid the truth about which child is the eldest when she hid them in the forest. When her family is captured, it’s up to Cordelia to use her powers to keep her siblings hidden and discover the truth about the Raven Heir — before it’s too late.

A thrilling new fantasy full of magic, adventure, and the power of family.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis”

ARC Review: With You Forever by Chloe Liese

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

Goodreads: With You Forever (Bergman Brothers #4)
Publication date: 14 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)


Axel
Rooney Sullivan is sunshine incarnate. Warm, bright, always smiling, she’s everything I’m not and the last person I have any business desiring. Desperate to hide a hopeless attraction, I’ve done everything possible to keep my distance…until a charades game gone wrong brought that to a grinding halt. 

Since then, steering clear of Rooney has been impossible. In a matter of months, she’s kissed me speechless, commandeered my art career, and infiltrated not only my dreams but my home. The woman who was once avoidable has become the last thing I needed: temptingly within reach.
 
Rooney
Axel Bergman is a gorgeous grump who doesn’t have the time of day for me. Thankfully, I’ve kept my crush under wraps…well, until I kissed him. Charades got away from me, okay? It was an accident! I haven’t seen him since, which is for the best. My life is a mess, and the last thing I need is to embarrass myself further with the man who avoids me like that’s his job rather than painting modern masterpieces.
 
It seems the universe, however, has a different plan. When Axel and I unexpectedly find our paths—and problems—converging, a marriage of convenience proves the perfect solution. At least, until I’m facing my most serious problem yet: a once-loveless marriage of convenience that’s inconveniently become a love match, after all.

THIS BOOK IS OUT IN TWO DAYS!
PRE-ORDER NOW:

Continue reading “ARC Review: With You Forever by Chloe Liese”

Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Goodreads: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1)
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Published: 02 May 2019
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Thriller

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth … ?

TL;DR: This book has been so hyped and I kept putting it off because I was worried I wouldn’t feel the same… But I’m happy to say that this is totally deserving of the hype! I can’t believe this is Holly Jackson’s debut and now I can’t wait to pick up the other two books in this series. I loved Pippa’s character and the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. This was full of twisty turns and set in a small country town where literally nobody can be trusted because everyone was shady AF! I read this in a matter of hours because it was simply unputdownable and I’m so glad that I can finally check it off my TBR!

Continue reading “Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson”

ARC Review: When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

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

Goodreads: When Sparks Fly
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: 21 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(2.5 pandas)

Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

TL;DR: Sadly, sparks didn’t exactly fly for me with this book. There were definitely some cute fluffy moments between Avery and Declan and I enjoyed reading about the Avery and her sisters running Spark House, plus I appreciated that Hunt emphasised the importance of seeking mental health support by seeing a therapist. Ultimately though, the writing felt stilted and repetitive, and I was unable to really connect with the characters or feel invested in their romance. I’m in the minority though but it was still a quick and easy read and would be a good palate cleanser between genres.

Continue reading “ARC Review: When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting”

ARC Review: Impassioned by Darcy Burke

Special thanks to NetGalley and Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads: Impassioned (The Phoenix Club #2)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Publish Date: 24 August 2021
Genre: Historical Regency Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

In nearly two years of marriage, Sabrina Westbrook has barely spoken to her husband and shared a bed even less. Both activities would require they actually live together. As it is, the Earl of Aldington attends to his seat in the House of Commons, while she and her crippling social anxiety tend to his country house and gardens.

Their arrangement is quite civilized, and their letters are painfully polite. Their twice-yearly visits are…awkward. But, if Sabrina can muster the necessary courage, all of that is about to change. Starting tonight.

Heir to a dukedom, Constantine Westbrook knows his duty: to country, to family, and to the shy, retiring wife whose beauty stole his breath the moment they met. Whose arousing, enticing body he’s never seen in the light of day. Or any light at all.

However, there’s something different about the woman who shows up in London unannounced. For the first time in their marriage, Sabrina has a request. No, a demand. But wanting and having are two different things. And to give Sabrina her heart’s desire, they’ll both need a few lessons in love…

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Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

TL;DR: Despite this book relying on tropes I’m not overly fond of in romance (miscommunication and deception), I found myself liking the characters enough that I wanted to get to their HEA. I enjoyed seeing Sabrina and Constantine deal with their insecurities and issues that stemmed from their upbringing and troubled family relationships. I loved seeing them come out of their shells, stand up to their bullies and find confidence to pursue their wants outside of society’s expectations. The sexual tension between these two was also surprisingly steamy and it was built up in a nice slow burn fashion, complete with swoon-worthy courting, too!


It’s been a while since I read a Darcy Burke romance but it was nice to come back to her regency romance world. I enjoy her writing and the era comes alive through her descriptions and the words/phrases from this period. It feels authentic, although I can’t really comment so much on the accuracy of it, just that it feels realistic to me.

This one had a bit of a rough start and our H/H took a while to understand the real problem between them and their arranged marriage (hint: it wasn’t sex). This does lean heavily on the miscommunication trope, plus there’s also a fair bit of deception that lasts until the conflict at the end, so if these are two things you don’t like in romance, this book might not be for you. While I normally also don’t like these tropes, and they did frustrate me when I was reading, I liked both characters enough to want to continue and see them get their HEA.

Sabrina and Constantine each have their own issues to overcome that stem from their upbringing and troubled family relationships. Sabrina suffers from extreme social anxiety and that isn’t helped by her horrible parents who belittle and demean her and treat her anxiety as a joke, which causes her to retreat into herself and become a ‘wallflower‘. Constantine has been raised to be the perfectly rational, unfeeling and coldhearted Duke by his father who is more of a domineering dictator rather than a parent, and who expects his favourite son to be just like him. These personal issues have led to misunderstandings and constant miscommunication between our H/H, but both want desperately to change that and as they break down the walls in their marriage, they also learn to stand up for what they want. I enjoyed seeing them break out of their shells, find their voices and finally stand up to their bullies, though I wish we did get more details specifically about how Sabrina overcame her anxiety. It felt overly simplistic as if she decided to get over it and that was that; however, it wasn’t a “magic cure” whereby the end she didn’t feel anxiety at all because she continued to suffer from her nerves, she just got better at managing it.

There’s also a delicious tension that builds up between these two. What starts out as Sabrina boldly demanding her marital rights to get with a child, turns into a tentative and swoon-worthy courting between husband and wife, and it’s not only very sweet but also delightfully steamy—the sexual tension developed so nicely and it’s well worth the slow(ish) burn when they finally give in to their desires and get together! That said, I wish it didn’t take them so long to realise that lies and miscommunication were what made their relationship so awful in the first place and that the deception they participated in to get to their marriage on more stable ground didn’t aid in that. But you can say the journey to get there was definitely sexy and fun! 😉

Overall, despite the use of tropes I’m not very fond of, I liked our H/H and I’m glad I read this book! I’m definitely excited for the next book in the Phoenix Club series, but I’ll also go back and read the first one, too.

Have you read Impassioned or is it on your TBR?