February Hopefuls

Happy February friends! We made it through what is arguably, the longest month of the year! I don’t like committing to a TBR, because I feel like it puts me in a box, and if I don’t read those books I’ve failed somehow. So instead, I saw someone on instagram post about their next month’s “hopefuls”. Without further prelude, here are my February Hopefuls!

If I Never Met You
By Mhairi McFarlane

This is a book I won through a Goodreads giveaway! This is an ARC of a romance novel that comes out in March!! I’m so excited to read this and get my review out before its release date.

41473872

I Wish You All the Best
By Mason Deaver

When I worked at the public library, one of my amazing coworkers loaned me her copy of this book. That was MONTHS ago and I still haven’t read it. I figured February’s theme could be all types of love stories, and here we are. I’m finally gonna read this one and return it to my very kind, and patient, friend.

The Flight Girls
By Noelle Salazar

This is one of my much overdue Netgalley ARCs. This is a historical fiction novel about women working in WWII. It sounds like something I’m going to love, and something I’m going to cry over. Is it silly to hope that a WWII novel has a ‘happy’ ending?

A Treason of Thorns
By Laura E. Weymouth

This is another one of my much overdue Netgalley ARCs. This is a Young Adult fantasy novel about a girl trying to unravel the mystery of what her father has done, while magic is running wild…literally. Everything around her is turning in vines and briars. I’m very excited to dive into this magic system and uncover family secrets.

The last two books on my February Hopefuls list are Carry On and Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. I recently attended a book signing (more on that later) in the most gorgeous little bookshop, and had to pick these up. After hearing Rainbow discuss this world, these books seem as much as a romance as they do high fantasy. And boy oh boy am I ready to drown myself in romance themed books this month!

What are you reading in February? Do you choose books based on a theme each month? Let me know!

The Right Swipe: Review

The Right Swipe by Alisah Rai

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC of this novel. Regardless of the way I acquired the novel, the thoughts, opinions, and views stated in this review are completely unbiased and one hundred percent my own.

This is my last ARC that I have already read, and then forgot to review. I’m officially caught up! In that sense at least…

I didn’t love this novel the first time around, and I think I finally pinpointed why: the villain of this story matches a villain in my own story. Initially, I think I was so jarred by the comparison that I couldn’t focus on anything else. I’m very thankful that I decided to read this story for a second time, and focus more on our main characters.

Rhi is crazy smart, intelligent, and successful. She doesn’t fail in what she pursues, despite her existing PTSD and anxiety from the aforementioned villain. Her counterpart, Samson, is an unintentional hero for standing up for better sports medicine and concussion research.

It has been really wonderful to see romance novels infuse such meaningful topics into their characters worlds. This novel had a positive display of boundaries, consent, and an interesting discussion on ethics in the workplace.

I thought this book could have been shorter and still packed the appropriate social and romantic punch. Despite the length, the chemistry between Rhi and Samson never dimmed. I absolutely adored that we had this famously retired football player who didn’t know how to date women, but was smooth as butter when it came to the one woman he was actually interested in.

I admired how strong Rhi was portrayed as a business woman, as an employer, and as a friend. Part of her journey through this novel is learning how to depend on others, and when to lean on her friends or family for help. It was a good reminder that even your strongest friends need to be checked in on.

The chemistry and the discourse in this novel were very enjoyable. I just wish it had been edited down a bit more. I think a shorter novel, with the same outcome, may have had more of an impact during the finale.

Tidelands: Review

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory


Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC of this novel. Regardless of the way I acquired the novel, the thoughts, opinions, and views stated in this review are completely unbiased and one hundred percent my own.

I love Philippa Gregory’s writing. I realized when I picked this up from the library (because it’s a backlisted ARC, and I prefer to read physical copies of books) that I had actually only read one of Gregory’s novels prior to picking up this one. Which is such a shame! If you haven’t experienced her writing, and you’re interested in historical fiction that most of the time errs on the side of historical and less fiction, her work would be perfect for you.

I sat down to begin this review literal minutes after finishing this novel. My thoughts are so fresh, my emotions so raw, I knew I couldn’t wait until the next day before putting down this review.

I loved the first half of this novel. Gregory’s writing is the most immersive, and descriptive I’ve ever experienced. Each of her books transports you to their time period, and to their location. I felt wet and cold the entire time I read this story, and it didn’t help that it was raining constantly where I live while I was reading.

It felt so good to be back in a Gregory novel, until I was harshly reminded of how horrid this time period was for everyone, especially women. Oh my gosh, it was horrific when the Lord of these tidelands casually suggested that his preteen-aged son take any girl(s) of his choosing around back and have a quick romp with her. And he said this to those girls fathers, no less! Those men were forced to laugh along, as if it was all such a big joke, because he owned every single person, their land, and everything they made or crafted themselves. It was absolutely disgusting learning about the abuse our main character, Alinor, suffered at the hands of her drunk husband, who to her great fortune and even greater misfortune, abandoned her and her two children.

The first half of this novel was a breeze to read. There were minimal mentions of these saddening and deplorable acts. Instead we were able to learn more about the tidelands, Alinor and her children’s daily lives, and we watched as Alinor fell in love for perhaps the first time. As she found love she found courage, and throughout the novel we see her unyielding strength grow with each calamity that befalls her.

I really didn’t know what to expect when it came to her love interest, James. James was a priest, or a spy, or all of the above, and vowed to never love anyone but God. That was, until he met Alinor. I rooted for James, who struggled to learn what was the right thing: fighting for the woman he loved or the religion he’d been bred for. In the end, he fought for neither, and I was earnestly disheartened by his lack of action.

Then came the second half of the book. This was not an enjoyable experience for me, at all. It was like being in an emotionally abusive relationship, where the thing you loved would deliver a blow to the gut, and then you would make up and forget how much they had hurt and betrayed you. The second half of this novel was betrayal, followed up by courage and strength, not to be overshadowed or outdone by an even worse betrayal. It was honestly rough to read. I even skipped to the last page, just to see if Alinor made it out of this novel alive.

I was equally crushed by the first novel I read of Gregory’s, so I’m not sure why this pattern surprised me so much? Objectively, this is a great novel: wonderfully written, eloquent storytelling, descriptively immersive, and intriguing. Personally, this was not enjoyable for me for the last 200 pages. This was heartbreaking.

I don’t think this book or the story is inherently bad. I think it’s not quite right for me. I’m a mood reader. I read things depending on how I’m feeling or how I want to be feeling. Tidelands was emotionally taxing and draining for me, and it just left me melancholy. I try to avoid feeling depressed at all costs! (duh). That’s why I tend to read stories about adventures, love stories, magic, and things that inherently make me happy!

While this book didn’t turn out the way I was hoping, I still think a ton of people would really like it. Heck, I did really like the book; I hated the things that happened to Alinor.

The Wedding Party Review

The Wedding Party
by Jasmine Guillory

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC of this novel. Regardless of the way I acquired the novel, the thoughts, opinions, and views stated in this review are completely unbiased and one hundred percent my own.

I received this novel as an eARC from Netgalley, finished the novel, and then didn’t post a review! I really dropped the ball, and made a promise to myself that 2020 would be the year I picked that ball back up. So here we are, back with a library copy of this absolutely gorgeous book, ready to smash out my review. Finally!

That’s one of the major things you miss with an eARC, is the beautiful cover art. A cover design obviously won’t make or break a book, generally speaking. It’s the plot that counts. But missing out on this cover for a second time would have been a huge bummer. She is so shiny!!!

Image result for shiny gif

I thought that, because this was a reread and I knew what was going to happen and why, it might be less enjoyable. I’m happy to report that I was wrong, and I enjoyed this book even more the second time!

During my first take on this novel I found our main character Maddie slightly annoying. I only saw her on the surface level, and what she was portraying to the world. It was her armor I noticed the first time, but it was her heart I found the second time. Cue the violin, amiright?

I’m gonna get REALLY nit picky, so stick with me until I come back to normal land. But Maddie had a favorite word she’d call Theo (our male main character), pedantic. It was used so much and so randomly, it felt like someone had made a bet with the author to use this word “x” amount of times in her novel. Each time it appeared it kind of threw me out of the story for a minute. I’m really interested to see if this was just a character trait, or if this is a writing quirk. Does it appear in Guillory’s other novels? I’ll have to find out…

The novel itself is written in two points of view, both male and female. For some reason I really liked Theo’s POV better. He’s sweet, smart, and steamy. It was like he would say and think everything a woman wishes a man would say, do, or think. I don’t know if we can attribute this to him being written by Guillory herself, or if men like this really exist. Either way, after reading this book my standards are higher than ever. 😉

I did have a small issue with this being taglined as enemy-to-lovers. They disliked each other, sure, but the major underlying tension wasn’t there for me. I think that’s in part to the fact that we do see both sides of the story from their individual POV’s. More than anything, their dislike for one another came from miscommunication and misunderstanding of the other person.

That’s not to say that their dynamic didn’t work for me, because boy oh boy, it sure did. I loved watching these characters interact face to face, via text, and through their mutual friends. I also found myself really relating to their relationship, and why it did, or sometimes did not, work for them.

If you take away anything from this review, let it be this last paragraph. This novel does such a great job at so many BIG things. Female empowerment. The importance of single mothers. Friend dynamic shift from single-engaged-married. Positive portrayal of masculinity. Importance of volunteer work and helping the underprivileged. Inequality in the workplace for POC. Safe sex. <—That last one was a big deal for me. It’s something that can so easily get skimmed over in text, but Guillory made sure that every scene depicting intercourse, included a condom.

Image result for women clapping gif

Overall, I thought this novel was really well done. It had all the steamy things I wanted, even though Guillory could be SUCH A TEASE with how she set up each scene and ended them. And it had really important messages throughout. I’m so excited to have been introduced to this author and her work. I’ll definitely be picking up her other novels ASAP.

Image result for read it gif

Let's Talk About ARC's

Hey there, friends. I have a confession. I am an unintentional ARC hoarder.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is an ARC? An ARC is an Advanced Readers Copy of a book. Typically these copies are given out for review or PR purposes from the author/publisher. To my understanding, the intention of an ARC is to create excitement about an upcoming release, and to get some good traction with early reviews. These reviews aid the consumer, when the book is officially published, by helping them decide if they think they’d like this new book, or want to try something else.

I have reviewed books for many years, but it wasn’t until I became a librarian that I received any substantial amount of ARC’s online. The two platforms I currently use for procuring my ARC’s are Netgalley and Edelweiss.

NetGalley

Because I had used these platforms in the past, with little to no success, I didn’t believe I’d have much more of a chance this time around either. BOY WAS I WRONG. I was approved for almost every book I requested, which brings us up to speed with this post.

I am very, very, v e r y behind in my ARC reviews. It’s to the point where my ARC’s are no longer ‘advanced’ because I believe all of these books have already been released to the public. Face. Palm. Let’s get into the nitty gritty shall we?

On Netgalley I have been approved for 33 ARC’s, and I have reviewed 9. This leaves me at a 27% feedback ratio.

On Edelweiss I have been approved for 3 ARC’s, 1 that was also approved on Netgalley. I have reviewed 0 of these titles, giving me a 0% feedback ratio. I’m doing, so, so well, as you can see.

Nothing feels worse than feeling like you’ve let someone down, for me at least. And I feel like I’ve let these authors, publishers, and platforms down. I agreed to leave an honest review in exchange for a free ARC and I haven’t followed through to the best of my ability. Well, that all stops now. One book, one review at a time.

Here’s what I plan on reading next.

Do you use ARC’s? How do you keep yourself on track with your reading and reviews? I might start giving myself review deadlines per book, in the hopes that I can treat it like a homework assignment. We’ll see what works!

I was inspired to make this post after watching Books of Amber’s video: How Many ARC’s Do I Own?|| ARC Check In #1