Book Review

Book Review: Rustic Hearts (Poplar Falls #1) by Amber Kelly

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 268 pages
Author: Amber Kelly
Publisher: Amber Kelly, LLC
Release Date: September 16th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


The last place Sophia Lancaster wanted to return to was Poplar Falls. It’s the place that holds all the painful memories and unanswered questions she’s ever had. One phone call causes her life to take a turn, forcing her back to the town she hasn’t stepped foot in over twenty years.

And right into the path of Braxton Young.

His blue eyes, sinful smile, and rough exterior are no match for Sophia. She’s there for one reason, and it isn’t to fall in love. The sooner she can get out of this small town and back in New York City—the better.

However, fate doesn’t care for either of their desires. Instead, they’re forced to deal with each other, finding their differences aren’t as great as they thought. Each day brings them closer to friendship and the possibility of something more. The answers she seeks might not only break her and Braxton apart but also her heart.


That’s how the first book in this series made me feel. It’s totally Hallmark + some steam and I am here for seeing how the rest of these characters love stories play out.

I easily read this in a day and I love when shorter books feel like the perfect length. I got the answers I wanted, the cuteness I needed and I only wish the ending was a bit longer to get more of Sophie and Braxton.

Braxton and Sophie were definitely an enemies to lovers saga (which is probably the number one reason I enjoyed this). They clashed immediately, but the obvious fire was there too. I liked how each one had some misconstrued ideas about the other, but after listening to the facts and learning more about each other they both had changes of heart. Sophie and Braxton seeked to figure out each other and how they could fit into each other’s lives.

Side story that I looooooved was that Sophie was a jewelry designer!! I just thought that was really unique from the romances I’ve read and adored how it fit into her personality and her life at large.

Dude wow, did I really loathe Sophie’s Mother. Finding out what really happened made honestly angry that a parent would put their child in that situation (and lie about it). I didn’t see redemption there, but I guess at least Sophie worked it out.

The steam was a bit much more my preference, but it can be easily skipped and the story at large is lovely and engaging. I’m so glad Dallas’s story is next!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: kisses to open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: infidelity, divorce, loosing both parents in an accident

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Book Review

Book Review: Gilded (Gilded #1) by Marissa Meyer

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA/NA Fantasy Retelling
Length: 512 pages
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: November 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Long ago cursed by the god of lies, a poor miller’s daughter has developed a talent for spinning stories that are fantastical and spellbinding and entirely untrue.

Or so everyone believes.

When one of Serilda’s outlandish tales draws the attention of the sinister Erlking and his undead hunters, she finds herself swept away into a grim world where ghouls and phantoms prowl the earth and hollow-eyed ravens track her every move. The king orders Serilda to complete the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, or be killed for telling falsehoods. In her desperation, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious boy to her aid. He agrees to help her… for a price. Love isn’t meant to be part of the bargain.

Soon Serilda realizes that there is more than one secret hidden in the castle walls, including an ancient curse that must be broken if she hopes to end the tyranny of the king and his wild hunt forever.

Marissa Meyer, #1 New York Times-bestselling author, returns to the fairytale world with this haunting retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.


As someone who [at the time of reading] didn’t know the FULL story of Rumpelstiltskin, I gotta say, most of this story took me by surprise, holy wow. After catching up on the tale and what happens, I muuuuuch more clearly understand the artistic choices here and made me look back and enjoy it more.

I adored Serilda as the main character. She was brave and wily. I love the spinning of tales and how she just lied. And rolled with it. She was somehow a bit morally gray, and completely the hero at the same time and that’s the kind of characters I love. I wish there was a bit more depth with her romance with Gild. They didn’t get a lot of page time, meaning I didn’t get enough pages to love them.

This is a dark and twisted tale. And the chapters focusing on the actual moon cycle were good, enthralling, and kept me going. All of the stuff in-between? Eh. I found the pacing here much slower causing me to feel like this book draaaagged itself through the middle.

It was a wild set-up at the end and I have MANY QUESTIONS and answers needed. Can’t wait for the next book because as always, I love Marissa Meyer!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA/NA Fantasy Romance + Retelling
  • Language: some
  • Romance: closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: blood/gore depiction, multiple children murdered, loss of parents, kidnapping, torture, murder, animal cruelty

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Book Review

Book Review: Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA Contemporary + Romance
Length: 328 pages
Author: Ben Philippe
Publisher: Balzer + Bay
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University.

There is only one person who seems immune to Henri’s charms: his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself.

Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for. . . .

This is a sharply funny and insightful novel about the countless hustles we have to keep from doing the hardest thing: being ourselves.


This was so CUTE. I read this via book and audio version and both were great ways to take it all in.

I found myself laughing and smiling so much throughout. These characters were just lovable and felt realistically high school without the eye roll level drama. I felt the plight of trying to get into the college of your dreams and figuring out what the next step is after getting that diploma. I love that this wasn’t only a romance and added in elements of family, friendship, and more. Exploring the pressure of many topics in a light and sincere way.

BUT, the romance was too precious which is always a win. Henri and Cori were a MATCH. They hit it off beautifully and they clearly had chemistry. I liked the way they supported one another and were able to enjoy each other’s company.

The writing had great flow and storytelling. I loved the main characters, but the side characters/family members shown in their own way too. For a shorter read I thought everyone was incredibly devloped and made this book lovable.

Did I mention there’s also a lot of dogs? BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL ADORABLE. I don’t know how they didn’t steal the show (okay, maybe they did a little?).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: some storng
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; brief innuendo

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Historical Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: PenguinTeen
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.

Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.

Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

Thank you to publisher, PenguinTeen for an eARC.


One of my favorite things about Sepetys as a writer is her clear effort in researching the history of whatever book she’s writing. I also love that most of her books are from more niche areas of history that I don’t know a lot about. They continually inspire me to look up more information and learn even more about the subject.

A bit slow paced in the first half as we watched Cristian go through the day-to-day life of what it was like in communist Romania. The visceral depictions of fear and oppression was at times hard to read. The short chapters kept the book moving steadily as the tension increased on a country tired of being held back.

I liked Cristian as a main character and his heartfelt desire to do right by his family and also do right by himself. His touching inner monologue of wanting more and suffering because of it, but then finally being able to reach a path that would lead to hope. I would have loved a bit more character development for everyone to really feel attached to them.

The intensity of the second half unleashed the betrayals, the riots and moments of clarity. While I didn’t love how the book ended, once reading the author’s note and history in the back of the book (don’t forget to do that!!) it all made sense as the type of writing choice I Must Betray You needed. Another great and informative historical fiction for Sepetys!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical Fiction
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: depictions of poverty, a loved one beaten to death (aftermath is witnessed), murder, riots, mass loss of life, gun violence, near death experiences

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