Source: NetGalley

Review: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Posted September 6, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan HeReviewer: Rowena
The Ones We're Meant to Find by Joan He
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
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three-half-stars

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find isn’t the kind of book that I would normally be interested in but after browsing Goodreads and reading the blurb, I was curious enough to get it for review. It took me three tries to finish this book. I kept putting it down because the first part, through the middle of the story moved super slow for me. Like, at a snail’s pace and I had trouble trying to keep paying attention because I just didn’t care. I almost gave up completely on the third try but I am glad that I finished it because the second half of the book is much better and moves much faster than the first.

This book is about two sisters. Cee is stuck on a deserted island, trying her damndest to get back and find her sister, Kasey. Kasey lives in a dystopian world, in these eco-cities that keeps them safe from living on actual land where there is a number of climate damage and is probably where our earth is headed if we don’t get our shit together. There’s a mystery that is woven throughout the story and I’ll admit that a lot of that shit was lost on me in the first half of the book.

Of the two sisters, I connected more with Cee on that deserted island. Kasey wasn’t a bad character but there was something that kept me from completely loving her as much as I did Cee. Kasey is smart as hell and I did eventually warm up to her character but yeah, I was still Team Cee.

I will also say that there’s a huge twist that I didn’t see coming but when it started coming together, I stood up and took notice. I won’t say what it is but I will say that it surprised me and I was delighted with the twist. There’s an open ending to this book as well that might rub some folks the wrong way but I was surprised, that I was okay with it. I did wonder a bit over Kasey’s last words to Celia in her dreams but I let it go as I was ready to move on.

Overall, this was a solid story. If you make it past the first half then the author rewards you with a very strong second half. Things come together, other things are revealed and both Kasey and Cee’s stories reel the reader in and I’m glad that I finished it. The story highlighted some stuff that I already think about climate change and made me take notice of what I’m doing for my part in trying to clean up our planet. The story really does come together in a satisfying and meaningful way but the slowness of the first half kept this book from getting rated higher. Still, I’m not mad that I read this.

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: What If You & Me by Roni Loren

Posted August 18, 2021 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: What If You & Me by Roni LorenReviewer: Tracy
What If You & Me by Roni Loren
Series: Say Everything #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The world can be a scary place. At least, that's what Andi Lockley's anxiety wants her to believe. It doesn't help that she narrowly escaped a dangerous man years ago, or that every relationship since has been colored with that lingering fear. But things are better now―she's channeling everything into her career as a horror novelist and true crime podcaster, and her next book may be the breakthrough she needs.

If only her grumpy new neighbor would stop stomping around at all hours of the night.

Former firefighter Hill Dawson can't sleep. After losing part of his leg in a rescue gone wrong, he's now stuck in limbo. He needs to figure out what he's supposed to do with his life, and he can't let himself get distracted by the pretty redhead next door. But when someone breaks into Andi's place, Hill can't stop himself from rushing in to play the hero. Soon, a tentative bond forms between the unlikely pair. But what starts out as a neighborly exchange quickly turns into the chance for so much more...if Andi can learn to put aside her fear and trust in herself―and love―again.

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Roni Loren blends heat and heart in this emotionally charged story.

Andi is a woman on a mission to help all women be as safe as they can.  She went through some serious trauma when she was a teen and wants to help women avoid putting themselves at risk.  While she writes horror novels, she runs a podcast called, What Can We Learn From This?” She tells stories about crimes and how women can be more careful, and what they can learn from past incidences.

She’s just moved into a duplex when she hears stomping on the other side of the wall.  When she starts watching a horror movie, which includes screaming of course, her neighbor bangs on her door.  Meeting Hill Dawson, retired firefighter, scares her as she doesn’t know him, but she’s definitely attracted to him.

Hill didn’t ever want to retire from the fire department, but after losing part of a leg in a fire, he didn’t have a choice.  He’s dealing with his life, depression and a whole host of other things when he meets Andi.  She seems to have her life together, but she’s also a scared rabbit and something in him wants to calm her.

The pair eventually decide to act on their attraction to each other but only as friends-with-benefits.  The question is, can they hold back the deeper feelings they have for each other?

This was a cute story.  We slowly, throughout the story, find out what happened to Andi when she was younger – which was pretty scary.  I can see how she would be more than a bit paranoid of life in general.  I loved how that trauma didn’t stop her from putting herself out there and making a name for herself with her books and podcasts.

Hill was a super nice guy, and I really loved him and Andi together.  That said, he pulls a stunt near the end of the book that had me rolling my eyes and getting incredibly frustrated with him.  It really stopped a lot of the enjoyment I was getting from the story.  If this hadn’t had happened I would have scored this book much higher.

Overall it was cute contemporary romance.  I didn’t read the first book in this series, but didn’t feel like I needed to in order to enjoy this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Say Everything

three-half-stars


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Review: To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

Posted August 11, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: To Sir, with Love by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just five months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout to turn the store into a parking garage. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Lauren Layne book and I’m happy to report that To Sir, with Love was another fun one that took me no time at all to read from beginning to end. Layne writes such witty, fun, and charming romances and this was no exception. This wasn’t my favorite of her books but it was still a good one and I expected no less from Mrs. Layne.

This book follows our heroine, Gracie Cooper, a wine shop owner, and, Sebastian Andrews, the guy who wants to buy her shop space as they fall in love. Gracie isn’t a fan of Sebastian’s because, at every turn, he’s trying to run her out of the shop space where she runs her family wine shop. Sure, the wine shop isn’t doing as well as she would hope and sure, the wine shop was more her Dad’s thing than hers but for the time being, she was running the shop and out of love for her father, she kept his dream alive even long after he was gone.

She doesn’t have much of a love life but she does have a fun and flirty online relationship with a man named “Sir” and even though she’s sporting a mean crush on him, it’s not going to go anywhere because Sir is already taken. Their online friendship will make more sense if you read it but I thought it was cute. I also enjoyed seeing Sebastian and Gracie circle each other in real life and then being the complete opposite online without knowing it. Lauren Layne does humor really well in her books and it’s showcased here in this book.

Overall, this book was a light, fluffy romance that made me smile throughout. Gracie and Sebastian ended up being a great couple and their story was a fun one. Sebastian was a swoony hero and Gracie was a strong heroine who went through a lot to finally be able to stand on her own two feet and live her own life without the strings of family obligations. I was glad for her and loved seeing her and Sebastian fall in love. The secondary characters added more charm to this story and I really loved the relationship that Gracie had with her siblings and her friends. Gracie and her siblings didn’t have the perfect relationship and Gracie had some resentments that she was working on but I enjoyed seeing how much they cared about each other and how supportive they were of each other as well. I definitely recommend this book if you’re already a fan of Lauren Layne because it’s a great addition to her backlist but if you’re also looking for a sweet romance with humor, this one fits the bill.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Dream Spinner by Kristen Ashley

Posted July 30, 2021 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Dream Spinner by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Tracy
Dream Spinner by Kristen Ashley
Series: Dream Team #3
Also in this series: Quiet Man, Dream Maker, Dream Chaser
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 393
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Hattie Yates has finally met the man of her dreams. Yet years of abuse from her demanding father have left her petrified of disappointment. She’s already failed to reach her goal of becoming a professional ballerina—she can’t handle the terrible consequences of another dream becoming a nightmare. But when a stalker sets their sights on Hattie, there’s only one man she dares to hope can help . . .

Axl Pantera knows Hattie is the only woman for him. Yet despite the attraction burning between them, Hattie refuses to let him in. The former soldier is determined to woo her into letting down her walls. And when danger comes calling, he’s up against more than her wary and bruised heart. Axl will do anything to prove to Hattie that they’re meant to be, but first, he’ll need to keep her safe.

Hattie has lost her self-confidence.  She wanted to become a professional dancer, but that didn’t happen.  With her father verbally abusing her and telling her what a disappointment she is to him, she doesn’t love herself so therefore feels like no one else can love her.

Axl is totally into Hattie but knows that she needs time.  When she gets a stalker, he feels like time is up and makes his move.   Hattie isn’t really receptive, but when the stalker issue starts to heat up, she finally gives in.

I really liked Hattie and Axel together.  Their relationship was really the glue that held this book together.  The stalker issue was kind of bland.  The overall story arc throughout the series is dealt with but even that wasn’t too exciting.  I felt that this was more to do with family issue between Hattie, Axl, Hattie’s father and mother as well as Axl’s parents.  While that’s no a bad thing, per se, it just didn’t make for an exciting read.

Ashley threw in all of the secondary characters from other books in this story as well and that was almost too much.  I get those friendships are a huge part of why these books work, but occasionally I hit my boiling point and then it just seems to be overload.

If you’re into this series already than this is a nice addition to the series, but I certainly didn’t love it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Dream Team

three-half-stars


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Review: So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

Posted July 28, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: So We Meet Again by Suzanne ParkReviewer: Rowena
So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

When up-and-coming investment banker Jess Kim is passed over for a promotion, laid off in a virtual meeting, and then overhears why (“she’s already being overpaid anyway for a woman” and “Asians are worker bees, not someone who can drum up new deals”) she delivers an “eff you guys” speech and storms out of the building. Not sure what’s next, she moves back home to Tennessee with her domineering Korean mom, who tries to set her up with her pastor’s son Daniel Choi, an M&A lawyer by day and a successful video game streamer by night. Turns out he’s swoony and smart, not the awkward preacher’s kid she remembers. With his help, Jess launches a Korean cooking YouTube channel focused on easy meal prep for busy professionals.

All is going well until her mom walks on the show mid-live recording and argues about cooking technique. While she hates being berated by her mother in front of the world, it actually works in their favor—they go viral!

Soon her cooking channel becomes an actual media company and brand. When a client is suddenly interested in buying Jess out, she finds herself sitting across the table from the very investment firm she quit not so long ago. But there’s just one other problem: Daniel, the guy whose been helping her and that she’s been falling for, is the firm’s new general counsel.

So We Meet Again is the first book that I’ve read by Suzanne Park and it definitely won’t be the last. I was expecting a cutesy romance with a strong heroine and a super hot hero and that’s exactly what I got so I was happy. This was a really quick read and I read it almost in one sitting because I was all up in their business from beginning to end. I liked the pacing of this story and thought the Korean American culture was fun to experience through both Jess Kim and Daniel Choi’s families. The Korean American culture isn’t too far off from my own Samoan American culture experiences so it was nice to connect with characters in a book that I’ve read.

This book follows our protagonist, Jess Kim, who was laid off from her Wall Street job and has to move back home to Tennessee and figure out her next move. Moving back into her childhood room at her parent’s house and feeling like a failure is something that plenty of people (myself included) have experienced in their lives at one point or another so right from the jump, I was interested in seeing where Jess back at home would take us. When she runs into Daniel Choi, the boy that she used to compete with to get the best grades and just beat, he’s driving a nice ass car and seems to be winning hearts left and right still so obviously, she’d be jealous that he’s still at the top while she’s struggling at being pushed back down to the bottom.

So the romance between Daniel and Jess was cute and super fun to read about except for the times when Jess was being super extra and blaming Daniel for more than he should have been blamed for. They had a lot of cute scenes that had me grinning like a lunatic. Like when Jess and her work besties go to the Dolly Parton bar and Daniel comes with his friend and everyone disappears, leaving Daniel and Jess alone and she’s like, “So, do you want to come over and see my spreadsheet?” I laughed out loud because that is totally something that I would love to invite someone over to see.

On top of the romance, this book is about Jess starting the next chapter in her life after Wall Street. She was kind of a smartass where Daniel Choi and her parents were concerned. Those things annoyed me from time to time but I’m glad that I stuck with the book because she fixes those attitude issues and you see her actively fix them so I was glad. Instead of finding another Wall Street or financial banker job, she sets out on the entrepreneur adventure. She revives her YouTube page where she used to film foodie videos for the busy professional. She starts a food business and seeing her work through idea after idea and really build an actual company made the story even more interesting to me. I liked seeing her work and build a business that included her family.

The secondary characters were a great addition to the overall story being told. I loved her friends (even the grocery delivery girl), Daniel Choi, her parents, and even Daniel Choi’s parents. The only person that I remember that I actually hated was dumbass Wyatt. If I had a gripe with this story, it would probably be that I wished we had gotten into Daniel Choi’s head. It would have been nice to see what he was thinking at certain parts of the story but Jess was a great protagonist so I wasn’t mad about it or anything. It was more of a “I wish” kind of thing.

Overall, this was a fun story about a woman moving on with her life after a life setback. There’s a sweet romance with a great love interest and charming secondary characters that will have you cheering for everyone involved. I would definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for a light romance and enjoy Korean cuisine.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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