Review: Dial A for Aunties

If I had to explain the plot of https://bookshop.org/a/472/9780593336731Dial A for Aunties, it would sound ridiculous (believe me, I tried).

What do you get when you mix meddling family, a wedding and a dead body together? Meddy, her mom and three aunties are very close, and in fact own a wedding planning business together.

But at a high profile wedding the team is working everything goes wrong. The groomsmen are drunk out of their gourd, the tea ceremony gifts have gone missing, oh, and there’s a dead body to contend with.

I laughed so hard while reading this book. I mean, laughing with tears in my eyes, weird side-eye from people around me, type laughing.

This is a clean, second-chance romance. The romance was definitely there, but was almost secondary to the family.

After reading this, Jesse Q. Sutanto has definitely been added to my auto-buy list.

Review: A Lot Like Adios

Alexia Daria has officially become an auto buy author for me. I read You Had me at Hola last summer – it started as a Bookstagram made me do it book – but I feel in love with the Primas of Power (not to mention the steaminess between Jasmine and Ashton. 

So when A Lot Like Adios hit bookstores, I knew I had to read the next installation of the Primas of Power series. And Gabriel and Michelle’s story did not disappoint. 

I was definitely shipping Gabriel and Michelle, even if there were times I wanted to strangle him. Seriously, if he just simply communicated with the people in his life AT ALL he wouldn’t have quite as many issues in his life.

This was definitely, eye waggling-ly, steamy. And romantic. And infuriating. But I cannot wait for the third book in this series!

A Lot Like Adios is the second book in the Primas of Power series, but can absolutely be read as a stand-alone.

Review: The Love Hypothesis

This was definitely a Bookstagram made me do it book. I had read so many glowing reviews about The Love Hypothesis that I couldn’t resist making this my Book of the Month back in September. And when @beautys.library chose this as the December book club pick, I jumped in.

Granted, I didn’t read this book until January.

Olive was so relatable – so awkwardly relatable. Even though I work in communications, I could absolutely relate to the issues Olive encountered in her lab.

Fake dating might be my favorite trope. And The Love Hypothesis did not disappoint. There were the perfect awkward moments, soft and tender moments, and moments that made me laugh out loud.

I absolutely loved Adam and Olive together. I couldn’t get enough of them! And Olive’s friends made everything more awkward (if that’s possible) and ridiculous.

Honestly, I loved this book so much I read the whole thing in a day and already miss being with these characters. I can’t wait until the next book comes out in this series.

Review: Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane

The Little Christmas Shop n Nutcracker Lane was such a cute read during the holidays. Nia is such a relatable character – someone who is working jobs she hates to be bale to pursue her dream.

I loved Nutcracker Lane and wish there was a place like that near me. Whenever I travel during the holidays, I always hope to find a Christmas market because I LOVE those!

This story absolutely reminded me the importance of shopping local all year round and how important our local shopkeepers are to our community.

I did guess the surprise pretty early on while reading this one, but I still enjoyed getting to the twist itself.

Review: A Wedding in December

Oh. My. Goodness. Sarah Morgan’s A Wedding in December was the ultimate holiday romance to put my in the holiday spirits and welcome winter.

Rosie announces she is engaged and getting married on Christmas Eve to a man she hasn’t dated very long. And who she met while at university in the US. Her family has to fly from England to Aspen, Colorado for the wedding, but also will experience a white Christmas!

With so many moving pieces of the family dynamic – parents who are temporarily separated, a sister who is burnt out at work, Rosie having a few doubts about the wedding, and the future mother-in-law trying to make the experience in Aspen and the wedding perfect, you know something is bound to go wrong.

I absolutely loved this story – the family struggles felt so real, the situations could have come from personal experiences. The author also captured the magic of snow and made me – who loves snow from indoors, but hates the slush and muck outside –  want to experience winter in Colorado.

I did find myself at the end wishing there was more on this family, though! I want to know where Katie and Jordan and Maggie and Nick all end up after the happily ever after is over.

Review: The Winning Ingredient

The Winning Ingredient was a cute, clean YA romance read.

Bryce is a new student at George Washington High, and the new quarterback on the football team. Mia’s family owns a bakery in town. When Mia is asked to tutor Bryce in science and math, this unlikely duo wind up becoming friends.

I loved the bakery scenes and this definitely made me want to do some baking (I think some cookies might be in my future).

This story reminded me a little of a YA version of The Baker and the Beauty on Netflix. I do wish that the author had included a recipe for the cannoli cookies, because those sounded amazing!

Unfortunately I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and I did find the writing to be a little stiff at times.

As the past and the present collide, one baker and one quarterback team up.

The two might be the winning ingredient in a timeless recipe.

Mia DeSalvo is one tough cookie, who can throw a perfect spiral and bake a perfect biscotti. But, as George Washington High’s top student and ninth-grade class president, she’s thrown off her game when asked to tutor boarding school drop-out and secret-weapon-on-the-football-field, Bryce Fitzgerald. Despite his to-die-for dimples, he’s a total bore. Besides, her plate is already full, trying to save her family’s struggling century-old Italian bakery.

Determined to tackle her family’s business woes, Mia secretly devotes her free time to developing new recipes, with the help of her Sicilian great-great-grandmother’s handwritten cookbook. She soon discovers that blending her own innovations with her Nonna Antoinette’s history may be the key to the bakery’s success.

But Mia’s not the only one with a secret. As rumors swirl around Bryce’s lightning-speed exit from prestigious Chadwick Academy, she’s resolved to get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately, the star quarterback’s bad attitude, mixed with her flaming temper, is a recipe for disaster.

When Mia stumbles upon Bryce’s beautifully written journal, it’s clear his talents aren’t confined to the football field, and there’s much more to the hazel-eyed quarterback than she could’ve imagined. While the journal may hold all the answers she’s looking for, the weight of its heartbreaking words may be too much for her to carry.

With the future of the DeSalvo Bakery and the football State Championship hanging in the balance, Mia and Bryce might just have what the other is missing.

Armed with an antique cookbook and a football, this unlikely pair will discover the importance of embracing an enduring legacy and keeping cherished memories alive.

The Winning Ingredient is a lower young adult novel about unwavering friendship through loss and triumph and is the debut novel for this previously published author.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Kelly Swan Taylor is a Boston-based attorney and former laboratory scientist. As a competitive runner, racing from sun-drenched Hawaii to frigid Iceland, her first publishing credit was in Simon & Schuster’s best-selling book series, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Running for Good, highlighting her experiences in the historic 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathons. Growing up immersed in beloved “Teen” novels, Kelly now crafts her own sweet stories that bridge the gap between middle grade and young adult fiction that is so often forgotten but so sorely needed in the market today. She has a soft spot for the sincere yet flawed character with a kind heart who tries to do the right thing, stumbles along the way, but eventually becomes a hero in everyday life. In her free time, Kelly enjoys traveling and collecting snow globes and race medals from around the world. A proud alumnus of Syracuse University, she cheers her Syracuse Orange from both her sofa and the metal bleachers of the Carrier Dome. She resides in Providence, Rhode Island with her architect husband, Jonathan, and two spoiled geriatric kitties.

Review: The Ex Hex

I have not laughed while reading a book this much in a long, long time. But The Ex Hex had me laughing and chuckling throughout.

Nine years ago, Vivi finds out her boyfriend, Rhys Penhallow is betrothed and breaks up with him. In her heartbroken-state, this witch does what any other would do – curses the guy.

Now, Rhys is back in Graves Glen and that spark has been rekindled almost immediately between Vivi and Rhys. Except Rhys’s magic within Graves Glen is a little wonky and nothing seems to be going right leading up to Halloween.

This was such a fun read! I loved all of these characters, all of the twists and turns and silliness. And the romance between Vivienne and Rhys was so honest and true. I almost didn’t link the ending and the easy way things wrapped up, though.

This was a perfect Halloween read, or a great witchy read anytime, and a fun romcom read!

Review: Not the Witch You Wed

Not the Witch you Wed by April Asher was such a cute read – and perfect for spooky season! 

Violet Maxwell is the oldest sibling in a set of triplet witches. However, she is the Maxwell “dud” – she’s a magic less witch. Violet has spent her life trying to fly under the radar of the Supernatural Council. That is, until they force her to enter into a Witch Bond within three months.

Lincoln Thorne is a wolf shifter and the Alpha to the North American Pack of shifters. He’s trying to make real change in the shifter community, but has a deadline of his 33rd birthday to take a mate.

To fix each others issue, Violet and Lincoln begin fake dating, at least to make the Supernatural Council happy. However, with history between the two, there are quickly emotions added to their faking dating plan. 

The shenanigans that ensue while the two try to hide their feelings from each other and those around them had me turning pages.

I also really liked the women’s empowerment in this – and how Violet didn’t want a mate and stands up to the Supernatural Council to get out of requiring a Witch Bond.

While I loved Violet and Lincoln – and totally shipped these two characters, I absolutely adored the side characters in this book and am thrilled that this is going to be a series, because I want to spend more time with them! Violet’s sisters seriously stole every scene they were in, and Lincoln’s second in command needs his own story!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Not the Witch you Wed releases February 2022.

Review: You May Kiss the Groomsman

I’m not sure what it was, but something about You May Kiss the Groomsman just wasn’t for me.

To begin with, I didn’t really care for the main female character – Josie. Josie and her girlfriends own Meet me at the Alter – a wedding planning company. And while Josie wants the fall in love, settle down, have babies, etc. She has watched her friends get engaged, married, have babies, but she doesn’t see that happening for herself anytime soon, so she agrees to fake marry her friend Tyler so he can get a promotion at work.

Okay – let’s stop here. I have SO many issues with this. Number one – you can’t plan YOUR life around the milestones your friends are hitting. It’s great your BFF got married. It’s wonderful your sister had a baby! It doesn’t mean you time is ticking to do the same thing.

And number two! (Imagine me wagging my finger at this book!) If your boss requires you to be MARRIED for a PROMOTION maybe you need to revaluate where you’re working. That’s ridiculous for 2021.

Oh, and third – Josie falls for her friend’s brother (love triangle anyone?). However, the only time we see them spending together is with the parents or in bed. I’m not sure you can fall in love with a person if you don’t spend actual, quality time together (outside of the bedroom).

The narrator for the audiobook was good though – loved her!

Thanks to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for the ALC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: Shipped

Shipped by Angie Hockman was the perfect summer read – especially for a summer when my travel plans aren’t exactly what I had in mind.

Marketing manager Henley is competing for the promotion of her dream at the cruise line she works for, however, she is competing for the position against her work nemesis, Graeme. The twist? Both Henley and Graeme are being sent on a Galapagos cruise and tasked with drafting a digital marketing proposal for the Galapagos cruises.

I really saw myself in Henley – working all of time, taking work home while also taking classes for her master’s degree in the evening and not getting anywhere in her career.

However, Henley frustrated me while she is on the cruise. She’s in the Galapagos, surrounded by the beauty of nature and in a place that people save for their entire life to experience. But she would rather sit in front of her laptop and work rather than experience it.

Once Graeme opens Henley’s eyes and gets her to loosen up a little bit, she’s a bit easier to accept as a person.

Here’s the thing to remember readers: at your job, you are replaceable, at home, you’re not. Work-life balance is extremely important – you’re given vacation days, paid time off, personal time, etc., as part of your job’s compensation package…USE IT. (Sorry, rant over.)

I really liked the slow build romance between Henley and Graeme. The cruise ship is a fun setting for this romcom.