Review: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s deicision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?”

REVIEW:

Another Book of the Month choice winner! I’ve had Ariadne on my radar for a little while now. When I saw it was one of May’s options, it was an easy choice.

Growing up on Crete, she listens to stories of the gods and heroes. Ariadne then watches as her mother becomes a pawn in the gods’ revenge on her father, the King. She wishes to never be apart of the heroes plans for glory and the gods schemes. Ariadne is meant for something bigger, and soon finds herself apart of those very stories.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint is a greek mythology retelling of her life, in the vain of Circe and A Thousand Ships. I originally thought this was just going to be the myth of the Minotaur from her eyes since I don’t know much about Ariadne beyond that, but this book explores her whole life. Ariadne is a compelling heroine, who you are rooting for during her highs and lows. The pacing of this book can be a little slow at times, but I don’t think this hinders the story.

I enjoyed getting to know more about Ariadne, her story, and her ties to Dionysus. I also loved the focus and commentary on women’s roles in the god’s lives. That they are often the one’s to suffer and be used as pawns in the god’s plans. I enjoyed Jennifer Saint’s writing style. Many of the characters recount tales of themselves and other important Greek figures which feels like a great choice since the significance of oral history in greek mythology.

I definitely recommend if you are a lover of Greek mythology, or loved Circe, Song of Achilles or A Thousand Ships.

RATING: 4/5

Review: People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?”

REVIEW:

People We Meet on Vacation was my April Book of the Month pick and it was a no brainer choice. I read Beach Read by Emily Henry last summer, completely loved it and it ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year. So People We Meet on Vacation has been an eagerly anticipated release.

We meet Poppy as she is struggling with her job. She is feeling lost and unhappy, even though she has achieved her dream career. We begin to flashback to different vacations Poppy has taken with her best friend Alex. Poppy realizes that the times she has truly been happy is when she is spending time with Alex. Meeting in college, they are polar opposites but something about them together just works. Until something happened on one of their trips that caused them to have a falling out, which you spend most of the book waiting to find out. The book continues to jump back and forth between the present trip that Alex and Poppy are on to rekindle their friendship, and past ones they have taken throughout the years.

Poppy and Alex have amazing chemistry and the banter between the two is incredible. They are also such fully real and fleshed out characters. They are incredibly genuine which makes this book such an easy read, and you are rooting for them to get together the entire time. Poppy felt incredibly relatable as a fellow semi-lost millennial. This book is laugh out loud funny and completely heartbreaking at times. Seriously, I was crying at Poppy’s speech in the third act.

The only critique of this book I have was that it was a little slow going, but once it got going I couldn’t put it down. I definitely recommend if you are a lover of romcoms or Harry Met Sally (or any Meg Ryan movie in general) or friends to lovers romances. This book checks off all the boxes and I can’t wait to see what Emily Henry does next.

RATING: 5/5

REVIEW: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.”

REVIEW:

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev was my March pick for Book of the Month. I have to say I was sucked in from the synopsis alone. Obviously, there is the instant comparison of Daisy Jones & the Six. This book tells such a different story and that is where the similarities end. I loved this book even more than Daisy Jones & the Six.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is filled with fully realized characters, they are all very human with faults. Dawnie Walton manages to weave real life events with her fictional events making for an incredibly believable story. Because it is told in an oral history style it makes it a super easy read, though the topics discussed are not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t put this book down! This story feels authentic and real to the point that sometimes you forget that this is a fictional band.

Opal & Nev reflects both the 70’s and today very well. It shows both the good and the bad, and how much things really haven’t changed. Walton never shies away from tough topics in the book, she fully embraces them and handles them with care. There is a revelation about halfway through the book that absolutely shocked me, and left my mouth gaping open.

If I do have a critique about this book is that sometimes the “editor’s” notes from Sunny’s POV would throw me off. I think they affected the pacing a bit. I would get really sucked into the interview style, and reading about things that happened through each character’s eyes. Then we would have an editor’s notes section and while they were important to the overall story, at times they took me right out.

Overall, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev was so well done, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you loved Daisy Jones & the Six, or are just a lover of music history then this book is for you.

RATING: 4/5

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Review: The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiance.

Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…

Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.”

REVIEW:

The Dating Plan was my Book of the Month choice for January, and just what I needed. The first week of January was chaotic to say the least. So every time I went to pick up a book, I was pretty distracted and couldn’t focus. I needed something more lighthearted. This book was perfect.

The Dating Plan has fake fiancé’s, fake marriage, and a woman who loves a good spreadsheet. Daisy is a software engineer, nerdy, but still sexy which was wonderful to read. Liam and Daisy have wonderful chemistry and their banter was perfect. Both of their families are well-rounded and feel incredibly real. (Daisy’s Aunties steal the show.) This book was everything I could want in a romantic comedy. I did find some of the plot, especially toward the end, a bit predictable but it didn’t really hinder the story for me. Sara Desai’s sense of humor is incredible and is a definite highlight of this book.

This book sucked me in with its gorgeous and colorful cover, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Dating Plan was an early release as a part of Book of the Month. It will be available to the general public in March. I definitely recommend it if you are a RomCom lover.

RATING: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday – January 13th, 2021

It’s Wednesday which means another WWW Wednesday. I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know your answers in the comments or share on your own blog!

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

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Fire Falling by Elise Kova (Book #2 in the Air Awakens series). Super excited to see what happens next in this series. It has similar vibes to the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. So if you are looking for something to fill that hole, I recommend this series.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished The Dating Plan by Sara Desai. It was my January choice for Book of the Month and an early release. It goes on sale to the general public in March. I absolutely loved this book. It was exactly what I needed to start off the year, and a distraction from the chaos of the first week of January. I definitely recommend this book!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think my next read will probably be The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout. It is a spinoff of The Lux series, which I finished last year. I’m excited to see where this spinoff series goes. Honestly, though my mood has been all over the place so far this January and I haven’t really been able to stick to the books I’ve been picking.

Have you read any of these books? What are you currently reading?

Let me know in the comments!

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January TBR

Happy 2021! I hope everyone is having a safe and healthy start to the new year. Obviously a lot of 2021 is going to look like 2020, but don’t worry we still have books to keep us company!

I am a mood reader by nature, but I also have a ton of unread books sitting on my shelves. So I need to plan out at least some of my reads for the month.

#1 – Fable by Adrienne Young

This book has been all over bookstagram and I’m very excited to start reading this.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

#2 – The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

As I’ve said before I’m a sucker for a good romance novel, and look at that gorgeous cover. This was my Book of the Month choice for January and I think it will be a nice little interlude between the amount of Fantasy novels I read every month.

“Even with a step-by-step plan, these fake fiances might accidentally fall for each other in this hilarious, heartfelt romantic comedy from the author of The Marriage Game.”

#3 – The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I am super excited to return to the Lux universe, and start this series. I really enjoyed the Lux series, and the world was so different than the things I normally read.

“#1 New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout returns to the universe of the Lux in this brand new series, featuring beloved characters both new and old.”

What are you reading in January? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.”

REVIEW:

In a Holidaze has been all over my instagram and I was excited to see that it was one of the December choices for Book of the Month. This book was definitely worth the wait. It put me in the holiday mood, and was perfect as I watched Winter Storm Gail hit my parents’ house. This was also my first Christina Lauren novel, and now I need to add more to my TBR.

I personally really connected with Maelyn. I am a late 20-something who recently had to move back in with her parents. I was laid off, due to Covid-19 and couldn’t afford my rent on my unemployment benefits. These last couple of months have been hard, and I’ve struggled to really find what makes me happy. I’m also a people pleaser. I am so worried about disappointing my family, that I often make decisions that would make them happier than myself. Though I don’t have a hunky life-long family friend who I’ve been in love with waiting in the wings. Because of these similarities, In a Holidaze really hit home for me. I do think that Maelyn will be relatable to a lot of people. It was just really nice to read a book where the lead was a bit lost and stuck.

I loved Andrew and Mae’s relationship. The chemistry is so well done, and also captures the history that is in their relationship. All the characters in this book are fleshed out really well. You can feel their love and support of each other. I loved learning about their holiday traditions. You can really feel Mae’s frustration and panic over why she has been sent into this time-loop.

I definitely recommend this book if you are looking for a fun festive read. The overall flow of the book is great, so it is a super quick read as well.

RATING: 4/5

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WWW Wednesday – December 16th 2020

It’s another WWW Wednesday, and I’m answering the three questions below. Let me know your answers in the comments or share on your own blog!

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

What are you currently reading?

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren, this was my Book of the Month choice and I’m very excited to finally start reading it. It has a Groundhog Day-like plot involving a time loop just set around Christmas. I’m loving it so far.

What did you recently finish reading?

Just finished City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare. I am not loving this series so far, but I’ve also heard that the first three books are the weakest set in the Shadowhunters world. So I am pushing through. I requested City of Glass at my library, but I think I’m going to read a few books before I start that.

What do you think you will read next?

I think my next book is going to be Air Awakens by Elise Kova. It is book one in another fantasy series (I think I might have a problem). It sounds super interesting and it is featured through Kindle Unlimited. We will see how In A Holidaze has me feeling after I finish it, since that will really determine what I read next.

Let me know what you are reading!

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Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

A comedy about eight strangers brought together by a pretty terrible bank robber who discover they have more in common than they originally thought. An apartment viewing goes horribly wrong, when a failed bank robber barges in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage.

The police soon have the building surrounded, and the media have begun their live coverage of the hostage situation. The bank robber begins to panic because this is not what they planned for at all. With stakes rising, the eight strangers begin to reveal more about themselves to each other. Soon the robber must decide whether they should go face the police or stay in the apartment with eight impossible people.

REVIEW

This was my first Fredrik Backman novel, but I had heard wonderful things about them. Since I am an anxious person myself, I knew I needed to check out this book. Anxious People bounces around between different narrators as you slowly try to figure out how these two cops lost the bank robber. However as you get further and further into the novel, that loses its importance. These people and their relationships with each other become so much more important to the reader.

This novel is laugh out loud funny and absolutely heartbreaking at times. It shows the depth of human emotion and compassion for strangers and our loved ones. This book does delve into heavy topics such as suicide, depression and obviously anxiety. They are handled with care. I really enjoyed this book. Sometimes you can get swept up in the chaos of the world, and this book was an important reminder of how special friendships and relationships are to our lives.

Overall, I really enjoyed Anxious People. It was a little slow to start, and I had to get comfortable with Backman’s writing style, but after that I completely devoured this book. It made me laugh and cry. I definitely recommend!

RATING: 8/10

Review: The Unraveling on Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan

Cassidy Holmes was “Sassy Gloss”, the fourth member of one of the hottest pop groups in America. Gloss was the pop act that everyone wanted to be. Fans couldn’t get enough of them, their music, and even the drama that followed them. Then the group imploded in 2002, at the height of their fame. Cassidy was apparently to blame. Now Cassidy is dead by suicide.

The world is shocked as are her former bandmates. Rose, Merry, and Yumi, the three other members of Gloss, each had a special bond with Cassidy. However, after the band’s separation, no one really spoke to Cassidy. She had closed herself off from the entertainment industry and everything that made her “Sassy Gloss”. Now after years apart, her former bandmates are wondering if there was something they could have done.

REVIEW

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes discusses several sensitive topics. Such topics discussed include: suicide, physical assault, rape, eating disorders, stalking and harassment, implied drug use, and implied grooming of a minor. If any of these topics make you uncomfortable or upset, I don’t recommend this book for you.

This was my Book of the Month selection for August. I overall really enjoyed this book, it took me a little longer to get through mainly because of the heavy topics involved. I liked that it was an honest look at what these girls would have gone through in the entertainment industry. We jump back and forth in time. Cassidy narrates the past, about the rise and fall of Gloss, while Yumi, Merry, and Rose narrate the present. I think the way that the book tackles mental health is incredibly well done.

It is not an easy read at all due to the topics discussed, but I think if you are comfortable reading about them you should definitely check out The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes.

RATING: 8/10