A Very Unexpected Romance | Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

A Very Unexpected Romance | Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession… or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime. [From Goodreads]

Christina Lauren’s books so far have been very hit or miss for me. I absolutely adored The Soulmate Equation and Love and Other Words, but The Unhoneymooners and The Honey-Don’t List really did not hook me at all. That being said, I went into this one with a relatively open mind, but I didn’t expect anything other than the normal romance arc.

This was one of the wildest (no pun intended) romances I’ve read to date. I was very confused about the inclusion of alt-right incel Terry… like were Christina Lauren trying to inject a statement about our political climate into this romance? But no, clearly this horrible character I could not stand played a bigger part of this narrative.

I won’t lie, it was extremely over the top. I couldn’t believe the treasure hunt story that ensued. But it was also very fun. And the imagery Christina Lauren were able to create of the characters riding through Utah almost made me cry. I’ve never been, but this book made me feel like I have. I think that descriptive writing alone sealed the deal for me on this one.

Lily and Leo’s story was also very sweet, and obviously the chemistry was amazingly developed. I wish we had seen more of them, though. I think the treasure hunting parts of the story overshadowed the romance just a bit.

The treasure hunting and the chaos that ensues because of it was almost just a bit too unbelievable, too. All in all, though, it was a fun adventure romance. If you’re looking for a romance with a spin on it, this one is definitely for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Recent, Current, and Future Reads | WWW Wednesday [6.22.22]

Recent, Current, and Future Reads | WWW Wednesday [6.22.22]

This is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words that asks us to answer the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Feeling good about my reading this week, so let’s get into it!

Currently reading: I started Girl, Woman, Other on Monday. I was already feeling like I wanted to read something for Pride Month, and on top of that, it was also Juneteenth. So, better way to celebrate than by reading black authors and about black queerness. I’m also about to finish Sea of Monsters already. These audiobooks are going quick which is great cause I eventually want to listen to all of Riordan’s other series, spinoffs and otherwise.

Recently finished: The last book I finished was Something Wilder. I still need to write my review for this one, but it was definitely different than I was expecting! I really enjoyed it overall, though.

Reading next: Ok, it’s actually embarrassing how many times Scorpica and Last Night at the Telegraph Club have been in a WWW Wednesday post. I need to read these just so I can stop feeling shame every time I write one of these. Pride Month is ending soon, and I need to get to these, I just need to. And obviously, I will be picking up The Titan’s Curse as soon as I finish Sea of Monsters and it becomes available from the library.

What are you reading on this lovely Wednesday?

Half the Year in Books | Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

Half the Year in Books | Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

I saw Michaela do this tag, and almost couldn’t believe we’re halfway through the year. That can’t be right, can it? Apparently, it can. I’m looking forward to looking at my reading so far this year, so here we go!

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2022?

This decision was tough. I read a lot of amazing romances (The Love Hypothesis, The Roughest Draft), but this one was just so epic and all around great. This is one I recommend to many different people when they ask for recent release recommendations.

BEST SEQUEL YOU HAVE READ SO FAR IN 2022?

I was really torn between this one and Our Violent Ends, but I remember feeling so hyped up when I finished this one. OVE was so good, but the cliffhanger in this one was absolutely insane. I’m so, so excited to continue on with this series in 2022.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO?

I’ve mentioned this book several times on my blog so far and STILL haven’t gotten to it. It looks incredible, so maybe June will be the month for it.

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE OF THE SECOND HALF OF 2022?

No thoughts, just Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood. If you know, you know.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2022?

It’s really hard for a romance to miss the mark with me, and everything about Anatomy just seemed perfect for my tastes. Romance and grave-digging? Automatic yes. This one wasn’t the worst book I read this year by far, but it was definitely the biggest disappointment for my expectations.

BIGGEST SURPRISE OF 2022?

The plot for this book was so weird, and I really wasn’t into it at first. It turned out to be a really, really sweet story that I still think about quite a bit.

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR OF 2022 (DEBUT OR NEW TO YOU)?

Women in STEM and romance. Again, if you know you know.

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER?

Juliette is so fucking cool. I enjoyed seeing her struggle between her loyalty and her love for Roma.

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH?

Aaron Fucking Blackford. Enough said.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY?

The depiction of addiction in this novel is so heartbreaking. Especially if you’ve personally dealt with addiction in the family like I have, Matty’s struggle is so hard to read. I think I was tearing up within the first 5 pages.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY?

This book was so magical, and while the contents weren’t all that happy, the vibes were so beautiful with this one I felt happy finishing it!

FAVORITE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION YOU’VE SEEN SO FAR THIS YEAR?

I haven’t finished watching yet (I’m trying to stretch it out for as long as possible), but the adaptation is amazing so far. They really nailed the Massachusetts Summer vibe which is very nostalgic for me.

FAVORITE REVIEW YOU’VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR?

It’s easier to write about books you absolutely loved, so it makes sense that my favorite writing was in the review for Book Lovers. This is one I feel that I was really able to capture my feelings well, and it seemed like others agreed when I posted this one.

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU BOUGHT OR RECIEVED SO FAR THIS YEAR?

I haven’t read this one yet, but it was absolutely 90% a cover buy. I mean, just look at it. Need I say more?

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

I have way too many books that I would love to read this year, but I try not to make myself feel guilty about not reading books (unless they’re ARCs). So, I’m just picking this one ARC I’m so excited to read–and still don’t know how I was approved for it.

How are you feeling about your reading so far this year?

Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley | Book Review

Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley | Book Review

Jada Townsend-Matthews is the most reviled woman in America after turning down a proposal on a reality dating show. When she comes home to lick her wounds, Jada finds herself working at San Diego’s newest cupcake bakery, Sugar Blitz, alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell.

When a reporter mistakenly believes Jada and Donovan are an item, they realize they can use the misunderstanding to their advantage to help the struggling bakery and rehabilitate Jada’s image. Faking a relationship should be simple, but sometimes love is the most unexpected ingredient.

I was soooo looking forward to a fun new fake dating story when I was given this eARC. Baking and fake dating are quite literally the perfect combo. So I was very optimistic going into this one and even as the story started. I liked how Jada and Donovan were originally introduced with their own respective stories.

Unfortunately, the book quickly went downhill for me. The story just felt too focused on sticking to the fake dating plot without really delving into the characters’ actual relationship. It almost felt like things were just happening to Jada and Donovan because “this is how the romance arc is supposed to go”.

I felt no connection between the two. Really disappointing because this story could’ve been the perfect amount of cute and spice.

In the end, it just felt really underdeveloped to the point I almost DNF’d at 60%. Even the side characters felt pushed to the side.

I feel like this story had a lot of potential, though, especially at the outset. I wouldn’t completely rule out reading something else by this author, but this one was just a disappointment.

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
Recent, Current, and Future Reads | WWW Wednesday [6.15.22]

Recent, Current, and Future Reads | WWW Wednesday [6.15.22]

This is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words that asks us to answer the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Another beautiful Wednesday in June! Halfway through the month and it’s one of my best friends birthdays! So I’ll be celebrating that this week as well as trying to read more.

Currently reading: I just got Something Wilder on my Kindle from the library after a good few weeks wait. I got about 2% in last night before I passed out in bed. Not much to say on this front. For once, I’m only reading one book at a time. That will definitely change later, but as of right now, that’s it!

Recently finished: I finished The Paper Palace, Fake It Till You Bake It (review copy), and The Lightning Thief all within the past couple days. Reviews to come still for the first two! I loved Paper Palace but was pretty disappointed with FITYBI. Percy Jackson will always be amazing.

Reading next: I have no reading plans aside from continuing with the Percy Jackson series! That means Sea of Monsters is up next (as soon as it comes off hold from the library). I have a physical copy, but I want to continue with the audiobooks which I really enjoyed the first of. I’ll probably start a physical book as well soon, but no clue what that will be.

What are you reading today? Comment or link your WWWs below!

These Violent Delights Duology by Chloe Gong | Series Review

These Violent Delights Duology by Chloe Gong | Series Review

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule. [From Goodreads]

This series blew me away. Wow. I was very wary going into the series. I haven’t seen that much about them, and what I have seen has been mixed. I also just am not a fan of gang stories and the gratuitous violence that goes along with them. This series has me rethinking that stance.

I just have never read anything like this series (except for, ya know, Romeo and Juliet). But seriously, what a refreshing take on YA fantasy. I listened to the audio for both books, and they were something I looked forward to pressing play on every day. The story was so unique, and I never knew what was going to happen. Gong also sets up the political conflicts between gangs, nationalists and communists so well–it felt very realistic and really helped to fill in the historical setting.

What really made this duology were the characters. I fell in love with everyone, especially Juliette and Roma’s star-crossed arc. I am usually suspect of multiple perspective stories–sometimes it can be hard for the author to develop all characters equally. That was not the case with this series. Every character got their own satisfying arc and end, and I loved reading each of their perspectives.

The only aspect of this series I can criticize is the ending, which I felt was slightly rushed and had too much packed into it. I was getting a little confused about the different sides everyone was playing on. This was such a small thing compared to how much I loved the rest of the books, though, so I was overall happy with how the ending turned out for everyone.

This series definitely deserves more hype from YA lovers.

If you’ve read this series, what did you think of it?

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Five Favorite Quotes from Books | Top Ten Tuesday [5.24.22]

Five Favorite Quotes from Books | Top Ten Tuesday [5.24.22]

I am back after a long hiatus!! I went to a friend’s wedding a week ago, and after I felt really dejected about having to leave everyone I got to see there. I also moved home for the summer to help out with my mom’s store. So, it’s been a busy week, and I’m just now getting back into a schedule.

And it’s Tuesday again, wooo! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) is a quote freebie. I am really bad at annotating my books when I read, so I only have five. No theme, they’re just quotes that really resonated with me when I read them.

“I said I didn’t think the fear was the problem as much as the struggle. I said I thought the struggle should be to accept death, not to defy it. “Hmmm,” he said. “Imagine a tiger,” he said.”

This one was really relevant to a topic I’m passionate about. So many people in the West try to ignore death. When Hadley brings this topic up to her therapist, the response is to once again ignore it–imagine a tiger instead. Such a bittersweet way of encapsulating this struggle in two lines.

“Like when Spotify plays a song you haven’t heard since childhood, and it reminds you who you are. Like “Oh yeah, I’m a person who knows all the words to Will Smith’s ‘Wild Wild West.”

I am obsessed with this feeling that listening to a song can transport you somewhere else. Williams perfectly summed up this feeling–of being reminded of who you were and how different things were when you knew this song.

“You endure what is unbearable, and you bear it. That is all.”

This quote wrecked me when I first read it. I generally consider myself to be very fortunate in the opportunities I was granted in life, but I’ve struggled a lot existentially still. This quote is exactly how I face those struggles. All things must pass, as George Harrison would say. We just need to bear that which we think we cannot bear.

“It’s as if she understood completely the condition of loneliness and how it undermines us all, forcing us to make choices that we know are wrong for us.”

After I read this, I learned that John Boyne is not a great guy. But, this book was incredible and heartbreaking. This quote is so beautiful and devastating in how true it is. Are we not all just making choices to save ourselves from loneliness? That is how I feel at all times. And if it’s not how you operate, I am truly happy for you.

“Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. …And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything.”

You didn’t think I’d get through a list of favorite book quotes without adding a Twilight book, did you? New Moon is one of the most beautifully written books on grief and depression I have ever read, and I will fight anyone who disagrees. This quote has always been one of my favorites. Incredibly romantic and tormented. No notes. And, fun fact, it is the most liked quote from this book on Goodreads.

I felt a little embarrassed at first only picking quotes that truly resonated with me and not just for the writing or some other characteristic. But, I think we read books to see ourselves mirrored in them, so why shouldn’t I care most about quotes I find myself reflected in?

What is your favorite book quote?

10 Bookish Characters | Top Ten Tuesday [5.10.22]

10 Bookish Characters | Top Ten Tuesday [5.10.22]

Woooo, Tuesday! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) topic is exciting because I immediately thought of several characters that would fit. Bookish characters! Authors love to write about people who love books because, well, write what you know, right??

Daniel Sempere

from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


This is the book that immediately jumped out to me. It is my favorite book of all time, and Daniel is just so sweet in it, too. The whole plot centers around Daniel’s quest to find more info about a mysterious book. So glad I could finally include this one on my blog!

Liesel Meminger

from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


This one has also been a favorite for so long, and if you’ve read the book, you know Liesel deserves a spot on any bookish character list.

Bella Swan

from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer


People often forget how big of a bookworm Bella is, probably because the movie really glosses over it. Fact is, Bella is a book freak and it is her hobby, for everyone who says she has no life. I will defend her to my death.

Ethan Wate

from Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl


This is totally a nostalgia pick. Maybe this is because I love Alden Ehrenreich in the movie, but I always thought Ethan was such a cutie (even if his fav is Bukowski🤢)

Macy Sorensen and Elliot Petropoulos

from Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren


This book had me sobbing. Elliot is so sweet to Macy, and they literally bonded over reading books and giving each other words they learned from reading. I shouldn’t have to say anything else about this one.

Merritt Emmons

from Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth


So much to say about this book, and all the characters are incredible. Merritt is the one who writes the book and catalyst for the story, though, so she is the one being showcased here!

January Andrews and Augustus Everett

from Beach Read by Emily Henry


If you’ve read my blog, you know how much I fucking love Emily Henry. Author hero and heroine. I don’t need to explain myself.

Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen

from The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka


Same idea as Beach Read. Something about two authors doing the enemies-to-lovers thing. Gets me every time.

Celaena Sardothien

from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


A bad-ass assassin who also loves books? What’s not to love?

Nora Stephens and Charlie Lastra

from Book Lovers by Emily Henry


Again, Emily Henry is the queen of bookish romance. Nora and Charlie are perfect and I will not take any criticism at this time.

I definitely thought it would be easier to find books I’ve read with bookish characters! I think there are probably more, but I just don’t remember them all because some will only briefly mention a love of books. I tried to pick ones where reading was essential to the story or the character.

Who is your favorite bookish character?

Find me here!

A Just OK Fae Fantasy | Of Beast and Burden by Kelsey Kicklighter [REVIEW]

A Just OK Fae Fantasy | Of Beast and Burden by Kelsey Kicklighter [REVIEW]

On the coast of Georgia rests a small southern town where faeries still take changelings. Faye lost her mother to the Folk, but has she spent her whole life longing for a glimpse—however brief—behind the veil.

When Faye finds her way in, she also finds the truth of why the dark and alluring world of the Folk has always called to her: She’s half-faerie, and heiress to the Dark Court’s throne.

When the rival court steals her best friend, she’ll have to claim her crown to get her back. But that means learning how to use her glamour so she can face three deadly trials—and not falling for the dark and brooding king she’s meant to be replacing, or the nymph-turned-knight teaching her to fight. [From Goodreads]

I had high hopes for this one, and maybe that was inevitably its downfall. I had seen someone compare this to The Cruel Prince series by Holly Black, one of my all-time favorites. So I was incredibly excited to start this one when I received approval on NetGalley.

Jordyn from Jordyn Reads really summed it up in her one-word review of this book: “underdeveloped”. This book had so much potential, and in the end, it just did not deliver.

The story started out with Faye at a high school party. Lots of southern charm, lots of friend dynamics already starting to form. I thought we would get to see a mix of the fae world and southern suburbia and how they interact with each other throughout the story, but this scene is really the extent we get of that.

After this, we get so much info on seelie/unseelie dynamics and absolutely no development of any of the characters. The only character who seemed well-developed was Gage. I know nothing about Faye, Isla, Ellie, or their grandmother.

The interactions with Gage are what kept me from DNFing this book. They were little glimmers of what could have been with this story had the other characters benefited from the same kind of characterization.

I loved the Bi rep as well, which is why I was so sad about not enjoying this one. It was underwhelming, and not much happens until the very end of the book. When something eventually did happen, I didn’t care enough about the characters to really feel anything.

II will give credit to this one for at least not giving me the feeling I had to DNF.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Thank you to NetGalley and Independent Publishers’ Group for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Find me here!

Emily Henry Does Not Miss | Book Lovers by Emily Henry [REVIEW]

Emily Henry Does Not Miss | Book Lovers by Emily Henry [REVIEW]

Nora Stephens’ life is books – she’s read them all – and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away – with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again – in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow – what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves. [From Goodreads]

I was a little wary going into this one. I absolutely adored both Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation, but it’s been a while. I was worried that Henry’s writing wouldn’t live up to the hype I created for her in my head. I forgot about the actual magic that exists in her writing.

There was so much to love about this book. Henry said she wrote this one as a response to the common Hallmark romance trope where the main character escapes the work-obsessed partner back home in the city in small-town America. She says, “what’s wrong with being that partner back home who loves her job and the city?” This premise meant a lot to me. Before my grandma passed, we would go to her house and watch Hallmarks all night. I love Hallmark movies, but this trope is a commonly discussed and made-fun-of one in my family. This book honestly felt like home, and I loved seeing the ways Henry plays with these tropes to subvert them.

One thing that I think sets Henry apart from other romance authors is the humor she injects into her books. Characters in romances often have a very quirky sense of humor that is hard to relate to. Henry’s heroines have a little edgier and smarter sense of humor. They seem like real people that I know and am friends with. Actually, the humor kind of reminded me of the humor in Gilmore Girls which I watched over and over with my mom as a kid. The dialogue is just smart and really makes the characters come alive.

I think this is why, in the end, the romance works so well. Nora and Charlie feel like people you could bump into at any moment in the city because you get to know them so well through their dialogue. Like I said, Emily Henry has literal magic in her writing to make you feel for these characters at every turn.

Not to mention, she provides just the right amount of angst balanced with some give to make an insanely satisfying romantic ending. If you haven’t read any of Emily Henry’s romances, they are not hyped up this much for nothing–go read them!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buy Book Lovers at a local independent book retailer on IndieBound.

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