Book Review | Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine

Title: Morning Sun in Wuhan
Author: Ying Chang Compestine
Genre: Middle Grade / Contemporary / Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: November 8th, 2022
Publisher: Clarion Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

What was the pandemic of the century like at the start? This swift, gripping novel captures not only the uncertainty and panic when COVID first emerged in Wuhan, but also how a community banded together.

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home. (goodreads)

It’s nice to get a different perspective on the virus that wrecked our world and see how others dealt with the crisis.

The book follows a young girl named Mei. She loves cooking and video games. Her life has been rough recently after the loss of her mother. You can tell through her thoughts that her mother and her had a special bond, especially with cooking. I can’t imagine losing my mother at such a young age. Through video games she does find a couple friends that even go on to help her distribute food to those who need it once the virus hit and the sick were quarantined.

I liked that this book focused on friendship, determination, and community. It was a rough time in history and to know that some of what the author wrote was based on someone who did help their community in a time of need was just a nice dose of hope in a book filled with sadness and the unknown. Mei used her hobbies to help those in her community and she wasn’t afraid to stand her ground when others were so afraid and not thinking.

Overall, this was a well written book and I liked the audiobook a lot. Maybe it’s too soon to start reading a book about events that didn’t happen so long ago but what can I say lol. 🤷‍♀️😂


Book Review | The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Title: The Spanish Love Deception
Author: Elena Armas
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: November 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Atria Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

“Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially since her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiralled out of control. Now everyone she knows—including her ex and his fiancée—will be there and eager to meet him.
She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic and aid in her deception. New York to Spain is no short flight and her raucous family won’t be easy to fool.
Enter Aaron Blackford—her tall, handsome, condescending colleague—who surprisingly offers to step in. She’d rather refuse; never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling, and insufferable man.
But Catalina is desperate, and as the wedding draws nearer, Aaron looks like her best option. And she begins to realize he might not be as terrible in the real world as he is at the office.” (Goodreads)

I tried to like this one I really did….I even liked it a lot in the beginning but then things started slowing down and it felt like the book was longer than it needed to be. It was just hard to pick up and continue on with.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Catalina. She is a fine character and I don’t think that there was anything wrong with her. She did what a lot of people do which is lie. Who wants to go to a wedding and see their ex happy? It would be infuriating. Her love interest, Aaron Blackford, was a decent guy. He was always helpful even when Catalina would shoo him away. I feel like this is one of those one-sided enemies-to-lovers where its all due to miscommunication which is something I have a hard time with when I have seen it done in other books.

There are cute moments between them but still not enough for me to care or want to root for them.

Overall, it was okay but just not for me. The hype got me on this one.

Arc Review: Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets by Chelsea Ichaso

Title: Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets
Author: Chelsea Ichaso
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Contemporary
Publication Date: April 5th, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

“Piper’s fall was no accident. Did someone want her dead? It’s up to her sister to discover the truth in this shocking new thriller with an unreliable narrator, from the acclaimed author of Little Creeping Things.

Piper Sullivan was in a strange hiking accident last month and has been in a coma ever since. Her older sister, Savannah, can’t pretend to be optimistic about it; things look bad. Piper will likely never wake up, and Savannah will never get any answers about what exactly happened.

But then Savannah finds a note in Piper’s locker, inviting Piper to a meeting of their school’s wilderness club…at the very place and on the very day that she fell. Which means there was a chance that Piper wasn’t alone. Someone might’ve seen something. Worse, someone might’ve done something. But who would want to hurt the perfect Piper Sullivan…and why?

To discover the truth, Savannah joins the club on their weekend-long camping trip on the same mountain where her sister fell. But she better be careful; everyone in the club is a suspect, and everyone seems to be keeping secrets about that tragic day.

And Savannah? She’s been keeping secrets, too…” (Goodreads)

I have read this author’s previous book and even though it wasn’t a favorite, I still liked it enough to give her next book a try. I’m glad I did because I liked this one a whole star more and I would say that’s pretty good!

The book is told mostly from the perspective of Savannah with some chapters from the past from the perspective of her sister, Piper. I liked getting to know Savannah. She has her own issues and it’s easy to see how they started to affect the relationship she had with her sister. Savannah feels like no one sees her and everyone cares too much what her sister is doing. It’s tough having siblings. I have five so it’s hard to feel like you are being seen by your parents.

Although the other characters in the book don’t have as much development. I liked seeing how they interacted with Savannah, especially those who had a falling out with her. Some of them have their own secrets and the author does a good job of keeping the reader hooked because of them. I really had a hard time putting the book down especially because I couldn’t figure out who did it and the fingers are always being pointed at someone.

The plot itself wasn’t entirely original and have read books that are similar but honestly I didn’t mind. Mystery / Thrillers can still be quite thrilling because they always have a set of new characters and you just never know what will happen.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. Savannah has a lot to work through but I was happy to see her grow close to some of the other characters and realize her own mistakes.

Arc Review: The New Girl by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Title: The New Girl
Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Contemporary
Publication Date: February 1st, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: ⭐⭐

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

“Lia Setiawan has never really fit in. And when she wins a full ride to the prestigious Draycott Academy on a track scholarship, she’s determined to make it work even though she’s never felt more out of place.

But on her first day there she witnesses a girl being forcefully carried away by campus security. Her new schoolmates and teachers seem unphased, but it leaves her unsure of what she’s gotten herself into.

And as she uncovers the secrets of Draycott, complete with a corrupt teacher, a golden boy who isn’t what he seems, and a blackmailer determined to get her thrown out, she’s not sure if she can trust anyone…especially when the threats against her take a deadly turn.” (Goodreads)

I really wanted to like this one. I really did.

When this book was announced it didn’t have a title and looked like it would be a continuation of her first YA book The Obsession. Cue the disappointment when I found out it was new characters and wouldn’t correlate with that story. Okay, fine. I went into this story with an open mind. Honestly, this was my least favorite of her books written and I have read them all.

I know that her books are usually written with a lot of drama and unique plots. I was prepared for that and it’s one thing I like about her books. The problem with this one is that it felt way too dramatic. It was Mean Girls on steroids. Dramatic books such as this one just aren’t my cup of tea.

None of the characters were ones that I liked and I just pushed through the book so I could be finished with it. I just felt there wasn’t any substance to them. They were just out being as crazy as possible.

Overall, this one just wasn’t for me. I’m not a fan of high drama books. I’m sure others will like this one more than me especially if they are into books like that.

Goodreads Monday: The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson | 12-27-21

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: The Agathas
Author: Kathleen Glasgow & Liz Lawson
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller / Contemporary
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2022
Publisher: Delacorte

“Last summer, Alice Ogilve’s basketball-star boyfriend Steve dumped her. Then she disappeared for five days. Where she went and what happened to her is the biggest mystery in Castle Cove, because she’s not talking. Or it was, at least. But now, another one of Steve’s girlfriends has vanished: Brooke Donovan, Alice’s ex–best friend. And it doesn’t look like Brooke will be coming back. . .

Enter Iris Adams, Alice’s tutor. Iris has her own reasons for wanting to disappear, though unlike Alice, she doesn’t have the money or the means. That could be changed by the hefty reward Brooke’s grandmother is offering to anyone who can share information about her granddaughter’s whereabouts. The police are convinced Steve is the culprit, but Alice isn’t so sure, and with Iris on her side, she just might be able to prove her theory.

In order to get the reward and prove Steve’s innocence, they need to figure out who killed Brooke Donovan. And luckily Alice has exactly what they need—the complete works of Agatha Christie. If there’s anyone that can teach the girls how to solve a mystery it’s the master herself. But the town of Castle Cove holds many secrets, and Alice and Iris have no idea how much danger they’re about to walk into.” (Goodreads)

I saw this last week on Netgalley and I want it! Lol. It has a great cover and sounds interesting! I hope I get approved. If not, I’ll be sure to read it when it comes out!

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

The Second Home: E-Arc Review


43312830Title: The Second Home
Author: Christina Clancy
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020

Content Warning: Rape, Suicide

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley.

synopsis header
“After a disastrous summer spent at her family’s summer home on Cape Cod, seventeen year old Ann Gordon is left harboring a secret that changes her life forever, and creates a rift between her sister, Poppy, and their adopted brother, Michael.

Now, fifteen years later, her parents have died, and Ann and her sister Poppy are left to decide the fate of the old Wellfleet home that’s been in the Gordon family for generations. While they both love the house, they decide to sell it and move forward. But then Michael re-enters their lives with a legitimate claim to a third of the estate. He wants the house. But more than that, he wants to set the record straight about that long ago summer.

Reunited after years apart, these very different siblings are forced to decide if they can continue to be a family–and in the process, they’ll discover that the house might be the glue that holds them together.” (Goodreads)

I wanted to like this book, I did. Family dynamics are always interesting to me and so the synopsis pulled me in. The thing is, there were just too many factors I didn’t like about it.

This review will not be spoiler-free.

The writing pulls you in and the characters start off as being very intriguing. They hold secrets. Since there are three siblings, they each have their own point-of-view. I always like more than one but some of their chapters just felt slow and a bit bland.

The plot twists/tragedy is where this book took a turn I didn’t want. The main character, Ann, is sexualized by an adult who eventually rapes her. This leads to pregnancy and then drama between the boy/ her friend that her family had adopted. The rape part had details that were very uncomfortable and had me wanting to dnf. Since this was an arc I chose to continue but should have listened to my gut because it didn’t get better.

The man who does the raping/sexualizing ultimately kills himself while Ann and his wife are in the same house discussing what happened. His wife says something along the lines of, “Oh dear, I must have forgot a gun.” Like what? Even if you didn’t love your husband is that really what you say? It just baffled me so much!

The ending didn’t really have much closure but I guess I should have known that since at 90% not much wrapping up had begun.

Overall, this book wasn’t for me and I personally wouldn’t recommend it.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)


Blog Tour: The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan (Review)


GflAkeaATitle: The Sweeney Sisters
Author: Lian Dolan
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: April 28th, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow

Thanks to the publisher for the free copy! (I received a copy for reviewing. All opinions are my own.)

Look out for my instagram post too!

*Click the banner for all other tour dates!*

synopsis header

An accomplished storyteller returns with her biggest, boldest, most entertaining novel yet—a hilarious, heartfelt story about books, love, sisterhood, and the surprises we discover in our DNA that combines the wit of Jonathan Tropper with the heart of Susan Wiggs.

zfo_LdvgMaggie, Eliza, and Tricia Sweeney grew up as a happy threesome in the idyllic seaside town of Southport, Connecticut. But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart. Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.

But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister.

When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.

Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?

By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family. (Goodreads)

Amazon / B & N / Book Depository / Google / Kobo / iTunes

gv7YAdkALian Dolan is a writer and talker. She’s the author of two Los Angeles Times best-selling novels,Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife published by Prospect Park Books. Her next novel,The Sweeney Sisters, will be published in 2020 by William Morrow. She’s a regular humor columnist for Pasadena Magazine and has previously written monthly columns for O, The Oprah Magazine and Working Mother Magazine. She’s also written for TV, radio and websites. Lian is the producer and host of Satellite Sisters, the award-winning talk show she created with her four real sisters. On Satellite Sisters, she’s interviewed everyone from Nora Ephron to Madeleine Albright to Big Bird. Satellite Sisters began life as a syndicated radio show and is now a top-rated podcast for women. The recent book by the Satellite Sisters,You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship, is popular with book clubs.A popular speaker who combines humor and heart, Lian has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Sunday Morning and The Today Show and many local TV stations. She’s been a featured speaker at the LA Times Festival of Books, the Santa Barbara Celebrity Authors Lunch, the Literary Guild of Orange County Festival of Women Authors and dozens of other events at libraries, book stores, schools and women’s organizations across the country. In 2020, she’ll be on the faculty of the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. Lian graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Classics. She lives in Pasadena, California with her husband, two sons and a big German shepherd.

Goodreads / Website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook


reviewheaderWhat would you do if your whole world gets turned upside down? Not just because your father died but because now you have found out you have a half-sister?

For the Sweeney sisters, this is their reality.svAh8GvQ

The reason I wanted to read this one is because it is based around sisters. I have three sisters and I always enjoy reading about this type of bond. It just makes it easier to relate to the characters.

This story covers all their point-of-views told in third person. It made it easy to understand how each one was feeling when it came to the death of their father and the news about their half-sister. I also liked that we got a point-of-view from her too.

Not only are these sisters facing grief but there are so many questions they have and their lives are far from perfect when it comes to their relationships and even their jobs. Each sister is facing different things and I liked reading about each one. Some of the twists, I definitely wasn’t expecting.

There is definitely heartbreak found on the pages but there is also humor. The author does a great job of weaving the two together.

Overall, I enjoyed this one! It was just the right book to take a break from fantasy and dive back into a contemporary read.


Win a copy of The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan (US Only)

Starts April 28th, 2020 and ends May 12th, 2020

Click Here to Enter Giveaway!


I hope you enjoyed my blog tour spot for The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan! Be sure to check out the other reviews and Instagram tour!

Tour Schedule

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-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)


Arc Review: Body Language by Marylee MacDonald


50635773._SY475_Title: Body Language
Author: Marylee MacDonald
Genre: Fiction / Short Stories
Publication Date: April 17th, 2020

Arc provided by publisher through BookishFirst for review. All opinions are my own.

synopsis header
Life-changing moments. Impassioned encounters. Twelve stories at the crossroads of heartbreak and desire.

When a long-lost love comes knocking, a loyally wedded rancher is tempted by old passions. A bartender wrestling with sobriety is pushed to the edge by a familiar barfly. After her husband’s death, a famous composer struggles to write a single note.

From international flights to hidden grottoes and a nude beach, twelve wayward souls seek to satisfy their deepest hungers and escape their fears.

Body Language explores our often-misguided quest for happiness and connection. If you like vulnerable explorations of carnal cravings, challenging moral quandaries, and transformative self-reflection, then you’ll love these heartbreaking and unforgettable portraits of people yearning for the solace of human touch.” (Goodreads)

Short stories can be a bit tricky to get into or even feel any emotion towards but that was not the case for this book.

The first story was the one that grasped my attention when I had a chance to read a snippet from this book before winning the copy I received. There is so much emotion and words left unsaid between the two characters. I would love a book just about those two! It deals with heavy topics and where passion could lead. Definitely quite intriguing!

There were others that I really enjoyed as well. With twelve stories it’s easy to find more than a few that get you thinking and trying to understand the characters and their decisions.

Of course with that many stories there will also be a couple that fall a bit short (no pun intended, ha). They still were a decent read and that’s another thing that is great about short stories, you don’t have to worry about continuing on for tons of pages.

Overall, it was a good read. I enjoyed getting to read snippets from each character’s life and trying to understand the emotions they may have been feeling.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

One Week ‘Til Christmas: Mini Book Review


47956293._SY475_Title: One Week ‘Til Christmas
Author: Belinda Missen
Genre: Contemporary/Romance
Publication Date: November 1st, 2019

synopsis header
“Two people. One chance meeting. Seven days to Christmas.

Isobel Bennett is waiting for the number 11 bus when a man quite literally falls into her lap. Snow is falling, Christmas lights are twinkling, and a gorgeous man with dark brown hair has just slipped on ice and is now pressed against Isobel.

Isobel knows she’s not imagining the chemistry between them. But then his ride arrives and, embarrassed, he beats a hasty retreat, murmuring apologies – and Isobel realises only too late that she didn’t manage to catch his name…

When she runs into him again the next morning, she decides it’s fate.

It’s a second chance for Isobel and Tom – but there’s only one week until she’s leaving London for good. Seven days of enjoying all the festive delights the city has to offer: ice-skating at Somerset House, mulled wine on the Southbank, Christmas shopping at Liberty.

There’s magic in the air and mistletoe in the trees – but what will happen when the week is over?” (Goodreads)

I wasn’t sure if I would like this because I have a love/hate with novellas. Sometimes I just need more! This was a short holiday read and it was cute. I probably could have had a bit more epilogue to know if they make it or not, haha.

As for the characters, I thought they were cute and funny together. When they realized it was the other person after the first encounter I knew where it was going but I was here for it. Their holiday dates were adorable!

Overall, If you are looking to squeeze in a short holiday read, this would be for you!

Well Met: Book Review


43189874._SY475_Title: Well Met
Author: Jen DeLuca
Genre: Romance/Contemporary
Publication date: September 3rd, 2019

synopsis header
“Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.” (Goodreads)

I was hoping this one would be as cute as I thought it was going to be. I did have a bit of an issue really caring for the characters up until around 35%. After that, I was hooked!

Emily is quite relatable when it comes to me. She dropped out of college, was going for an English major, and enjoys Shakespeare. That is literally me. Overall I liked her character and thought a lot of her emotions were justified throughout the book. With her bad past, I was really rooting for her to get a happy ending!

Simon on the other hand, he was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He would do/say one thing and then do a 180. He also comes from a bad past just with different situations. I didn’t care much for him in the beginning but I couldn’t help myself from swooning during certain scenes, like him as a pirate.

The setting was one that I loved since I have always seen photos of Ren Faires but have never been to one. It was unique and made for a great plot! As for the plot, it was everything I needed and more. Enemies-to-lovers is a great trope and I think this book did it justice.

Overall, this book had me giddy and I couldn’t help but smile (My husband probably thought I was being a weirdo but no shame here). I would love to see what the future has in store for Simon and Emily. Also, this would make a great movie and I think it needs to be made into one!