Mini-Reviews: Parental Guidance, Fix Her Up, and The Bride Test

Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 31, 2019
Source: Borrowed

All I want is to play hockey on the Ice Knights, instead, I’m in a viral video for all the wrong reasons and my mom—yes, my mom—has taken over my dating apps. Then, when I think it can’t get any worse, the fates deliver Zara Ambrose, a five-feet-nothing redhead with more freckles than inches and who’d rather be anywhere other than on a date with me.

Now a bet with her friends and my PR nightmare have us both stuck in this go-on-five-dates-with-the-same-person hell situation. But if we band together, we can get the whole thing over with and go on with our lives. It’s perfect! No feelings. No future. No fuc— *ahem* fun. No naked fun.

What could go wrong? Nothing—as long as I remember the rules. Don’t notice the way she looks in a dress. Don’t react when she does that little shivery sigh thing whenever we touch. Don’t think about the fact that she’s never had a toe-curling orgasm that wasn’t self-delivered and just how badly I want to change that.

Five dates—that’s it—and then we go our separate ways. At least, that was the plan…

Sports romance isn’t usually my thing, so I was happy to find this cute-sounding book about a hockey star for 2019’s romanceopoly reading challenge. It’s an interesting concept for a romance novel: through an app, people are set up to go on dates with someone of their parents’ choosing, and I thought that the reasons both Zara and Caleb agreed to use this app were interesting.

Of course, plenty of drama ensues, including the typical “we’re not going to fall in love so five dates is our limit” trope that I’ve seen many times before. The writing was fine, but everything was a little overdramatic. I think every conflict in this book could have been resolved in about two minutes if the characters would have just acted like adults.

This book might not have been exactly my cup of tea, but it wasn’t bad. If you’ve enjoyed any of Avery’s other books, which one would you recommend I try next?

#romanceopoly: mystery #3


Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

Toward the end of 2019, after I finished my reading challenges, I just checked out a ton of books that my Goodreads friends had rated highly. I do love a good “brother’s best friend” story, so I was doubly excited for Fix Her Up. I can see why so many people loved this book! The three-star rating doesn’t mean that it’s bad or that I had any huge problems with it.

The beginning of the book was really good. I loved the characterization of both Georgie and Travis. They were wildly different people who bought out the best in each other. I sympathized with both of their struggles. I also loved the idea of the Just Us League.

It had all the makings for a great book, and then it kind of fell apart at the end. What ended up being the main conflict felt so contrived to me. After everything these characters had been through, I’m really supposed to believe that they’d just throw their relationship away? Not buying it. It goes on to end in possibly the most stereotypical way, and it wraps up so quickly that I thought I’d missed something.

I might give Love Her or Lose Her a try, but it’s not really at the top of my TBR.


The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

The Kiss Quotient was one of my favorite books of 2018, so naturally, The Bride Test was at the top of my 2019 TBR. My expectations were high, and this book ended up meeting most of them.

As expected, The Bride Test ended up being a really well-written romance. And, as expected, it featured a romance that falls outside of society’s norm. While The Kiss Quotient was about a woman who hires (and then falls for) a male escort, The Bride Test is about an arranged marriage.

Where The Bride Test lost points with me was the level of smut. Was The Kiss Quotient this smutty? I felt like basically all that happened after the halfway point was smut. And don’t get me wrong, it’s well-written smut, but it kind of surprised me. It also had a bit too much drama for me in the second half — I just wanted to reach into the pages and force Esme and Khai to have an actual conversation.

But, overall, I liked this book! I have hope that The Heart Principle will be on the same level as The Kiss Quotient.


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good romances recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: Dear Sweet Pea, Small Spaces, and The Lightning Thief

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Borrowed

The first middle grade novel from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ (now a popular Netflix film), is a funny, heartwarming story perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Ali Benjamin, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”

Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.

Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes.

What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”

This was my first book by Julie Murphy, and I really enjoyed it! I only picked it up because of a reading challenge but I ended up really enjoying it. I’d been a little skeptical of her books because of all the hype, but I’m definitely planning on trying out her YA novels now.

Sweet Pea was a really charming character and I liked all of the casual diversity — I think that’s so important in books, and books for younger kids in particular. It tackles some big topics like divorce and homophobia, but it does it in a really natural way. I did feel that some things were resolved a little too easily, but then again, this is middle grade and less than 300 pages, so all in all, it was pretty great.

#ps19: a book with a title that contains “salty,” “sweet,” “bitter,” or “spicy”


Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Source: Borrowed

New York Times bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. 

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.” 

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

I hadn’t actually planned to read Small Spaces when I did, but it was available at the library, I had finished my other audiobooks, and I remembered Kristen recommending it, so I decided to go for it. It was really good! This is the kind of creepy, spooky story that would be perfect for Halloween.

Just like with Julie Murphy, this was my first book by Katherine Arden. Since I’m pretty picky about MG books, I’m taking it as a really good sign that I liked this! I’m excited to eventually read her YA series.


The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 1, 2006
Source: Borrowed

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

Over the years, so many people have told me to read the Percy Jackson books. Multiple children have told me that this is their favorite series, and I can understand why. This book is a lot of fun. It has a quest, it has betrayal, it has mythology. I can see how Percy would be easy to relate to.

The problem was that I just didn’t care.

I’m not really sure if this was a problem with me not typically loving middle grade stories or if it was more that the hype killed this book for me, but I don’t really feel like continuing on with it. I will, however, try out The Lost Hero.

#ps19: a book with at least 1,000,000 ratings on Goodreads


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good MG recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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WWW Wednesday

It’s time for another WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking on a World of Words and just involves answering the 3 Ws!


What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?


Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR? Did you do your own WWW Wednesday post today? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: Mystery Blogger Award (Take 11)

Many thanks to Meghan and Fizza for the nominations for the Mystery Blogger Award!

If you’re interested, you can see the previous versions of this award here:

1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 78910


What Is the Mystery Blogger Award?

It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.

Okoto Enigma

The Rules

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Facts About Me

  1. I used to be really into fonts. I could look at a website and tell you all the fonts they used and I probably had a good thousand or so on my computer. I still think fonts are fun, but I’m not nearly as obsessed as I was.
  2. It’s getting to the end of January and I’m still wearing Christmas socks. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
  3. I have a new special project at work and recently found out that several million dollars are on the line and am kind of freaking out. (But it’ll be fine.)

Questions from Meghan

On the spot: favourite book from your favourite genre?

YA contemporaries are my favorite, and Starry Eyes is my favorite YA contemporary. ❤

Favourite book of 2019?

I actually just answered this in a different tag! What are the chances. 🙂 My favorite of 2019 was Sadie.

Can an author’s reputation affect your thinking about their books? (I like this question so I’m going use it)

Yes and no. I mean, if I like a book, I like a book. I might not like the way Mackenzi Lee acts, treats her fans, or uses her status as a bestselling author, but I can still recognize that The Gentleman’s Guide was a really fun book. That said, do I have any desire to support her further? No.

Any end of the year goals you’re striving for?

Well, I’m getting to this tag a little late, so I’m going to talk about my goals for early 2020 instead. I have two immediate goals:

  • Get through my backlog of ARCs! I moved in September and got into a huge reading slump. I listened to a lot of audiobooks, but physical books are still difficult for me. I have a ton of ARCs I need to read and I’m making it a goal to get through one a week.
  • Finish my 2019 reviews. I was so backed up on reviews that at one point, I think I had like thirty that I had to write. I’m mostly caught up, although there are a couple from 2019 that I still need to get to. This weekend is my deadline!

Have you started thinking about your 2020 goals (if you make them)?

I decided to take it easy in 2020 and not overwhelm myself with challenges. I did a post about my reading goals here. In addition to that, I’d love to do some more collabs with authors (I’m so bad at making the first move, though), attend some more bookish events (I’m going to a Sarah J. Maas event in March!), and get back into blog hopping.


Questions from Fizza

Who is your role model?

Honestly, I don’t know that I really have one. There are a lot of qualities I admire in a lot of different people, but there isn’t one person I look at and say, “Hey, I want to be just like them.”

What is one place you have always wanted to visit? Did you visit it or is it still on your bucket list?

I’ve always wanted to go to Spain, and I’ve never been there. It’ll happen someday!

What was the best thing about 2019 and what are your hopes for 2020?

2019 was a year with a lot of changes. I made the decision that I needed to do what was best for me, so I quit my job and moved across the country. A lot of people had a lot of opinions about it, but I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.

My hopes for 2020 are that it will continue to be great! Now I’d like to find a good balance between work, fun, and relaxing.

If you could live anywhere in the world for one year where would you go?

Definitely Costa Rica. I spent some time there a few years ago and it was so pretty and so relaxing.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

Does Pusheen count?


Recent(ish) Posts That I’m Proud Of


I’m not going to nominate anyone in particular this time around, but please feel free to answer these questions if you’d like! Do you have a role model? What are some goals you have for 2020? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: The ten most recent additions to my bookshelf

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s theme is the ten most recent additions to my bookshelf. These are in no particular order, mostly because I just can’t remember exactly what order I got them in.


Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty

Malice by Pintip Dunn

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz

Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem

Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson

Keystone by Katie Delahanty

The Sarington Necklace by Tammy Bradley

The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen


Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! What’s the last book you added to your bookshelf? Have you read any of these? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: Book Festival Book Tag

Thanks to Mandy & Sha for tagging me to do their original Book Festival Book Tag! Honestly, they come up with the best tags and you should definitely be following them if you aren’t already!


Rules:

.x. pingback to the creator of the tag, @bookprincessreviews .x.
.x. tag the person who tagged you .x.
.x. find an answer to match each prompt .x.
.x. have fun! .x.


Author Lineup

Name your top 3 authors that you would like to meet.

Jenn Bennett! Sally Thorne! R.S. Grey!

The Official Schedule

How do you determine what books you’re going to read next? 

I’m usually reading three books at any given time:

  • I’m always doing some kind of buddy read with my boyfriend these days. We usually just decide on whatever jumps out at us from either our shelves or my Kindle.
  • I try to always have an ARC going in the background. I’m usually not actively reading it, but I’ll pick it up and read a chapter or two when I have free time. I read whichever ARC has the most imminent release date. If there aren’t any coming out particularly soon, I’ll go with the one that’s most overdue.
  • When it comes to audiobooks that I listen to at work, it’s anybody’s guess. I place a lot of holds, so I get surprised with them showing up all the time. When I get down to one or two checked out, I’ll usually scroll through Overdrive and see if anything from my TBR is currently available on audio. If not, I just pick something that sounds fun.

ARC Drops

What ARC would you wait hours in line for? 

Definitely Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett! I’m also really anticipating House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas and What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter.

The Swag!

What bookish merch/pre-order incentives/etc. is your favorite?

I like things I can use, like pens and notebooks and bookmarks. Once I got fuzzy socks and that was nice too.

The Panels

What topic would you love to see some of your favorite authors talk about?

As someone who loves to read but cannot write, I would love to hear my favorite authors talk about their process. Where do their ideas come from? How do they create such real characters? How do they write dialogue that sounds like an actual conversation? I just think it’s so incredible that anybody can pull an entire universe out of their mind and write it down in a way that other people can feel like they’re experiencing it firsthand.

Yallfest, Yallwest, BookCon/BookExpo, YALC, Etc.

What book festival/con would you go to if you had the choice?

I think BookExpo would be fun. I feel like it’s the less crazy, more civilized, less money grabby older sibling of BookCon.


I’m tagging:

MegganSahiSusanRebecca


Please feel free to do this tag even if I didn’t tag you directly! I’d love to see your answers! Which authors would you like to meet? Which book festival would you most like to attend? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: Recent DNFs

So, it turns out that once I get on a DNFing streak, I really get on a DNFing streak. Here are some more mini-reviews from books I’ve abandoned.

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Source: Borrowed

This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.
Or a diagram of some kind.
A flow chart would have been nice.

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can’t she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.

DNF @ 6%

I don’t have a lot to say about this because, as you can see, I made it to 6%. This is roughly page 18. In eighteen pages, Darynda Jones managed to:

  • sexualize literally every character except for an old man ghost
  • make not just one, but two inappropriate and racist statements
  • insinuate that women have to be below a certain weight to be hot

This one just wasn’t for me.

#romanceopoly: dungeon


Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
Source: Borrowed

He watches her from across the crowded dance club, a sensual black-haired stranger who stirs Gabrielle Maxwell’s deepest fantasies. But nothing about this night—or this man—is what it seems. For when Gabrielle witnesses a murder outside the club, reality shifts into something dark and deadly. In that shattering instant she is thrust into a realm she never knew existed—a realm where vampires stalk the shadows and a blood war is set to ignite.

Lucan Thorne despises the violence carried out by his lawless brethren. A vampire himself, Lucan is a Breed warrior, sworn to protect his kind—and the unwitting humans existing alongside them—from the mounting threat of the Rogues. Lucan cannot risk binding himself to a mortal woman, but when Gabrielle is targeted by his enemies, he has no choice but to bring her into the dark underworld he commands.

Here, in the arms of the Breed’s formidable leader, Gabrielle will confront an extraordinary destiny of danger, seduction, and the darkest pleasures of all. . . . 

DNF @ 8%

Okay, to be fair, I actually said, “I’m probably going to end up DNFing this,” as I borrowed it from Hoopla. I know my romance tastes, and vampires aren’t really part of that anymore. But romanceopoly recommended this for one of their prompts, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Nope.

A big nope.

An hour in, and literally had nothing happened. Except a lot of fighting, I guess, but I don’t read romance for fights.

#romanceopoly: warriors way


Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Source: Borrowed

When Wicked Comes Calling…

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain…

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion…

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted…and the only thing he’s ever desired. 

DNF @ 2%

To be fair, I think I made it a little further than 2% in this one. There’s an interview with the author at the end of the book, but since I’m not sure where the book stops and the interview begins, we’ll just go with 2%.

If romanceopoly has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t do straight-up historical romance. I can’t get into it, it bores me, it comes across as completely ridiculous, and I just don’t care. This is nothing against the book, which has tons of positive reviews and I’m sure is great, but this genre just isn’t for me.

#romanceopoly: mayfair


Have you read any of these books? What’s the last book you DNFed?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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