The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

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Have you ever watched “Black Swan”? It was such an interesting movie, and I’ve been on a kick of books related to such topics lately.

Thank you St Martins Press for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Fourteen years ago, Delphine abandoned her prestigious soloist spot at the Paris Opera Ballet for a new life in St. Petersburg––taking with her a secret that could upend the lives of her best friends, fellow dancers Lindsay and Margaux. Now 36 years old, Delphine has returned to her former home and to the legendary Palais Garnier Opera House, to choreograph the ballet that will kickstart the next phase of her career––and, she hopes, finally make things right with her former friends. But Delphine quickly discovers that things have changed while she’s been away…and some secrets can’t stay buried forever.

I think I went into it with this whole “Black Swan” mantra, and soon realized it wouldn’t live up to those expectations. It’s a slow burn, a bit too slow for what I wanted. I think the author did an amazing job delving into the art and world of dance. I honestly haven’t read a book that did so well in putting the reader in some ballet shoes of their own. I didn’t really get a mystery-vibe from this book. I think this author has extreme potential and I am ready and willing for her next read. I think this book would be appreciated more by those who have a background in dance, but it’s not something I would pick up again.

3/5 Stars

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

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Do you ever come across a book that just calls after you despite already seemingly have an idea that this may just shatter your heart into pieces? No? Just me?

Thank you Simon and Schuster for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. What’s worse is she can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with their angelic daughter Harriet does Frida finally feel she’s attained the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she’s just enough. Until Frida has a horrible day. The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida — ones who check their phones while their kids are on the playground; who let their children walk home alone; in other words, mothers who only have one lapse of judgement. Now, a host of government officials will determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion. Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that she can live up to the standards set for mothers — that she can learn to be good.

Of course, this story really will break your heart into a million pieces. While it’s advertised as a dystopian novel, I felt like it lacked descriptive elements of the world Frida lived in. We only hear and see her side of things which got to be repetitive throughout the novel. It was a slow-paced story-line that became really dark and twisted. Was it entertaining? I would say it was captivating and gripping! Did I really get immersed into the struggle of social injustice? Not really….While I wouldn’t read this again, I think it’s a great book club novel and a story that will be on my mind for quite some time.

3/5 Stars

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens

The holidays are upon us, so what better timing for a romantic comedy?!

Thank you Putnam Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura’s dream man–she’s sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him. The mix-up seems written in the stars. After all, what are the odds that she’d find The One on the same remote island where her mom and dad had first fallen in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their epic romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents’ footsteps. And if beneath Ted’s gruffness lies a wit that makes their cab rides strangely entertaining, so much the better. But as Laura’s long-lost luggage soulmate proves difficult to find–and as she realizes that the love story she’s held on a pedestal all her life might not have been that perfect–she’ll have to rethink her whole outlook on love to discover what she really wants.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It kind of gave me some Mamma Mia vibes for some reason – I think it was the traveling plus the remembrance of parents falling in love. It’s such a light-hearted rom-com that also gives you such great character development and depth in their growth as a person. This is such a heart-warming story, I could easily find myself reading it over again! A true delight.

5/5 Stars

Heard It In A Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves

I was really moved by the last book I had read from Tracey, so I’m excited to be back in her world of writing.

Thank you St Martin’s Press for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Layla Hilding is thirty-five and recently divorced. Struggling to break free from the past—her glory days as the lead singer in a band and a ten-year marriage to a man who never put her first—Layla’s newly found independence feels a lot like loneliness. Then there’s Josh, the single dad whose daughter attends the elementary school where Layla teaches music. Recently separated, he’s still processing the end of his twenty-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. He chats with Layla every morning at school and finds himself thinking about her more and more. Equally cautious and confused about dating in a world that favors apps over meeting organically, Layla and Josh decide to be friends with the potential for something more. Sounds sensible and way too simple—but when two people are on the rebound, is it heartbreak or happiness that’s a love song away?

Oh man, this kind of story is my favorite trope. I love me a good second chance at love. I feel like those are the most authentic love stories, and Tracey did not disappoint with that in this book. Just like her previous book I read, “The Girl He Used To Know”, he characters are so well developed and multi-layered. It’s always such a joy to read her books because of that. While their love story was a slow burn, I felt it completely necessary in this book. What I did struggle with, and tend to do so in many other books, is the alternating chapters between the character’s viewpoints. It wasn’t as seamless as I had hoped it would be. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book.

4/5 Stars

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

I fell in love with Patti’s writing of CS Lewis-type stories when I read Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and I’m excited to read her newest novel, out today!

Thank you Tandem Literary and Harper Muse for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics. She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a copy of a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse. Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George. Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

This book is also just as beautiful as Becoming Mrs. Lewis. It’s sad, but she did a great job discussing how to heal and cope with sadness in life and the good that comes out of it. It’s a warming, feel good novel even with the sadness in it. I LOVE the Chronicles of Narnia, so this was such a cool way to talk about those stories again in a different breath. Beautiful!

5/5 Stars

Femlandia by Christina Dalcher

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Christina Dalcher is not a new author to me, so I’m excited to be able to dive into her latest novel! I enjoyed her book “Vox” and am looking forward to seeing what this one is about.

Thank you Berkley for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Miranda Reynolds always thought she would rather die than live in Femlandia. But that was before the country sank into total economic collapse and her husband walked out in the harshest, most permanent way, leaving her and her sixteen-year-old daughter with nothing. The streets are full of looting, robbing, and killing, and Miranda and Emma no longer have much choice—either starve and risk getting murdered, or find safety. And so they set off to Femlandia, the women-only colony Miranda’s mother, Win Somers, established decades ago. Although Win is no longer in the spotlight, her protégé Jen Jones has taken Femlandia to new heights: The off-grid colonies are secluded, self-sufficient, and thriving—and Emma is instantly enchanted by this idea of a safe haven. But something is not right. There are no men allowed in the colony, but babies are being born—and they’re all girls. Miranda discovers just how the all-women community is capable of enduring, and it leads her to question how far her mother went to create this perfect, thriving, horrifying society.

I liked Vox and I think about that book often, but I literally felt like I just read the exact same thing. Okay, maybe not the same thing, but not far from it. I feel like the author was trying to get the exact same message across, with just slightly different characters. I feel like Vox was a strong enough book on this topic that another book so similar made it redundant? I’m not sure…maybe it’s just my feelings. I went into this book understanding that yes, it had similar vibes. I’m leaving with being shocked at HOW similar these two books really were. I think this book had way more intense characters. This book is not for the faint of heart as the characters just come off as really intense in their actions and dialogue. I’d stick with reading Vox instead.

2/5 Stars

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Hello fellow readers, and welcome to spooky season! This is my time of the year to shine! I’ve had my eyes on this book for so long as I’m a huge fan of the original TV show Bewitched and I got those vibes as soon as I saw this book come across my radar.

Thank you Avon books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: 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, descendant 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.

Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined a better book to enter the fall season with than this one. I absolutely loved it! I loved the contemporary setting with really creative fantasy touches. It’s high on the romance level, so if that’s not something you’re into or wanting to read at this time, save it for later. The humor and charm in this book was excellent and a much needed reprieve from real life. I can’t wait for more in this world!

5/5 Stars

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

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Sometimes you just need a really good romance novel for a break in-between the thrills and mayhem.

Thank you Berkley for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: 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.

As a scientist by trade myself, I absolutely loved this book. It was the perfect mix of romance, science, and comedy. This, in my opinion, is the perfect romance book. Not only were you rooting for the main characters, but you were also falling in love with the side characters too! I wanted more of the story and secretly hope there is something in the works down the line. Plus, a story about women in STEM? Heck yes!

5/5 Stars

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

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Nicola Harrison is one of my most favorite authors. I absolutely fell in love with her previous novel Montauk, and was so excited to get my hands on this one!

Thank you St Martin’s Press for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: It’s 1927 when Olive McCormick moves from Minneapolis to New York City determined to become a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Extremely talented as a singer and dancer, it takes every bit of perseverance to finally make it on stage. And once she does, all the glamour and excitement is everything she imagined and more–even worth all the sacrifices she has had to make along the way. Then she meets Archie Carmichael. Handsome, wealthy–the only man she’s ever met who seems to accept her modern ways–her independent nature and passion for success. But once she accepts his proposal of marriage he starts to change his tune, and Olive must decide if she is willing to reveal a devastating secret and sacrifice the life she loves for the man she loves.

As if Nicola couldn’t get any better! I’m not a historical fiction reader, but this book was phenomenal. I couldn’t help to feel for Olive. I just had such a big heart for her. She went through so much in this book, and I just wanted to be her best friend and steer her in the right path. I really felt like I was in the 1920s reading this novel. Nicola has such an awesome talent for writing such beautiful and captivating stories. This comes highly recommended!

5/5 Stars

Holdout by Jeffrey Kluger

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Since most recently reading and loving “Project Hail Mary”, I’ve been going for all the space-themed books!

Thank you Dutton for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Walli Beckwith is a model astronaut. She graduated at the top of her class from the Naval Academy, had a successful career flying fighter jets, and has spent more than three hundred days in space. So when she refuses to leave her post aboard the International Space Station following an accident that forces her fellow astronauts to evacuate, her American and Russian colleagues are mystified. For Walli, the matter at hand feels all too clear and terrifying for her to be worried about ruining her career. She is stuck in a race against time to save a part of the world that seems to have been forgotten, and also the life of the person she loves the most. She will go to any length necessary, using the only tool she has, to accomplish what she knows is right.

This was a mix of mystery, contemporary, and a touch of science fiction. There is a good amount of science in it, but not nearly as much as Project Hail Mary and not nearly enough to steer non-science lovers away from this. The one thing that shocked me the most was how political it was. A little too much for my liking, especially for having it advertised as a science fiction novel. Not a bad read, but not something I would pick up again.

3/5 Stars