Monday, March 4, 2024

Manga Review: Morgana and Oz by Miyuli

Title: Morgana and Oz Volume 1
Author: Miyuli
Genre: Fantasy; Manga; Vampires; Witches
Publication Date: September 24, 2024
Publisher: Webtoon

What happens when a struggling witch meets an angsty vampire? Either love or war.

Morgana belongs to a long line of witches, and Oz to the rival vampire clan. After a chance encounter . . . and maybe a few stray spells . . . these two need to find a way to work together, or risk all-out war between coven and clan.

It’s a Romeo and Juliet story where a boy and a girl from two rival clans, one a vampire and one a witch, meet cute, like each other, but then the girl makes a serious mistake and turns the boy into a cute kitty.

 




Rating


*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

Morgana and Oz is a story about a witch who can't really control her magic and a vampire she accidentally turned into a cat. This would probably be an easy fix if Morgana's family were currently feuding and on the verge of war with Oz's vampire clan. So, Morgana has to somehow fix this mistake without letting anybody know about her feline friend's true nature. I thought the story was going to be fun and easy tale filled with hijinks and funny situations but the overarching story is very interesting and I can't wait until we get to the true meat and politics of it all. 

Morgana is super cute and relatable, you really can't help but sympathize with her. Oz seems very badass (even as a cute cuddly cat) and their interactions with each other are interesting. I like watching Oz realize certain things about the witching world and Morgana's family that he didn't know before. I also like seeing them learn about each other. I can't wait to see how this story develops and just where Morgana and Oz's relationship evolves.

Overall, interesting and I can't wait to read more. 

Friday, March 1, 2024

Book Review: Ex in the City by Portia Macintosh

Title: Ex in the City
Author: Portia Macintosh
Genre: Romance
Publication Date: February 27, 2024
Publisher: Boldwood Books

Nicole Wilde’s life has not panned out how she expected.

Ten years ago when she was living the rock star lifestyle as a music journalist - touring the country, going to gigs and hanging out with celebrities - she never thought she would end up living an uneventful life in suburbia, in a relationship that is well past its sell-by date.

Nicole knows that her days of wild parties and tour buses are over, but yet there is something that keeps drawing her back to her old life. So when rock star Dylan King turns up on her doorstep needing her help to restore his public image, she can’t resist one last trip down memory lane.

But Nicole and Dylan's history is complicated. And when her old life and new life collide, she will soon realise that you can’t run away from your past forever, and sometimes you just have to follow your heart...


Rating



*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

Do you ever think that a book would be absolutely perfect if not for this one character and their contribution to the plot? Well, that's what I thought, about Ex in the City and the drawn-out plot of Nicole, Rowan, and the mean girls of the PTA. I understand it a little maybe, but it went on for too long and seemed like an unnecessary obstacle to make things complicated for Dylan and Nicole. This is a second-chance romance, that right there is already complicated enough without having to include outside factors. I think Macintosh is a great writer but seems to throw in too much. 

Nicole is a great female lead, she's not an emotional mess, that lets everyone walk all over her like romance books like to portray women as. Dylan is that bad boy cinnamon roll who has gone to rock bottom but has come out on top and wants to show Nicole just how far he's come. Of course, their history complicates everything. There's hesitation to start over and potentially get hurt, and there is also the miscommunication of feelings, so I didn't understand why the drama of everything else.

Overall, fell a little flat but still entertaining. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Book Review: The Princess Protection Program by Alex London

Title: The Princess Protection Program
Author: Alex London
Genre: Children's Fiction; Fantasy; Fairy Tales
Publication Date: February 13, 2024
Publisher: HarperCollins

Every fairy tale ends with its characters living happily ever after, right? A valiant prince quests long and hard to reach the castle where the sleeping princess lies. And with a kiss, he awakens her.

But what if the princess does not think a kiss from a stranger is a very pleasant way to wake up? Yuck!

When Rosamund flees her prince, a Door of Opportunity opens, and she steps through it to the Home Educational Academy (the HEA for short). Rosamund has found the Princess Protection Program, where fugitive fairy-tale princesses escape unwanted affections, untimely ends, and all the other perils of their stories.

But the longer Rosamund lives in the real world, the more questions she has. Does anyone ever graduate from the HEA? Why doesn’t anyone seem to remember the former students? Is the kindly fairy headmistress all she appears to be? Is anyone? And the most important question of all: Can Rosamund change her story?

Acclaimed and bestselling author Alex London weaves together several beloved fairy tales in this fast-paced, funny, and slyly subversive adventure about finding your place in the world.

 Rating

*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

I've read many fairy tale retellings, but this felt like a breath of fresh air. A fun new take on the princess fairy tales we all grew up with, rather than picking a story and trying to modernize it London decided to do a 'What if'. Rosamund is an interesting character whose fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, we are all very much knowledgeable about and the side characters are all princesses (and princes) whom we've all grown up reading about so seeing them all actually gets personalities. 

The plot was slow at first as, like Rosmund, we are learning about a whole other world and the HEA. It did not pick up quite how I wanted it to, but for any middle-grade child who is reading it, then the pace might be perfect. I like the message that The Princess Protection Program is trying to tell, and London did a great job conveying that you can absolutely break out of the story you think is intended for you and have a different happily ever after. 

Overall, a great children's book for any kid who likes to ask 'Why?'

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Book Review: Love, Lies, and Cherry Pies by Jackie Lau

Title: Loves, Lies, and Cherry Pies
Author: Jackie Lau
Genre: Romance
Publication Date: May 07, 2024
Publisher: Atria Books

Mark Chan this. Mark Chan that.

Writer and barista Emily Hung is tired of hearing about the great Mark Chan, the son of her parents’ friends. You’d think he single-handedly stopped climate change and ended child poverty from the way her mother raves about him. But in reality, he’s just a boring, sweater-vest-wearing engineer, and when they’re forced together at Emily’s sister’s wedding, it’s obvious he thinks he’s too good for her.

But now that Emily is her family’s last single daughter, her mother is fixated on getting her married and she has her sights on Mark. There’s only one solution, clearly: convince Mark to be in a fake relationship with her long enough to put an end to her mom’s meddling. He reluctantly agrees.

Unfortunately, lying isn’t enough. Family friends keep popping up at their supposed dates—including a bubble tea shop and cake-decorating class—so they’ll have to spend more time together to make their relationship look real. With each fake date, though, Emily realizes that Mark’s not quite what she assumed and maybe that argyle sweater isn’t so ugly after all…
 

Rating

*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers?

Why do I like realistic and flawed characters when you're supposed to use books to escape real life? Well, I loved the characters in Jackie Lau's  Loves, Lies, and Cherry Pie. Emily is great, I wish we were BFFs, and she may now be in my top 5 female romance characters list. She just seems so real and someone I would absolutely love to go on food friend dates with. Mark Chan (you must always say his first and last name) was absolutely great. I love his logical thought process and how it was a juxtaposition to Emily's more emotionally minded one. 

This was a bit of a slow burn which I really appreciate. Lau let the chemistry between Emily and Mark build and I like that it was instant attraction (although who wouldn't fall in love at first sight with a man who wears sweater vests?). I was surprised by Part Two and the change up by adding Mark as a narrator. I was not expecting it, but I liked Mark's 'voice' and reading things from his perspective. This does not mean I didn't love Emily's POV because I absolutely did but it was an added treat and sort of refreshed the book in a way. Emily's family was also great, and I absolutely adore Emily's mother. Normally meddling family grates on my nerves but I did not mind this time. Lau is officially on my must-read author list because I just loved this book so much. 

Overall, an absolutely great read!

Monday, February 19, 2024

Book Review: The Reinvented Detective. Tales of Futuristic Crimes and Mysteries Beyond Time

Title: The Reinvented Detective
Editors: Cat Rambo; Jennifer Brozek
Genre: Anthology; Mystery; Science Fiction
Publication Date: December 12, 2023
Publisher: Arc Manor

The evolution of crime, punishment, and justice in the future.

What happens when time and technology change the definition of crime and punishment?

Science fiction often focuses on future technology without considering the society housing it. Social norms may change as tech changes — or not. What will criminals, investigators, judges, and juries look like in a complicated future of clones, uploaded intelligences, artificial brains, or body augmentation? What stories emerge when we acknowledge the possibilities of new laws, new police methods, and the birth of sentient Artificial Intelligence, as well as all the ways they can clash or combine?

The Reinvented Detective presents stories that complicate law and order as well as the concept of criminals, detectives, punishment, and justice for all by showing how shifting technology, the rise of sentient AIs, and shifting social attitudes may affect what is not only acceptable, but expected, within both real world and digital communities—and everything in-between. These stories reinvent detective and true crime tropes, recasting them for the 21st century, and above all, experimenting, astonishing, and entertaining.


Rating


*I received an advanced digital copy for free and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

I love Anthologies but I've never really read one like this. The combination of mystery and science fiction works incredibly well and may now be one of my favorite genre mashes. This mixed with the detective trope made The Reinvented Detective a fun read. I also really enjoyed each story and loved to see each author's interpretation and reinvention of the trope. Now, not every story takes place in a time far away, but some are like our modern society with a little more advanced technology. I find these stories intriguing as I feel like it may be achieved. Of course, with that being said I did like when they really leaned into the science fiction aspect and you see the creativity start to really flow. While I did not have a favorite story there were ones that I wish would be expanded upon or even made into a book series. 

Overall, a very entertaining anthology that I wouldn't mind getting more of. 

 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Book Review: The Break up Pact by Emma Lord

 

Title: The Break-Up Pact
Author: Emma Lord
Genre: Romance
Publication Date: August 13, 2024
Publisher: St, Martin's Press

Two best friends who haven’t spoken in ten years pretend to date after break-ups with their respective exes go viral, in this delightfully fun and deeply emotional new novel from New York Times bestselling author Emma Lord.

June and Levi were best friends as teenagers—until the day they weren’t. Now June is struggling to make rent on her beachside tea shop, Levi is living a New York cliché as a disillusioned hedge fund manager and failed novelist, and they've barely spoken in years.

But after they both experience public, humiliating break-ups with their exes that spread like wildfire across TikTok rabbit holes and daytime talk shows alike, they accidentally make some juicy gossip of their own—a photo of them together has the internet convinced they're a couple. With so many people rooting for them, they decide to put aside their rocky past and make a pact to fuel the fire. Pretending to date will help June’s shop get back on its feet and make Levi’s ex realize that she made a mistake. All they have to do is convince the world they're in love, one swoon-worthy photo opp at a time.

Two viral break-ups. One fake relationship. Five sparkling, heart-pounding dates. June and Levi can definitely pull this off without their hearts getting involved. Because everyone knows fake dating doesn’t come with real feelings. Right?

Rating


*I received an advanced digital copy for free and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

So I was so excited about this book, I've heard nothing but great things about Emma Lord's books and fake dating is one of my absolutely favorite tropes. Now, while I don't usually love books I do tend to enjoy them. The Break-Up Pact, unfortunately, not so much. If I had to put my finger on it, it would have to be the disconnection I felt from the Main Characters, especially June. She was just really bland and I guess nice but come on, she was just a mess and not even a hot mess. 

I do understand that her sister has died and she's trying to save her failing business, but I still couldn't empathize. Levi was also just not my cup of tea. He was a cup of lukewarm day-old water. I also just didn't feel their chemistry, we were told multiple times that they were steamy together but I didn't even feel like I got one drop of condensation from them. Maybe it's just me and the whole friends-to-lovers trope just isn't for me. 

Overall, just not one for me. 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Book Review: Just Do it by Maxine Morrey

 

Title: Just Do It!
Author: Maxine Morrey
Genre: Romance
Publication Date: January 18, 2024
Publisher: Boldwood Books

Lizzie Rose knows what she likes and likes what she knows. Her role at the London Museum is more than a job, it’s her safe place and her passion. So when Lizzie is passed over for a chance in a lifetime opportunity in favour of her ex-boyfriend and fellow Egypt nerd Friedrich Klein, her heartbreak over their relationship pales into insignificance compared to her sadness at losing the project.

Best friend Colette thinks an evening of cocktails is just the medicine for a broken heart, and meeting dashing, charming, but very much ‘not her type’ Finn Bryson at the bar puts a smile on Lizzie’s face too. But Lizzie isn’t used to spending time outside of her comfortable world of academia and doesn’t believe in mixing business with pleasure. So when Finn’s job brings him to the museum, she’s determined to put an end to any notion of romance between them.

But what if Lizzie’s comfort zone isn’t that comfortable anymore? Is it time for Lizzie to take the chance on love that fate keeps bringing her way - even if it means changing the habits of a lifetime?

Rating


*I received an advanced digital copy for free and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Reader,

When Elizabeth, an archeologist, gets passed up to get her own dig for her ex-boyfriend, she calls up her best friend Colette, and goes out for drinks. This is where Elizabeth decides to do something she's never done before, have a one-night stand. The next morning she sneaks out convinced she is never going to see him again, of course, she's wrong. She will now be working very closely with him. 

One thing I liked was that Morrey was not afraid to let time pass so that Elizabeth and Finn could establish an actual connection. I do wish we got a little more than snippets of Elizabeth doing her job, especially since she apparently does nothing else but work so it's a huge part of her life, yet it's not explored enough. The entire time I was reading I kept just waiting for something to happen, and when something did finally happen it felt underwhelming and just absolutely out of place especially for Finn. I did like that this is what finally caused Elizabeth to grow into herself and be more confident even if it was somewhat glossed over. Also, I wish she would have made Finn grovel more. 

Overall, a pretty standard romance. 


Friday, January 12, 2024

Book Review: Animalia by Shauna C. Murphy

Title: Animalia
Author: Shauna C. Murphy
Genre: Fantasy: Young Adult
Publication Date: November 11, 2023
Publisher: Coco Studios

On an icy peninsula in Norway, there is a school where select students from around the world are taught the secrets of the Victorian-era world.

The school's programs are:

Apothecary – for pharmacists

Warbringer – for warriors

Machinist – for inventors

Artisan – for artists

Animalia – for animalists

Thirteen-year-old Sunday Gråe wants to follow in her late father's footsteps and become Animalia – the way of working with animals' unique abilities that is taught only at the prestigious and secretive Svalbard School. Sunday's dreams come true when she is admitted, but the school is more dangerous than she thought. The Animalia students are mysteriously going missing... and she could be next.

The Golden Compass meets Enola Holmes in this fantasy and mystery.

Light fantasy elements paint an alternate Victorian era that features students from all around the world working toward altruistic goals (conservation, art, justice, innovation, health, etc) and takes a grounded approach to a universal magic we've all felt in our everyday lives – connection to animals and the natural world.


Rating

*I received an advanced digital copy for free and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily*
 

Hello Fellow Readers,

This was such an interesting take on the whole Fantasy/Magic school trope (even though we are told multiple times that Animalia is not magic). I found the world that Murphy built very interesting and couldn't wait to see how it's explored. Sunday was an interesting character, a child dealing with the death of her father, with a mother who muted her grief through addiction, all the while trying to make sure their candle shop stays afloat. While she is worried and scared to leave home, Sunday gets accepted into Svalbard a prestige school in Norway for their Animalia program, the same program that her father had been in. This is where the story picks up as there is a mystery at this new school that has Sunday suspicious and fighting her animalistic nature. I really hope there is a sequel as this can make a really interesting series. The mystery was predictable as I figured out the antagonist as soon as they were introduced, but that didn't bother me. 

Overall, a curious ending that makes me hope for a sequel. 

Friday, January 5, 2024

Book Review: Hate Mail by Donna Marchetti

 

Title: Hate Mail
Author: Donna Marchetti
Genre: Romance
Publication Date: March 14, 2024
Publisher: One More Chapter

Naomi and Luca have been pen-pals since fifth grade. Well, more like bitter rivals caught in an epic battle of insults and verbal jousting...

But what starts as a hilarious chain of hate-filled letters, slowly develops into a friendship spanning coasts and years. That is until one day, years later, when the letters suddenly stop.

It’s been two years since Naomi last heard from Luca. Two years since the letter that changed everything.

But when a new envelope turns up out of the blue at her desk at the local news station, Naomi is determined not to let Luca have the final word.





Rating


*I received an advanced digital copy for free and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

I was really looking forward to this book and read it pretty quickly, however, it didn't achieve what I thought it would. I will start by saying that I do appreciate the flashback chapters and how it gives us a glimpse at Luca and how his life was while pairing it with Naomi's search for him. I also surprisingly liked the enemies-to-lovers trope in the context of this book, a trope I don't usually like, but Marchetti made it interesting. 

Unfortunately, most of the plot and characters fell flat to me and I didn't understand Naomi's need to go searching for Luca. I also really disliked Anne, Naomi's friend, she was extremely annoying and I was really hoping she wouldn't have that prominent of a role but she did. All the nicknames, also, felt unnecessary. Honestly, I just think maybe, this book just wasn't for me as I just felt most of the writing choices Marchetti made were not my cup of coffee.

Overall, not for me but might be for you. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Book Review: Plot Twist by Erin La Rosa

 

Title: Plot Twist
Author: Erin La Rosa
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publication Date: November 14, 2023 
Publisher: Canary Street Press
Page Length: 336
TW: Alcoholism

She’s written off more than she can chew…

Romance author Sophie Lyon’s ironic secret just went viral: she’s never been in love. Though her debut novel made readers swoon, Sophie’s having trouble getting her new characters to happily-ever-after, and she blames it on her own uninspired love life. With a manuscript deadline looming, Sophie makes an ambitious plan to overcome her writer’s block: reunite with her exes to learn why she's never fallen in love—and document it all for her millions of new online followers. Which also means facing her ex-girlfriend Carla, the one person Sophie could have loved.

Luckily, Sophie’s reclusive landlord, Dash Montrose—a former teen heartthrob—has social media all figured out and offers to help. But he doesn't mention that he’s an anonymous online crafter, a hobby that helps him maintain his sobriety. No one knows about his complicated relationship with alcohol and he intends to keep it that way. His family is Hollywood royalty, so Dash has to steer clear of scandal.

As Sophie and Dash grow closer, they discover a heat between them that rivals Dash's pottery kiln. But Sophie needs to figure out who she is outside her relationships, and Dash isn’t sure he’s stable enough for the commitment she deserves. So Sophie suggests what any good romance author would: a friends-with-benefits arrangement. Surely a casual relationship won’t cause any trouble…


Rating


*I received an advanced digital copy for free and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

While I usually love imperfect people in the books I read, Sophie was absolutely a hot mess that just frustrated me sometimes. Some of her actions I really questioned and shook my head at, but I did still end up rooting for her and Dash. Dash was great and an absolute sweetheart with very complicated family dynamics and drama. I did like the way Rosa handled the heavy topics that were discussed and bonus points for bi-sexual representation and the fact that the main character wore a pacemaker. Things like this need to be normalized in media and this is a very good start. 

However, I do feel like La Rosa relied too heavily on romance tropes for Plot Twist. I do wish she would have let her writing shine through more rather than rely on those old cliches. Sophie and Dash did have a lot of chemistry and I am very glad that we did not have to wait too long for that spicy heat to make an appearance, wow was it hot. I also really liked the ending and epilogue as I felt like these characters deserved it.

Overall, a solid romance especially if you're a fan of tropes.