Mini-Reviews: Bittersweet, Make Me Bad, and Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin

Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Source: Borrowed

The new series is set in Vermont. True North is populated by the tough, outdoorsy mountain men that populate the Green Mountain State. They raise cows and they grow apples. They chop a lot of wood, especially when they need to blow off steam. (Beards are optional but encouraged.)

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

I picked up Bittersweet purely because of my romanceopoly reading challenge, and since I expected to flat-out hate it, I ended up liking it a lot more than I’d expected. I’ve been meaning to read some of Sarina Bowen’s books for years, so I guess it’s a plus that I finally got the chance to.

Now, Bittersweet was fine. It started off well enough. I liked both Audrey and Griff. They definitely had chemistry and some good banter. I wanted to eat and drink everything that was mentioned in the book. The side characters were pretty likable as well. But then the book turned into a bunch of sex scenes in a row and kind of lost the plot and that’s one of my least favorite things to have happen in a romance novel.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t necessarily what I was expecting, either.

#romanceopoly: uptown


Make Me Bad by R.S. Grey
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 7, 2019
Source: Purchased

I was issued a warning: stay away from Ben Rosenberg.

As Clifton Cove’s resident “king”, he thinks he’s entitled to anyone and anything.

The trouble is, I’ve spent my whole life following the rules and playing it safe. I know what it feels like to be the good girl. I’m the police chief’s daughter and a librarian—for adorable children, no less.

An all-nighter with a fictional hunk is about as exciting as my life gets until one day, fate decides to take pity on me and shove me straight into the path of Mr. Off-Limits himself.

Just as I suspected, every inch of him promises to be my demise. Up close, he’s tall, menacing—a lawyer who looks like he’ll bite. A well-behaved girl would do as she’s told and avoid him at all costs, but I’m overdue for a little rebellion.

So, I ignore the warning and throw caution to the wind. But Ben doesn’t just nudge me out of my comfort zone—he thrusts me into a dark corner and presses his hard body against mine, covering my mouth with his hand to ensure we don’t get caught sneaking around. In that moment, I finally understand why everyone thinks he’s going to ruin me.

To him, this is all a game.
He wants to tempt me with his dares and taunt me with his words.
I should play along. After all, I asked him to make me bad. I just never thought he’d take his job quite so seriously…

I love R.S. Grey’s books and, as expected, I loved the beginning of this one. I read the first half on a plane and had to try very hard to keep myself from laughing out loud at some of the things Madison said and did. Ben was just the right amount of “bad,” not so much that it was over the top, but just enough to keep things interesting. Madison and Ben had great chemistry, so I’m not really sure why I didn’t end up loving this book.

Maybe it’s because the whole “make me bad” thing disappears and then there’s just some drama that’s honestly pretty unbelievable. I’m not sure how to say this without spoilers, but as someone who’d been living on her own for seven years by the time I was 25 years old, I just didn’t understand how Madison still let her father control her life like that.

I ended up being a little disappointed with this one, but it was still really easy to read. I might not have loved this one, but I’m still excited to read whatever Rachel writes next.

#romanceopoly: bad boy circus


Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin by Mariana Zapata
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 21, 2015
Source: Borrowed

Twenty-six-year-old Gaby Barreto might be a lot of things (loyal, sarcastic, one of the guys and a pain in the butt depending on which family member you ask), but dumb isn’t one of them. When her twin brother invites her to go on tour as his band’s merch girl, she isn’t exactly screaming at the top of her lungs with joy.

With no job opportunities pounding on her door, an ex-boyfriend she would still like to castrate, and no end in sight to moving out of her parents’ house in Dallas… it would be dumb to say no to the chance of a lifetime. Two bands, three continents, one tour. Spending the next ninety-plus days with three beloved idiots and eight complete strangers shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

If only the singer of the headlining band didn’t have tattoos… a great personality… a fantastic body… and if he wasn’t so funny….

Let’s be real: Gaby never had a chance against Sacha Malykhin.

I’ve been meaning to read a Mariana Zapata book for a while, so when I had to read a rockstar romance and found this one available through Hoopla, I figured it was fate. I had zero expectations going into this and it turned out okay! It wasn’t the best book I’ve read all year, but I definitely didn’t hate it.

Sacha was a great hero. Above all else, he’s a great friend to Gaby and he always seemed to legitimately care about her. Gaby, on the other hand, frustrated me a little bit. It seemed like she’d put herself in these uncomfortable situations (like the hair thing??) for no reason, and she was also so frustratingly blind to Sacha’s feelings! I mean, I’m the kind of person that never believes someone likes them, but Gaby took it like fifteen steps further than me.

All in all, if you’re looking for a cute friends-to-lovers romance that is exceptionally slow burn (due mostly to Gaby being oblivious) then you might like this one.

#romanceopoly: downtown


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

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Reading Challenge Update

I really buckled down on my challenges in November, so I’m excited to take a look at my progress.

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

November’s theme was seasons, elements, and weather. Specifically, the instruction was to “embrace a winter wonderland setting, pick a beach read, or read about a natural disaster. As long as a season, element, or the weather plays a key role in the story or is part of the title, it counts.” I really had no idea where I was going with this one, but it turned out that the first book I read in November was set on the water! I also ended up reading a couple more books that I think should count.

December’s theme is last chance. I’ve been meaning to read The Bride Test ever since it was announced and my library hold finally came in, so I’m currently working my way through that one.

I finished a total of 26 books in November, bringing me to a total of 158 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I crossed off a ton of prompts in November. I think I only have two left!

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Hoopla really came in handy for me in November. I might not have enjoyed a lot of what I read (or, probably better said, attempted), but I crossed off a bunch of prompts.

This challenge is still on hold, probably indefinitely. But I did finish Roommates, which I got over a year ago, and We’ll Fly Away, which I had DNFed over the summer.


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

October’s theme was tricks and trades. Specifically, the instruction was to “read a book set in a theater, an amusement park, a circus, or a book involving magic, illusions, or characters with special powers.” For a book set in an amusement park, I was going to go with Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan, and for a book featuring characters with special powers, I was finally going to read Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t completely derail my own plans, so instead, I ended up reading two totally different books!

November’s theme is seasons, elements, and weather. I’m not even going to make a tentative TBR for this one. We’ll just see what ends up happening.

I finished a total of 19 books in September, bringing me to a total of 132 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

Okay, I finally did it. I crossed off some more Popsugar prompts! I think I may have a chance at finishing this thing! In October, I crossed off:

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

I actually crossed off two prompts for Romanceopoly too! I’m not sure that I’ll finish this challenge, but if I can find some good romance audiobooks to listen to while I’m at work, I might get close. I crossed off:

This challenge is still on hold. I did finally finish Permanent Record, though, which I feel should count for something.


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review: Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.

I’ve been intrigued by Magic for Liars since I saw it on display in Barnes & Noble over the summer. The cover alone really drew me in, so I checked out the audiobook from my library without knowing much about it other than, of course, the magic.

I’m not going to lie — it took me a little while to get into this one. I had to listen to the first ten or so minutes three times because I kept zoning out. But then I got really into it. This book was a wild ride, and it was so much fun.

I think that the first thing I loved about this book was the setting. The Osthorne Academy for Young Mages is really your typical private school, filled with obnoxious teenagers, petty drama, and classes that just happen to teach magic. Ivy is aware that schools like this exist — after all, her twin sister attended one, and now teaches at one — but she herself has never been able to wield magic.

The second thing I loved was the mystery. I had a little inkling of who the murderer might be at the beginning of the book, but then as more and more clues were revealed, I changed my mind at least five times. The murderer makes sense and I was definitely satisfied with how the book played out, but I did not see the circumstances of that murder coming.

The third thing I loved, surprisingly, was Ivy. I say “surprisingly” because she’s a pretty unlikable character. She’s negative, she’s self-destructive, and she almost always does the last thing that she should be doing, but I could get behind it. I could understand her motives. Ivy has been through a lot in her life, and it’s understandable that she struggles with her personal relationships. In fact, one of my favorite things about this book was the way Ivy and her sister, Tabitha, interact with each other.

There were a few things keeping me from giving it five stars, though. First of all, as I already mentioned, it took me some time to actually care about what was happening in the book. Second, although the way the magic system works is kind of irrelevant to the story, it would have been nice to have at least a little more information about it. All in all, though, this was a great book and I really enjoyed it a lot.

A word of warning: cancer and abortion are fairly big themes in this book, although I think both are handled very well.

#mm19: tricks and trades
#romanceopoly: cozy corner


Have you read Magic for Liars? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Reading Challenge Update

Well, here we are again. Time to take a look at my reading challenge progress!

Monthly Motif is a reading challenge hosted by girlxoxo.

September’s theme was animal, number, color, name. I really had no idea what to do with this one (it’s so broad!) but I ended up reading MCMLXXV by Joe Casey for this prompt.

October’s theme is tricks and trades. I’m trying to decide between finally reading Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray and Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan.

I finished a total of 8 books in September, bringing me to a total of 113 books this year.

Popsugar hosts a reading challenge every year. You can find out more information on their website.

I had hoped that September would turn out better than August for this challenge, but nope. Another month with zero prompts checked off. (Oh well.)

Romanceopoly is a reading challenge hosted by Under the Covers and Peace Love Books.

Same with Romanceopoly! And for the second month in a row, I read no romance novels. Maybe that’s why I’m in a slump. Maybe I just need something cute and fluffy to bring me out of it.

This challenge is still on hold. I did, however, read a couple ARCs that needed to be finished:


How are you doing on your reading challenges? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let’s talk in the comments!