Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Big Book Haul Post: September 2020

We don't know about you but going back to school has been crazy and exhausting. Thank heavens for all the awesome books we've added to our collections this month! We might stay sane yet.

Here's what we added to our TBR piles in September:

As always, keep in mind that books we got for free earlier in the month may not still be free, so look before you click.

Physical Book Haul

Added to My Kindle
Thrift Store Trolls (Flea Market Magic #1) by Chantelle Madison
Bane's Choice (Vampire Motorcycle Clyb #1) by Alyssa Day
Crown of Darkness (Dark Court Rising #2) by Bec McMaster
Ride the Tide (Deep Six #3) by Julie Ann Walker
Wolf Untamed (SWAT #11) by Paige Tyler
Persephone Station by Stina Licht

Cold Fear by Toni Anderson

Rose Red

Physical Book Haul

Added to My Kindle
A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove #3) by Tessa Dare
Heated Rivalry (Game Changers #2) by Rachel Reid
The Vela: The Complete Season 1 by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, Rivers Solomon, and S.L. Huang

The Lost Book of the White (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Love, Creekwood (Simonverse #2.5) by Becky Albertalli

Beach Read by Emily Henry
The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1) by Sarah Morgenthaler
Giorgio (Vigilance #1) by Silvia Violet

Wolfsong (Green Creek #1) by TJ Klune
Iron and Velvet (Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator #1) by Alexis Hall
The Fire Keeper (Storm Runner #2) by J.C. Cervantes

Will and Patrick's Endless Honeymoon (Wake Up Married #7) by Leta Blake
Trick or Treat at Caynham Castle by Jeanne Adams, Morgan Brice, Caren Crane, and Nancy Northcott

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

Romp (Fox Hollow Zodiac #1.5) by Morgan Brice

What books did you all pick up this month?


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Emerald Blaze
(Hidden Legacy #5)
Ilona Andrews
Release: August 25, 2020
Goodreads Amazon
As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart. 

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won't rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that's tearing their world apart.

Every time I pick up an Ilona Andrews book I know I'm in for a ride and that I'm more likely than not going to love it a lot. And holy cow! Emerald Blaze was one heck of a ride! It's been over a month since I finished the book and I'm still reeling from all the twists and reveals! And I'm having problems putting my thoughts about the book in a coherent fashion to write a review without it being me all-caps yelling GO BUY THIS BOOK NOW AND THANK ME LATER! It was just so good!

Okay. Let's try to get all my fangirling into a review that makes sense. 

Y'all. I'm just going to come out and say it. I think I love Catalina more than Nevada. And not just by a little bit and that's saying something because I love Nevada a whole lot. They are two very different characters and that is even more emphasized in this book when more context of what happened when Catalina became the Head of the House. I like how Gretl put it in her review on the VBC blog; one of the big differences between the two sisters is that Nevada is always after immediate results while Catalina is in it for the long game. And holy crap! Is Catalina in for the long game! I was blindsided by so many reveals in this book that it's making me want to go back and reread the whole series over to see what I missed in the previous books. I love this series so much!

This book was full of the trademark action scenes and compelling mystery that comes with reading an Ilona Andrews book but it felt way more emotional to me. Our characters aren't the same as when we saw them last in Sapphire Flames. Both Alessandro and Catalina have grown leaps and bounds and have changed for the better I think. She's grown into her ice queen head of house badass persona and Alessandro has been seriously humbled and isn't the same cocky guy from the last book. I'm loving them being together more and more! 

As I said, this book was an emotional one for me. I was close to tears in a few places and not just because I was laughing so much. Honestly, I felt wrung out from the whole roller coaster ride this book was when I finished it. There's just so much that was done so incredibly well in this book that I could extol how wonderful it was for hours. But one of the things I loved the most in this was how the big bad was approached! I would have never in a thousand years been able to see that coming and it worked so freaking well into the story.

I don't know what else to say except "Go read this series if you haven't yet!". It's full of magic, action, and mayhem all centered around my favorite, snarky fictional family ever. I can't wait to see what shenanigans that Catalina, Alessandro, and the Baylor Clan get into in the next book! I will be eagerly waiting for it over here in my little corner of the internet. You know what? I'm probably going to need to reread the whole series a few times before the next book releases to past the time and to prepare myself. I'm not ready for the end of Catalina's story quite yet.

Book #48- City Lane (Sun)- Read a book on one of UTC/PLB's recommendation lists

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Review: Better Than People by Roan Parrish

Better Than People
(Garnet Run #1)
Roan Parrish
Release: August 25, 2020
Goodreads Amazon
It’s not long before their pet-centric arrangement sparks a person-centric desire…

Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent
anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.

Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.

Being with Jack—talking, waking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly…eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding and lots of love.

I have been hooked on Roan Parrish's books since I fell in love with The Remaking of Corbin Wale. There’s just something about her books that hit you right in the feels but also feels like a hug. And I know going into one of her books that I will most likely love it to pieces. I also appreciate that several of her books have tackled some hard subjects like addiction, abusive relationships, and bad family relationships. She always does it in such a way that approaches each subject respectfully while giving me a whole new way to think about those things.

Better Than People was no exception and it gave me a whole new perspective on Simon's type of social anxiety. I quickly fell in love with grumpy Jack and his menagerie but Simon stole my heart from the first time he appeared on page. What I loved even more was these two fairly different people coming together to make something new. I loved their relationship so much! And the pack was super mismatched, quirky, and adorable! They made me want a pet so badly!

I loved the romance a whole heck of a lot but I think what I loved even more was the family relationships! Simon and his Grandmother was so adorable together! Can his Grandma become mine too? I also adored Jack's relationship with his brother as strained and tumultuous as he made it. I also loved Jack's friend group and I hope we see more of them in upcoming books.

In a year where reading contemporary has been a struggle, Better Than People was a bright spot in my reading. It was just the book I needed to read while I was trying to prepare to teach school in a pandemic. I hope there will be more books on this series especially one about Jack’s brother getting his happily ever after. I really fell in love with him! That being said, I'll read anything Roan Parrish writes and I can't wait to see what she does next!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

  4 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books by this author:
The Remaking of Corbin Wale

 Book #51: Post Office (Sun) - Read a Romance that Started Online

Monday, September 21, 2020

Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca

Well Played
(Well Met #2)
Jen DeLuca
Release: September 22, 2020
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.
Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it's been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she'll even find The One.
When Stacey imagined "The One," it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she's not sure what to make of it.
Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey's shock, it isn't Dex—she's been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

I've read several second-in-a-series contemp romances this year and I don't think I've liked any of them as much as the first books. This is really weird! Well Played continues the pattern though. I was completely charmed by Well Met, but this one -- not so much. Part of my issue is with the last paragraph of the blurb. I really wish I hadn't known that going in! But I understand why it's there as a low-key content warning.

Another thing that bothered me is how little page time is actually spent at the Ren Faire. The whole time Stacey is emailing and texting is in between Faires. Then when she returns to the Faire again, she's not enjoying it so it doesn't have that warm fuzzy feeling we got from being there in the first book. At the end of the book, Stacey does get back to the state where Faire is her happy place but I wasn't feeling it throughout.

Much like Emily in the first book, I found Stacey's situation incredibly relatable. She moved back to her hometown when her mother got sick and now she feels stuck. But the fact she felt like college was such a long time ago when she turned 27 in the book bothered me. Talk to me when you're 40 and still stuck there Stacey!

What I really enjoyed about Well Played were the supporting characters. In that time between Faires, Stacey is helping Simon and Emily plan their wedding so we get to see lots of them. Dex and his band The Dueling Kilts don't get a lot of page time, but I really enjoyed them. I even woke up the next morning with "What do you do with a drunken sailor" still playing in my head. There's also lots of Mitch, the kilt-wearing, sword-wielding coach who I'm pretty sure will be the hero of book three. I am so here for that!

I think readers who enjoyed Well Met will also enjoy the sequel because it's fun to be back in this world. I just don't think Well Played stands alone as well as it should.


Romanceopoly: Post Office - Read an epistolary romance
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