Arc Review: The Unmatchmakers by Jackie Lau

Title: The Unmatchmakers
Author: Jackie Lau
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: June 28th, 2022
Publisher: Kobo Originals
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“You’d think my mother would be trying to set me up with architect Neil Choy, the unmarried son of her best friend. But you’d be wrong.

My single mother has always been fiercely independent. Since I was a small child, she’s always told me not to believe in fairy tales and that I don’t need a man. So she’s failed to mention that Neil is a total hottie in glasses. When I see him for the first time in a decade, on a multi-family cottage vacation, I’m in for quite a shock. (In fact, I nearly fall in the lake, but let’s keep that a secret.)

He sure can grill a mean steak and mix a killer cocktail, plus he’s pretty impressive in a kayak. Yes, he’s a little stern and grumpy, but that just makes him more fun to tease—and makes it more satisfying when he quirks his lips in my direction.

Even though my mind is spinning romantic fantasies, I’m not entirely sure how he feels. And I’m afraid that if anything happens between us, it’ll screw up the friendship between our staunchly anti-relationship mothers. Especially since they’ve been acting increasingly weird since we arrived—I will never forgive them for the S’mores Incident. In fact, I think they’re trying to sabotage my love life, and I’m starting to worry that I won’t make it through this bizarre summer vacation…” (Goodreads)

Usually I am not one for a shorter story but this one was cute and I really enjoyed it. Obviously, one of the reasons for requesting this one was because of the cover. Haha, I’m predictable at this point when it comes to that!

The book follows one point-of-view and it comes from Leora. She is meeting her mom and childhood friends for a week long trip on a lake. There isn’t much character development and what we do get is about growth. There are quite a few characters that have growth and it was nice to see how each one dealt with the situations that were handed to them for the growth to happen. I feel like her mom and auntie had the most since they really don’t believe in love.

The families reminded me a lot of Dial A for Aunties. Leora’s mom and aunties were hilarious. I never thought I would read a book where the moms will do anything to break up their children. It was insane the lengths they would try to go. It definitely made the book very comedic.

If you are a steamy romance reader, there are two scenes that take place between the couple and a lot of lead-up to it all.

Overall, this was cute and would be a nice book to take on a summer vacation, especially because it is on the shorter side. I’m not one for friend-to-lovers but this one sure makes me want to change my mind.

Manga Review: Waiting for Spring Vol. 12 by Anashin

Title: Waiting for Spring Vol. 12
Author: Anashin
Genre: YA Manga / Romance / Contemporary
Publication Date: December 31st, 2019
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Waiting for Spring manga volume 12 features story and art by Anashin. Mizuki is a shy girl who’s about to enter high school, and vows to open herself up to new friendships. Of course, the four stars of the boys’ basketball team weren’t exactly the friends she had in mind! Yet the five quickly hit it off. Will true love ultimately find Mizuki in this latest volume?” (Goodreads)

I am very happy with how this manga series has went! I just love Towa and Mitsuki together. I am on the hype train for them! There are still some issues that arise but it is nothing that they can’t handle together. They would both do anything for each other. It’s precious!

I’m also excited to see that Aya is still in the game even if his feelings weren’t matched by Mitsuki. He still wants what is best for her. It’s also cool that Towa tries to be friends with him even if Aya is hesitant. Their enemies friendship is hilarious and I love it.

There is also another romantic relationship at stake and that is where the manga ended with a huge cliffhanger! I’m glad that the next volume is already out because I need to what will happen for Nana-chan and Rui.

Overall, another sweet volume. They are all precious and I can’t wait to continue.

First Lines Friday | 6-24-22

Hello Lovely Readers!

First Lines Fridays is 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?

  • 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!
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“It was always a gamble, dropping off a body at Birdsall & Son, Undertakers, but this morning, the Bride of Fortune favored Hart Ralston.”

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The book is….

“Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most – Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?” (Goodreads)

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Have you read this book? Do you want to read it?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Arc Review: The Charmed List by Julie Abe

Title: The Charmed List
Author: Julie Abe
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: July 5th, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia.

But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it.

In The Charmed List, Julie Abe sweeps readers away to a secret magical world, complete with cupcakes and tea with added sparks of joy, and an enchanted cottage where you can dance under the stars.” (Goodreads)

Ever since seeing this cover on Instagram I knew I needed to read it! I’m a sucker for a good cover. Although this book wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, it was still a fun read with tropes that I enjoy.

The book is told from the perspective of Ellie Kobata. She is very much an introvert which is something that I could relate to. She also has a secret world around her filled with magic. I guess I must not have read the blurb before requesting or maybe forgot, but the magical aspect came as a surprise to me. Haha. I didn’t realize this was a rom-com mixed with urban fantasy. It took me a bit to get into because of it, not because it was bad, just had to get my head wrapped around it all!

Ellie has a great relationship with her friend Lia. They do everything together and are always there for one another. This friendship does hit a bump but I liked seeing where it would go and how they would work it out in the end. The biggest relationship change in the book is between Ellie and Jack. They didn’t always start out as enemies, although I guess you could say it’s more one-sided, but it has changed how they have interacted. It was fun to have them go on a road trip together because it made time for them to try and understand one another’s perspective on their whole messed up relationship. It also made for great moments!

Although I did like a majority of the book, it’s still hard for me to fully get into a urban fantasy/magical realism style plot. This has nothing to do with the book and is solely a me thing.

Overall, this was a fun read and I can see it being a hit for so many people!

WWW Wednesday | 6-22-22

Hello, My Lovely Bookworms!

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and is now hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

It consists of answering these three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I am still working on Babel by R.F. Kuang. I am hoping to finish it this week.

The audiobooks I am working on are The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan and The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander.

The other arc I am working on is Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty. It’s fine so far but nothing has really popped for me yet.

  • The Unmatchmakers by Jackie Lau (arc) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell (audiobook) ⭐⭐

My next audiobook will be When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.

My next books will be more arcs, lol. I have so many! The first two will most likely be The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones and The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen.

What is your current read? Are you loving it? Have you read or want to read any that I have listed? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

Audiobook Review: Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Title: Heidi
Author: Johanna Spyri
Genre: Middle Grade / Classic / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 1880
Publisher: Varies
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Little orphan Heidi goes to live high in the Alps with her gruff grandfather and brings happiness to all who know her on the mountain. When Heidi goes to Frankfurt to work in a wealthy household, she dreams of returning to the mountains and meadows, her friend Peter, and her beloved grandfather.” (Goodreads)

I picked this one up because I have been slowly going through the books I own, especially classics. The library finally had this one available and since it was short I figured why not give it a go!

The book is told through third-person and multiple points-of-view at times because the characters aren’t always in the same place. I liked how it was written and it was very easy to understand the switch and enjoy the characters that were present. Heidi is such a little firecracker and she reminded me a lot of my daughter. She is kind, open to anything, and just enjoys the outdoors.

There are hilarious moments between some of the characters and I absolutely enjoyed the scene with cats! Maybe because I love cats, lol. It was refreshing to find myself once again immersed in a classic as it doesn’t always happen when reading that particular genre.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I liked the audiobook that I listened to. I can see myself listening to this one again and even reading it with my daughter in the future.

Goodreads Monday: Dream to Me by Megan Paasch | 6-20-22

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday was hosted and created by Lauren’s Page Turners and has now been taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: Dream to Me
Author: Megan Paasch
Genre: YA Contemporary / Fantasy
Publication Date: January 31st, 2023
Publisher: Feiwel Friends

From debut author Megan Paasch comes Dream to Me, a YA contemporary fantasy about generational magic, grief, and what it takes to forgive ourselves.

Eva Sylvan didn’t ask for any of this. Not the cross-country move with her sister to a town in the middle of nowhere, not the family estate, inherited from a late great-aunt, that’s falling apart at the hinges, and definitely not the sudden death of her beloved father. So when the locals react with hostility to the very mention of her last name, Eva’s pretty sure things can’t get any worse.

Until she has a dream about a gas station employee and the next day, he’s in a coma.

Until it happens again.

Something sinister is lurking in the corners of Eva’s dreams, something that’s having devastating effects on the waking world. People are dropping left and right, and Eva finds herself squarely in the town’s crosshairs. In order to defeat the shadows of her unconscious, Eva must not only unearth the magic tied to her family history, but she must confront the guilt that has been haunting her since her father’s death. Only she can save the town from the dark power in her dreams – if the threat is truly even her dreams at all.” (Goodreads)

Does this one sound like something you would read?

I got an email for this one over the weekend and I am excited to read another series by her!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Manga Review: Waiting for Spring Vol. 11 by Anashin

Title: Waiting for Spring Vol. 11
Author: Anashin
Genre: YA Manga / Romance / Contemporary
Publication Date: July 25th, 2019
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“It’s time for the New Team Tournament, and the stakes are high. If Seiryo wins, the basketball team’s ban on dating will be lifted, and if Mitsuki agrees, she and Towa can finally be an official couple. But then, Towa has a dream that he misses a crucial shot and loses to Aya … Could it be an omen?!” (Goodreads)

Yay for a resolution when it comes to the love triangle! Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed how it played out but I am grateful we will be moving on to the next chapter.

This volume picks up not exactly where the last left off but it gives us the feeling awkwardness that Towa and Mitsuki are feeling when around each other. Their relationship is very much solidified and I really like how Towa would do anything for her even if it meant stepping aside so that she can come to her own conclusion. Even though I like Towa, I do feel a bit bad for Aya. He is a cinnamon roll and I love that he wants the best for Mitsuki too. I mean she would be lucky with either choice, lol.

The competition between them is at an end and I am curious what will be in store for the last three volumes. I can’t believe it is coming to an end!

Overall, this was another great volume.

Arc Review: The Edge of Summer by Erica George

Title: The Edge of Summer
Author: Erica George
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Grief
Publication Date: June 14th, 2022
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Saving the whales has been Coriander Cabot and her best friend Ella’s dream since elementary school. But when tragedy strikes, Cor is left to complete the list of things they wanted to accomplish before college alone, including a marine biology internship on Cape Cod.

Cor’s summer of healing and new beginnings turns complicated when she meets Mannix, a local lifeguard who completely takes her breath away. But she knows whatever she has with Mannix might not last, and that her focus should be on rescuing the humpback whales from entanglement. As the tide changes, Cor finds herself distracted and struggling with her priorities.

Can she follow her heart and keep her promise to the whales and her best friend?” (Goodreads)

The cover is definitely what sold me when it came to this one, but also I like whales so there is a second reason haha. There was some great elements in this book, but also ones that were a bit meh for my liking. It’s kind of a mixed bag, still a good story though.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Coriander Cabot. Cor is dealing with grief/loss after the tragic death of her bestfriend. I have never lost a friend to something tragic, but I do understand grief. It is something that is not easily forgotten and sticks with you many years after. I do enjoy reading books about grief and even though I like the conversation around it this book in particular left me wanting more from it. It reminded me of other books I have read that I either disliked or enjoyed. There are some flashbacks that happen in the middle of a chapter and it can get confusing at times to piece together where things fit in the story. I would have much preferred more seamless transitions.

I would say that grief is the minor plot point and the romance and internship take over a lot more of the plot. I was okay with that so no complaints here. Although the romance is a bit lackluster and wishy-washy, it was still cute and liked seeing the bit of banter between them. The internship was my favorite and I liked learning more about whales as well as seeing Cor in her element. She killed it!

Overall, this was a cute summer read. Cor really struggles with coming to terms with the grief she holds close and realizing she can branch out and have a life without feeling guilty. She makes friends along the way and has an uncle who really cares for her. If you are looking for a new read this summer I’d recommend this one.

Arc Review: Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

Title: Daughter of Redwinter
Author: Ed McDonald
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: June 28th, 2022
Publisher: Tor Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

Those who see the dead soon join them.

From the author of the critically-acclaimed Blackwing trilogy comes Ed McDonald’s Daughter of Redwinter, the first of a brilliant fantasy series about how one choice can change a universe.

Raine can see–and more importantly, speak–to the dead. It’s a wretched gift with a death sentence that has her doing many dubious things to save her skin. Seeking refuge with a deluded cult is her latest bad, survival-related decision. But her rare act of kindness–rescuing an injured woman in the snow–is even worse.

Because the woman has escaped from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king and who will stop at nothing to retrieve what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter. It becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.

Pity she might have to die for that to happen…” (Goodreads)

I was really drawn into requesting this one because of the cover. I see beauty and I want! This is the start to a new fantasy series by an author I hadn’t read before so I won’t be able to compare this to his previous work. I thought it was decent for what it was but didn’t fully mesh with the main character or the pacing of the story.

The book is told from the point-of-view of Raine. I thought she was a pretty interesting character for the most part but didn’t understand her actions, especially in the beginning of the book. One minute it seems that she has some form of a relationship with another character and next she is telling someone else that he is going to get them all killed. It was also a pretty quick jump. There was also another time where something tragic happened and she just shrugged it off like it was no big deal when discussing it with someone.

I wouldn’t say that I ever connected fully with any of the characters and it may have to do with the pacing. Right from the beginning of the book there is a lot of action but it was also confusing as I didn’t understand the motives of any or really any of the relational dynamics. It led me to be more confused than anything. Even though the second half was better it’s hard for me to form a better connection when I have already felt disconnected.

Overall, this was good but it was hard to get fully invested. The issues I mentioned may not be an issue for other readers and so if you have read his previous works or find this one to sound interesting, I’d still give it a chance.