ANOTHER 2021 FAVE: Ghosts by Dolly Alderton Review

81ALKGuSwMLSummary (from the publisher): Nina Dean is not especially bothered that she’s single. She owns her own apartment, she’s about to publish her second book, she has a great relationship with her ex-boyfriend, and enough friends to keep her social calendar full and her hangovers plentiful. And when she downloads a dating app, she does the seemingly impossible: She meets a great guy on her first date. Max is handsome and built like a lumberjack; he has floppy blond hair and a stable job. But more surprising than anything else, Nina and Max have chemistry. Their conversations are witty and ironic, they both hate sports, they dance together like fools, they happily dig deep into the nuances of crappy music, and they create an entire universe of private jokes and chemical bliss.

But when Max ghosts her, Nina is forced to deal with everything she’s been trying so hard to ignore: her father’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and so is her mother’s denial of it; her editor hates her new book idea; and her best friend from childhood is icing her out. Funny, tender, and eminently, movingly relatable, Ghosts is a whip-smart tale of relationships and modern life.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I always have some favorite books unexpectedly sneak up on me during the last two months of the year, and this year it includes Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts. Ghosts is the Bad on Paper Podcast November book club pick. I liked the sound of its synopsis, following a thirty two year old woman named Nina who hasn’t the best of luck when it comes to dating, but I swore I kept seeing rave & rave reviews everywhere as soon as it was announced as a BOP pick and it made me need to pick it up ASAP. I was actually in the middle of another book when Ghosts came in from the library & put that book aside to gobble up Ghosts in less than 2 days.

Ghosts is set in 2018 London (yes, it’s a British contemporary but not a chick lit/contemporary romance type of British contemporary), following writer & chef Nina as she decides to finally go on a popular dating app called Linx. Nearly all of Nina’s friends, including her childhood best friend Katherine and even her ex-boyfriend but still friend Joe, have all moved on and are in the engaged/married/married-with-kids part of life, while Nina feels like she is constantly reminded of her singledom alongside her best friend, Lola. Nina’s family life also feels like it is slowly crumbling apart, as her father has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her mother struggles to accept his condition. Nina starts to feel like her life might just be coming together when she meets a man named Max through Linx, only to be ghosted by him weeks later..

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FUN FALL ROMANCE: The Ex Hex Review 

71AW5pqxGTSSummary (from the publisher): Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I know Halloween just wrapped up yesterday (& yes, I was totally playing “All I Want for Christmas is You” in my kitchen last night), but I just had to share my thoughts on the hottest spooky read in the contemporary romance world right now, Erin Sterling’s The Ex Hex! I’ve read Rachel Hawkins’ YA Royals series (her pen name for romance is Erin Sterling), so I was even more interested to read her first contemporary romance. 

I’ll be totally honest, I’m not the biggest spooky season/Halloween person – I’ve dressed up over the years for friends’ parties & nights out (I of course dressed up as Olivia Rodrigo via sour album cover this year) and I’m quite minimal on the fall/Halloween decor – but the fact that The Ex Hex is a contemporary romance definitely caught my attention and it didn’t seem too supernatural/horror for my reading tases, which was ultimately so true! The Ex Hex follows twenty-something which & history professor Vivienne Jones, who experienced the biggest heartbreak of her life when legendary Rhys Penhallow ended their relationship nine years prior….and during that heartbreak, Vivi and her cousin Gwyn may or may not have cursed Rhys and her entire town. With Rhys back to recharge the ley lines and the curse proven to be very much in effect, Vivi and Rhys must work together to break their break-up curse.

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SOME NEW FAVORITE READS: October 2021 Wrap Up

Am I the only one who feels like October absolutely flew by? I read 8 books in October. It was such a solid reading month yet again not so much for the quantity (even though I am quite happy with the quantity between work and hanging with friends), but because of the quality. Since I’ve reviewed all of the books here, I won’t be sharing my thoughts on them in this post – but just know that Ali Hazlewood’s The Love Hypothesis is my absolute FAVORITE (definitely a contender for favorite book of 2021), and I really enjoyed Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ The Inheritance Games and the first book in Elin Hilderbrand’s Paradise trilogy!

The Legacy (Off-Campus #4.5) by Elle Kennedy | 4/5 Stars

A Lot Like Adiòs by Alexis Daris | 4/5 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood | 5/5

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The Magic of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson Review 

Summary (from the publisher):

818W2J8rJgSPhronsie Linnelle was conceived at Woodstock in a serendipitous liaison between a free-spirited hippie and a farmer’s son and was born with magical wonder flickering in her DNA and rationality knit into her bones. All her life she’s been torn between the two. But now that she’s been betrayed by both love and the mother she once idolized, her rational side is winning.

So when her best friend from childhood proposes that they give up on romance and marry each other, Phronsie agrees. Who better to spend your life with than your best friend? Maybe the connection they already have is love. Maybe there’s no falling to be done. But immediately after they announce their engagement, she encounters someone who makes a very charming and compelling argument for revisiting romance.

While her even-keeled stepmother argues for the safety that comes with her new engagement and her mother relays messages from the universe to hold out for true love, Phronsie must look to her own heart to find the answers that have been there all along.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Maddie Dawson’s books have always been on my TBR radar, but I officially added her latest book, The Magic of Found Objects, to my to-be-read stack when itwas announced as Bad on Paper Podcast’s September book club pick. Set in 2006 (this doesn’t really affect the plot other than the fact that they don’t have smart phones & social media), the book follows Phronsie, who after forty-four failed first dates, agrees to marry her childhood best friend, Judd, when the two decide that maybe marriage isn’t about love after all. Judd and Phronsie have made lives for themselves since leaving their New Hampshire hometown behind, but their families are both pretty excited that the two are finally tying the know. Phronsie’s parents don’t exactly have the perfect love story, having conceived Phronsie and her twin brother, Hendrix, at Woodstock and then separating as a couple shortly after. Phronsie is happy to be done with trying to find love, but her engagement leads her to re-evaluate love in her life, including her relationships with her mom & stepmother,….and of course, another guy may or may not come into the picture….

I’ve read books with the best friends-turned-lovers and marriage of convenience tropes, but I haven’t read a book with the same best friend trope as The Magic of Found Objects. Phronsie & Judd definitely have chemistry as friends, but they struggle to get that same chemistry as a couple. I really didn’t know what to ultimately expect (if they would actually get married or not), and I do have to admit I really liked the guy who messes with Phronsie’s plan, Adam. Adam and Phronsie both work for the same publishing company and have to work on the same book tour for a beloved children’s book author whose latest book is quite controversial & wrong, to say the least. Side note that I did not know going into the book that Phronsie had a love for writing and worked in publishing as a publicist. This was such a fun addition to the book! 

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DID THIS MEET THE HYPE?: The Inheritance Games Review

51Gv-CkrYOL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Summary (from the publisher): Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

A ton of books have well-deservedly gotten so much hype and praise through Tik Tok this year, & I’d argue that Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ The Inheritance Games was one of the top YA books (if not the #1 book) to get so much love & attention. I was kind’ve mixed on reading The Inheritance Games because it had been described as an escape room type book which made me not-so interested in, but something finally made me give in. & I’m so glad I did because The Inheritance Games is one of the best YA books I’ve read this year!

I’ve read Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ Debutantes duology, another really addicting series, and definitely recommend checking out that mystery series if you’ve already read book #2, The Hawthorne Legacy, & you’re waiting for Inheritance Games book #3). The Inheritance Games definitely fits into the YA mystery category with a ton of suspense & a touch of romance (hello love triangle).The book follows Avery Kylie Grambs, who has had a ton of misfortune in her life, but her life completely changes when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne leaves nearly his entire estate to Avery, much to the Hawthorne family’s dismay. Avery has never met Tobias Hawthorne, and there’s another catch to the inheritance: she has to live in the sprawling, secret passage & puzzle-filled Hawthorne mansion with his four grandsons and other family members for one year before getting the estate. Avery and the Hawthornes all want to know why Avery inherited the fortune and not themselves, so the book mainly follows Avery stepping to her new role as Hawthorne and heiress and searching the mansion for clues.Read More »

2022 RELEASES & NEW BOOKS: October 2021 TBR Additions 

I’m in a situation this October where I’ve added more books to my TBR than the actual amount of books I’ve read, oops. Definitely missing my 20+ book a month summer reading, but my books this fall have been really quality reads AND I’m looking forward to the following books on my TBR. Today’s recent TBR addition round feature some 2022 releases I am SO, SO looking forward to and some recent releases.

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens – Did anyone read that title to the tune of the same song by Michael Bublé? Sophie Cousens’ debut, This Time Next Year, was one of the most popular books last year & one that I really enjoyed. Her sophomore novel coming out this November follows a woman on vacation who is convinced that the man she’s mixed up her suitcase with is the one

The Magic of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson – The Magic of Found Objects was Bad on Paper Podcast’s Book Club pick for September 2021. I had the book on hold from the library, but it didn’t come in until this week. This book sounds super unique, following two best childhood friends who decide to give up on romance & marry each other. I plan on diving into Maddie Dawson’s backlist if I like this one! 

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver – I really enjoyed Josie Silver’s One Day in December and LOVED, LOVED The Two Lives of Lydia Bird, so I cannot wait to read her February 2022, One Night on the Island, following two people who are very much in need of a vacation on a remote Irish island & are accidentally booked to share the same cabin. 

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Any Way the Wind Blows Review

Summary (from the publisher): In Carry On, Simon Snow and his friends realized that everything they thought they understood about the world might be wrong. And in Wayward Son, they wondered whether everything they understood about themselves might be wrong.81q-qNwhu6L

In Any Way the Wind Blows, Simon and Baz and Penelope and Agatha have to decide how to move forward.

For Simon, that means deciding whether he still wants to be part of the World of Mages — and if he doesn’t, what does that mean for his relationship with Baz? Meanwhile Baz is bouncing between two family crises and not finding any time to talk to anyone about his newfound vampire knowledge. Penelope would love to help, but she’s smuggled an American Normal into London, and now she isn’t sure what to do with him. And Agatha? Well, Agatha Wellbelove has had enough.

Any Way the Wind Blows takes the gang back to England, back to Watford, and back to their families for their longest and most emotionally wrenching adventure yet.

This book is a finale. It tells secrets and answers questions and lays ghosts to rest.

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OFF-CAMPUS & ALEXIS DARIA SEQUELS: Romance Mini Reviews 

Starting off this Wednesday by sharing 2 recent romance reads of mine! I usually try to wait & share my mini reviews until I have at least 3 books to share, but I want to be a little bit more proactive about making my mini reviews, you know, recent by sharing them somewhat close to when I’ve read them. I unexpectedly took a week long break from blogging last week (I  shared some thoughts about burnout 2 weeks), mostly because I worked all throughout last weekend and had a really busy week that left no time for blog writing at night, but I feel more rejuvenated coming into blogging this week. Today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on two popular romance sequels: A Lot Like Adiòs and The Legacy.

A Lot Like Adiòs by Alexis Daria

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I really liked Alexis Daria’s 2020 releases, You Had Me at Hola, so I looked forward to continuing the Primas of Power companion series with A Lot Like Adiòs. This best friends-to-lovers contemporary romance follows Jasmine’s cousin, Michelle, and her (former) best friend, Gabe, who is back in the Bronx for the first time in nearly ten years to oversee the expansion of his gym. Gabe’s partner hired Michelle, a freelance graphic designed, to help them work on the project without Gabe’s knowledge and the two are forced to reconcile the past & their feelings for one another. 

I think I actually liked A Lot Like Adiòs a little bit more than You Had Me at Hola, mostly because we definitely don’t have as many best friends-to-lovers romances as we do like other popular tropes such as fake dating & enemies-to-lovers (which don’t get me wrong, are two of my favorite tropes). A Lot Like Adiòs was a really refreshing read and things get steamy pretty early on the book.. meaning that we don’t wait for Gabe & Michelle to jump back into their feelings for one another. Just like You Had Me at Hola, the book also tackles family issues, mental health, and career aspirations. Overall, I recommend reading this one if you want more friends-to-lovers reads and want to revisit the world of You Had Me at Hola. Looking forward to seeing what the third prima’s, Ava, will be about! 

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2021 FAVORITE ROMANCE: The Love Hypothesis Review

9780593336823Summary (from the publisher): As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope. 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Rating:

Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis has been EVERYWHERE (& as you’ll find out in this review, VERY deservedly so) in the second half of 2021. I’ve had a very busy start to the fall with back-to-school season, so I admittedly have been sleeping on some new anticipated releases and have been just putting them on hold from my county library. And with publishing and printing delays, new books have been taking even longer to come in. The Love Hypothesis had been especially hard to find with the supply chain shortage & Ali Hazelwood even shared on Instagram that the book was way more popular than her publisher could have imagined, which meant they need to print more copies ASAP. That all being said, between having a quiet weekend and my local Barnes & Noble finally getting The Love Hypothesis back in stock, I decided to get my hands-on the most popular & BEST contemporary romance this fall. 

I knew I was likely going to enjoy The Love Hypothesis just for its fake dating meets academia synopsis, which I had shared in my Fall 2021 Anticipated Releases post, but I recently discovered before reading that the book is loosely based on Kylo Ren & Rey from Star Wars…which made even more sense considering the male lead, Dr. Adam Carlsen, looks a lot like Adam Driver on the cover & in the book… and is also named Adam. Anyways, The Love Hypothesis follows biology Ph.D. candidate, Olive, who in hopes of convincing her best friend that she’s really over her ex so said best friend will just go for it & date him, kisses the closest guy in sight…whom happens to be young hotshot professor who’s known for d making grad students cry, Dr. Adam Carlsen. Olive is not only shocked by Carlsen going with the kiss, but even more so when the two decide to fake date to help Olive out & convince Stanford that Carlsen has no plans of leaving the university so he can keep his research funding.

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September 2021 Wrap Up

A quick wrap-up to celebrate this Friday & the start of October! I read 11 books in the month of September – about 9-10 books less than my summer reading average, but I’m still really happy with this amount, & I liked everything I read this month.  

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie | 4/5 Stars

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand | 4/5 

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman | 5/5

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall | 4.5/5

The Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand | 4/5

Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey Stein | 4.5/5 

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