Tag Archive for: Stand-Alone

Review: In a HolidazeTitle: In a Holidaze
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre(s): Fantasy, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 336 (Kindle)
Source: Own
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 3 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

It’s the most wonderful time of the year ... but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions. But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world--the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy. The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake, she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again.

My Thoughts

I’ve never been much of a Christmas or holiday book reader. I don’t really even watch holiday movies. Needless to say, I was a little bit hesitant about reading IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren. I decided to give it a go because it was my IRL book club’s pick for December and I really enjoyed THE UNHONEYMOONERS by the same duo.

I’m glad I decided to read IN A HOLIDAZE. I zipped right through it and it helped remind me why I love to read and romances at that. Friends-to-lovers is hands down my favorite romantic trope and Christina Lauren didn’t disappoint. The execution was excellently written, producing a bit of a steamy fast-paced romance.

I adored practically everything about IN A HOLIDAZE. I loved Maelyn Jones and her family, blood and found. I loved reading about their Christmas traditions in their cabin near Park City, Utah (which is only an hour from where I live). Because of the setting, it was especially fun to picture the mountains, snow, Christmas decorations, and the touristy beauty of my home state.

“This is Utah. Every family down here has a ‘Welcome Home’ sign. Missionaries, remember?”

I thought the Groundhog Day-esque “magic” of IN A HOLIDAZE was fun. It was a good reminder to seize the day and live your best life in spite of change, social faux-pas, and tradition for the sake of tradition.

Thanks to how much I enjoyed reading IN A HOLIDAZE, I’ll definitely give other holiday romances a try in the future.

Have you read IN A HOLIDAZE? If so, what did you think?

Review: Some of It was RealTitle: Some of It was Real
Author: Nan Fischer
Genre(s): Mystery, Romance
Pages: 352 (Kindle)
Source: Own
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Steaminess: 3 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Sylvie Young, a psychic on the verge of stardom who isn’t sure she believes in herself and, Thomas Holmes, a cynical journalist with one last chance at redemption are brought together by secrets from the past. When Sylvie and Thomas collide, a game of cat and mouse ensues, but the secrets they’re keeping from each other are nothing compared to the mysteries and lies they unearth about Sylvie’s past.

My Thoughts

When I read Wendy’s review of SOME OF IT WAS REAL, I put it on hold at my local library right away. There was a little bit of a wait, but I finally got it and read it. I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed this book.

The enemies-to-lovers and forced proximity tropes are two of my favorites and SOME OF IT WAS REAL didn’t disappoint. The execution of the enemies-to-lovers trope was excellently written, producing a spicy slow-burn romance. Sylvie and Thomas’ constant worry of out-smarting the other while falling in love was a treat to read, and the cat and mouse game dynamic made the story fun and exciting.

I loved the inclusion of Sylvie’s beloved service dog, Moose. Even though as a Great Dane he comes across as a bit scary, he’s a lovable teddy bear. Thomas’ cat, Christopher Robin, reminded me of my Daxi-cat, who recently passed away due to old age. I loved Chris’ demeanor and her interactions with Moose. Each pet was written as a beloved companion, endearing me more to the two main characters and making SOME OF IT REAL a much richer story.

My memories are a nest of spiders suddenly caught in bright light. They skitter to dark corners.

SOME OF IT WAS REAL is a a heart-wrenching story that asks the reader to believe in something unseen. It’s also about love, acceptance, and truth. I’m glad I was a part of the journey to find out who Sylvie was. I thought the premise came across as realistic given the circumstances of her past. Skeptical at first like Thomas, the more I learned the more I believed in Sylvie as a person and a psychic-medium.

I would’ve given SOME OF IT WAS REAL 4.5 or 5 stars, but the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as I wanted it to be. I did love the feeling of hope and how it coincided with believing in something intangible. View Spoiler »

Have you read SOME OF IT WAS REAL? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent and loss of a pet.

Review: The Good SisterTitle: The Good Sister
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre(s): Romance, Thriller
Pages: 309 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 2 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights, and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be ... dangerous.

My Thoughts

I was really excited to read THE GOOD SISTER because my IRL friend Jenny recommended it to our book club and I usually enjoy the same type of thrillers she does. We decided to read it as September’s book and I’m glad we did so I’d read it sooner rather than later.

I loved THE GOOD SISTER. It was a fantastic story that kept me reading until I was done with the book. I saw the big twist coming a mile away; it didn’t ruin the suspense or story for me, though, because I still wanted to know how everything would play out. I wasn’t disappointed.

I really liked the characters in THE GOOD SISTER. I liked that even though I guessed the twist, I still kept wondering if I was right. I also loved that a couple of the main characters were neurodivergent. I have sensory issues, not to the extent Fern does, though. I really connected with that aspect of Fern’s character.

Angry is just a pen name for sad…. In my experience, nine times out of ten if you are kind to the angry person, you will calm them down and find out what is really going on with them.

I would’ve given THE GOOD SISTER 4 stars, except near the end Hepworth perpetuated the stigma that people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are violent psychopaths. BPD’s misunderstood even among the psychological community. Those trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) understand BPD the most. I simply wish she had talked to a DBT-trained psychologist or someone who’s diagnosed with BPD before she used BPD as one of the reasons why the antagonist did what they did.

I don’t think cancelling someone is the right answer, though, because it takes away from what’s important—educating as many people as possible to help break the stigma surrounding BPD and other mental illness. Because of this, I’ll continue to read and, most likely, enjoy Hepworth’s novels.

Have you read THE GOOD SISTER? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for sexual assault, loss of a child, and loss of a parent.

Review: Every Summer AfterTitle: Every Summer After
Author: Carley Fortune
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320 (Paperback)
Source: Library
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Steaminess: 3 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right. They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek--the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

My Thoughts

When I read Wendy’s review of EVERY SUMMER AFTER, I put it on hold right that second at my local library. There was a little bit of a wait, but I finally got it a couple of weeks ago. I’m so happy I read it because I adored this book!

The friends-to-lovers trope is one of my favorites and this one didn’t disappoint. I haven’t read many second-chance romances, but I think I will if they’re anything like EVERY SUMMER AFTER. I thought Fortune was a master at writing sexual tension between her characters, and I loved Percy and Sam’s interactions because of it.

Betrayals don’t cancel each other out. They just hurt more.

EVERY SUMMER AFTER is a heart-warming story of love, betrayal, loss, and redemption. I’m really glad I put my other reads on hold to make sure I got this one read before I had to return it to the library. Not only is it a fun contemporary romance, it also deals with some heavy themes to give the story some depth.

I ended up reading EVERY SUMMER AFTER in two sittings, which isn’t normal for me. If I can read a book that fast, then you know I really love the characters and story. I thought each character had distinct personalities and were fun to get to know. I don’t think there was a character I hated. Besides Percy and Sam, I also really loved Charlie, Sam’s older brother.

I adored the setting of EVERY SUMMER AFTER. It made me think of all the time I’ve spent sailing on Bear Lake with Corey and his family. Whenever the characters were on the dock down at the lake, I could picture it perfectly.

Ever since I finished reading EVERY SUMMER AFTER, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars. I’m honestly still torn about it. For now, I’ve given it 4.5 stars, but I may change it to 5.

Have you read EVERY SUMMER AFTER? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for bullying and loss of a parent.

Review: The Midnight LibraryTitle: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Genre(s): Fantasy
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

My Thoughts

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY was my IRL book club’s pick for June. I was really excited to read it as I’ve heard a lot of great things. After reading it, I can tell you that I wasn’t disappointed and I hope I can do it justice with my spoiler-free review.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect while reading THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY. It ended up being one of the most profound reading experiences I’ve ever had. It spoke to me like no other book has. I felt seen as someone who has struggled with severe depression, suicidal ideation, and crippling regret for most of my adult life.

But there is no life where you can be in a state of sheer happiness for ever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.

I understood Nora, all the emotions she felt, especially the loneliness and despair. I understood her suicidal ideation and urges. AND, even when she didn’t, I knew her depression and loneliness were lying to her–telling her she wasn’t needed, no one wanted her around, she let everyone down, or they’d all be better off without her.

I’m convinced that Nora’s journey through THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY was the only way she could’ve learned what and come to the conclusions she did. After all, one of the lessons the librarian wanted her to realize was, “The only way to learn is to live.”

Haig beautifully illustrates what Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) did in helping me want to build a life worth living. Its message that it’s not too late to start living life is one I think we all need to be reminded of once in a while.

Have you read THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, and loss of a pet.