Review | A Sheriff’s Star by Makenna Lee

It was only supposed to be a temporary home…

He interrupts her plans…

When police chief Anson Curry returns a lost little girl to her frantic mother, his only goal is to ease the single mom’s anxiety. But it doesn’t take long for Tess Harper’s amazing child to have Anson wrapped around her little finger—and for Tess to have him thinking about a possible relationship. As for Tess, she’s tempted—even though she had planned to be in Oak Hollow, Texas, only temporarily. But after losing her father and brother in the line of duty, Tess thinks Anson’s job poses too much of a risk to her heart. And Anson has no plans to get involved with someone who’s planning on leaving.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

While this one is a Christmas romance, if you are looking for a quick holiday romance anytime of the year it would work. The writing style of the book makes it a quick and easy read and while some of the aspects are very cute, there’s a lot of heart and struggle to this book as well. I totally understand Tess’ reluctance to allow anyone close to her and her daughter or accept help from others, so seeing Anson work his way into her heart and life and show her that others do want to help her and care for her. I really enjoyed this one and would look forward to more from Makenna Lee in the future.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Hard Sell by Hudson Lin | Review + Excerpt

One night wasn’t enough.

Danny Ip walks into every boardroom with a plan. His plan for struggling tech company WesTec is to acquire it, shut it down, and squeeze the last remaining revenue out of it for his Jade Harbour Capital portfolio. But he didn’t expect his best friend’s younger brother—the hottest one-night stand he ever had—to be there.

Tobin Lok has always thought the world of Danny. He’s funny, warm, attractive—and totally out of Tobin’s league. Now, pitted against Danny at work, Tobin might finally get a chance to prove he’s more than just Wei’s little brother.

It takes a lot to get under Danny’s skin, but Tobin is all grown up in a way Danny can’t ignore. Now, with a promising patent on the line and the stakes higher than ever, all he can think about is getting Tobin back into his bed—and into his life for good.

If only explaining their relationship to Wei could be so easy…

Buy Links | Harlequin.com | IndieBound | Walmart | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo

I’m thrilled to be able to include an excerpt in my post, read below for a glimpse into Hard Sell –

Danny adjusted the watch on his wrist as he headed out. If only he didn’t need a win so god damn badly. He would love to march back into the meeting room and rip up the offer right in front of Cyrus West’s face. What smarmy remark would Cyrus have then?

Unfortunately, Danny did need a win and, even more unfortunately, WesTec was his best shot. Maybe his last shot. Jade Harbour’s financial backers were starting to notice that his once stellar track record wasn’t looking so stellar lately. His ass was on the line, which left Danny with very few options.

Outside, he stopped, still vibrating with adrenaline from the confrontation.

“That was pretty badass.” Tobin looked back through the doors they’d exited, as if Cyrus was going to come bursting through them at any minute.

Perhaps it was, but Danny saw no reason to take pride in it. His job was to close deals and sometimes the sellers needed a little encouragement.

Tobin turned to him, and suddenly WesTec and Cyrus West didn’t matter anymore.

Was he dreaming? Was Tobin really standing in front of him? Chubby cheeks had given way to sculpted cheekbones. A bit of acne scarring on his skin made Tobin look even more adult. He held himself with such self-assurance; like he’d grown into too-big clothes that now fit him just right. He was striking. He would turn heads when walking down the street. Danny’s body certainly made its interest known.

Danny took a step backward, needing the extra foot of distance between them. Seven years ago, he had succumbed to Tobin’s appeal. There may be years and geography between them, but one thing hadn’t changed. Tobin was undoubtedly special.

Did he remember that night as vividly as Danny did?

A shy smile tugged at Tobin’s lips, as if he’d read Danny’s mind, and Danny couldn’t help but return it. It didn’t matter what Tobin did or did not remember. They were…childhood friends, practically family, connected in a way Danny didn’t have words for. It’d been too long since they were in touch. No matter their reasons for drifting apart.

“Are you free for dinner tonight?”

Tobin’s smile exploded at Danny’s invitation. “Yes! Yeah, 

definitely, totally. Uh…” He patted his pockets. “Shit. I think I left my phone upstairs.”

Danny reached into the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a business card. Always be prepared. “Here. Give me a call when you’re done, and I’ll send a car around.”

Tobin took the card and ran a thumb over the embossed letters, as if committing them to memory. He clutched the card in his hand. “Oh, I, uh… I can meet you wherever.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll send a car for you.”

Tobin looked a little taken aback, almost as if he was going to put up a fuss. But then he chuckled and nodded. “Okay, sure. I guess I’ll give you a call when I’m done.” He held up the card in a wave as he walked backward toward the doors. “See you later.”

Danny nodded and watched Tobin go. At the building’s main entrance, Tobin stopped and glanced back at Danny as if checking to make sure he was real.

Danny felt exactly the same way.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book had a lot of tropes in it that I liked, but at times I did feel like there were almost too many tropes and too many subplots, so they didn’t quite get the attention they deserved. Having said that I really enjoyed the relationship between Danny and Tobin. They had a clear connection from the get go. The relationship between the two definitely made up for some of the things that were mentioned once and then never addressed again. The writing was fast paced and easy to read, even if some of the subjects weren’t exactly relateable to me. I would definitely pick more of Hudson Lin’s books and more in the series.

Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with often times conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.

Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Lin likes to write stories about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters. Her books are diverse romances featuring queer and disabled people of color.

When not getting lost in a good story, Lin hosts a podcast, interviews queer people of color, and a does bunch of other stuff.

Author Links | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Happy reading!

Review | A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

I was really happy to find this one to be a fun and exciting read, but where it fell a little short was that some of the characters felt a little without dimension. The book is very plot driven, which I did really enjoy and it did suck me in with that component. There were a lot of twists and turns that kept the momentum of the book up and I did really enjoy the premise and tackling of issues that faced women in the time it is set (and some that are still prevalent today in different ways). I have to say the writing was really compelling and well crafted and I would definitely write more from this author since this is their debut.

Happy reading!

Review | The Girl From the Sea by Molly Ostertag

Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.

Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore.

But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Having previously loved Molly Ostertag’s other work I was super excited to get the chance to read this one and it did not disappoint! This story had the perfect level of real world conflicts mixed with some magical aspects as well. It’s a Sapphic love story as well as a story about changing friendships, families and more. As always I enjoyed Ostertag’s vibrant art style and colors and loved how the setting and people were depicted. While a number of heavier topics were touched upon such as parents divorcing or Morgan’s inner conflict regarding her sexuality they were all handled really well. The story itself was very touching and whimsical, showing Morgan’s growth through the summer as she came to know herself better as well as those around her.

Happy reading!

Review | This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I found this book to be really fast paced and a quite compelling read. It had really good character development, especially for characters like Nola who were a bit out there. I also really enjoyed the small town dynamics as they lent to the story itself. I did feel however that there were a number of choices made, especially by the main character that weren’t realistic, such as the risks she was taking while 7-8 months pregnant – I understand her obsession and need to move forward with the mystery, but it still felt a little off for me. Still, it had a lot of great twists that kept me guessing and I enjoyed the slightly creepy elements that kept me reading.

Happy reading!

Review | The Secret Garden: A Graphic Novel by Mariah Marsden & Hanna Luechtefeld

Green-growing secrets and magic await you at Misselthwaite Manor, now reimagined in this graphic novel adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s tale.

Ten-year-old Mary Lennox arrives at a secluded estate on the Yorkshire moors with a scowl and a chip on her shoulder. First, there’s Martha Sowerby: the too-cheery maid with bothersome questions who seems out of place in the dreary manor. Then there’s the elusive Uncle Craven, Mary’s only remaining family—whom she’s not permitted to see. And finally, there are the mysteries that seem to haunt the run-down place: rumors of a lost garden with a tragic past, and a midnight wail that echoes across the moors at night. 

As Mary begins to explore this new world alongside her ragtag companions—a cocky robin redbreast, a sour-faced gardener, and a boy who can talk to animals—she learns that even the loneliest of hearts can grow roots in rocky soil.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

As someone who read The Secret Garden when I was much younger and know that there are certainly problematic elements to the original story (which is purely attributed to the time in which it was written) this was a good example which contained the basic and main plot while shedding those elements. As a good introduction to the story and the overall journey, I felt it was pretty good. The art isn’t as vibrant as I personally would like with a story featuring a garden, but that’s a me thing. I did really enjoy the whimsy in the drawings of flowers and animals, plus the noticeable changes in Mary as she grew over the story.

Happy reading!

Review | Cici’s Journal by Joris Chamblain

Cici dreams of being a novelist. Her favorite subject: people, especially adults. She’s been watching them and taking notes. Everybody has one special secret, Cici figures, and if you want to write about people, you need to understand what’s hiding inside them. But now she’s discovered something truly strange: an old man who disappears into the forest every Sunday with huge pots of paint in all sorts of colors. What is he up to? Why does he look so sad when he comes back?

In a graphic novel interwoven with journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, Cici assembles clues about the odd and wonderful people she’s uncovered, even as she struggles to understand the mundane: her family and friends.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I reallly enjoyed this story about Cici, her friends and the mysteries that she discovers and feels compelled to solve. At times she goes to the extreme to do this and learns the consequences of putting these mysteries above all else. She has struggles with friends, her mom and life in general while also navigating the mysteries and writing in her journal. Her journal itself includes pictures, drawings, newspaper clippings and other mixed media elements that will draw in readers and make it feel like an interactive experience. There are also a couple pages that younger readers could customize to feel like they are part of the story. The artwork (as well as what is included on the journal pages) is beautiful and full of whimsy, with a softer color palette that perfectly suits the story and Cici’s style.

Happy reading!

Review | Zatanna and the House of Secrets by Matthew Cody & Yoshi Yoshitani

Welcome to the magical, mystical, topsy-turvy world of the House of Secrets, where Zatanna embarks on a journey of self-discovery and adventure…all with her pet rabbit, Pocus, at her side.

Zatanna and her stage magician father live in a special house, the House of Secrets, which is full of magic, puzzles, mysterious doors, and storybook creatures-it’s the house everyone in the neighborhood talks about but avoids. Not that Zatanna cares, though, because she is perfectly content.

But at school one day, Zatanna stands up to a bully and everything changes- including her friends. Suddenly, Zatanna isn’t so sure about her place in the world, and when she returns home to tell her father, he’s gone missing, lost within their own home.

With thrilling twists from writer Matthew Cody and dazzling artwork by Yoshi Yoshitani, Zatanna and the House of Secrets will delight readers at the turn of every page-and the opening of every door!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I found this graphic novel to be very cute and while the bulk of it is more fantastical, there are definitely some real world middle school age issues that Zatanna deals with at the same time. The art style was cute and colorful, so it will definitely draw the eye. I would have liked some things to have a little more attention paid to them, such as the sub-plot with her friends and the events that happened with them. If someone is looking for a magical graphic novel with vibrant art and a great story for younger readers, I think this is a solid choice.

Happy reading!

Review | The Sweetest Kind of Poison by Katie Wismer

The Sweetest Kind of Poison is a collection of poetry about toxic relationships and letting go of what no longer serves you. It takes you through the fall, the collapse, the withdrawal, the recovery, and the now, chronicling a journey of abuse, heartache, confidence, self-love, letting go, and growing up. Because sometimes only our darkest experiences can bring out our raw strength and help us find the people we are meant to be.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading Katie Wismer’s other poetry collection, I knew I wanted to pick this one up as well. This collection did have some of the same themes, such as toxic relationships, abuse and being able to heal from those experiences. Her poems are very emotional and packed with beautiful language that get her points across no matter the length of the poem itself. After enjoying both collections I will definitely pick up any further collections she publishes.

Happy reading!

Review | The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim

To cure her post–senior year slump, made worse by the loss of her aunt Sonia, Noreen is ready to follow her mom on a gap year trip to New Delhi, hoping India can lessen her grief and bring her voice back.

In the world’s most polluted city, Noreen soon meets kind, handsome Kabir, who introduces her to the wonders of this magical, complicated place. With Kabir’s help—plus Bollywood celebrities, fourteenth-century ruins, karaoke parties, and Sufi saints—Noreen begins to rediscover her joyful voice.

But when a family scandal erupts, Noreen and Kabir must face complicated questions in their own relationship: What does it mean to truly stand by someone—and what are the boundaries of love? 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this mother/daughter story that featured locations in New Delhi and a great relationship between them. I loved the travel aspect and the descriptions of different locations as well as the touches of culture that were included. The writing style was easy to read and flowed well, though I did find that there were some things that were maybe left as loose ends or mentioned and then not returned too. The story did involve a lot of current topics and the situations associated to those felt very real and well written, which I appreciated. I could see some people wanting more depth to the story, or wanting some refinement but I found it to be a really enjoyable and fun read.

Happy reading!