Book Review | Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne

Title: Pride and Protest
Author: Nikki Payne
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance / Retelling
Publication Date: November 15th, 2022
Publisher: Berkley Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

“Liza B.–the only DJ who gives a jam–wants to take her neighborhood back from the soulless property developer dropping unaffordable condos on every street corner in DC. But her planned protest at a corporate event takes a turn after she mistakes the smoldering-hot CEO for the waitstaff. When they go toe-to-toe, the sparks fly–but her impossible-to-ignore family thwarts her every move. Liza wants Dorsey Fitzgerald out of her hood, but she’ll settle for getting him out of her head.
At first, Dorsey writes off Liza Bennett as more interested in performing outrage than acting on it. As the adopted Filipino son of a wealthy white family, he’s always felt a bit out of place and knows a fraud when he sees one. But when Liza’s protest results in a viral meme, their lives are turned upside down, and Dorsey comes to realize this irresistible revolutionary is the most real woman he’s ever met.” (Goodreads)

I wanted to pick this one up after seeing Julie @ One Book More review it on her blog. I’ve enjoyed some other Pride & Prejudice retellingso this one sounded perfect!

The book is told from two point-of-views and they come from Liza Bennett and Dorsey Fitzgerald. They come from different backgrounds and how they have grown up definitely plays into their view point of the world. I liked how open they both were to getting to know one another after a spark between them was felt. They were very cute together and I liked when they interacted. Passionate it definitely a word that would describe both of them!

I would say that all of the characters were well done. I was always curious to see how their plot line would turn out in comparison to the original work. Their personalities matched up well but it was also a refreshing take.

A lot of important topics are discussed in the book and it’s easy to see where the inspiration comes from. I liked seeing it relate to our own world and thought it was a good modern retelling. Sometimes retellings can be hard to do, especially when someone has read the original work. Even though I had ideas on how things could go I was still excited to continue on and wanted to listen to it every chance I got.

This is just my personal taste but the internal spicy dialogue was a bit too much. I know others will enjoy this and so it’s not really a complaint but you know what I mean! I also thought that the timeline was a bit confusing when time was mentioned but it didn’t really impact the story.

Overall, this was a good retelling and I thought the narrators did a great job!

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Book Review | The Do-Over by Lynn Painter

Title: The Do-Over
Author: Lynn Painter
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: November 15th, 2022
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

“After living through a dumpster fire of a Valentine’s Day, Emilie Hornby escapes to her grandmother’s house for some comfort and a consolation pint of Ben & Jerry’s. She passes out on the couch, but when she wakes up, she’s back home in her own bed—and it’s Valentine’s Day all over again. And the next day? Another nightmare V-Day.
Emilie is stuck in some sort of time loop nightmare that she can’t wake up from as she re-watches her boyfriend, Josh, cheat on her day after day. In addition to Josh’s recurring infidelity, Emilie can’t get away from the enigmatic Nick, who she keeps running into—sometimes literally—in unfortunate ways.
How many days can one girl passively watch her life go up in flames? And when something good starts to come out of these terrible days, what happens when the universe stops doling out do-overs?” (Goodreads)

I thought I would give this author another try after feeling neutral/liking another of her books. I feel like this one was about the same as that but maybe I liked this one less. I think it had to do with the whole groundhog day thing. I’m not really sure.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Emilie. She is reliving the worst Valentine’s Day ever and she just wants it to end. I thought it was an interesting concept and have not a read a book with this type of premise before but I have seen the movie Groundhog Day. Not a favorite but I will give anything a try!

I think that Emilie could be pretty clueless when it came to her boyfriend and easily brushed aside red flags for the sake of wanting to still be with him even if she knew in her heart it wasn’t going to work out. I can understand not wanting to give up but the signs were clearly there. I can’t say I ever felt bad for her boyfriend because he was a dillweed.

Her other love interest, Nick, was a sweet guy. He was kind of stand offish at first but he does warm up and she definitely warms up to him because when the same thing is happening, it is bound to happen. I think that their chemistry was fine but I do think that it was kind of rushed, obviously more for him than her due to the whole groundhog thing but still.

I just really never felt totally invested in the story and I think it’s just the writer in general. Her writing never wows me and that’s okay. It happens. I am glad others have enjoyed her work.

Overall, not for me but it could be for you! The narration was well done though and I would definitely recommend the audiobook.

Book Review | Five Survive by Holly Jackson

Title: Five Survive
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: November 29th, 2022
Publisher: Listening Library
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“Eight hours.
Six friends.
One sniper . . .
Eighteen year old Red and her friends are on a road trip in an RV, heading to the beach for Spring Break. It’s a long drive but spirits are high. Until the RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere. There’s no mobile phone reception and nobody around to help. And as the wheels are shot out, one by one, the friends realise that this is no accident. There’s a sniper out there in the dark watching them and he knows exactly who they are. One of the group has a secret that the sniper is willing to kill for.
A game of cat-and-mouse plays out as the group desperately tries to get help and to work out which member of the group is the target. Buried secrets are forced to light in the cramped, claustrophobic setting of the RV, and tensions within the group will reach deadly levels. Not everyone will survive the night.” (Goodreads)

Maybe I am still salty from the ending of her last book? 😂 It’s not a bad book per say. I thought that everything happening in a span of eight hours in one setting was unique and well done. It’s hard to manage that! Plus, I have not read another book like it.

My problem with this book lies with the characters. When a book is fast-paced it leaves little room for character development, let alone feeling something for those characters. Are the stakes high for these characters? Yeah, but I didn’t see myself caring that much about the predicament they found themselves in.

The ending wasn’t all too surprising and it leave off some room to speculate what happens next. I am not a fan of open ended endings. I want closure! There were some interesting plot twists that do keep you continuing but there are also slower moments as well.

To me, this one was a mixed bag and because of that it is hard to review. 😅 Hopefully whatever I wrote does make sense and gives you an idea on my feelings towards it, haha.

Book Review | A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin

Title: A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting
Author: Sophie Irwin
Genre: Adult Historical Romance / Fiction
Publication Date: July 12th, 2022
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Rating: 4.5 stars

“Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.
Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.
Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.
The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn…
This is a frothy pleasure, full of brilliant repartee and enticing wit—one that readers will find an irresistible delight.” (Goodreads)

I’ve had this one on my tbr. My sister had asked me for some recs and I figured why not have her read some on my tbr to tell me if it’s worth it or not. 😂 She loved this one so I figured it was time to give it a go!

The book is told from two point-of-views and they come from Kitty Talbot and Lord Radcliffe. They both come from different backgrounds and it does come into play a lot during the book as it has to do with social class. I liked reading about Kitty’s struggles with class and how her and her family dealt with it. Scandal is not for from their name!

Both characters were not what I was expecting but in a good way. They are both stubborn and will play a mean game of chicken, haha. They get under each other’s skin and it’s hard not to see the chemistry brewing. I definitely got a lot of The Viscount Who Loved Me vibes. I think that is why I liked it so much.

The plot was a bit slow in the beginning but when it takes off I flew through the audiobook. I could have finished it in one day if I had wanted but life got in the way, haha. There were a lot of plot twists and they kept me engaged throughout. Some had me dying from the hilariousness of them. Kitty is something else!

Overall, this was a fun read and I really enjoyed the audiobook. I would highly recommend this one, especially if you love Julia Quinn’s novels.

Book Review | A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings

Title: A Brush with Love
Author: Mazey Eddings
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: ⭐⭐

“Harper is anxiously awaiting placement into a top oral surgery residency program when she crashes (literally) into Dan. Harper would rather endure a Novocaine-free root canal than face any distractions, even one this adorable.
A first-year dental student with a family legacy to contend with, Dan doesn’t have the same passion for pulling teeth that Harper does. Though he finds himself falling for her, he is willing to play by Harper’s rules.
So with the greatest of intentions and the poorest of follow-throughs, the two set out to be “just friends.” But as they get to know each other better, Harper fears that trading fillings for feelings may make her lose control and can’t risk her carefully ordered life coming undone, no matter how drool-worthy Dan is.
Blood, gore, and extra-long roots? No problem. The idea of falling in love? Torture.” (Goodreads)

I’ve been wanting to pick this one up since it came out but just haven’t been able to fit it in my schedule until now. Although it was an interesting premise and I liked that they wanted to be dentists (never read about it before!) it just didn’t live up to the hype I have seen for it.

The book is told from two point-of-views and they come from Harper and Dan. They are both at the same school for dentistry but haven’t really had any interactions with each other until an embarrassing moment happens. I did think that this setup was nice, but it didn’t really put them on the wrong foot. They were very attracted to each other from the beginning so obviously it would never be “just friends”. It was just too insta-lust for me and I don’t feel like their connection was very strong outside of that.

I do think that both characters have good development when it comes to their personal lives and I liked seeing them work through it. I also felt like the humor wasn’t entirely funny and it was also lacking since it is considered a rom-com. The book was definitely more serious than funny.

Overall, this one just wasn’t for me but at least I tried it out!

Audiobook Review: The Lies We Tell by Katie Zhao

Title: The Lies We Tell
Author: Katie Zhao
Genre: Ya Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: November 15th, 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Rating: ⭐⭐

“Anna Xu moving out of her parent’s home and into the dorms across town as she starts freshman year at the local, prestigious Brookings University. But her parents and their struggling Chinese bakery, Sweetea, aren’t far from campus or from mind, either.
At Brookings, Anna wants to keep up her stellar academic performance and to investigate the unsolved campus murder of her childhood babysitter. While there she also finds a familiar face – her middle-school rival, Chris Lu. The Lus also happen to be the Xu family’s business rivals since they opened Sunny’s, a trendy new bakery on Sweetea’s block. Chris is cute but still someone to be wary of – until a vandal hits Sunny’s and Anna matches the racist tag with a clue from her investigation.
Anna grew up in this town, but more and more she feels like maybe she isn’t fully at home here — or maybe it’s that there are people here who think she doesn’t belong. When a very specific threat is made to Anna, she seeks out help from the only person she can. Anna and Chris team up to find out who is stalking her and take on a dangerous search into the hate crimes happening around campus. Can they root out the ugly history and take on the current threat?” (Goodreads)

I read this author’s other YA Mystery / Thriller and thought it was pretty good so I figured why not give her next one a try. Unfortunately, it was a bit disappointing.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Anna. She has just started college and it is the same one that a babysitter she had growing up was murdered at. This was definitely an interesting premise and one that I wanted to know more about. I don’t think that Anna is a bad character. She has goals and is looking for friendship. It’s very typical of any person. It’s just outside of that and the mystery there didn’t feel to be much to her. Not even the things listed were very developed.

The other characters were very bland and were just there to move to the plot again. I didn’t care or connect with any of them which is always a real shame. Some were disliked more than others but explaining can lead to spoilers so I will leave it at that.

As for the plot, it was boring. I had hoped that it would pick up but it felt lackluster all of the way through. The real mystery solving, or dramatic moments, don’t happen until well after 50% and even then I feel like things could have been explained a bit better.

I will say that the book does have important topics that surround the Asian Community, especially when it comes to hatred and violence towards them. The execution for everything else was just poor.

Overall, it was okay but didn’t work for me.

Audiobook Review: Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe

Title: Dark Room Etiquette
Author: Robin Roe
Genre: YA Thriller / Contemporary / Mental Health
Publication Date: October 11th, 2022
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sixteen-year-old Sayers Wayte has everything—until he’s kidnapped by a man who tells him the privileged life he’s been living is based on a lie.

Trapped in a windowless room, without knowing why he’s been taken or how long the man plans to keep him shut away, Sayers faces a terrifying new reality. To survive, he must forget the world he once knew, and play the part his abductor has created for him.
But as time passes, the line between fact and fiction starts to blur, and Sayers begins to wonder if he can escape . . . before he loses himself.” (Goodreads)

This is the second book I have read where a teen is kidnapped. Both have had very different ways of dealing it. This one includes the aftermath of what happens to someone once their “normal” has completely shattered and are left with figuring out what to do now that they can’t go back. I would say that the content warnings would include physical abuse, death, suicide, and kidnapping.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Sayers Wayte. He has everything he could ever ask for and parents that are absent. He isn’t the most popular kid in school but money does talk and it can make him very unlikeable among his peers. All of this is mentioned in the beginning and builds up in anticipation of the inevitable. I will say that the first 25% is on the slower side as the plot and character development builds but it does get better. You just need to stick through it!

When it came to the kidnapping, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Kidnappings happen for different reasons and so when it is revealed I was very much surprised with why it happened. Everything that happens to Sayers in this incident is sad and tragic. He loses himself in the midst of trying to stay on the good side of the kidnapper but it doesn’t always go as planned. There is abuse and there is anger laced in the actions. I usually tend to listen to audiobooks while doing housework and there would be times I had to stop and just take in what was happening at that moment. It’s also interesting to note that the kidnapper was better in some ways than one of his parents. It’s weird but it does play into Sayers recovery and understanding of what truly happened to him. Stockholm syndrome is definitely present.

Some characters do have more development than others but that is understandable when it feels like two are more present than others. I did like seeing how things changed between him and friends pre-kidnapping and post. It isn’t easy being gone while life moves on without you. He does make two friends in the process and I liked seeing how they played out.

The plot was very surprising and I could never guess what would happen next. There are a lot of great plot twists that keep you on your toes as you try to understand and unravel what is going on with Sayers.

Overall, this was a great read. It was surprising and the audiobook was well done. The narrator did a good job at differentiating the voices of characters which made it easy to know when who was talking. If you like YA Thrillers I would definitely give this one a try.

Arc Review: House of Yesterday by Deeba Zargarpur

Title: House of Yesterday
Author: Deeba Zargarpur
Genre: YA Contemporary / Paranormal
Publication Date: November 29th, 2022
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

“Struggling to deal with the pain of her parents’ impending divorce, fifteen-year-old Sara is facing a world of unknowns and uncertainties. Unfortunately, the one person she could always lean on when things got hard, her beloved Bibi Jan, has become a mere echo of the grandmother she once was. And so Sara retreats into the family business, hoping a summer working on her mom’s latest home renovation project will provide a distraction from her fracturing world.
But the house holds more than plaster and stone. It holds secrets that have her clinging desperately to the memories of her old life. Secrets that only her Bibi Jan could have untangled. Secrets Sara is powerless to ignore as the dark truths of her family’s history rise in ghostly apparitions — and with it, the realization that as much as she wants to hold onto her old life, nothing will ever be the same.
Told in lush, sweeping prose, this story of secrets, summer, and family sacrifice will chill you to the bone as the house that wraps Sara in warmth of her past becomes the one thing she cannot escape…” (Goodreads)

This was a unique read and one with a powerful message that many will be able to relate to. The audiobook was nicely done and I enjoyed listening to the narrator.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Sara. Her story isn’t the only one we are following though. There are flashbacks from her families life and they are very interesting! They can also be on the darker side as well. I haven’t read many inter-generational books but I enjoyed learning more about Sara’s family past and what it means for her future.

Sara is very strong willed and it can put her in dangerous situation, and does, as well having her come off as selfish in a way. I think that all of her feelings are valid though. Her parents are going through a divorce and it isn’t easy on her or seeing her mother have to deal with the aftermath. It is very messy and when you add in her father being in a new relationship it just takes it to a whole other level. I have not personally had to deal with divorce parents but my husband has and I’ve had to see him deal with it when we were younger as well as trying to play it safe when figuring out holidays etc. It is a lot of work and can definitely be stressful and hard.

Her grandmother is a key part of the story and the key to unraveling the mystery that surrounds her family. I could understand trying to find answers and hitting a brick road when the person you need to talk to the most is struggling with the decline of their mind. I have seen it happen with my own grandmother and it is heartbreaking to watch.

There is so much to unpack from this story and it feels like I have only touched the surface.

Overall, this was worth the listen. I liked the narrator and the beautiful story that unfolded even if it was sad. I do think that there was some hope sprinkled in, especially at the end.

Audiobook Review: Love Times Infinity by Lane Clarke

Title: Love Times Infinity
Author: Lane Clarke
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: July 26th, 2022
Publisher: Poppy
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“High school junior Michie is struggling to define who she is for her scholarship essays, her big shot at making it into Brown as a first-generation college student. The prompts would be hard for anyone, but Michie’s been estranged from her mother since she was seven and her concept of family has long felt murky.
Enter new kid and basketball superstar Derek de la Rosa. He is very cute, very talented, and very much has his eye on Michie, no matter how invisible she believes herself to be.
When Michie’s mother unexpectedly reaches out to make amends, and with her scholarship deadlines looming, Michie must choose whether to reopen old wounds or close the door on her past. And as she spends more time with Derek, she’ll have to decide how much of her heart she is willing to share. Because while Michie may not know who she is, she’s starting to realize who she wants to become, if only she can take a chance on Derek, on herself, and on her future.” (Goodreads)

I picked this one up after finishing my latest audiobook. I had seen a lot of reviews for it when it first came out and knew it would be one I would want to read eventually.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Michie. She is a high school student who has plans for college and where she would like to be. Besides that, she is in a therapy group for those that have parental issues. Hers being that her mother had told her she wished she had never been born. Abortion is not just talked about in that context, but it also is brought up when it comes to someone at her school. It was interesting how it was done and I do think that it is an important topic and was well done. I liked learning about Michie’s thoughts as well as those in her group. They were, for the most part, a close knit group and I liked seeing them all communicate with one another.

Michie deals with a lot, as mentioned above, but also finds what it means to have family or those in your corner that aren’t blood related. She learns to love and have people care for her throughout the book. Michie even goes on to confront her mother which in a way opens a door but also closes one at the same time. She also gains a boyfriend who was great! Through all of this, she is strong and learns to lean on people. I enjoyed her journey.

The romance is very much a slow-burn, but I loved it. They become friends and gradually continue on, especially taking the step of meeting parents. It was cute when they hung out!

Overall, this was an enjoyable book. It talks about a difficult topic and makes it the center of the book. I liked learning about Michie and her journey and understanding what it means to love and be loved by the end.

Audiobook Review: Would You Rather by Allison Ashley

Title: Would You Rather
Author: Allison Ashley
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Mira Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“Noah and Mia have always been best friends, and their friendship is the most important thing to them. Life is going great for Noah and he’s up for a promotion in a job he loves. But Mia’s life is on hold as she awaits a kidney transplant. She’s stuck in a dead-end job and, never wanting to be a burden, has sworn off all romance. So when the chance of a lifetime comes to go back to school and pursue her dream, it’s especially painful to pass up. She can’t quit her job or she’ll lose the medical insurance she so desperately needs.
To support her, Noah suggests they get married—in name only—so she can study full-time and still keep the insurance. It’s a risk to both of them, with jobs, health and hearts on the line, and they’ll need to convince suspicious coworkers and nosy roommates that they’re the real deal. But if they can let go of all the baggage holding them back, they might realize that they would rather be together forever.” (Goodreads)

This book didn’t make me dislike the friends-to-lovers trope more than I do so that is good! Haha. It’s definitely not a trope I enjoy but I wanted to give this one a try because of the marriage of convenience. That is a trope I do really enjoy. I think that there were good qualities and also bad ones that I thought needed more.

The book is told from dual point-of-views, Noah and Mia. I always like to see this done when it comes to romance because I want to get into both of their heads! Give me the details! I thought this was well done, but I did like Mia’s view more.

Noah’s development felt like it only involved his career move, but was very lackluster, and his relationship with Mia. Even though he was marrying her for the right reasons, he did seem to lust over her to often than not and it kind of killed the vibe for me. I felt like I never really got to understand their dynamic because they were married for too long before they got with it and then that’s basically all it was for the rest of the book. This won’t be an issue for everyone though.

Mia is going through a lot when it comes to her health, job, and schooling. It was nice that Noah wanted to do so much for her. I did feel like she was a bit overdramatic when it came to her parents, but since I have never been in that situation maybe I would have been.

Overall, this was a good read. I did like the marriage of convenience, but I would have liked more development for their relationship.