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Book Review – Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

I loved the Love Hypothesis so much so I was excited to read the next full length novel by Ali Hazelwood. Bee Königswasser is a neuroscientist who was offered to join the BLINK project at NASA, a huge accomplishment in her career. The only caveat is she will be co-leading the project with her arch nemesis: Levi Ward. He has always had it out for her, insinuating that she is ugly and ignoring her in the past. She has to be professional and continue working – even with missing equipment, not being included in important meetings, and being belittled every step of the way.

It’s pretty obvious this is a “he loved her first, enemies to lovers” trope – done well. The bicker and banter is sublime. I love Levi Ward – but Bee, she is brilliant, but completely oblivious. Maybe to the point where she lacks actual common sense, especially when her Twitter account is hacked. She has issues with communication, but that is her character flaw, but still annoying to read (and know what is going on). Its a rom com so it is very predictable, but still such fun to read. I didn’t like this one as much as Love Hypothesis, but still a must read!

Book Review – Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

This is the first installment from the STEMinist Novellas – focusing on the story of Mara, an environmental engineer who moves into a house she inherited from her mentor, Helena. The only caveat is that the house has someone already living in it too – Helena’s nephew, Liam, a big oil lawyer (and essentially Mara’s exact opposite.) They both live together while Mara gets on her feet financially – forcing them to interact and butt heads. 

It’s short and sweet – I wish it was longer. Ali Hazelwood has such a way with banter – and I love all the STEM female characters in her stories. It kept me wanting more. Overall, a cute enemies to lovers novella.

Book review – The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

Casey Fletcher, is an actress that has escaped to the solitude of her family lakehouse in Vermont after the death of her husband and being fired from her Broadway show. She saves Katherine Royce in the lake (wife of Tom Royce, her neighbor across the lake). They become fast friends after the incident, until Katherine disappears. Casey is convinced it is Tom, but through her alcohol induced state, it is hard to tell who the real culprit is. 

As a big fan of Riley Sager’s previous books, I was disappointed in his newest book. There are supernatural elements to the story, which is different and unexpected. The beginning of the book felt like a different one after the “secret” was revealed and I really could not take the story seriously after that. Also, all the characters were pretty unlikable, especially Casey. This was definitely not my cup of tea.

Book Review – I’m Glad my Mom Died by Jannette McCurdy

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

An autobiography by Jennette McCurdy detailing her start as a child actor on the Nickelodeon show, iCarly, to her heartbreaking struggle with eating disorders, and all the insecurities bestowed upon her by own mother. I did not know who Jennette McCurdy was, but definitely familiar with the earlier teen shows on Nickelodeon so it was sad to read about her treatment and the traumas of her childhood that led to her eventual self harm through addiction and eating disorders. The pace was perfect and kept you wanting to know more about her and her journey.

Book Review – The Murder of Mr Wickham by Claudia Gray

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

A murder mystery with all of Jane Austen’s leading characters and the death of the infamous Mr. Wickham. Mr. Knightley and Emma host a summer party at their home, inviting their family and friends to stay – when Mr. Wickham shows up unannounced. Due to turbulent weather, he spends the night and the next day he is found dead. The killer has to be one of the guests. While the case is being investigated, Juliet Tilney and Jonathan Darcy aid with their own research around the estate to unmask the killer. 

It was a delight to read most of Jane Austen’s leading characters together in the “room” and up until Mr. Wickham’s death, the story kept up the intrigue. As soon as he dies, the story in between slows painfully. I would have loved to read more about about Jonathan and Juliet’s blossoming friendship/romance, but it focused on a painstakingly slow investigation process. The story picks up as you get closer to the end, but I found it more of a relief that it was over. Overall, a nice mystery for the Jane Austen lover, but I did not love it.

Thank you to Vintage books and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest review!

Book Review – The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

I chose this horror/thriller as my August Book of the Month after seeing all the hype for it. Mario just lost his daughter to leukemia and his wife Melisa leaves him soon after. In debt and in despair, he takes on local hit jobs from his friend Brian to make ends meet and in a way, take out his anger on those that deserve it. Mario takes on one more near- suicidal mission to steal a Mexican drug cartel’s cash shipment with the help of Brian and Juanca. The pay off: $200,000 each – enough for him to start over and hopefully win back Melisa. 

The writing is gritty and you really feel Mario’s despair as he is trying to overcome the depression and anger of losing his daughter and wife, blatant racism for being “brown” in America, and the inequality of the healthcare system. Though it is in the horror genre, the violence and descriptive dismemberment is not my cup of tea. I enjoyed the mix of supernatural elements, and I wish there was more of that. Parts of the book felt slow and I found myself distracted. Overall, the story is well written and I liked most of it, but personally the torture/extreme violence was not for me. 

TW: extreme violence, dismemberment, drug use

Book Review – Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow bf Gabrielle Zevin

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

This book completely took me by surprise. I loved it! It is a contemporary fiction (and coming of age) about Sadie and Sam/Mazer, who met as children playing video games, had a falling out, and reconnected again at Harvard. They build video games, and over decades grow up together and deal with issues that strengthen and often fracture their friendship at the same time. They become famous as game creators and with wealth, they have a new slew of problems and attention. They are friends that have a deeper love than that of romance, but as collaborative creators – which to them is a much stronger love.

I really loved this even though I am not really a gamer. The back and forth between timelines was easy to understand but so masterfully woven by Zevin that it kept my interest throughout the story. This story gave me all the feels – I was near crying, smiling, and in the end, enchanted. 

Thank you to Knopf books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review – Does It Hurt ? by H.D. Carlton

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

I’ve been hearing so much about this book the last few weeks and with such a deep reading slump, I wanted to reach something that was riveting and exciting. 

This is a dark, erotic thriller/suspense about a lonely fugitive named Sawyer, who is on the run from her past (and from the law). She finds herself at a bar meeting a mysterious man named Enzo, who she knows she should stay away from despite all the warnings, they have an unforgettable night together. When she leaves in the morning, she also steals his info/financial information. Naturally, he stalks her when he finds out – and they end up shipwrecked in a lighthouse, stuck together until help arrives. The lightkeeper is creepy as hell, keeping them locked up at night and claims all the sounds they are hearing at night are ghosts. Enzo and Sawyer have to work together despite their own desire

I might have been the only one who thought  this was so/so. The steamy scenes were great, but there were too many triggers in my case as I find non-consent completely unacceptable, no matter how hot he is portrayed in the story. Also, their chemistry was a bit forced. Don’t get me wrong, I love the enemies to lovers trope, but I just did not love this story as much as everyone else did. The ending just wrapped too perfectly, and was baffled how they thought a simple google search on photos or even dna tests by the authorities, wouldn’t contradict their story. In all, great spicy scenes, but not really to my taste, and overall ok story.

Tropes/ Triggers: Enemies to lovers, one bed, non-consent, history of abuse, trauma, alpha hero

Book Review – Love of my Life by Rosie Walsh

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/ 5 

A dual POV mystery thriller involving Emma and her husband Leo. Upon writing an obituary for her in the case of her death (since she has cancer), he finds that stories of her past are not lining up with what she told him when they met. From her education to even her name, he soon realizes he knows nothing but lies from the woman he loves, including that their daughter really is his or not. The story has so many turns and twists that it is almost hard to keep up, where it seems every single character has their own secret.

This had me constantly guessing with its intriguing story and fast-paced writing style. Definitely one of my favorite thrillers over the last few months.

Book Review – Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/ 5 

This is a historical fiction taking place in 1950s England about three different women working at Bloomsbury Books. It is also the follow up to the Jane Austen Society (which I did not read).  The bookshop is managed by Mr. Dutton, who has created 51 rules that all staff must adhere to. These three women: Vivian, Grace, and Evie have all suffered from workplace inequality amongst their male peers. Evie, the newer employee, has a motive to search high and low for a rare book based on her previous research at Cambridge – she is adamant it must be there somewhere in the shop. 

There is a lot going on. Grace, with her unmotivated, abusive husband Gordon, to the hate/love relationship between Vivian and Alec, the secret relationships amongst the staff, the racism that Ash feels as an Indian man in England at this time, and efforts of different members of the staff to take over the shop. I liked it, but there were large portions of the book that moved painstakingly slow. The ending made me feel good, but also felt rushed at the same time. The subtle flirtation between Lord Baskin and Grace is cute, but I wish there was more of it.  I am in the minority of those that did not LOVE it, but glad I read it.

Thank you to St Martin’s Press for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!