Spoiler Free Review: Love On The Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Title: Love On The Brain

Author: Ali Hazelwood

Pub. Date: August 23rd 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Rom-COM

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Pages: 368

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

*•.¸♡ 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐝𝐦𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐦𝐞, 𝐁𝐞𝐞. 𝐆𝐨𝐝 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐬 𝐈 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐟 𝐮𝐬 – 𝐋𝐞𝐯𝐢 𝐖𝐚𝐫𝐝 ♡¸.•*

Bee Königswasser has been given the opportunity to work as the lead on a neuroengineering project with NASA to create a helmet for astronauts that would improve their focus. She’s excited up until she finds out Levi aka the guy who she believes hates her, will be the co-lead engineer on the project. She feels he made his feelings toward her known during grad school and the last thing she’d fathom is having to work in close proximity with someone who loathes her. She asks herself what would her idol the French Physicist Marie Curie do if she were in her shoes? readily acknowledging that Marie would accept this opportunity no questions asked, Bee decides to accept. Soon after she introduces herself to the team (all dude bros), all sorts of hijinks occur to prevent Bee from actually doing her job. We see Levi begin to back her up as she’s presenting her ideas/suggestions and quickly turns into more of an ally than enemy. Bee is very aware of his presence and stolen glances so much so that she starts to enjoy their collaboration. All the while reminding herself that Levi still fundamentally hates her. 

I’ll preface this part of my review by mentioning that I’ve seen many reviews since I finished my read and although I agree that there’s a specific formula to all of these “Steminist” books, I enjoyed this more than The Love Hypothesis. The biggest standout difference for me is that both leads/romantic love interests are thoroughly fleshed out making it easy to connect and root for this ship. I LOVED the insider look we get to the actual project and seeing Bee leave a lot of dude bros in awe as she strutted her knowledge in her area of expertise. I also loved seeing Levi go from silent bystander to someone in Bee’s corner who can’t stand when his male colleagues make it difficult for her to work. I loved the fact that Bee hates that it takes Levi backing her in order for the team to give her the time of day. She draws parallels between her current situation and that of Marie Curie who had to fight for an ounce of respect/recognition as a female Physicist during the early 1900’s. It’s not often that I end up LOVING the male lead but Levi has my whole heart simply because he’s a feminist that genuinely wants to see change in their field of work. If you can get past the many mentions of Levi’s large manly frame 😂 and Bee being overly oblivious, there’s a lot to love:

🧪Empowered women in STEM
🧪Tropes: Hate to love (kinda)/Close proximity
🧪Twitter threads/wars for entertainment
🧪feisty invisible 🐈
🧪Vegan love
🧪🧠 talk as they race to perfect a helmet for NASA
🧪Male lead is a feminist
🧪The humor was 👌🏽if it can get me to laugh out loud, then and only then it gets placed on my rom-COM faves shelf 😉


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August 2022 Reading Wrap-Up

  It seems only right that my first wrap up in a very long time coincides with the very first taste of cool weather here in New York City. While it was fun making my own Starbucks Oat milk Shaken Espressos at home, I’m ready for a lower maintenance hot cup of coffee this Fall. August was a month of spending time with friends, family and one VERY LONG road trip that ended up being an awesome time! it was also a month of consistently training my Brittany puppy Reese who is 8 months old and ready to tackle September’s hiking trails. Over on Bookstagram I get a lot of questions about Reese, so far he’s learned the commands sit, stay, drop it, paw, high five, down, and with me. His favorite words are eat, water, Dentastick, outside and go which he translates as run. Potty training was a labor of love but we’ve got him going outside every 8 hours/3x per day with no inside accidents *victory dance*

On the BOOKISH FRONT I surprised myself with reading seven books since I typically don’t really go beyond five or six during the month. Part of this is because physical fitness has amped up my audiobook listening. It’s not always that I want to jump into a book and for those days I’ve started listening to Podcasts. I’ve found some new faves to listen to while also admitting to myself that this is the reason why my TBR is once again bursting at the seams. These are some that I feel do a great job of covering new releases as well as hitting those backlist titles. To name a few: Reading Through life, From The front Porch, The Bookish Banter Podcast, Literally Reading, The Currently Reading Podcast, The Bibliovert Podcast and All the Books! (Book Riot)

My reading was giving off Fall vibes all throughout August, none of these were light in tone or plot but my heart was happy and I have a few new 5 star favorites…

Love in the Time Of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson – ☆☆Stars☆☆ Overall enjoyable if you can get past the pessimist female lead with a knack for dropping serial killer pop culture trivia more than preferred. The grumpy-sunshine trope is done well, it’ll just come down to how you mesh with Pheobe’s personality, I have a full review here

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey – ☆☆4 Stars☆☆ a PERFECT add-on to your spooky TBR’s, this was an audiobook listen and I’m of the mind that this is the format to take in this story. I still hear the female lead Vera, bone-chilling and cold are the words that come to mind. The house this story takes place in holds many secrets which the author did a fantastic job of conveying from the very first page. It’s disturbing, the last book that made me feel like this is just wrong! is when I read My Dark Vanessa. The relationship between Vera and her mother is just about as toxic as they come, no love lost between the two. This one is told in dual timelines with Vera recounting childhood interactions with her parents & present time. 

Shutter by Ramona Emerson ☆☆Stars☆☆ sadly I can’t remember too much of this one other than it was slow and the narrator just wasn’t it. I wanted to love it since any stories that feature anything in the realm of forensics almost always piques my interest, but also it’s set in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation. The MC is a forensics photographer who also happens to see ghosts and they almost always need/want her to listen or help in order for their souls to rest in peace. She’s met with one ghost who is very aggressive and won’t be ignored, she wants her murder solved or else. At times gruesome with depictions of bodies that met violent ends, the supernatural aspects were well done. However, I didn’t love that every single one of our MC’s superiors was a disgusting pig who treated her terribly. She doesn’t get much of a reprieve and the ending happened at lightning speed. Not sure if I would try this author again, may just not be for me. 

Spy X Family by Tatsuya Endo – ☆☆5 Stars☆☆ My first MANGA! and I can’t stop singing its praises! Agent Twilight and the family he puts together for the sake of his mission are EVERYTHING! there were so many cute moments with Anya who is his telepathic fake child and bad ass scenes with Yor, his assassin fake wife. I just found out about the first season on Hulu and properly added it to my queue. 

 Jade War by Fonda Lee – ☆☆5 Stars☆☆ I hadn’t stopped thinking of the Green Bones since reading 𝗝𝗮𝗱𝗲 𝗖𝗶𝘁𝘆 last December, their fates and fortune always at the back of my mind. This book is THICK! and not a single page was unecessary, not a single stone was left unturned bookworms! I enjoyed highlighting and annotating her pages with predictions and WTF moments. The stakes are even higher. The Weatherman has upped their strategic skills and our Pillar has fully stepped into his role. The war on the streets for Jade has now seeped into foreign countries…as in we’ve gone INTERNATIONAL!!! *please use the maps Fonda Lee has gifted us* good lawd, I almost turned my workspace into a war room to keep track of all the alliances and enemies closing ranks. EPIC and truly unforgettable, I think I’m ready for Jade Legacy

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher – ☆☆5 Stars☆☆ I am guilty of picking up this book solely to sate the curiosity of meeting the wild chicken mentioned by every reviewer who’s read this book. Mystery solved and I too couldn’t get enough of said chicken or Bonedog! Every single character in this book brought me pure satisfaction and joy to meet on the page. If you’re a lover of quests, animal companions, found families, and the take down of abusive men then this is the book for you. Marra is the third born Princess who was sent away to a convent while her sisters were married off to a Prince for political alliances. A prince who is abusive and quietly manhandles them until the shy and introverted Marra spots traces of his abuse. She seeks out a wise old gravewitch with hopes of being given the way the kill the Prince. On her quest she’s soon joined by a reluctant and funny God Mother, a handsome loyal knight, a loving bone dog and a sassy chicken. This a genre bending (a lil bit of fantasy/horror), character driven, atmospheric and just all around fun time! I’ve already reserved a copy of T.Kingfisher’s What Moves the Dead on Libby

After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez – ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆ I really enjoyed this story and will be on the lookout for more from this author. This is  a Latine story with a plus size Mexican American female lead who goes back home to Kansas in hopes of taking over the bar owned by her grandmother. Alejandra or “Alex” has acquired some social media fame as a trendy bartender in the bigger cities and is hoping to bring some of her style to the family bar. What she wasn’t expecting was to be met with a matriarch who isn’t ready to be told what to do with her business and in fact is asking that they prove why they make the best choice to sell to. It is a romance so what you can expect is the grumpy sunshine trope paired with close proximity and oh was it steamy AF! check out my full review here


 

Why this movie didn’t get the massive Netflix marketing that some others received is beyond me! I LOVED it so much that I made it my second (the first goes to Always Be My Maybe) favorite feel good flick. This is a rom-com that is family centered and filled with many laugh out loud moments. There’s also great commentary on what makes someone successful in life and whether that factors into your partner in marriage. Soon after I discovered the series Indian Matchmaking on Netflix and I’m currently still watching, top tier! 


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Spoiler Free review: Love In The Time Of Serial Killers by Alicia Thomspon

Title: Love In The Time Of Serial Killers

Author: Alicia Thompson

Pub. Date: August 16th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Pages: 336

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON | LIBROFM

☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 7/10   Atmosphere: 0/10  Writing Style: 7/10  Plot: 5/10  Intrigue: 5/10  Logic/Relationships: 7/10  Enjoyment: 7/10

Rating: 38/5.4 =  ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

Fellow Cappies Rejoice we’ve got ourselves our very own Capricorn female MC and I dare you not to draw parallels as you take a trip inside the mind of Pheobe Walsh. Obsessed with True Crime and working on her dissertation analyzing the genre leaves Pheebs with very little time to even think of dating. Her father has recently passed away and she is now back in Florida trying to get her childhood home in order to sell. Having had a tough relationship with her dad that resulted in leaving with her mom after they divorced, she also has her brother Jeremy to reconnect with. The brother who stayed with their curmudgeon dad and is very sweet natured is also worried his sister’s obsession with true crime has reached new levels. Pheeb’s swears the hot and mysterious neighbor Sam MUST be a serial killer and she’s gone as far as logging in his coming & goings. There’s only one problem with this theory & that’s that with every interaction they have she has to admit Sam is just a great guy but this doesn’t mean she’s going to make it easy for him.

Our main character Pheobe puts the grump in grumpy sunshine and her dark sense of humor isn’t for everyone. Some readers may even find her to be unlikeable because we get a heavy dose of her paranoia with many mentions pop culture references of serial killers. For other readers who may listen/read true crime, the research in the genre may actually be a bonus and the dissertation process to have been detailed nicely. The romance takes off a bit later in the story with the steamy scenes falling short and I know that’s probably going to hurt the overall ratings for this book. I feel this one is going to land with those who don’t mind their female protagonist to be a bit unlikeable, perhaps even pessimistic and cynical. Sam the love interest is hard not to love, he’s a music teacher who can’t help but want to assist Pheobe with moving furniture or any project really as long as he’s getting to spend time with her. I almost wish this had been dual POV to give us a break from Pheeb’s thought process while also giving us a chance to get to know Sam. Taking all of this into account… this is my personal opinion but I feel male grumpy protagonists are ALWAYS preferred over a female grump 😂 yet they DO exist and deserve to be loved just as much! haha! To be honest I loved so many of the other themes in this book like the sibling dynamics, second chance friendships and unresolved grief of a parent being addressed. I feel these did compensate for some of the other things that needed more developing. 

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱:

💓Plus size representation
🕵🏻True Crime genre explored
😒Grumpy/Sunshine trope🤗
🐈‍⬛Stray cat claiming squatters rights
👫Sibling relationship explored
👭🏻Second chance friendships
📚The Library as a secondary setting


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Spoiler Free Review: After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez

Title: After Hours on Milagro Street

Author: Angelina M. Lopez

Pub. Date: July 26th 2022

Genre: Romance/Latinx

Format: eARC

Publisher: Carina Trade

Pages: 400

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 8/10  Intrigue: 8/10  Logic/Relationships: 10/10  Enjoyment: 10/10

Rating: 66/9.4 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

*•.¸♡ 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞. 𝐋𝐞𝐭 𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮. 𝐖𝐞’𝐥𝐥 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫. ♡¸.•*

This book kept me up last night as I was determined to finish it and those final few lines gave me goosebumps!! After Hours on Milagros Street is a romance with mystery, paranormal, and historical fiction aspects sprinkled throughout. I love my romance to be complex and the story line to have some depth, this was just that. We meet Alex Torres as she makes her appearance back in her hometown of Kansas. She’s an Alpha plus size Mexican-American female who has made a name for herself as an in demand bartender. Alex has been summoned by her sisters with hopes of convincing their matriarch of a grandmother to sell them her bar so that she may retire comfortably. The problem is that many in the Torres clan view her as a bit louder than the rest of them and a bit of a loose canon. For Alex, her image is something she plays up for the white people she bartends for. “The world expected an angry black woman, and Alex had let it pay her rent” She plans to use what she’s learned as well as her social media presence to put Kansas/Milagro Street back on the map. The town that for many years has been home to Mexican-American working families is struggling to keep the lights on. Jeremiah Post is renting a room at the bar, he is a white college professor whose own backstory is a mystery to all and he’d rather keep it that way. He loves the Torres clan, grandmother Loretta treats him like one of her own and the many aunts, uncles, and cousins who congregate at the bar daily see him as family too. Alex & Jeremiah’s first encounter is 10/10 spicy and hot. Alex knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to go for it, she absolutely DOES get consent even as she’s going through the motions. I LOVED IT!

Full transparency, it took me a few days to finish this book but I didn’t see it as a negative. The pace is a bit slower than most romance books because of the historical fiction/mystery aspects but the latter half really picks up the pace. I appreciated the character development we see with Alex who goes from wanting to change everything about the bar to wanting to preserve some of what makes it feel like home to many of Freedom’s residents. Also, Jeremiah’s work as an ally helping preserve the Mexican-American immigrant history of the town and the fact that Alex makes sure that he knows she’s not down with the white savior roles perpetuated by many. Jeremiah’s respectful stance in making sure that he remains an ally in the background, his respect towards her family and the towns roots make him a new fave! This book has a whole lot of heart and the characters quickly come to life including our older generations. Last but not least, the supernatural aspects the author introduced to highlight the racism and bigotry surrounding Mexican-Americans bumped this book to a five star read for me. Consider reading if you enjoy romance wrapped in a bit of a mystery, found families that just so happen to be LARGE families, and angry ghosts.

𝗧ropes: close proximity, opposites attract, hate-to-love, grumpy sunshine

Content Warnings: mention of alcoholism, racism, bigotry, microagressions


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Spoiler Free Review: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: The Daughter Of Doctor Moreau

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Pub. Date: July 19th 2022

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Format: eARC

Publisher: Del Rey

Pages: 320

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 8/10  Intrigue: 9/10  Logic/Relationships: 10/10  Enjoyment: 10/10

Rating: 67/9.6 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

The genre blending Silvia Moreno-Garcia is back with another hit and this one has managed to dethrone Mexican Gothic for me! didn’t think it was possible, foolish me. This time we’re transported to 19th century Mexico in a reimagining of H.G. Wells The Island of Doctor Moreau. Carlota Moreau is growing up in a lavish estate alongside her father who’s genius mind pushes boundaries and defies ethics, a madman who was exiled from his birth country in Europe. Moreau’s work is centered on creating human-animal hybrids, his experiments have led to the creation of many that are deformed and suffering from the pain of their limbs/bone structure. The benefactor of the estate is beginning to apply pressure on results and has threatened to cut off funding. The Hybrids come to life, some with endearing personalities and others with a whole lot of heart and desire for something more than a life in hiding. Some have heard the rumors of a Mayan rebel leader who is fighting back against colonization out in the Yucatan Peninsula. They dream of escaping by joining his rebel groups and want Carlota to leave with them. When the benefactor’s son Eduardo Lizalde arrives at the Hacienda, it’s love at first sight and Carlota’s dad who is desperate for continued funding is overjoyed with their romance. The only person who stands in their way is the new Mayordomo in the Hacienda, Montgomery Laughton. 

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Friends, to say that I hated Eduardo is an understatement. A sleaze ball who sees Carlota more as a trophy he must win. In the other corner we have Montgomery Laughton who is the second POV we get in this story. Yes, he does have a LOT of demons and Yes I still ended up enjoying his broody drunk character. There’s an age gap between him and Carlota but he isn’t pressed to try and win her over even though he acknowledges the fact that he loves her. SMG gives us Gothic vibes in a historical backdrop where we have themes of colonization, human exploitation/experimentation and the ethics bound to it, racism towards the Mayans, abuse of power, and a feminist MC who could EASILY have become a better scientist than her father if she weren’t expected to conform to societal expectations. That being said, seeing Carolta’s evolution was satisfying on a whole other level! This is one not to be missed especially if you were on the fence over Mexican Gothic. I’d say give this one a go but be prepared to see yourself become over protective of Cachito, my favorite of the hybrids! ❤


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Spoiler Free Review: The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett

Title: The Romance Recipe

Author: Ruby Barrett

Pub. Date: July 12th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Queer

Format: eARC

Publisher: Carina Adores

Pages: 304

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 6/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 5/10  Plot: 5/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 5/10  Enjoyment: 5/10

Rating: 36/5.1 =  ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

Amy Chambers is a restaurant owner, micro-manager, control freak who is having a tough time keeping the doors open. Employing a predominantly queer staff, Amy really cares about creating a space for them where they feel safe and can make a decent living with benefits. She’s just not drawing in a big enough crowd to pay the overhead costs or rent. She offers the Chef position to Sophie Brunet, a former reality-tv show finalist who can hopefully reignite interest in her restaurant Amy and May. Sophie grump in the kitchen/sunshine in the streets, took thirty years to figure out she was queer” she doesn’t really want to post every single dish she cooks on instagram for the likes. Sophie just wants to cook and explore new dishes, she’s a real chemist in the kitchen. Her new attraction to Amy aka her Boss proves challenging when an opportunity for a tv show that could put the restaurant back on the map comes around. First there’s the issue of whether Sophie even cares to go back on tv with a hobby that brings her a lot of comfort and joy in private. Then there’s the fact that she has just left one relationship to better understand her bisexuality all while managing her career. If you love a foodie romance, this one gives you plenty of time in the kitchen with recipe experimentation! 

╰☆☆ 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐛𝐛𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐚 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐡𝐨𝐛𝐛𝐲. 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐦𝐚𝐲𝐛𝐞 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐚 𝐡𝐨𝐛𝐛𝐲, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐈 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐈 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐭. 𝐍𝐨𝐰 𝐈 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐲 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐮𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐈’𝐦 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞. ☆☆

There’s a lot to love in this queer book about two lesbian/bisexual chefs, especially if you love a good foodie romance. I love a well fleshed out dual POV, however I had a hard time distinguishing between Amy and Sophie’s chapters. Although their back stories are clearly defined up-front, their voices sounded very much the same. I felt their romance was rushed especially for Sophie who had just left one long term relationship and was feeling comfortable finally looking at girls with open interest. I appreciated Amy expressing that Sophie should give herself time to date whomever and not feel the need to settle down so quickly. This however came across to Sophie as if Amy was trying to make decisions for her and I guess I could see both sides of that argument. Even with these concerns being vocalized between the two, I felt that the pacing was off and the ending felt rushed. I enjoyed the reality tv show aspects/celebrity chef however just when this takes off at the end, it cuts off and we don’t really get to see that aspect develop. It is expressed in the book that tv ultimately isn’t where Sophie’s heart is at but the majority of the plot is also banking on this show being a success. It would’ve been nice to see more of that since ultimately it was Amy who chose to pursue the tv opportunity. As for the smut/steam, that is where this book really gets all the brownie points. Those sex scenes were give and take and just all around sexy! It gets all the chili 🌶 for simply being all one could hope for, teasing and all! *chefs kiss* 


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Spoiler Free Review: The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Title: The Dead Romantics

Author: Ashley Poston

Pub. Date: June 28th 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Paranormal

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 368

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 10/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 8/10  Intrigue: 8/10  Logic/Relationships: 10/10  Enjoyment: 10/10

Rating: 68/9.7 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

★彡 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐚 𝐃𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬. 𝐖𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞. 彡★

Florence Day is a ghostwriter for a prolific romance writer who happens to be on a deadline. After a very rough break-up, Florence can’t find it in her to write about love, she no longer believes in it. She’s on her way to meet her new editor and pitch him the idea for a book outside of the romance genre. She wasn’t anticipating him being an incredibly sexy “mountain of a man” or that he would deny her pitch at another book. The pressure is on and when Florence gets a call from her mother to come home because her dad has just passed…she has to return down south to a town that ran her off ten years ago. Florence sees ghosts, more specifically she sees those that need help crossing over. Her family runs the towns funeral parlor and the only other person who shared her gift was her dad. Ten years ago she helped solve the murder of a boy with the help of his ghost and that made headlines. Now back in town, she answers the funeral parlors doorbell only to find the ghost of her very handsome editor and his unfinished business. The one to make her question her new stance on love.

THIS BOOK!!! Yes, I’m a sucker for father/daughter stories but I bawled my eyes out while smiling and laughing all at the same time. Having lost my own dad, whenever I find one in the pages of a book with as much character and life as my own had…it’s a 5 star read. Although the reason for which Florence returns to her hometown is sad, it’s also treated as a celebration of life. Her family after all is in the business of death and preparing send offs, her father made sure that his is befitting that of his life. The whole family is awesome and supportive, quirky and honest. They have their issues like every family but they hash it out. The neighbors/town come to life and you get all the southern charm both good & bad. The romance was sweet, slow burn and hopeful! it doesn’t get better than a love interest who also loves reading romance novels and restores faith in love. Last but not least there’s a funeral parlor setting, Adams Family vibes, and queer siblings who fight and make up that made this a fun read with tons of personality! 🖤

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Spoiler Free Review: A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera

Title: A Caribbean Heiress in Paris (Las Léonas #1)

Author:Adriana Herrera

Pub. Date: May 31st 2022

Genre: Historical Romance/Latinx

Format: eARC

Publisher: HQN

Pages: 368

 

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 7/10  Writing Style: 10/10  Plot: 10/10  Intrigue: 7/10  Logic/Relationships: 10/10  Enjoyment: 10/10

Rating: 64/9.1 =  ☆☆ 5 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

☆☆ 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐚𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐋𝐮𝐳 𝐀𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐚 𝐇𝐞𝐢𝐭𝐡-𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐳𝐚𝐧 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐯𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬. 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭, 𝐜𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐬 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐥. 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝, 𝐚 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐝, 𝐚 𝐟 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐤 𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐫𝐮𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚 𝐩𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐥 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐲. ☆☆╮

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris is Historical Romance with flavor, heart and heat! Our Dominican Scottish MC is traveling to The Exposition Universelle from Santo Domingo with three hundred casks of her family made rum Caña Brava. Unfortunately she has also lost her father and their family owned Rum business is not quite fully under her control. The only way to regain it is by marrying and having her husband then release ownership of it to her. Evan Sinclair is in a similar boat, only he has a toxic father in control of the inheritance his mother has left him as a future wedding gift. Luz is business savvy, knows what she wants and speaks her truths. She can spot a business opportunity like the best of them, and a marriage of convenience with a hot Scott? Why not?

Luz Alana has her work cut out for her, she’s now her little sister’s care taker as well as the oldest living heir to the family owned buisness in a misogynistic world. She’s looking to continue growing her brand but those who are in the business of selling spirits (white privileged men) aren’t inclined to make it easier for her. We see Luz challenge micro-agressions with wit and a spitfire personality. We see her love interest Evan attempt to handle any who step out of line but it’s not really necessary, Luz can hold her own and makes sure Evan knows it. Still, it is nice knowing he is willing to go to bat for her if need be. 

This is only the second Historical Romance I’ve picked up, the first being Sarah Maclean’s Bombshell which also featured a feminist heroine who is fiercely independent. I’m convinced now that I’ve read Luz Alana’s story arc that so long as the heroine is a no-nonsense call it like she sees it type, I will love the story! Luz addresses the fact that the generational wealth from which Evan will benefit comes from the slave trade. Evan in turn quickly acknowledges that to be a disgraceful truth.

“You are correct, yours is a legacy to be proud of. Mine, on the other hand, only warrants being razed to the ground.”

What I loved most is the way Luz and Evan’s relationship developed. Sure he was smitten from the moment he laid eyes on her but first and foremost he gave her props and admired the business woman in her. They also had grade A communication and thankfully the miscommunication trope does not rear it’s ugly head. There are some things that aren’t immediately disclosed since there is a revenge subplot but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be explained and worked through. I absolutely LOVED this book and cannot wait to read stories from Luz’s girlfriends aka The Leonas who both piqued my curiosity. 


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Spoiler Free Review: Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda

Title: Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster

Author: Andrea Mosqueda

Pub. Date: May 24th 2022

Genre: Contemporary YA/Queer

Format: eARC

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 352

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 10/10   Atmosphere: 8/10  Writing Style: 8/10  Plot: 8/10  Intrigue: 0/10  Logic/Relationships: 8/10  Enjoyment: 8/10

Rating: 50/7 =  ☆☆ 4 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

Maggie Gonzalez gave me a serious case of nostalgia as she helped her sister get ready for her quinceañera, picked a partner to accompany her to the quince and sorted through her messy (relatable) romantic feelings. Growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, Maggie dreams of one day becoming a music photographer. She’s one of three girls to a single mom/small business owner, they’re bonds with one another are pretty tight. With college right around the corner, we see Maggie struggle with mixed emotions over leaving her family as well as guilt over how expensive a college education can be. Her love life is just as complicated, Maggie is a bisexual teen who is trying to sort out her feelings for her BFF Amanda, ex Matthew and new girl in town Dani. Along the way there’s discussion on stereotypes Bisexual people are met with and the boundaries Maggie learns to set for herself. 

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster delivered Latinx queer characters that embodied the messy chaos that is being a teenager in love. This is a character driven story where the relationships are well fleshed out. This has led to some reviewers feeling like this could’ve been shorter but personally I enjoyed seeing the history behind these connections. Maggie is Gen Z (even with some pop culture references that were out of place), she smokes weed with her friends, has a Finsta and is exploring hobbies/passions that can turn into a future career. If you enjoy stories with a focus on family bonds, Maggie and her sisters are pretty tight knit. Everyone helps out in the household and family owned business, they know their mom works hard and in many ways the oldest help raise the youngest. What to look forward to? seeing Maggie’s family come together to organize the Quinceñera, Maggie trying to pick an escort to the very special birthday/rites of passage, and LOTS of complicated feelings and blurred lines. I happened to also get a copy of the audiobook and thought the narrator did a good job with the friend group, even the obnoxious temperamental ex 🤷🏻‍♀️ I also can’t end this review without mentioning how yummy this book read haha!  but seriously you’ve been warned, the mention of tacos and other foods is very likely to set your tummy rumbling 😉


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Spoiler Free Review: The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Title: The Hacienda

Author: Isabel Cañas

Pub. Date: May 3rd 2022

Genre: Paranormal/Historical Fiction

Format: eARC

Publisher: Berkley

Pages: 352

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☆☆ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review☆☆╮

Characters: 7/10   Atmosphere: 7/10  Writing Style: 8/10  Plot: 6/10  Intrigue: 7/10  Logic/Relationships: 7/10  Enjoyment: 6/10

Rating: 48/6.8 =  ☆☆ 3 Stars☆☆╮

Rating system created by The Book Roast 

Isabel Canas’ Gothic Historical Fiction set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence has been compared to the likes of Mexican Gothic & Rebecca. The story starts off with Beatriz whose father has been killed as a rebel and their home destroyed, leaving her and her mother in poverty. Begrudgingly taken in by her mother’s Criollo side of the family, Beatriz is constantly reminded of her Mestizo blood and slightly darker complexion. She’s delegated to the kitchen in an effort to avoid having to recognize her as being a part of their family up until she gets noticed by wealthy widower/Hacendado Rodolfo. Seeing no way out of her situation, she takes his marriage proposal even though it goes against everything her father fought for. It also means being disowned by her mother as she leaves for San Isidro to live in the Hacienda. A home she believed to make her own, a home that has a soul of it’s own and is haunted by the horrors that have taken place there. The Hacienda doesn’t accept Beatriz as it’s new Dueña and makes sure she knows this. With her husband away from home on business, Beatriz seeks help from the local priest Andres for a home spiritual cleansing. What she didn’t expect was to learn her husbands dark secrets or to fall for the mysterious priest with secrets of his own.

Atmospheric and dark, It was easy to get sucked in and get spooked right along with our Main character as she unraveled the mystery at the core of this story. This had exorcist vibes all along, and I’ll admit that because of this I was much more interested in our priests POV than Beatriz. There’s teasing of a forbidden romance but that’s just what it remains all throughout the book. We also don’t see much interaction between Beatriz & her new husband. I would say this was more of an exploration of the Casta system and the tension/animosity between Criollos and Mestizos. There’s social commentary with regards to the Hacendados vs. the families who’ve worked the lands, and who then really has rights to the land. As I was reading I kept telling myself this was really well researched which makes sense seeing as Cañas has a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. I enjoyed the writing but ultimately felt something was missing and I couldn’t pinpoint what that was. I’m a lover of character driven stories and that may very well be where I felt the disconnect. I’m open to reading more from this author seeing as they cover themes I’m very interested in. This debut novel covers themes of racism, religion, war, colonialism, colorism, bodily autonomy, and the Casta system.

CW: mention of rape and murder, colorism, racism


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