July 2022 Wrap Up: SFF reads, cozy mysteries and good romances

July was such a good reading month and I’m hoping that it’s a sign that my reading slump is finally going away. Not only did I read a lot in terms of the number of books, I also read a few really long ones and I discovered that reading long books – which is the opposite of what I have been doing- may be what I need to get out this reading slump because it makes me feel more invested in the characters and plot. It’s sonething i’ll take into account going forward.

But without further ado, let’s talk about the books:

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine (4 stars): While I liked the first book more than this one, I think this sequel did a good job and continued the story successfully. This is such a thought-provoking sci-fi series, full of political maneuvering and intrigue, clever and interesting characters, and worldbuilding that is complex without being hard to understand. I really appreciated the addition of new pov characters in the second book, it added so much complexity to the story, it allowed an exploration of the different political factions within both the Teixcalaanli Empire and Lsel Station, and it expanded the world so much in comparison to the first book. This sequel includes some interesting discussions about empires and ethics, cultural assimilation vs cultural isolationism, the value of ancestral knowledge and collective memory, power dynamics in romantic relationships and so much more.

A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark (4 stars): I have been slowly making my way through the novellas and short stories in this series this year and while I have always recognized that the world and characters are fantastic, the short format wasn’t working for me. But this full-length novel was SO GOOD. I got to see more of the two elements that I liked from the novellas: the complex and fascinating world and the flawed but easy to root for characters, while getting a longer mystery plot that I could get invested in with more characters involved and with more moving pieces. Even if the reveal wasn’t that surprising, it was still fun to read.

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree (3,5 stars): This was good, but I had heard so many amazing things about it that I went into it expecting too much. I loved the characters and the found family, there was interesting world-building, and I appreciated that it was a cozy fantasy book, but I think I needed a bit more plot-wise. Still, I would read more books set in this world and I will check out other books by this author.

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (3 stars): I have so many conflicting feelings when it comes to this book. I still think this series is a fun, entertaining and easy-to-read series set in an interesting and complex world. At this point, I’m invested in the characters, so I like seeing how the different characters and relationships evolve. But after the way the last book ended, I thought we would see more of this world and Harry would be more involved with the bigger picture of what’s going on, but it didn’t really happen, there were again only glimpses of that. Because of that, this book feels at points formulaic and repetitive. Honestly, all the plots of the books in this series are starting to feel very similar to me. Lastly, I know these books have a lot of sexism passing for chivalry and hypersexualization of female characters. Nonetheless, this book took it to another level that made me really uncomfortable because there’s hypersexualization of a 17-year-old.

Everything for you by Chloe Liese (4 stars): This is a great grump/ sunshine romance between two professional soccer players who don’t like each other all that much but are forced to be co-captains of their team. I loved the pent-up sexual tension, the amazing chemistry between them and how slowly they started to open up to each other. They shared some very vulnerable moments and they were there for one another, which made their romance believable and realistic. Beyond the main couple, I loved the glimpses we got of the rest of the Bergman family.

I had two minor issues with this: It dragged a tiny little bit in some parts and the love declarations got a bit too cheesy for me at end. but nothing that was a big deal.

To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters (4 stars): This book cemented me as a big Martha Waters fan. I have enjoyed all three books in this series so much. This book is a funny, entertaining, and quick read. Both of the main characters were easy to root for, the romance was sweet, without unnecessary conflicts or miscommunication, and there were some good steamy scenes.

How to Fake it in Hollywood by Ava Wilder (3,5 stars): Honestly, for the first 60%, I actually really enjoyed this and thought it was really entertaining. Nonetheless, this ended up being a lot darker and sadder than I thought it was going to be and the ending was so rushed, they resolved a big issue that was the source of conflict throughout the entire book off the page and that didn’t work for me. (full review)

Just Folking Around by Penny Reid (3,5 stars): This was a quick, fun, steamy read that worked perfectly as my palate cleanser after three long SFF books. I really liked both of the main characters and their dynamic and I can’t wait to read the full-length novel about them.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (4,5 stars): This book is not going to be for everyone, but it worked perfectly for me. It was a charming, quirky and quick read. Seeing a group of old people in a retirement home trying to solve a murder was fun, I liked all the characters, and I was interested in the mystery the entire time. Yes, a lot of convenient things happened but I didn’t care, I still enjoyed the story. The only reason it didn’t get 5 stars is that I didn’t love the ending, but I didn’t hate it either. Out of the three big reveals right at the end, I only liked one, the other two were kind of random and felt forced.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (4 stars): This was a quick and entertaining book. I continued with the series mostly to see the characters again, they are quirky, funny, sweet and clever and I have so much fun reading about their adventures. I didn’t find the mystery in this book nearly as interesting as the mystery in book 1, because the scope of the mystery was so big (spies, mafia, drug dealers, stolen diamonds) that the story, and especially the ending, felt incredibly unrealistic. But as I mentioned before, I read this for the characters, so I didn’t really mind that much.

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn (3,5 stars): This was better than book 5 but still not as good as the first 4 books in the series. The mystery plot was ok, the problem was that in the first 50% not a lot happened, Veronica and Stoker didn’t uncover too much, everything was left for the last half of the book, and particularly to the last 20%. So the pacing felt weird and the first half dragged a little. Also, I didn’t really guess who the villain was but that may have been because I wasn’t completely invested in the mystery plot. I still enjoyed this because I love Veronica and Stoker and there were some good moments between them. 

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (3,5 stars): The mystery in this was entertaining, and there were so many likely culprits which is always fun. Nonetheless, this is my third Miss Marple book and I was left with the same feeling that I had when I read the other two, I wish Miss Marple showed up more and not only occasionally and at the end when she appears with all the answers to everything, which she pulled out of thin air.

Goddess of Filth by V. Castro (4 stars): This wasn’t scary but it had creepy and gross moments and it was a very different take on possession. I appreciated how it discussed the stereotypes around and the dangers of being a young Latina, as well as the roles that religion, sexuality and female friendships play in the lives of young Latinas. My one issue with this book is that some of the dialogue involving the Goddess was kind of corny and that took me out of the story at times.

What are the best and worst books you read in July? Was July a good reading month for you?

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Books I wish I could read again for the first time

While I don’t watch booktok content, I still spend a lot of time on tiktok and the other day I saw a video from a bookstore (I didn’t save the video so I don’t know who they are), where booksellers talked about books they wish they could read for the first time, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what books would I choose. So today I want to share the books I came up with:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: this book made me feel so many things so strongly when I read it and I don’t think it would be quite the same on re-read. Also, I think the creepy moments and the horror of the reveals hit harder on the first read.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: this book has so many different elements (a pandemic, a cult, a theater group, some graphic novels) and different timelines, and the first time I read it it was hard to imagine how they all fit together. I would love to experience again the moment when everything made sense and I saw how every thread was tied together.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: when I read this, I felt like I was lost in a strange and beautiful world and I was so intrigued by the mystery of this library, and I would love to have that feeling again and I think it may no be as strong on a re-read

Jade City by Fonda Lee: Something happens in this book that broke my heart and I think that feeling can really only be experienced fully the first time around.Also, the not knowing what’s going to happen next and feeling like no one is safe is not the same once you know what happened.

Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews: this series brought me so much joy, I read all 10 books in about 2 weeks and I fell in love with the characters and the world. I would love to experience again that moment when I realized that I had found something special.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: This book is full of suspense, secrets and lies, and I would love to read it again without knowing who is behind everything, if the accusations about the characters are true, and if anyone is going to survive. I remember trying to figure out the mystery being a really fun part of the reading experience because it felt like all the clues were there, I would love to have that again.

Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese: beyond the fact that this book is excellent, I wish I could read it for the first time because it made me confront the things I assume about people when I meet them and it wouldn’t happen on a re-read because I’d go in knowing that the assumption is wrong.

Headliners by Lucy Parker: this book was a great romance and part of the reason why it’s the humor, I laughed out loud so many times because there were so many funny moments that came unexpectedly and I think they won’t be as funny a second time around, so I would love to be able to experience it for the first time again.

What books do you wish you could read for the first time?

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Disappointing Books of 2021

Hi everyone! As I have mentioned, 2021 was not a great reading year for me and part of it had to do with reading disappointing sequels or disappointing books by authors I’ve read and loved before. Today, I’m talking about some of those disappointing books.

But before talking about them, I want to mention that these are not bad books, all of them got 3 or 3.5 stars. Nonetheless, when you are expecting to read a new favorite book or at least a 5 star read, a 3 stars book is pretty disappointing.

With You Forever by Chloe Liese: Including this book on this list makes me so sad, this is truly my most disappointing book of the year because my expectations were so high. The first three books on this series are all-time favorite romance books and this couple sounded like everything I ever wanted, so I can’t believe I didn’t love it.

I had issues with the pacing, it felt like I was dropped in the middle of the story and not at the beginning, and Rooney and Axel not talking about liking each other (and the internal monologue of I’m sure he/she doesn’t like me) and struggling because nothing could happen between them (when there’s wasn’t any reason for that) made parts of this book feel very slow for me. Also, some of their thoughts and dialogue were a bit too cheesy for me.

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn: In 2021, I read the books in this series that have been released so far and I loved the first 4 entries. Unfortunately, this last book of the series was my least favorite. It was so boring to me. The main issue I had was the plot, I didn’t find the mystery in this one interesting and it dragged so much. Also, the development of the main characters and their relationship was not as present in this book, it was left to the very end and I think the book suffered because of it.

Shipped by Angie Hockman: When I saw this book described as a mix between The Hating Game and the Honeymooners, I was so excited to read it and the fact that the reviews of people with ARCs were so positive made me have even higher expectations. Unfortunately, this was a fast and engaging read but the characters were lacking depth, which as a character-driven reader is a huge problem for me. I liked that the main character was ambitious, but she was so self-centered and a bit annoying, and it didn’t help that this was told just from her pov, so we spend the entire book in her head. And while the banter between the main characters was good and they did have chemistry, most of the time, when they had conversations with any emotional depth, those conversations were stilted and a bit cringy. Also, I wasn’t expecting this to be fade to black and the two kissing scenes we get are so full of metaphors that it ruined the steaminess.

The Sinister Mystery of the Mermerizing Girl by Theodora Goss: This book was actually good but after how much I loved the previous books in the series, I was a bit disappointed. The author tried to tie the plot of this book to the overarching plot of the previous two installments, but it didn’t really work. This felt like a different story that came out of nowhere. The overall resolution of the plot was anticlimatic and the story dragged. I still enjoyed this, because I love the characters and their relationships so much. But even with that, I felt like the resolution of the personal storylines of the characters wasn’t that satisfying either. This book focused too much on a plot that I found a bit boring and not enough in closing the storylines of the characters.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry: I enjoyed this book, both of the main characters were likable, I love friends to lovers stories so enjoyed that aspect of the book, and the back and forth between the past and the present made the build-up of their relationship interesting to read about. Nonetheless, the big reveal of why they stopped talking for 2 years took way too long and it was so anti-climatic, the main characters had been best friends for 10 years and stopped talking for something so minimal that it didn’t make sense. If you are going to make the reveal so late in the book, you need to make it really impressive or else it’s going to feel like a letdown. This is the main reason why this book is a disappointment. Also, I didn’t love the last part of the book, the conflict after the big reveal felt almost like an unnecessary complication.

What books disappointed you in 2021?

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August 2021 Wrap Up: my reading slump is over!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m excited to share my August wrap up. August was a really good reading month for me, after 3 months of being in a very severe reading slump and reading almost nothing, I got back into reading this month and managed to finish 12 books from various genres. I enjoyed most of them, so I’m happy to share my thoughts!

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Network Effect by Martha Wells (3,5 stars): I love murderbot and ART, and the side characters are really likable as well. I liked the mystery in this one but the pacing was off, it dragged in certain parts and went too fast at the end. Overall enjoyable, but I like the novella format of the other entries in this series more.

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Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells (4 stars): This was enjoyable and a really quick read. I loved murderbot in this and seeing it interact with new humans that don’t necessarily trust it was really fun because it is SO passive-aggressive. Seeing people change their minds about murderbot and start to like it is also always really great. The mystery was entertaining and I would love to see murderbot solve more murders in the future.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire (3,5 stars): This is my least favorite book in this series, but it was still a fast and engaging read. I really liked Regan as the main character, the intersex rep, exploring the hooflands, the discussions about personhood and the character development. But there wasn’t really a plot and what happened at the end made sense but it felt really anti-climatic at the same time. 

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When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo (4 stars): I loved this as much as the first novella in this series… maybe a little more. It was so whimsical, the world this was set in was so intricate, the commentary on storytelling and on the “truth” was really interesting and Chih was an incredible main character.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley (4 stars): quick read, interesting characters, the atmosphere of the isolated island was fantastic, there was lots of tension because of all the secrets, and the writing was actually really good. The last 30% of this book was intense, but before that, the book dragged because not a lot happens, and while there are a lot of secrets nothing is revealed until the final part of the book. I would say that the two timelines felt a little pointless since we only get about 3 or 4 pages of the present here and there and nothing happens on those pages, nothing is revealed.

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My sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (3 stars): This was a quick read and I wasn’t never bored, but I also didn’t entirely see the point of it. There’s not much plot, it’s a character driven story but the exploration of the characters is not that deep and there’s zero character development. Nonetheless, it explores gender dynamics and complex sister relationships in an interesting way and I actually iked the ending.

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A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn (4 stars): I loved the main characters in this book, Veronica and Stoker, and the dynamic between them which is full of bickering and tension. This book starts slow and it’s a lot less about solving the mystery, for the first half the characters know almost nothing and nothing really happens. During the second half, when the characters finally start trying to solve tte mystery, the story gets action packed and engaging. I saw the big reveal coming really early on, but that doesn’t really affect my enjoyment.

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A Perilious undertaking by Deanna Raybourn (4 stars): Give me a slow burn romance full of tension, half confessions and interrupted moments and I’m all in. I honestly read this series because Veronica and Stoker are captivating main characters and I’m really invested in their relationship. Nonetheless, I actually really liked the mystery in this one even if I predicted who the “villain” was as soon as the character was introduced

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A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (4 stars): I didn’t find the mystery in this one as interesting as the others, but I did enjoyed getting to finally learn what happened with Stoker’s ex-wife and resolving in a way that part of the story. As with the first two books, I loved Veronica and Stoker and their relationship, with all the tension and sutil (kind of) declarations.

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A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn (4 stars): The mystery in this book was interesting enough even if it was a bit predictable, and the setting was really captivating and it worked well for a mystery novel. But honestly I don’t read these books because of the mysteries, I read them because the characters and their relationships. I still love Veronica and Stoker and their dynamic, I was a bit nervious in the beginning about the direction their relationship was taking, but I’m glad that certain aspects weren’t drag out too much. I loved the way things between them progress in this book

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Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix (4 stars): This book was so fun to read. The unique concept, setting, and presentation added to the creepiness of the story. While there was a really gross scene and a couple of creepy moments, it wasn’t too scary. The character development was great.

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With You Forever by Chloe Liese: I’m not going to rate this for now, because i’m coming out of reading slump and i think that affected my enjoyment of the book, so I’ll re-read it later and rate it then. I loved the previous books in the series and I was so excited for this one, so I want to give it a fair chance. For now I can say that I loved Rooney as a main character, as someone who struggles with IBS the depiction of ulcerative colitis resonated with me in a lot of ways and I think it was very well done. There were some cute moments and some steamy moments between Roony and Axel, and I enjoyed a lot of their conversations and seeing them open up to each other. Nonetheless, it felt like I was dropped in the middle of the story and not at the beggining. Also, Rooney and Axel not talking about liking each other (and the internal monologue of I’m sure he/she doesn’t like me) and struggling because nothing could happen between them (when there’s wasn’t any reason for that) made parts of this book feel very slow for me.

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Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (3,5 stars): This is my least favorite book in the series, but I still overall enjoyed it. The setting and atmosphere were still amazing, all the ridiculous characters were entertaining to read about and the plot of this one actually had me invested for most of the book. the problem and the reason the book lost me at times is the pacing because it drags a lot in certain parts, there’s a point where the book should have ended but it still went on for about 100 pages more, and the real ending was rushed and everything was tied up way too nicely. Also, there’s a storyline between Kitty and Colette that I didn’t enjoy reading about and it felt kind of out of place.

What is your favorite and least favorite book of August ? Was August a good reading month for you?

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Ranking all the books I read last month aka My December 2020 Wrap Up

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Hi everyone! This post is a bit late, but my anxiety has been kicking my ass for the last few weeks and I needed some time off. This is my last wrap up of 2020, so it’s the last one where I’ll be ranking all the books I read in the month, I had a lot of fun doing my wrap ups like this in 2020, but I think it’s time to shake things up again.

Before getting into this post, here are my lists of favorite books of 2020 in case you missed them:

Without further ado, here are the books I read in december 2020:

My Least Favorite Book of the Month

My least favorite books this month were a really disappointing romance book:

19. Fans Only by B. Love (2.5 stars): I didn’t like the writing in this at all and that was my main problem, it was SO CHEESY and there were parts that sounded like a bad self-help book. Also, there’s a part where the hero tells the heroine what he likes about her and his answer sounded like someone looked up a badly written birth chart or horoscope and copied it. Also, I didn’t particularly like the characters. This book has an interesting premise, but beyond that, the only thing it has going for it is that it was really steamy.

The “Just Ok” Books

These can be books that 1) I had issues with, but I don’t have a strong negative opinion about them 2) had good elements but bored me or didn’t really impact me in any way, the meh books.

18. Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana del Rey (3 stars): This poetry collection was ok. Nothing that moved me or that it’s going to stay with me, but I listened to the audiobook and it was a pleasant enough experience.

17. Holiday Home Run by Priscilla Oliveras (3 stars): This was ok. I think my main issue is that the dialogue felt stilted and that made it really hard to see the chemistry between the main characters.

16. Steele by Sawyer Bennett (3 stars): The characters in this were ok, but nothing special. They had a lot of chemistry, so that was good. My main issue with this, beyond the writing, is the message. This idea that you are supposed to be extremely happy 100% of the time in a marriage, which it’s unrealistic. Recently, I have read a few very good second chance romances where people are trying to save their marriages and they put in the work and it’s hard but worth it, and I think this book doesn’t execute that trope that well.

The “I Mostly Liked Them, But…” Books

These are books that I had significant issues with, but they had redeeming qualities that made me mostly enjoy them:

15. Cocaince Blues by Kerry Greenwood (3,5 stars): I started reading this series because I love the tv show based on these books. While so far they are not as good as the adaptation, I still really love the characters in the books, which is why I’ll continue reading the series.

14. Murder in the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood (3,5 stars): This was quick and entertaining. The case was interesting enough, but I have an issue with the writing. I feel like these books need a bit more description, sometimes it’s hard to understand what happened because places and actions are not always described.

13. Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood (3,5 stars): Like all the books in this series, this was quick and entertaining. I love all the characters and that’s what keeps me reading. The two cases in this book were my favorite in the series so far.

12. A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean (3,5 stars): This book and particularly the main characters are very forgettable. But I didn’t dislike either of them, I even really liked Penny and some of the things she did. Penny and Michael spent way too much time apart and when they are together they had some cute scenes and some steamy scenes that were good, but I feel like I needed a little bit more. I guess I needed a little more from the romance. The concept of The Fallen Angel Club is really cool, I really enjoyed getting to see that world in this book and I did like the side characters a lot.

11. The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss (3,5 stars): The premise of this is interesting, the 12 dates aspect was entertaining and a lot of funny things happened. But the author focuses solely on those dates and not on the actual romance, which left me wanting more romance. Also, the love interest is not that great. (full review)

The Ones I Liked

The ones I liked are books that I had really small issues with, but after I finished them I had mainly positive feelings towards them:

10. The Gilded Wolves by Roshana Chokshi (3,7 stars): The characters are precious, I love the relationship between them and the found family element. The romances in this are so subtle and angsty, I LOVED THEM. The writing is beautiful and the way it addresses colonialism, colorism, and slavery, without it taking over the story is amazing. My main issues with this is that the magic system isn’t really explained, not even the abilities of some of the main characters that are used often to get them out of trouble.

9. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean (3,7 stars): I liked the main characters and the premise was very unique. The tension and chemistry between the characters were to die for. The romance was angsty and steamy. I also really liked the kids in this book and I think they were an interesting addition to the book, especially because Mara was so committed to ensuring their safety. I think it made her more likable. The one problem I had with Mara was how long it took her to talk to Temple and tell him the truth, I don’t think that would have solved everything but I think it would have made things easier and quicker.

8. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean (3,7 stars): I really liked the main characters in this book, Pippa especially was a very unique, interesting, and lovable main character. Their relationship was great, they had a lot of entertaining and funny conversations and banter because of the way Pippa thinks and the way Cross responds to her. The romance took a while to get going because Cross refused to help Pippa for a long time, but I didn’t feel like the book dragged because Pippa was such an entertaining character

7. If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar (4 stars): This is a very powerful poetry collection about . The author manages to say a lot, say it beautifully, and say it clearly.

The Ones I Really Liked

I consider books I really liked the ones that stay with me and that I recommend all the time:

6. An Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman (4 stars): This was an emotional and moving novella. I cried from beginning to end, which it’s very uncommon.

5. Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (4 stars): I loved both of the main characters and they were so adorable together. Also, The sex scenes in this book were STEAMY. The complicated relationships that the two main characters had with their families added a lot of depth to the story and it was amazing getting to see them stand up for themselves and set up boundaries. I think this book handles very well the conversation about how we don’t owe anyone a place in our lives, not even our parents, if all they do is hurt us.

4. Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (4 stars): This book includes the fake dating and opposite attract tropes and I loved that about it. The main characters are both so different and each of them is great in their own way. They have so much chemistry and they are so sweet together. (full review)

3. Ever After Alwasy by Chloe Liese (4 stars): This is the first 2021 release that I have read and I’m so glad I loved it! This is a wonderful and emotional second chance romance between two amazing characters. The anxiety representation in this book is incredible. (Full review)

My Favorite Books of the Month

In december, my favorite books of the month were a sequel from a series I love and a book that made me sob:

2. European Travel for the Monstruos Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss (4 stars): I really enjoyed this sequel. I still love the main characters, the concept is still fantastic, unique, and entertaining, and the author added so many cool elements to the story (like vampires!) that made it even better. My only little issue with this is that it was a bit longer than it needed to be.

1. Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder (5 stars): This made me sob. As someone whose mom has been very, very ill a few times in my lifetime, this was so scary and sad. I think Tyler Feder did an amazing job of portraining the different feelings and thoughts that she went through in a very honest, relatable and heartbreaking way.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any of them on your tbr?

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ARC Review: Ever After Always by Chloe Liese

Happy New Year, everyone! This is my first post of 2021, I took the first week of January off because I needed a bit of rest, but I’m excited to be back talking about a book I loved. Ever After Always is the first and only 2021 release that I have read so far, I read it back in December 2020 when I got the eARC and I loved it, so I’m hoping it’s a sign that I’m going to read some amazing new releases in 2021.

This book comes out today, January 12th 2021, and you should go get your copy!

Title: Ever After Always

Author: Chloe Liese

Publishing date:  January 12th 2021

Genre: Romance

Pages: 368

Aiden: I’ve spent twelve years loving Freya Bergman and twelve lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. She’s my passionate, tender-hearted wife, my best friend, and all I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby. With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.

Freya: I love my cautious, hard-working husband. He’s my partner and best friend, the person I know I can count on most. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much. As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse. Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?

Goodreads | Amazon

*The author kindly provided an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Chloe Liese did it again! Ever After Always is the third book in the Bergman Brothers Series, which is a series of companion novels following the Berman Siblings. I read the first two books in the series as well as this ARC in 2020 and I fell in love with every single one of the books and this is quickly becoming one of my favorite romance series of all time.

Ever After Always is a wonderful and emotional second chance romance between two amazing characters. This book is about a marriage in crisis and two people that love each other so much but that have hurt each other deeply. It’s not a fluffy romance, it’s a story about rebuilding a relationship, accepting that people change and relationships need to change with them or they won’t last, it’s a story about learning to trust again and about being honest and vulnerable with each other even when it’s really hard.

Chloe Liese does a great job with the second chance romance and accomplishes something very difficult, she makes the reader care about a couple that has been together for 10 years and while there are two or three short flashback scenes, the book doesn’t rely on the flashbacks or the couple’s past to make the reader root for them.

Aiden, the hero, has anxiety and the representation was hard and wonderful to read about, I just saw so much of my own struggle with anxiety in Aiden’s experience. This book does a great of showing how much Aiden’s anxiety affects his everyday life and how hard can it be to talk about it with others. I love that this book normalizes going to therapy and taking meds, we need to see more of that in romance and in books in general.

Freya, the heroine, is strong and confident, she is described as being curvy and there are a couple of scenes where body image and social expectations are talked about, but overall Freya loves herself and she just wants society to let her be and let her have the body she does without feeling like she has to show everyone all the time that she really loves herself.

Getting to see the Bergman family again and getting to know them all better added so much to the story, it definitely made it more entertaining. I love the fact that the Bergman Brothers read romance! I can’t wait for the next book, I have been intrigued by the possibility of a relationship between two of the secondary characters since book 2 and I’m so glad we are finally getting their story next!

Have you started the Bergman Brothers series? What romance series have you enjoyed recently?

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Surprising Books of 2020 | Blogmas Day 24

Hi everyone! Blogmas is almost over and while I have enjoyed writing posts, the truth is that since I decided to do Blogmas very last minute, I didn’t have time to write enough content and be prepared, so the last couple of weeks have been really stressful, so I’m looking forward to have a bit less stress after blogmas is over.

Yesterday I shared my Disappointing Books of 2020 and today I’m happy to talk about the books that surprised me in a good way this year. These are not my top books of the year, those posts are coming next week, I’m going to talk about top YA books, top Adult books and top romance books. But before that, let’s talk about surprising books of 2020:

Miss Meteor by Anna- Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia

I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting to love this book because I loved everything I have read by these authors in the past. Maybe it had to do with the fact that it was YA contemporary, which I don’t read and don’t enjoy that much anymore. Nonetheless, this book surprised me because I ended up LOVING it, it’s one of my favorite books of the year. I loved everything about it from the romances to the friendships to the sibling relationships to the message. I would love to read more about these characters.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

This book had two things against it, it was YA which as I said before I’m not really drawn to anymore and it was a love story between a human and ghost and I thought it was going to be a sad book because of that. But despite all that, it surprised it me and it ended up being one of the most comforting books I read in 2020, it gave me so much joy. I particularly loved the main characters, they were adorable, and their relationship.

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

I’m almost done with the YA books, but this is another one that surprised me, and I ended up enjoying a lot more than I thought I would. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me feel invested in the characters and their relationship, and it was a book that brought me a lot of comfort during a hard year.

Category Five by Ann Dávila Madrigal

This book surprised me because I had heard very mixed things about the first book in the series, since they are companion books, I ended up skipping book one and jumping straight into this one and it was a great decision. I didn’t think I was going to like this as much as I did, I enjoyed the spooky aspect of the book and I liked the characters, but my favorite thing about it was the way the author integrated what has happened in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, especially the abandonment of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Government.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

I started to read this book with extremely high expectations because everyone was loving it, and I immediately had a problem with the writing, it’s was too purple prose and wordy for my taste. I had to reread passages so many times to be able to understand because the amount of unnecessary and complicated words was A LOT. Nonetheless, this book surprised me because once I got used to the writing and the love story started, I was invested! The romance in this book was so angsty and emotional, the yearning was a beautiful thing to witness and I ended up really enjoying this.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This book was on my tbr for YEARS and there was something about it that made me feel interested in reading it while it also made me thing I wasn’t going to love. So you can imagine my surprise when I started this book and immediately fell in love with it. Emily St. John Mandel managed to weave together storylines that seemed completely unrelated and I loved the complexity of the storytelling.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

I don’t know why I had low expectations for this book, maybe because I felt like everyone described this book in vague terms and I like to go into books knowing very clearly what they are about. Now I totally understand why people are so vague when talking about this book, because it’s a bit nonsensical, it has a very vague plot, there’s a lot of stories within stories, but it’s also whimsical and magical. This book surprised me because I loved everything about it.

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

This was my first Ilona Andrews’ book, and I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that this wasn’t going to be a romance book with a half-baked world and magic system. I loved how complex and interesting the fantasy elements of this book were, and I’m really excited to read more Ilona Andrews’ books in the future.

Headliners by Lucy Parker

This book surprised me because my previous experience with Lucy Parker wasn’t great, I really disliked the writing in that book, so I was very hesitant to read another one of her books, but everyone seemed to love Headliners, so I decided to give it a chance and I’m so glad I did. I was so surprised when I finished this book and realized I LOVED it. This book was hilarious, the main characters were adorable together and the best part about this book is that they both acted like adults, who talk to their significant others and trust each other.  

Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese

I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did, this is my favorite romance of the year, and I was really surprised by it because I read it on a whim when none of my friends had read it or reviewed it, I just saw someone on Goodreads add it and it sounded interesting, so I picked it up and it ended up being a frenemies to lovers, slow burn, angsty and emotional romance that I absolutely loved.

What books surprised you in 2020?

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Ranking all the books I read this month aka My July 2020 Wrap Up

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Hi everyone! I hope you all had a lovely July! Today, I want to update you on some cool things that happened in July and I want to talk about all the books I read this month and as always, I’ll rank them from least favorite to favorite. But before getting into the post, I want to encourage you to support the Black Lives Matter movement in any way you can. If you want to know how to help, click this link.

First, some bookish updates:  1) I’m part of the team behind Colored Pages Book Tours, which is a company that prioritizes international and own voices readers when it comes to blog tours. The Company just launched but we have already started organizing tours, so check out the website or twitter to see if you are interested in participating in any of them. 2) I wanted to share that I was invited to be one of the judges of the 2020 Ripped Bodice Awards for Excellence in Romantic Fiction, which I’m incredibly honored and excited about!

That’s it! Those are my updates and now, without further ado, let’s talk about the books I read in July:

*Click on the title of the book to go to the Goodreads page + the amazon links are affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you decide to use them, it doesn’t affect the price of books* 

My Least Favorite Book of the Month

This month there wasn’t one book that I truly disliked, so for my least favorite of the month I chose a disappointing mystery book:

the hollow

13. The Hollow by Agatha Christie: This book was ok, but I definitely expected and wanted to see more of Poirot. He appeared so little in this and it was almost like the focus of this book was not on the case but on the relationships between the characters. The case was interesting enough, but most of the characters in this were very unlikeable at times, which is not uncommon in Agatha Christie’s book and I usually don’t mind, but for some reason, in this one, I found them a bit annoying. (Amazon)

The “I Mostly Liked Them, But…” Books

These are books that I had significant issues with, but they had redeeming qualities that made me mostly enjoy them:

summer knight

12. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher: This ended up being ok, as always with this series it was a quick and entertaining read but I had issues with it. Some of the plot elements in this book felt forced and unrealistic to me, and while I enjoyed getting to see a new element of the world thanks to the fairies and the role they played, I felt like the fairies acted very out of character a lot in this book, they were introduced as one thing but when Harry needed help they suddenly became entirely different characters. Still, I will continue with the series, because as I said the books are quick and entertaining. (Amazon)

The Ones I Liked

The ones I liked are books that I had really small issues with, but after I finished them I had mainly positive feelings towards them:

Go Deep (Unexpected Lovers #1) by Rilzy Adams

11. Go Deep by Rilzy Adams: This started strong, I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, their relationship as best friends and then seeing how fast that relationship changed. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the conflict, it relied too much on the two characters not talking to each other but since it’s a short book the conflict was resolved easily so it wasn’t a big issue. (Amazon)

Amazon.com: I'm Afraid of Men (9780735235939): Vivek Shraya: Books

10. I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya: This is a short but impactful nonfiction book. The author shares vulnerable and honest insights about gender, sexuality, and toxic masculinity based on their own experience. (Amazon)

Artificial Condition

9. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells: I enjoyed reading this. Murderbot is still an amazing main character and I really liked ART, the sarcastic and slightly rude spaceship that was introduced in this book. The relationship between Murderbot and ART was very entertaining. I really like the humor in this series. My only complaint is that the plot in this one was a lot less interesting than the plot in the first book. (Amazon)

Lock Every Door

8. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager: My reading experience with this book was very weird because it took me a bit to get into this, but after a while, I started to really enjoy it and I actually ended up liking most of the book. Unfortunately, I found the ending a bit disappointing. Riley Sager does a great job of creating tension throughout and I was at the edge of my seat for a big portion of the book and that’s the main reason why I enjoyed this book. (Amazon)

If My Body Could Speak - Button Poetry

7. If My Body Could Speak by Blythe BairdThe writing in this collection was so powerful but so unpretentious at the same time and that made it hit harder. The poems are beautiful and raw. I can’t wait to read more of Blythe Baird’s poetry. (Amazon)

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

6. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: This is a cute, fluffy YA contemporary. I loved Liz as the main character and her journey and character development. The f/f romance is so sweet and heartwarming. (Amazon)

The Ones I Really Liked

I consider books I really liked the ones I really enjoyed, but they are not new all-time favorites:

take-a-hint-dani-brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert:  This book has amazing main characters and there’s a lot of character development. This book is so funny, I laughed out loud more than once. The characters have so much chemistry and the relationship is so adorable, I loved all their interactions, I just wish there were a bit more angst and yearning. Also, it has great anxiety rep! (Amazon)

Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1): Amazon.es ...

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb: this book does a great job of establishing Fitz as a protagonist and making you feel for him and root for him. I found the world fascinating and the political intrigue aspect of this book was very cleverly done, I’m looking forward to the next books when Fitz is older and maybe he will have a bit more agency and be more involved in what’s going on. (Amazon)

Always Only You (Bergman Brothers, #2) by Chloe Liese

Always Only You by Chloe Liese:  This is a slow-burn, sunshine x grumpy romance where the grumpy one with the heart of gold is the woman and the smiley, sunshiny character is the man. Chloe Liese has a special talent that allows her to create wonderful and complex characters who you can’t help but root for.  The heroine is an Autistic woman (#ownvoices) with a chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis) and the hero is Ren is an Shakespeare-loving Hockey player. Their relationship is so heartwarming! (Review + Amazon)

My Favorite Book of the Month

My favorite books of the month can have different ratings depending on how good a particular reading month was. This month I read two brilliant books that instantly became new favorites:

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune: This book was adorable. The stars of this were definitely the children, they were cute and funny and just lovable. Also, the main character, Linus, was so sweet and his character development in this book was amazing. I love the relationship Linus forms with the kids and how good he is to them. This is such a hopeful book and it made me so happy. Also, there’s a heartwarming m/m romance. (Review + Amazon)

mexican-gothic

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: This book is creepy, atmospheric, and disturbing; and the writing is brilliant, beautiful, and captivating. This book has a very three-dimensional and flawed main character and I absolutely rooted for her the entire time,  and the villains are so well crafted. This book includes a very frustrating but interesting depiction of eugenics and a fascinating exploration of sexism and colonialism. (Review + Amazon)

 What were your favorite and least favorite books you read this month? Have you read any of the books on this wrap up? Do you agree with my opinions about them?

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