Book Review: Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

Title: Lovelight Farms (Lovelight #1)
Author: B.K. Borison
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: November 10th, 2021
Publisher: Indie Published (Kindle Unlimited)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Where the lovelight gleams …
A pasture of dead trees. A hostile takeover of the Santa barn by a family of raccoons. And shipments that have mysteriously gone missing. Lovelight Farms is not the magical winter wonderland of Stella Bloom’s dreams.
In an effort to save the Christmas tree farm she’s loved since she was a kid, she enters a contest with instafamous influencer Evelyn St. James. With the added publicity and the $100,000 cash prize, she might just be able to save the farm from its financial woes. There’s just one problem. To make the farm seem like a romantic destination for the holidays, she lied on the application and said she owns Lovelight Farms with her boyfriend. Only … there is no boyfriend.
Enter best friend Luka Peters. He just came home for some hot chocolate, and somehow got a farm and a serious girlfriend in the process.” (Goodreads)

I found this one while looking through books on Kindle Unlimited and the cover definitely jumped out at me. Obviously, it isn’t Christmas time but I am always in the spirit for the holiday!

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Stella. She is very outgoing and will do anything to save her tree farm, even if that means faking a relationship. One of my favorite tropes! I liked that it was mixed with friends-to-lovers which isn’t usually a trope I like. I haven’t found a friends-to-lovers I have loved but this one gave me a lot of hope for the trope.

Luka Peters is her top pick to fill the slot of “boyfriend” but she is very stubborn and refuses to see what is in front of her. I would definitely never friendzone that man! He is the total package and will do anything for Stella, literally. I thought that their friendship to more was developed well and I liked that they brought up how they first met and it’s easy to see where they had started. They had very sweet moments together and I loved the tree car freshener antics by Luka. That little detail on the cover *chef’s kiss*.

There are a few spicy times between them and it’s definitely over my level but I know there are a lot who will enjoy that.

Sometimes I did feel like it progressed too quickly into the danger zone, but I can also understand if they each had a tension around one another. There also could have been more with the competition as well.

Even though this is a romance novel, the side characters were great and I liked getting to know them all especially Beckett and Dane the sheriff. They are both great guys and are also there for Stella. She couldn’t ask for a better set of townspeople even if they are a bit nosey about her “relationship, haha.

Overall, this was a cute read and I will be adding the others in the series to my tbr.

Audiobook Review: American Royalty by Tracey Livesay

Title: American Royalty
Author: Tracey Livesay
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: June 28th, 2022
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“Sexy, driven rapper Danielle “Duchess” Nelson is on the verge of signing a deal that’ll make her one of the richest women in hip hop. More importantly, it’ll grant her control over her life, something she’s craved for years. But an incident with a rising pop star has gone viral, unfairly putting her deal in jeopardy. Concerned about her image, she’s instructed to work on generating some positive publicity… or else.
A brilliant professor and reclusive royal, Prince Jameson prefers life out of the spotlight, only leaving his ivory tower to attend weddings or funerals. But with the Queen’s children involved in one scandal after another, and Parliament questioning the viability of the monarchy, the Queen is desperate. In a quest for good press, she puts Jameson in charge of a tribute concert in her late husband’s honor. Out of his depth, and resentful of being called to service, he takes the advice of a student. After all, what’s more appropriate for a royal concert than a performer named “Duchess”?
Too late, Jameson discovers the American rapper is popular, sexy, raunchy and not what the Queen wanted, although he’s having an entirely different reaction. Dani knows this is the good exposure she needs to cement her deal and it doesn’t hurt that the royal running things is fine as hell. Thrown together, they give in to the explosive attraction flaring between them. But as the glare of the limelight intensifies and outside forces try to interfere, will the Prince and Duchess be a fairy tale romance for the ages or a disaster of palatial proportions?” (Goodreads)

This was a spur of the moment borrow from the library. I will say that I really enjoyed the narrators for this one. It was easy to listen to, even with an accent, and I liked how there was one for the dual point-of-view.

The book is told from the perspective of Dan aka Duchess and Prince Jameson. They both come from a different world and are dealing with their own drama. They never realized more would come when they become in close contact with one another. I liked seeing their interactions together, especially at the beginning when Jameson was trying to stay away. Dani’s chapters start off with a bit of online drama from another singer and she handled it better than I would have! She definitely knows how to keep it classy.

The romance for me was okay but it very much was insta-lust from the get-go, especially on Jameson’s part. He wanted her before even knowing her since she was picked for a concert at random. It just didn’t work for me. Their whirlwind romance does have its obstacles and everything comes to a blow right before the end. It does feel a bit rushed and I wish it had more time to develop.

Overall, it was a decent book and I liked most of it.

Book Review: All Downhill With You by Julie Olivia

Title: All Downhill With You
Author: Julie Olivia
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: May 26th, 2022
Publisher: Self Published / Kindle Unlimited
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“The moment we meet, it’s all downhill.

My job is providing happiness and smiles at Honeywood Fun Park, and Emory Dawson is the frown our park didn’t ask for.

When our star roller coaster malfunctions with me on board, the manufacturer’s heir and lead engineer, Emory, vows to renovate the attraction. So instead of having a fun summer season as Marketing Manager for Honeywood, I’m now saddled with playing host.

Wonderful.

Emory is the opposite of a good time. He’s the grump that won’t stop grumping, and our arguments escalate quicker than my heart rate after a roller coaster’s fall.

He knows I can see right through his broody gaze and big ideas. Repairing the coaster? More like overhauling his own company’s reputation, regardless of whether it helps our local theme park.

But when our firm handshakes start lingering too long, or when his muscled thighs rest against mine under the table, I’m thrown for a loop.

Most roller coasters are fun, but I’d like to get off this emotional one, please.” (Goodreads)

I don’t usually find books on Kindle Unlimited that I like so props to this one for getting my attention and keeping it throughout!

The book is told from two point-of-views and they come from Lorelei and Emory. They definitely start off on the wrong foot since one is suing the other and working together isn’t always rainbow and sunshine. I liked the banter between and the sudden urge to get closer to one another. Nothing like the heat of an argument bring people together! Their love for rollercoasters is shown throughout the book and we get a sense of who they are through their interactions with family as well.

Their are plenty of side characters too! I did like Lorelei’s friend group and reminded me of others I have read before. They are also some of her coworkers so we see two different relationships from them. I like that they push her and also want to get the juicy gossip about Emory. Who wouldn’t?

The setting was a fun one and mostly takes place at an amusement park. It isn’t a busy one and Emory definitely makes his feelings clear that it is rundown, but Lorelei loves the park and will do anything to keep it around. I have only read one another book with this setting and it’s a setting that I keep enjoying.

I would say that as the relationship matures it becomes one of my least favorite things. It starts off slow but then moves rather quickly into the hanky panky. I do get why it happens as it also adds more drama into the plot but it’s just not my thing. I know others will find enjoyment out of it so don’t let this part sway you!

Overall, this was cute and I did like reading it. It does say that it’s the first in the series so I am looking forward to getting to know other characters better.

Arc Review: Don’t Go to Sleep by Bryce Moore

Title: Don’t Go to Sleep
Author: Bryce Moore
Genre: YA Historical Fiction / Thriller
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“Gianna is the average seventeen-year-old girl living in 1918 New Orleans. She worries about her family’s store, the great war, and a mysterious illness that’s about to take hold of the city she loves.

It doesn’t help that there also appears to be a mad man on the loose in her neighborhood. The attacks started as burglaries but soon escalate to cold blooded murder. There’s a killer out there, and the police can’t seem to figure out how to stop him.

Gianna enlists the help of her friend Enzo to investigate. And as they study the crimes, they see a common link between the victims, and Gianna can’t help but wonder if it’s the same man who attacked her family years before.

As Gianna gets closer to the killer, she discovers a connection between them that she never would have suspected.” (Goodreads)

This book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Gianna. Her family has already had a run-in with the Axeman and she will do anything to prevent that once again. Because of this, she is strong willed. I liked understanding her life and how she dealt with disappointment when the investigation did little to nothing for her family and the others that fell victim.

There are other characters that play parts in the plot but they feel very minor when compared to the killer and Gianna. I can’t say that I felt sad for anyone because there was a disconnect. If you want a book that feels more like a slasher than this may be for you because there is killing and the details for it are pretty up there. Not my taste but I know others will like that.

Gianna does have the ability to dream about the killer and although this was an interesting concept I felt like it was poorly executed. The reader is thrown into this knowledge right away and by the end we still don’t understand why and how it happened. It is eluded too but since the ending is so quick nothing comes from it.

With the talk of influenza we can see parallels to how Gianna was feeling when it comes to losing people because of it. We have recently went through our own pandemic and it feels all the more realistic when reading about previous ones.

My favorite part of the book was knowing that it was based on a real event in history. It always amazes me what an author can do with history.

Overall, this was a good read even with some hiccups. If you like a more violent YA Historical Fiction / Thriller than this one may be for you!

Arc Review: For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa

Title: For Butter or Worse
Author: Erin La Rosa
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: July 26th, 2022
Publisher:  HQN
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

They go together like water and oil…

All chef Nina Lyon wants is to make a name for herself in the culinary world and inspire young women everywhere to do the same. For too long, she’s been held back and underestimated by the male-dominated sphere of professional kitchens, and she’s had enough. Now, as co-host of the competitive reality TV series The Next Cooking Champ!, she finally has a real shot at being top tier in the foodie scene.
Too bad her co-host happens to be Hollywood’s smarmiest jerk.

Restaurateur Leo O’Donnell never means to get under Nina’s skin. It just seems to happen, especially when the cameras are rolling. It’s part of the anxiety and stress he has come to know all too well in this line of work. So nothing prepares him for the fallout after he takes one joke a smidge too far and Nina up and quits—on live TV.

To make matters worse, the two are caught in what looks like a compromising situation by the paparazzi…and fans of the show go absolutely nuts. Turns out, a “secret romance” between Nina and Leo may just be what their careers need most.

Now all they have to do is play along, without killing each other…and without catching feelings. Easy as artisanal shepherd’s pie. Right?” (Goodreads)

This one was a cute read but also one that didn’t hit all of the notes for me. I still found enjoyment out of it and liked how the story introduced both characters at the beginning. I wasn’t expecting the plot to go where it went which was a nice surprise.

The book is told from two point-of-views, Nina and Leo. They are very different from one another, especially on camera. Leo could be considered the sunshine and Nina the grump, as per her nickname “Nasty Nina”. I don’t blame Nina for the choices she made to better her career our the outcome that came from those choices. She was a bright chef who wanted more out of life. Leo was a decent guy and knew when he did wrong but still tried to get Nina to show that fiery side. Whatever floats your boat, am I right? haha. They did pair with each other well and I liked the banter that came from it.

The romance is very much a slow-burn but does involve the fake dating trope. They have much to learn from one another and so it was good to see the buildup that would eventually press them into much more than they bargained for. As with any romance, there comes a part where something happens to “break” them apart. This is no different for Leo and Nina. I do wish that it would have happened a bit sooner so that there could have been more time at the end of their happy ending instead of pushing it all into a short epilogue.

Some of the banter or words shared between friends was a bit on the cringey side. I felt that some things that were meant to be humorous just didn’t land as they should have. I’m not really sure how to best describe it. It honestly could just be me and my sense of humor.

Overall, this was a good read for in between my fantasy books. I liked seeing how the communicated with family and their friends. The social media posts were a nice touch to really add to them being celebrities in a way.

Arc Review: Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

Title: Violet Made of Thorns
Author: Gina Chen
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling
Publication Date: July 26th, 2022
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.” (Goodreads)

As an anticipated release this was a bit of a letdown. It’s not a bad book but just wasn’t what I was expecting is how I would describe my feelings for it. I can definitely see why they compare it to The Cruel Prince. Which again, wasn’t a book I loved but didn’t hate either. I do see this doing really well, especially if you enjoy unique retellings.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Violet. She is brash and speaks her mind way more than anyone probably wants her to, especially Cyrus. Haha. I would say that for the most part she is different than most other main characters as having friends and being liked isn’t a priority. You can even say that she is morally grey. She is a very interesting character.

There are obviously other characters in the book but I just didn’t feeling strongly towards any of them. I’m not sure why there was a disconnect for me but when they happened to be involved in a plot twist I just didn’t feel that “oh my!” moment. This could honestly just be me. The romance was another thing that just felt lackluster. The end of the book has definitely been set up for more in the sequel but I just don’t think there was enough substance for me to continue on, sadly.

The plot is filled with visions, fates, enemies-to-lovers, and a curse. It even has retelling elements from all sorts of fairytales which I didn’t realize would be in here. If you are a fan of Marissa Meyer I think you would like this book because of it. At times there is a lot going on and it bogs down the plot just a bit.

My only other complaint would be that I wanted more world-building. Nothing is ever really said why things are and what the kingdom is like politically etc. I just wanted more from this world that seemed so interesting.

Overall, this was good. It’s not a bad book but one that just didn’t stand out enough for me. I do think that in the right hands this book will flourish and I can see it doing well.

Book Review: Jasper (The Aerowyn Tales #2) by Carla Reighard

Title: Jasper (The Aerowyn Tales #2)
Author: Carla Reighard
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: May 14th, 2021
Publisher: Indie Published
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“The pirate Captain Jasper Falcon of the Black Fear lived by the motto, “No regrets and never look back”. Jasper did whatever it took to get anything he desired and he craved Bellarose Bonnay. His only problem was Aerowyn and King Peter kept sabotaging his plans to seduce her, which only made him more determined. After kidnapping Bella, Jasper leads his crew to Ageless Isle with promises of wealth beyond imagination. The journey and the isle itself test the Black Fear’s crew with many perils as they’re forced to face their deepest fears.” (Goodreads)

I was very much looking forward to getting back into this series! There are some fun times to be had with how the author writes her books. They are like reading older fairytales which I do enjoy.

This book has multiple point-of-views and it works well since the characters aren’t always in the same place. I liked learning about Jasper who was one of the newest characters to be added. He is smug and definitely knows what he wants. I also liked learning more about Bella and Gerard. They are on different paths but it is nice to see how they are doing.

I do like how the author takes stories/characters we already know and makes them over with a new background and personality. It’s fun to see how creative she can be with the process.

Since the book is on the shorter side the plot does move quickly. Sometimes I wish that there was more time for setting development as I felt it lacked a bit where as in the first book it felt like there was a tad bit more to go off of. I also felt that the ending could have been drawn out a bit but I understand why it went in that direction.

There are still a lot of plot lines open and I am curious what the next book will bring.

Arc Review: For the Throne (Wilderwood #2) by Hannah Whitten

Title: For the Throne (Wilderwood #2)
Author: Hannah Whitten
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Romance
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Publisher: Orbit
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

The First Daughter is for the Throne
The Second Daughter is for the Wolf…

Red and the Wolf have finally contained the threat of the Old Kings but at a steep cost. Red’s beloved sister Neve, the First Daughter is lost in the Shadowlands, an inverted kingdom where the vicious gods of legend have been trapped for centuries and the Old Kings have slowly been gaining control. But Neve has an ally–though it’s one she’d rather never have to speak to again–the rogue king Solmir.

Solmir wants to bring an end to the Shadowlands and he believes helping Neve may be the key to its destruction. But to do that, they will both have to journey across a dangerous landscape in order to find a mysterious Heart Tree, and finally to claim the gods’ dark, twisted powers for themselves.” (Goodreads)

Ever since the cliffhanger of the first book I knew I needed to get my hands on this one. I also am a fan of this author’s writing style as it reminds me of others that I have read and loved. Although there are good things to say about the sequel, there are also elements that I didn’t like. A mixed bag to say the least, but still not a bad read.

The book is told through multiple point-of-views, mostly coming from the two sisters. Personally, I liked Neve more. She was the star of the show and this was really about her journey through the shadow world and doing whatever she can to save her own realm as well as find a way to save her sister. If you know me, I love a good sister bond and it definitely shines through throughout the book.

One of the point-of-views could have been left out and it wouldn’t have made a different in my opinion. I won’t say who it was only so that it remains spoiler free for that part at least lol.

The plot with the shadow world was cool but not too unique as I have read other works that kind of had similar elements. I still thought it was good though, especially because Neve had a companion like Solmir. What a guy! It’s very clear from the beginning what he intends to do and it’s nice to see Neve not want to go along for the ride. She is very cautious around him.

You can find romance in this book from both sisters. I think that I liked one over the other but I can’t say for sure. They were both sweet in their own ways, but one had a plot twist I didn’t see coming.

Overall, this was a good read but also not exactly what I had expected. Her writing is still beautifully written and I still would recommend this duology.

Arc Review: Exactly Where You Need to Be by Amelia Diane Coombs

Title: Exactly Where You Need to Be
Author: Amelia Diane Coombs
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Mental Health
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“Florie’s OCD and her mother’s worrying have kept her from a lot of things, like having an after-school job and getting her driver’s license. And now that she’s graduated high school, while her best friend Kacey is headed off to Portland in the fall, Florie’s taking a parent-sanctioned gap year off before starting college. When the decision was made, Florie was on board, but now she can’t ignore the growing itch to become the person she wants to be and venture outside the quaint, boring Washington town she grew up in.

Winning tickets to see her favorite true crime podcast’s live show in California gives her the opportunity to do just that, if only for a few days. So—unbeknownst to their parents—Kacey and Florie set off on a road trip to San Francisco. The only downside in Florie’s opinion? Sam, Kacey’s older brother and Florie’s forever crush, is their ride. The Samson Hodge, who Florie hasn’t seen since winter break, and who she’d prefer to never see again, if possible. But Florie is willing to put up with Sam if it means one last adventure with her best friend.

Making it to San Francisco and back to Washington without their parents catching on isn’t a given, but one thing is for sure: this trip will change everything.” (Goodreads)

Can I just say that I still love this cover? It’s adorable and the perfect scene for a summer read, especially because the book involves a road trip as well.

The book is told from one perspective and it comes from Florie. She has OCD and a mother who is very protective and sometimes takes it too far. I understood both sides of this argument because it’s great to have your independence but as a mother myself, I also want to protect my child and its hard to not be overbearing. At least my child is five, haha.

Florie may not do anything outside of the normal but this is the summer for the possibilities to be endless. Florie and her friend win tickets to see their favorite true crime podcast hosts live and they take the chance for a fun road trip. Her friend Kacey always has her back and nudges her out of her comfort zone. Everyone needs a friend like that. I liked seeing them interact with each other throughout their trip and read about all of the fun things they did. It made me ready for my own trip. If only I was actually going anywhere, haha.

There is a surprise twist with romance involved but I liked the setup to it. It’s not a instant thing and the love interest has been a crush for awhile. They had to talk through a previous instant where they kissed and you could feel the awkwardness they were feeling! Definitely reminded me of being a teen.

The only thing I struggled with was the writing. I’m not sure why but it was hard to mesh with until I got farther into the book.

Overall, this was a cute read. Florie is a great character that goes through growth and finds her own voice. I liked seeing her talk about OCD as well as finding romance along the way.

Arc Review: Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez

Title: Together We Burn
Author: Isabel Ibañez
Genre: YA Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: May 31st, 2022
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see him fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.” (Goodreads)

Since I had enjoyed this author’s first duology I wanted to give her latest book, a standalone, a try. Her books also have great covers and it’s really hard to not want to read them, haha. They just have a way of pulling you in! I’m not going to lie, this book didn’t intrigue as much as her others but there is still some unique qualities about this book that make it stand out from others.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Zarela Zalvidar. She comes from a long line of family who have owned an arena where Dragonadors show off their skills. Her father being a very famous one. Zarela has followed in her mother’s footsteps of dancing. She is very strong-willed, especially in the face of danger, and will stop at nothing to clear her family’s name.

It is always interesting to see what authors will do with dragons. They are such versatile creatures when it comes to writing, but you also want to make sure they are given a unique job that lets them stand out from the rest. Ibañez did just that. The dragons are a key component in the story and I liked seeing how dragonadors used them (although very sad) and what Zarela had up her sleeve when it came to them. I did like the added protestors who wanted to see dragons live as it mirrored our own world with protests of venues like SeaWorld and circuses.

There are other characters in the book but I don’t think they shined as much as Zarela. It felt like the others, say for maybe Arturo, were just not as well-developed and I don’t feel like I knew them enough to warrant any feelings when something were to happen. This is one of those issues I tend to have with standalones unfortunately. I also wasn’t much of a fan of the romance either. It felt a bit rushed but I can see the appeal for it and I am sure the two will have other readers fawning over them.

Even though the characters were a bit hit-or-miss, the plot really shines from the mystery to the dragons. It can be a bit slow in areas but it sure does pick up by the end.

My only other complaint is that I wish there would have been more world development. I wanted to see more from this city as well as those from other guilds.

Overall, this was a good and interesting read. It really gave new life to dragons which was refreshing to see.