Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Winter 2022-2023 To-Read List | 12-6-22

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is Books on My Winter 2022-2023 To-Read List! Half are for my readathon and the others are from the library or due in January for arcs!

  • French Kissing in New York by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau (arc/readathon)
  • Waking Fire by Jean Louise (arc/readathon)
  • Stardust In Their Veins by Laura Sebastian (arc/readathon)
  • Pieces of Me by Kate McLaughlin (arc/readathon)
  • Song of Silver, Flame like Night by Amelie Wen Zhao (arc/readathon)

  • If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
  • By the Book by Jasmine Guillory
  • The Fraud Squad by Kyla Zhao (arc)
  • The Reunion by Kayla Olson (arc)
  • The Wrong Kind of Weird by James Ramos (arc)

What Are Some Books On Your Winter TBR?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Arc Review: A Fire Endless (Elements of Cadence #2) by Rebecca Ross

Title: A Fire Endless (Elements of Cadence #2)
Author: Rebecca Ross
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Romance
Publication Date: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Arc Review: A River Enchanted (Elements of Cadence #1) by Rebecca Ross

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

“East and West. Humans and Spirits. Breccans and Tamerlaines. The Isle of Cadence has always held itself and its residents in a tenuous balance. But now Bane, the spirit of the North Wind, has pushed everyone and everything in his path off-kilter in a bid to claim dominion over all.
In the West, Adaira struggles to adjust to the more brutal, bitter ways of life among the Breccans. Striving to find her place in the clan, she swiftly realizes that it just might be the last role she desires to hold. And while magic blooms effortlessly for the Breccans in the west, the spirits continue to suffer beneath Bane’s harsh power, felt in every gust of wind.
In the East, Jack is adrift without Adaira until he sings to the ember-weak fire spirits, acquiring a dangerous mission he never expected. One that is destined to lead him westward. Likewise, Torin and Sidra are consumed by a new mystery as sickness spreads first amongst the crops, and then to the people of the Tamerlaine clan. While Sidra desperately searches for a cure, Torin dares to strike a bargain with the spirits—a precarious folly anytime, but especially now as the days grow darker.
With the island falling further out of balance, humans and spirits alike will need to join together to face Bane, and Jack’s gift with the harp will be called upon once more. Yet no one can challenge the North Wind without paying a terrible price, and the sacrifice required this time may be more than Jack, Adaira, Torin, and Sidra can bear to pay.”

This was everything I wanted and more! This is my favorite duology to date and I will talk about it forever.

The book is told from multiple point-of-views just like in the first book. All of the characters are back and a few new ones also make their entrance and it was nice to get to know more about the spirits and their realm.

If you asked me who my favorite couple in this duology is I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Each pairing brings a different struggle to the table and a different sort of love. Each one melts your heart and also breaks it at the same time. It’s not even the romantic relationships either. The sibling bonds and parental ones are just as important. I cried tears of happiness and sadness, sometimes at the same time haha. It’s just so easy to get wrapped up and feel some sort of way towards what is happening to the characters. There is great character development!

I will say that, and maybe this is me picking haha, but I could see my personal relationship in Torin and Sidra’s. Through their struggles and not always seeing eye-to-eye and speaking out in anger. It made them very relatable and maybe that is why it hit so hard.

After the last book and the way that it ended I knew what one of the plot lines would be but I wasn’t expecting everything else that came with it. There were some wild moments and I was in utter disbelief at what I was reading! This is one of those books that you get anxious about and you have to continuously read because you have to know what will happen! My poor heart couldn’t take the suspense.

It’s really hard to put into words how this book made me feel. Usually five star reads are an easy review but this book was just so beautifully written and wonderful that it makes me at a loss for words.

Overall, this book was just amazing! No complaints at all. If you haven’t read this duology yet then get to it! You won’t be disappointed.

Arc Review: Well Traveled (Well Met #4) by Jen DeLuca

Title: Well Traveled (Well Met #4)
Author: Jen DeLuca
Genre: Adult Cointemporary / Romance
Publication Date: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

“A high-powered attorney from a success-oriented family, Louisa “Lulu” Malone lives to work, and everything seems to be going right, until the day she realizes it’s all wrong. Lulu’s cousin Mitch introduced her to the world of Renaissance Faires, and when she spies one at a time just when she needs an escape, she leaps into the welcoming environment of turkey legs, taverns, and tarot readers. The only drawback? Dex MacLean: a guitarist with a killer smile, the Casanova of the Faire… and her traveling companion for the summer.
Dex has never had to work for much in his life, and why should he? Touring with his brothers as The Dueling Kilts is going great, and he always finds a woman at every Faire. But when Lulu proves indifferent to his many plaid charms and a shake-up threatens the fate of the band, Dex must confront something he never has before: his future.
Forced to spend days and nights together on the road, Lulu’s interest in the kilted bad boy grows as he shows her a side of himself no one else has seen. The stresses of her old lifestyle fade away as she learns to trust her intuition and follow her heart instead of her head. But when her time on the road is over, will Lulu go with her gut, or are she and Dex destined for separate paths?” (Goodreads)

This one was hard to rate. One side, I did like it but on the other, it wasn’t a favorite which is really disappointing. Again, I did like it though! Close proximity, finding oneself, and kilts? Come on!

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Lulu. We were introduced to her in the last book and I loved her! I couldn’t wait to see what her story would be about. She definitely goes through a lot of growth when it comes to her job, family, and love. I do wish that there would have been more when it came to her family but I understand, she was living off-the-grid. It’s just a shame we saw them in the last book with Mitch but not in this one. I think it would have added a bit more.

There are other characters that were present in other books come back for this one. Stacey and Daniel are one of my favorite couples! I am happy they are back and helping Lulu find her purpose. It was nice to see another side from them as well as the others in the Dueling Kilts, especially Dex. He is the definition of not judging a book by its cover and he gets judged a lot from those close to him as well as all of the other people putting on a show at the ren faire. He is hiding a softer interior and I loved getting to know him a whole lot better.

The romance between Dex and Lulu was cute. It involves close-proximity and not knowing what the future holds. They learn a lot about each other before ever getting into anything I liked that approach. The downside is that even though they were getting to know each other, it felt like a rapid stride from somewhat friends to lovers and it just didn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong, there were cute moments between them and I still loved them but I just wanted more between them. You know what I mean?

Overall, I liked this one. Not a favorite but it was still a good read and I’m glad that Dex had a happy ending after meeting him in book two. I’m also glad we got to see Lulu and understand her better as well. She really is a great character.

Weekly Update | 12-4-22

Hello Lovely Bookworms!

This week was pretty slow so there isn’t much to report, lol. I’ve just been reading and playing the new expansion for World of Warcraft!

  • Death Checked Out by Leah Dobrinska (arc) ⭐⭐⭐
  • Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne (🎧) ⭐⭐⭐✨
  • A Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross (arc) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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HOW WAS YOUR WEEK? DID YOU DO ANYTHING FUN OVER THE WEEKEND? READ ANYTHING GOOD THIS WEEK? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

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Arc Review: Death Checked Out by Leah Dobrinska

Title: Death Checked Out
Author: Leah Dobrinska
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Level Best Books
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

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

“When in doubt, go to the library…and solve the murder mystery!
Greta Plank, library director in the small, lakeside town of Larkspur, Wisconsin, prefers her rose-tinted glasses extra rosy, thank you very much. It’s how she copes with the hard stuff in life…like her sister’s death and her ex-boyfriend’s deception. But Greta’s cheery resolve takes a hit when she stumbles upon a dead body on her way home from work. What she assumes is a terrible accident Greta soon learns is something more sinister, and to make matters worse, a new-to-town detective cites her as not only his primary source for the case, but his top suspect.
To clear her name and save her reputation, Greta decides to do some off-the-books clue cataloging of her own. After all, asking questions is what she does best. With the help of her fellow librarians and her lawyer mom, Greta flips through the pages of the murder, uncovering details about Larkspur’s real estate market and the deceased’s rare book collection as she tries to understand why anyone would have authored his death.
With friends and neighbors stacking up as both victims and suspects, Greta must cross reference the facts and put a hold on her idyllic worldview if she wants to get the full story without paying the fine of her life.” (Goodreads)

I’ve been getting into cozy mysteries a lot more and when I saw this one on Netgalley I figured why not give it a try! It had a librarian as the MC and that’s pretty cool to me.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Greta who is a small-town library director. I didn’t think that she was a bad character in any way, but I didn’t feel a connection towards her or any of the other characters. They all just felt very basic and it didn’t feel like anyone had a personality. I think this is why I had such a hard time getting into the book. The romance, start of it/love interest, didn’t feel natural and I wasn’t a fan.

It doesn’t take long in the beginning to get the murder mystery started. I was actually kind of sad with the choice of the first victim and I didn’t even know them that well, ha. The best part of this book was definitely the murder mystery. I didn’t guess who it was or what the reasoning would be. The author does a good job keeping the reader off the trail and that can be hard to do.

Overall, this an alright read. I do wish the characters had a bit more personality. I think it would have helped to make this book shine. I did at least like the mystery!

Arc Review: Curse of Shadows (Amassia #2) by A.K. Wilder

Title: Curse of Shadows (Amassia #2)
Author: A.K. Wilder
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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

“Amassia teeters on the brink of the next Great Dying.
The second sun has returned as our Bone Throwers foresaw–casting the nine realms into war.
My name is Ash, and I fell in the battle for Baiseen. But I’m awake now, slowly putting the pieces back together.
My Heir has lost his throne.
My sailor is gone.
And there is an emptiness inside me I can’t explain.
Amid the chaos, someone must collect the original twelve whistle bones from all corners of the world. Marcus is named to lead the cause, but with his volatile phantom, he’ll need diplomacy as much as his sword. And we are not the only ones to seek the bones.
Yet succeed we must.
Because if we don’t, it will be death to all…” (Goodreads)

I was excited to dive back into this world after the initial shock from the cliffhanger of the first book. It was such a thrilling book filled with humor, adventure, and plot twists. Who wouldn’t want to continue on?

Unfortunately, although I liked parts of the sequel I didn’t find myself having the exact same feeling as the first book. Things just felt a bit different. I will say that it could potentially be due to my mood since Fantasy hasn’t been my top genre lately.

The book is told from multiple point-of-views just like in the first. I always like seeing this and was surprised to see a couple more point-of-views as well. It made for interesting developments and added to the overall plot to help have everything come together. I did like some characters more than others. Marcus was a good one and had a lot going on when it came to his family as well as learning what his new role meant. Ash also had more going on for her, mostly at the end though which was kind of disappointing especially not knowing if there will be another book. I haven’t heard anything so I can’t confirm. It does have a cliffhanger so who knows!

There were a lot of plot twists happening as the book progressed. I felt like some were more dramatic than others and that could be due to one happening to a character that hasn’t been present until this book and even then he didn’t have much page time. It makes it hard to connect and feel something when I don’t know much about him.

I feel like this book lacked the humor the first one had. Kaylin was very charming and had a very swoon-worthy persona. It could be due to wanting more from his relationship with Ash but there wasn’t much development there either.

Overall, this was a decent sequel. I didn’t love it but I liked aspects of it. I am curious to see if there is going to be another book because of the ending. Only time will tell!

Arc Review: To Get to the Other Side by Kelly Ohlert

Title: To Get to the Other Side
Author: Kelly Ohlert
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Alcove Press
Rating: ⭐⭐

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

“Trixie isn’t exactly sure what she was thinking when she stopped her car in the middle of downtown Chicago, scooped up a chicken struggling to cross the road, and drove off… but she does know that she has to find a new home for herself and her new feathered friend. The landlord at her apartment doesn’t allow pets and has caught Trixie in one too many pet-smuggling attempts in the past.

Bear likes his quiet life with his close-knit family, who own a flower business, but he’s in for a rude awakening when his meddlesome sisters post an ad to rent the spare room in his simple home, without asking his permission. Still, when Trixie responds to the ad, he agrees to let her move in, despite immediate worries about keeping things platonic.

Determined to keep her new room, befriend Bear, and give her rescue chicken the care she deserves, Trixie fights to keep her walls up and resist her romantic feelings for Bear. However, it’s not long before the pair’s proximity and chicken parenting ignite flames that have Trixie and Bear testing the boundaries of their platonic ground rules. They have to figure out how to save a family business, pay for mounting vet bills, and navigate their own emotional baggage if they want to find the love that they all deserve.” (Goodreads)

This book may be someone else’s cup of tea, but it wasn’t for me. This isn’t the worst book I have read and had some decent aspects to it but it wasn’t as cute as I had wanted it to be.

The book is told from two point-of-views, Trixie and Bear. They are complete opposites and have one run-in before she notices an ad for a roommate and it happens to be his home. Not of his doing though, pesky sisters. Although I liked the setup for the book, I felt like the characters stayed the same throughout and kind of fell flat. I also felt that out of all of the people he could have as a roommate it’s her and he has only seen her chase a chicken, literally. The romance feels very insta-lovey from this point and that is not my vibe.

I did think that the plot line which included a chicken was real unique. I had never seen it done before. As someone who has chickens in the backyard it was fun to see. This plot line does drag on a bit and can get old and boring because it feels like it should have been resolved sooner than it had.

Overall, this was interesting and had a unique setup but it lost it’s charm and ended up only being an okay read for me.

WWW Wednesday | 11-30-22

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?

My audiobook will be Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne but I won’t be starting it until tomorrow since it is a pick for my readathon tbr! I can’t wait!

I will be starting Death Checked Out (Larkspur Library Mysteries #1) by Leah Dobrinska. It is an arc from Netgalley and sounds very interesting. Hopefully it will be another cozy mystery I like!

  • The Do-Over by Lynn Painter (🎧) ⭐⭐✨
  • City of Time and Magic (Found Things #4) by Paula Brackston (🎧) ⭐⭐⭐
  • Nine Liars (Truly Devious #5) by Maureen Johnson (arc) ⭐⭐
  • Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien (🎧) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I will be listening to Five Survive by Holly Jackson or A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass. Both came in today from the library!

My next couple reads will be for my readathon and they are A Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross and The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas.

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!

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Arc Review: The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford

Title: The Poison Season
Author: Mara Rutherford
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Rating: ⭐⭐

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

“Leelo has spent her entire life on Endla, coexisting with the bloodthirsty Forest and respecting the poisonous lake that protects her island from outsiders who seek to destroy it. But as much as Leelo cares for her community, she struggles to accept that her younger brother will be exiled by his next birthday, unless he gains the magic of enchanted song so vital to Endla.
When Leelo sees a young outsider on the verge of drowning in the lake, she knows exactly what she’s supposed to do. But in a moment that will change everything, Leelo betrays her family, her best friend, and Endla by making an unthinkable choice.
Discovery could lead to devastating consequences for both Leelo and the outsider, Jaren, but as they grow closer, Leelo realizes that not all danger comes from beyond the lake—and they can only survive if Leelo is willing to question the very fabric of her society, her people, and herself.” (Goodreads)

I keeping going back and forth with this author. Although I liked her debut duology, the last two books (this one is included in that) she has written have just not been for me. I don’t know if it is because they are standalones or the writing. It could honestly be both. The writing, especially for this one, felt on the younger YA side and I’m just not a fan of that.

The book is told from multiple point-of-views but done in third-person narrative. The point-of-views came more from Leelo though than Jaren. It does make sense as to why it is done this way since they are from different areas but she is the one who lives on a mysterious island where outsiders are not welcome.

I don’t think the characters were bad. I just didn’t connect with them. They do go through some harsh things, especially Leelo. She has to maneuver her feelings and still try to be there for her family even though it feels like some of them belittle her. A lot of the side characters had very little page time and were mostly there for certain plotlines. Leelo very much as the “not like other girls” vibe going on and it’s one trope I just can’t do.

Even though the setting was interesting I felt like the world-building lacked overall and I still had some unanswered questions. I wouldn’t say that this book was any different than others I have read with similar styles. It was just average. 🤷‍♀️

Overall, this wasn’t for me. I wanted to like it but it is hard when the writing doesn’t work for you and you can’t connect with the characters. I love the cover though!

Reindeer Readathon: My TBR is Finally Picked!

Hello Readers!

This year I am going to be participating in Reindeer Readathon! It is my first year and I am so excited. The team I have been assigned to is Team Candy Cane🍬!

This readathon starts December 1st and goes through the 31st. I am sure I will have plenty of time to finish my picks! I’ll just prioritize them over other books. 😂

DASHER – 15 PTS
Finish a series or pick up a book that you started and put down. If
neither of these are options, a short story/novella.

DANCER – 10 PTS
A book with a cursive/flowy/elegant font on the cover

PRANCER – 20 PTS
A book with your favorite season on the cover or the book cover
has colors from your favorite season on it.

VIXEN 15 PTS
A book you want to read but think it might be overhyped.

COMET – 25PTS
A book with an astronomical word in the title (sun, moon, star, sky
etc.)

Christmas Star (Bonus/25 pts): A book over 500 pages.

CUPID – 15 PTS
A book with a favorite trope in it.

Christmas Carols (Bonus/20pts): An audiobook.

DONNER – 20 PTS
A book that you want to read but are not a fan of the cover

BLITZEN – 20 PTS
Use a random number generator to find a number between 0 and
9 and find a book that ends in that page number.

RUDOLPH – 15 PTS
Start a new series.

Christmas Lights (Bonus/15pts): An ebook.

Sleighing It (Bonus/50 pts): If you have completed all of your prompts
and the Christmas Star, Christmas Lights and Christmas Carols
bonus prompts, you can redo one prompt of your choice for
extra points

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Let me know if you are doing the Reindeer Readathon too! I’d love to go look at your post.

Are any of these books on your tbr?

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