Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano

Minotaur Books – Review: 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, Minotaur Books, and Netgalley for the gifted advanced e-copy of this book, as well as Macmillan Audio for the gifted advanced audio copy, in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } All of my reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on my blog at tacklingtbr.home.blog

Publication Date: January 31, 2023

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contmporary, Adult, Humor, Suspense

Page Count: 304 pages

TW: murder/death, violence

The Finlay Donovan books have become one of my absolute favorite series, so it’s no surprise that I loved this book! It was a perfect way to start off my year of reading.

As always, Finlay and Vero have gotten themselves into a sticky situation. Nobody is shocked here. So what better place to hide out and do some snooping for a week than a live-in civilians police training camp, right? Right!

I already love this series, so of course I loved the characters. We get to see a bit more of Javi this time around, and we get some more background on him and other secondary characters from the previous books – including teen hacker Cam, and Nick’s grumpy partner, Joey. I always really enjoy more character driven stories, so one of my favorite things about reading a series is learning more and more about characters as you go along, so this book really delivered for me in that respect.

Of course some of the situations that Finlay and Vero find themselves in in this book are a bit silly and unbelievable, but that’s definitely nothing new to this series. Besides, if I wanted 100% believability I’d read true crime instead of romantic thrillers. I’m here because I want to see the characters outsmart the people around them, and see how they get out of the ridiculous corners they’ve been backed into, and hopefully seal it all up with a kiss.

Overall I would (and already have been) highly recommend this book to my friends and fellow readers. These books are a bit some high-stake, but at the same time they feel light and fun and like I can read them when I’m tired after a long day at work. Which is a perfect middle ground, if you ask me! I think that the perfect way to read this book would be buddy-reading it with one or two of your closest girl friends, sitting together and passing a bottle of wine (or whisky) between you, in true Fin and Vero style.

My Reviews for the rest of the Finlay Donovan series:

Finlay Donovan is Killing It

Finlay Donovan Knocks ’em Dead

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

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Maame by Jessica George

St. Martin’s Press – Review: 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author and St. Martin’s Press for the gifted advanced copy of this book, as well as Macmillan Audio and Libro.fm for the gifted advanced audio copy, in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } All of my reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on my blog at tacklingtbr.home.blog

Publication Date: January 31, 2023

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Adult, Coming of Age

Page Count: 320 pages

Audiobook Length: 10 hours 10 minutes

Audiobook Narrated by: Heather Agyepong

TW: death/loss of a parent, Parkinson’s disease, depression and anxiety

I just finished listening to this book on audio, and I find that I’m having trouble putting together my thoughts on it.

It was such a powerful and engaging novel of a woman coming of age and spreading her wings in her mid 20s. It felt unique compared to other coming of age stories or literary fiction books I’ve read in recent years, and is really sticking with me after finishing it.

The main character, Maddie, has lived such a wildly different life than I have, but I still couldn’t help but feel parts of myself in parts of her, and I felt my heart breaking for her at various points in the novel when people were cruel or things weren’t going her way. I really respected her as a character, and I wanted to see how she would respond in certain situations or how the next chapter of her life would play out. I think that she’s a character that I’m going to keep thinking about for a while, and I wish I had her as a friend to bounce ideas off of in my day to day life.

Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to my friends and fellow readers. This isn’t a type of book or a genre that I reach for all the time, tending to reach more often for mysteries or romances in one form or another, but I couldn’t be more glad that I hopped into the realm of literary fiction for this book. I think that the best way to read this book would be sitting in bed or on the couch, safe and sound under a big, cozy blanket, with a soup mug full of tea.

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

The Hustler Next Door (Polson Falls #2) by K.A. Tucker

Review and Blog Tour courtesy of Valentine PR

Thanks so much to the author and Valentine PR for the gifted, advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } My reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

Publication Date: January 3, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Adult

Romance Trope: Enemies to Lovers

Page Count:

Book Description from Goodreads:

From the international bestselling author of The Simple Wild and Ten Tiny Breaths comes a new stand-alone enemies-to-lovers, small-town romance.

Justine MacDermott is in what she would call a transition period: squatting in her best friend’s house and working in an appliance store in Polson Falls while the man she was supposed to marry starts a new life with someone else.

She’s definitely not thinking about slashing his tires and wishing his vital extremities would fall off.

When newcomer Garrett Harrington strolls into Murphy’s looking to buy a refrigerator, Justine convinces herself she’s found her rebound. Or the next love of her life. Either works. But a chance encounter leads her to discover that Garrett isn’t who he made himself out to be, and he’s more interested in hustling her kindly old boss out of his family business—and using her to do it.

Furious at being fooled by yet another man and itching for retribution, Justine enlists the help of unlikely townsfolk to battle Harrington Group’s big-city development plans for Polson Falls.

It’s all going to plan … until Justine finds herself crossing enemy lines.

The Hustler Next Door is set in the Polson Falls world. Books in this series can be read in any order.

Review (5 Stars):

Thanks so much to the author and Valentine PR for the advanced gifted e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and participation in this blog tour! All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } All of my reviews, and my full blog tour, can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on my blog at tacklingtbr.home.blog

TW: infidelity

When I read The Player Next Door in 2020, Justine was one of those sassy-best-friend types that stuck with me for a while, even though she wasn’t the main character. She was just so much fun, and I could tell that if she were someone in my real life she’d be the ride or die friend I always wanted. So when I heard she was getting her own story and romance, I couldn’t wait to jump into it! And I am glad to say that, in my opinion, she held up to the high hopes and dreams that I had for her.

This is an enemies to lovers story (which should surprise nobody. With Justine at the heart of it, would we expect anything less?), and I will say that the actual romance storyline doesn’t get started until you’re a good portion of the way through the book. There’s the sexual tension between our two leads right from when they meet in the beginning, and there are some fun and flirty scenes after that, but they don’t jump into the romance portion until later on, focusing a bit more on the enemies-portion of the plot.
I enjoyed this, personally, and was glad for it. I tend to think that if a story is enemies-to-lovers then you need a good amount of time in the enemies territory before you jump headfirst into romance, otherwise it doesn’t feel like it fits into that trope. But for folks only here for the romance, that could be a drawback to this particular story.

Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to my friends and fellow readers. It’s a fun, fairly quick, fairly lighthearted read, and it made a perfect last read of the year! I think that the best way to read this book would be on a quiet night with some sort of delicious pistachio baked good.

Meet Kathleen:

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the internationally bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, The Simple Wild, Be the Girl, and Say You Still Love Me. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, Oprah Mag, and First for Women.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto.

Connect with Kathleen

Website: https://www.katuckerbooks.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/36Ga0W8

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QPwJZs

Facebook:  http://bit.ly/2MYEDhK

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1468548700062461

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katucker_/

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2FqzR8K

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2rZkYXP

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authorkatucker/

My Reviews for more by K.A. Tucker

The Polson Falls series

THE PLAYER NEXT DOOR (Polson Falls #1)

The Fate and Flame series

A FATE OF WRATH AND FLAME (FATE AND FLAME #1)

A Curse of Blood and Stone (Fate and Flame #2)

The Simple Wild series

THE SIMPLE WILD (WILD #1)

WILD AT HEART (WILD #2)

FOREVER WILD (WILD #2.5)

RUNNING WILD (WILD #3)

Standalone stories

SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

Witcha Gonna Do? by Avery Flynn

Review and Blog Tour Courtesy of Valentine PR

Thanks so much to the author, Berkley Publishing, Netgalley, and Valentine PR for the gifted advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and participation in this blog tour! { partner }

Publication Date: December 6, 2022

Published by: Berkley Publishing Group

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal/Witches, Contemporary, Adult

Romance Trope: Enemies to Lovers

Page Count: 336 pages

Book Description from Goodreads:

An unlucky witch and her know-it-all nemesis must team up in the first of a new, hot romantic comedy series from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn.

Could it possibly get any worse than having absolutely no magical abilities when you’re a member of the most powerful family of witches ever? It used to be that I’d say no, but then I keep getting set up on dates with Gil Connolly whose hotness is only matched by his ego. Seriously. I can’t stand him. Even if I also can’t stop thinking about him (specifically kissing him) but we’re going to pretend I never told you that part.

So yeah, my life isn’t the greatest right now, but then it goes straight to the absolute worst hell when I accidentally make my sister’s spell glitch and curse my whole family. And the only person who can help non-magical me break the spell? You guessed it. Gil the super hot jerk.

Now we have to work together to save my family and outmaneuver some evil-minded nefarious forces bent on world domination. Oh yeah, and we have to do all that while fighting against the attraction building between us because I may not be magical, but what’s happening between Gil and I sure feels like it.

Review (3.5 Stars):

Thanks so much to the author, Berkley Publishing Group, Valentine PR, and Netgalley for the gifted advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and participation in this blog tour. { partner } All opinions are entirely my own. All of my reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

I was so excited to receive an early copy of this book to review! People who have seen my Instagram or my recent books on Goodreads know that I LOVE a cozy, witchy romcom. Honestly, if they could make up my entire reading list from September through November, I would probably be content. And while I haven’t read anything by Avery Flynn up until this point, I’ve heard really fun things about her books from my fellow romance readers.

All of that to say, that I had really high hopes when I started this book a few days ago. And I really did enjoy the book quite a bit, but there were just a couple of small things that kept it from being a 5-star read for me.

To get this bit out of the way, let’s talk about our characters. I thought that Tilda and Gil were really fun as our leads – they were interesting characters in their own right, and I enjoyed their chemistry together. What can I say – I’m a sucker for an enemies-to-lovers storyline. I also really think that the secondary characters shine in this story, obviously the group of The Misfits that we spend most of the book with, but also some of Tilda’s more colorful family members. (I’m looking at you, Griselda).

The one thing that I will say I didn’t love with this romance was that with enemies-to-lovers, a lot of what typically makes that work is the big conflict or misunderstanding in the two characters’ shared past that makes them both think that they were wronged, and it’s why they’ve hated each other for years, and blah blah blah. We didn’t really get any of that explanation or backstory in this case, and I do feel like I was missing it. It didn’t fully keep me from feeling invested in the relationship or anything that dramatic, but I want to know why you’re so opposed to being together. And we didn’t get that this time around.

Another quirk about this book is that with the dual POV, we also get both of the main characters breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to you as a reader. Think the style of a 90s sitcom, or the main character/narrator in a Disney Channel Original Movie. I think that this bit in particular will be a bit divisive with readers, and already is in some of the reviews that I’ve seen. While this doesn’t seem to have been a favorite for a lot of folks, I actually enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun way to get some of the characters’ (especially Tilda’s) sense of humor, but I can definitely see how this device wouldn’t be for everyone.

I will say though, while on the topic of the dual POVs, that I don’t know that the two characters had different enough voices. Every once in a while I had to flip back to the start of the chapter to remind myself whose head I was inside of, because I couldn’t really tell from the writing. This is something that could still change in the final edit, though, so take that with a grain of salt.

Oh okay, one last thing about the character voices and the writing. They say “fuck” a lot. Like, A LOT. And I am someone that swears pretty freely and frequently, so I definitely don’t mind some adult language in my books. But these characters used this one particular curse word about as frequently as a teenager trying to show how mature and grown up they are by swearing, you know? I don’t mind it being in there, but I think that it could maybe have been dialed back the tiniest bit. Even if only for one of the characters – another opportunity to make the POVs feel separate.

Okay, now on to the last point. The last thing that kept me from really fully loving this book. It felt a bit like the book was confused on what age it was being written for. Like I said earlier, at times it felt almost DCOM-like with the fourth wall breaking narration and some of the sillier shenanigans that the two characters get into together, so there was once or twice that I looked back at the listed genres to see if it was a YA book and I just didn’t remember. But then about halfway through the book the slow-burn romance turns to full on, spicy, sex on the page scenes, that definitely keep the book squarely in the adult column.
Again, I enjoyed the comedy that these narrations could provide, and it’s no secret that I’m not afraid of some spicy scenes in my books. But it just felt at times like these two aspects of it were meant for different books, and they just got unceremoniously combined in the editing phase.

Okay one more thing worth noting – this book is downright silly at times with the way the witchy world was built for the reader. We don’t get a ton of traditional world building that you would expect from a full blown fantasy novel, but we do get little glimpses into it. And from what I was able to gather, it is a witchy-version of our current world, where they still watch the Superbowl and Daniel Craig 007 movies, but they use Witchygram instead of Instagram.

All of that being said, I would still overall recommend this book to my friends and fellow readers, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of the series.
I don’t think that it’s perfect by any means, but not every book needs to be! It was still a fun, fairly light, quick read. But my words of wisdom would be that if you are going to read it, really lean in to the sillier sides! I think you’ve got to if you’re going to really enjoy it.

About the Author:

When Avery Flynn isn’t writing about alpha heroes and the women who tame them, she is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip. She has three slightly wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband, and has a slight shoe addiction. Find out more about Avery on her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on her Facebook page, or friend her on her Facebook profile. Also, if you figure out how to send Oreos through the internet, she’ll be your best friend for life.

Connect with Avery

Website: http://averyflynn.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4894804.Avery_Flynn

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Avery-Flynn/e/B00560LIP0

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AveryFlynnAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/averyflynn/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AveryFlynn

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/avery-flynn

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

A Curse of Blood and Stone (Fate and Flame #2) by K.A. Tucker

Review and blog tour courtesy of Valentine PR

Thanks so much to the author and Valentine PR for the gifted, advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } My reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Adult

Book Description from Goodreads:

“I do not know how to love you and be a good king to my people.”

From jewelry thief to interloper to queen-in-waiting, Romeria flees Cirilea a traitor to all. But the yawning distance between her and Zander troubles her more than any king’s bounty on her head. While Zander may have escaped by her side, he seeks to regain his throne, and no immortal will ever welcome her as Islor’s queen. She fears it won’t be long before Zander abandons her as everyone else she’s ever loved has.

Zander sacrificed his crown to save Romeria’s life, yet he dreads what her existence means for the future of his realm. As Ybaris’s plan to destroy Islor unfurls, a more insidious threat, orchestrated by rival fates, lurks beneath the surface. He can offer his allies no honest explanation for why he protects the Ybarisan princess and takes counsel from Queen Neilina’s caster, leading those closest to doubt his wisdom—and his allegiance. 

As their company aims for the Venhorn Mountains, steered by prophecy, Romeria is desperate to wield her newfound abilities to undo Princess Romeria’s treachery before the kingdom tears itself apart. But with the mortal rebellion swelling, bolstered by the gift of Ybaris’s poison, it may already be too late.

From internationally bestselling author K.A. Tucker comes the second novel in her Fate and Flame series, an adult fantasy story that should be read in series order.

Review: (5 Stars)

TW: death/murder, violence, reference to sexual violence, some description of gore

You guys, I thought I loved A Fate of Wrath and Flame. And then A Curse of Blood and Stone came into my life. This world and these characters have really made their way into my heart, and I can’t wait to get more of them all!

This book picks up minutes after the events of the first book, and our leads are on the move – so this book feels a bit like a long road trip. You get to see lots of new locations that are either brand new to us or were briefly mentioned in the first book, and it lets you really focus on the characters and their relationships, which I loved! There are a handful of more tense scenes, but over all it’s more of a journey-centered story than more typical adventure, so if that isn’t your style it may feel like a bit of a slow read at times.

My favorite part of this book was that we see more of Romeria and Zander’s relationship, but even more than that we really get to see Romeria figuring out who she is in her new body and new world, and all of the power that comes with them. She really feels like she’s getting her feet under her, and I have really loved getting to see what that process looks like for her. She’s such a badass lady and such a fun character, and I can’t wait to see how she continues to grow! I would seriously read so many books about Romeria.

Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to my friends. But keep in mind that like I said earlier it does immediately follow the first book, so they definitely need to be read in order! I think that the perfect way to read this book would be on some sort of outdoor getaway – camping, glamping, a cabin in the mountains with a glass of wine, you take your pick. But this book feels like it’s begging to be read out in nature and on an adventure!

Meet Kathleen:

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the internationally bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, The Simple Wild, Be the Girl, and Say You Still Love Me. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, Oprah Mag, and First for Women.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto.

Connect with Kathleen

Website: https://www.katuckerbooks.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/36Ga0W8

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QPwJZs

Facebook:  http://bit.ly/2MYEDhK

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1468548700062461

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katucker_/

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2FqzR8K

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2rZkYXP

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authorkatucker/

My Reviews for more by K.A. Tucker

The Fate and Flame series

A Fate of Wrath and Flame (Fate and Flame #1)

The Simple Wild series

The Simple Wild (Wild #1)

Wild at Heart (Wild #2)

Forever Wild (Wild #2.5)

Running Wild (Wild #3)

The Polson Falls series

The Player Next Door

Standalone stories

Say You Still Love Me

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

Once Upon a Book Club: Adult Box March 2022

The Oceanography of the Moon by Glendy Vanderah

I was so excited to received the Adult Book box from Once Upon a Book Club for the month of March, with the clue “To the Moon and Back!”

Take a look below for information on the book and gifts that I received in this box, my review of the book, and more – but keep in mind that there will be spoilers on the gifts!

Thanks so much to the folks over at Once Upon a Book Club for gifting me with this box! Check them out for yourself, and use my code TACKLINGTBR at check out for a discount!

About the Box

The To The Moon and Back box was Once Upon a Book Club’s adult box for March 2022! Each box contained a copy of the book and four wrapped gifts to tie into the book – bringing the book and reading experience to life!

Page 55

She guides me out onto the wooden pier. It’s unsettling to walk toward that watery blackness as if impelled down a gangplank to my death. She positions me at the end of the pier and has everyone turn off our flashlights. She tells me it takes a while for retinas to acclimate to darkness. As my eyes adjust, I’m standing in millions of stars.

A small, USB star light that shines star patterns onto walls or the ceiling.

Page 114

“While I’m running water into the tub, she knocks on the door and hands me a book. The cover art looks like a child’s drawing of two people holding hands, the lines connecting stars in the night sky. The constellation is Gemini, the twins. I settle the book onto the bookrest Sachi and Alec gave me for my sixteenth birthday…”

A faux book pamphlet including the novel A Box of Broken Stars details on the cover, plus a wooden and plexiglass bookrest.

Page 195

“I take the rock out of my pocket and hold its cold angular shape in my fist. I’m not sure if I should give it to her.”

A black tourmaline along with the explanation of its healing properties.

Page 211

“I’ve been too distracted to pay much attention to his necklace. The only jewelry I’ve seen on him is the expensive watch he always wears. It’s a key, the old kind I see in antique stores.”

A gold, key pendant inspired by Vaughn’s.

Page 223

“I hold her against my chest. I recognize this song. It’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.”

A QR code to listen to the song, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ by The Beatles

About the Book

Published by: Lake Union Publishing

Publication Date: March 22, 2022

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Mystery, Magical Realism

Page Count: 330

Description from Goodreads:

A heartfelt novel of shedding secrets, facing the past, and embracing the magic of love and family by the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars.

After the untimely deaths of her aunt and mother, young Riley Mays moved from Chicago to her cousins’ Wisconsin farm. Here she found solace in caring for her extraordinary adoptive brother, exploring the surrounding wild nature, and gazing at the mystical moon—a private refuge in which she hides from her most painful memories. But ten years later, now twenty-one, Riley feels too confined by the protective walls she’s erected around herself. When a stranger enters her family’s remote world, Riley senses something he’s hiding, a desire to escape that she understands well.

Suffering from writer’s block, bestselling novelist Vaughn Orr has taken to the country roads when he happens upon the accommodating, if somewhat unusual, Mays family. He’s soon captivated by their eccentricities—and especially by Riley and her quiet tenacity. In her, he recognizes a shared need to keep heartbreaking secrets buried.

As the worst moments of their lives threaten to surface, Riley and Vaughn must find the courage to confront them if they’re to have any hope of a happy future. With the help of Riley’s supportive family, a dash of everyday magic, and the healing power of nature, can the pair let go of the troubled pasts they’ve clung to so tightly for so long?

Review:

(My review will be added at a later date!)

About the Author

Glendy Vanderah is the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Amazon Charts bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars and The Light Through the Leaves. Glendy worked as an endangered-bird specialist in Illinois before she became a writer. Originally from Chicago, she now lives in rural Florida with her husband and as many birds, butterflies, and wildflowers as she can lure to her land.

For more information, visit http://www.glendyvanderah.com.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/glendyvanderah/

Link to Purchase the book:

Learn more about Once Upon a Book Club, or order your next read, here!

The Burning Pages by Paige Shelton

Minotaur Books – Review: 3 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books for the gifted, advanced copy of this book, as well as NetGalley for the gifted e-copy in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } My reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on my blog at tacklingtbr.home.blog

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Fiction

TW: murder, arson, mention of attempted kidnapping

If there is anything that I love, it’s books about book people, and especially if those book people are also in a setting surrounded by books. Like, for instance, a book person who works and spends most of her time in a cute little bookshop in Scotland. You know, as a random example.

This was a fun mystery with a whole lot of storylines that until the end you’re not quite sure if they’re all connected in some way or not. There’s just a lot going on. I liked each storyline, and I do like how they do fit together in the end (spoiler? I guess?), but I will say that once or twice it got difficult to try and keep everything straight. There were characters with little roles in the smaller scale plots that I had to go back and remind myself who they were and how they were related to the story a couple of times.

I will say, I’m sure part of that is because this is book 7 in this series of cozy mysteries, and is the first one that I’ve read. I’m sure all of the main characters, and maybe some of the more supporting characters as well, were introduced in length in the previous novels, so maybe if I’d read the previous 6 books I would have had a little bit easier time with that. I don’t know that the problem would have completely gone away, since I was mostly having the trouble with folks related to the specific mystery. But either way, take that with a grain of salt.

One other small thing to note is that a lot of the dialogue is written out in a way to be read in a Scottish accent. This made it really fun and feel really immersed in the setting, but definitely keep in mind that you may need to use your own deductive reasoning to figure out a couple of words or sayings if you’re not familiar with it.

Overall I would recommend this book as a fairly easy cozy mystery. I figured out the ending before I got there, but isn’t that part of the charm of a cozy? I tend to think so, anyway. I think that the perfect way to read this book would be curled up in a comfy chair in a little bookshop, or at home surrounded by your bookshelves.

Link to Purchase on Amazon:

Rules for Engaging the Earl (The Widow Rules #2) by Janna MacGregor

St. Martin’s Press – Review: 4 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for the gifted, advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } My reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Regency

TW: description of battle injuries/scars

Anyone who tries to say they aren’t a sucker for a childhood best friends to lovers story is lying to you and also themselves, and they can’t be trusted. There, I said it. Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at this book in particular.

This one started off a bit slow for me, because the two leads are apart for a good chunk of the book to begin with. When I picked up this book I didn’t realize that it was a second in a series, however, and that the two friends that Constance spends this portion of the book with are characters that you met and undoubtedly fell in love with in the first book (A Duke in Time). I really loved the bond between these three women throughout this book, so I think if I had that love of them going into it then the beginning wouldn’t have felt so long for me. So maybe this is one best read in order, purely for that relationship!

But now on to this story’s love match – Constance and Jonathan. They were best friends in their younger years, and you can tell they both secretly knew that they were each other’s futures, but they never shared that out loud. Bring in the steamy second chance romance! I really loved their relationship. It was a little bit difficult at times, because sometimes it’s hard to read a character treating someone else so coldly, even if you know they’re trying to protect them and that it will all work out in the end. And there are definitely some of those moments in this book where Jonathan was really cold and hurtful to Constance. But what I loved is that that time wasn’t just brushed under the rug like “well he’s not like that anymore, so it doesn’t matter” which I think can tend to happen in those types of stories. Both of these characters knew and acknowledged that that treatment was wrong, and we really got to see them make the choice to move forward anyway, and see him really work to make himself better.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to friends! Like I said earlier, though, I may need to go back and read the first one, and might recommend that folks read it in order so that they don’t miss any of that badass female friendship! I think that the best way to read this book would be outside in a garden, with the sunshine on your shoulders, and maybe a cup of tea or coffee in your hands. Bonus points for a fresh garden picnic, but not all of us have the Earl of Sykeston’s grounds.

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This May End Badly by Samantha Markum

Wednesday Books – Review: 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for the gifted, advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } My reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

Publication Date: April 12, 2022

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult, Fiction

TW: discussion of sexually predatory behavior towards a minor, discussion of homophobia, bullying

I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book! I think with YA romances it can be a little bit tricky sometimes to find the balance of the romance between two characters who are at an age that they are really starting to explore the steamier sides of romance, but also acknowledging how young the characters still are – no matter how adult they may think they are. And this book captured that really beautifully for me – the feeling that these characters are still kids, and still learning and growing, but that they very much see themselves as the adults that they are just a year or two shy of being.

There were SO MANY characters to fall in love with in this book! You’ve got to love a good, old fashioned ensemble cast, right? At least, I do.

Let’s start with the friend groups. The Winfield boys were really intriguing to me as I was reading – from the description you know that they have to all come together at the end against a bigger, better cause, so I was looking forward to seeing how the author humanized these characters to Doe, and maybe even brought her around a bit to their side, and I thought that the background that she gave them was really interesting. Nothing groundbreaking, but really well told.

As for Doe and her group of best girlfriends, there were so many different personalities in the group, and I think the author did a really good job of showing those personality types both clashing and blending, and the love that these girls had for each other through both types of interactions. No friend group is going to get along perfectly all the time, or always agree, so I love it when authors (especially in children’s or young adult stories) show those sides of it too. Especially in a way that shows that not only is it normal but also healthy, and that it doesn’t mean you love your friends any less.

And okay, let’s briefly touch on Wells. I loved him. A whole lot. Like, if I had read this book in high school he may have been my dream guy. I loved him, I loved their relationship, I love the fake-dating trope. It just all really worked for me!

Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to my friends. In fact, I think I may have already recommended it once or twice in conversation. I thought it was such a fun and engaging read, and I will definitely be purchasing a physical copy to put on my bookshelf in case of future re-reads. I think that the best way to read this book would be curled up with a cute guy on a big red arm chair, but if you can’t get that, then I guess any comfy reading nook will suffice. But someone or something cute to cuddle is mandatory!

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Sari, Not Sari by Sonya Singh

Simon & Schuster – Review: 4 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the gifted, advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. { partner } My reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult, Fiction

TW: whitewashing POC, some racially/culturally insensitive language

I will start off here by saying that I really loved this book! Once I finished it I messaged my husband and told him that it might have already cemented itself as one of my favorite reads of the month, that’s how much I enjoyed it.

I want to say early on in this review, however, that I am not Indian, so I don’t have that insight into the story or characters that own-voices reviewers might have. I have seen some folks talking about this book in reviews and elsewhere online that the way it was written and the way the people and culture were represented may not have been as accurate or respectful as some folks would have liked, which is what will keep this from being a 5-star review for me.

A huge part of the plot of this book is that Manny is spending the week with Sammy (the love interest) and his family to really get a taste of the Indian culture that she didn’t experience growing up, and that she’s never felt like she’s had access to. I’ve seen a lot of people online talking about how what is basically a week-long boot camp on how to be Indian is problematic because there is no one specific way to represent any culture or community, and I absolutely agree with that. The author makes a specific point more than once throughout the book to acknowledge this, and to have multiple characters tell Manny that or show her their own versions of their culture.

I think that the author adequately acknowledges this and it is therefore an intentional part of the story, as well as Manny’s character development. However, as I said in the beginning, since I am not a member of this culture I don’t believe I’m the one to speak on this. I’ve lowered my review by one star to reflect this, and will gladly re-evaluate it in the future if more own-voices reviewers come out to speak on it.

All of that being said, I think that the book was well written, and the characters were entertaining and engaging. And I absolutely fell for Sammy – I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t! For me, this was a book that I didn’t want to put down.

Overall I would recommend this book to friends and fellow readers, but with the above note. I think that the best way to read this book would be out at a park or someplace with the buzz of activity and a large glass of white wine!

Link to Purchase on Amazon: