Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: July 2022

It was a great reading month around here!

Favorite Books: Air Awakens reread, Would You Rather, Songs of the Wicked, These Hollow Vows, These Wicked Bonds, Kulti, Master of Iron, Catherine Cowles books!

  • The Wedding Season by Katy Birchall
  • Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
  • A Crown of the Gods (Shadows and Crowns #4) by S.M. Gaither
  • A Thousand Miles by Bridget Morrissey
  • [ARC] Hearts of Briarwall by Krista Jensen
  • [Reread] Earth’s End (Air Awakens #3) by Elise Kova
  • Mischief, Mayhem, and Marriage (Supposed Scandal #2) by Rebecca Connolly
  • Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho
  • Naked in Death (In Death #1) by J.D. Robb
  • The Last of the Talons (Talons #1) by Sophie Kim
  • Fake it Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley
  • [Reread] Water’s Wrath (Air Awakens #4) by Elise Kova
  • [ARC] Would You Rather by Allison Ashley
  • [Reread] Crystal Crowned (Air Awakens #5) by Elise Kova
  • Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty
  • [Novella] Finding Perfect (Hopeless #2.6) by Colleen Hoover
  • The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
  • The Sin of Saints (Benevolence & Blood #1) by Lauren M. Leasure
  • Dream On by Angie Hockman
  • A Cowboy for Keeps (Colorado Cowboys #1) by Jody Hedlund
  • When He Was Wicked (The Bridgertons #6) by Julia Quinn
  • Songs of the Wicked (A Dreamer’s Misfortune #1) by C.A. Farran
  • [Reread] These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows #1) by Lexi Ryan
  • [ARC] Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus
  • [ARC] The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe
  • These Twisted Bonds (These Hollow Vows #2) by Lexi Ryan
  • [Reread] Kulti by Mariana Zapata
  • [Novella] Commit (The Sweet Rom”Coms” #2.5) by Kortney Keisel
  • [ARC] Master of Iron (Bladesmith #2) by Tricia Levenseller
  • Tattered Stars (Tattered & Torn #1) by Catherine Cowles
  • Mother of Death and Dawn (The War of Lost Hearts #3) by Carissa Broadbent
  • Falling Embers (Tattered & Torn #2) by Catherine Cowles
  • [ARC] The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart #2) by Stephanie Garber
  • The Heart of a Cowboy (Colorado Cowboys #2) by Jody Hedlund
  • Doing Time (Wayfair Witches #12) by A.A. Albright
  • Tokyo Dreaming (Tokyo Ever After #2) by Emiko Jean
  • The Enemy and Miss Innes (Tales from the Highlands #2) by Martha Keyes
  • City of Gods and Monsters (House of Devils #1) by Kayla Edwards
  • The Beach Trap by Ali Brady
  • Class Act (The Thornback Society #1) by Aspen Hadley

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Book Review

ARC Book Review & Blog Tour: For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa

Purchase Links (I do not receive any commission for this):

The Ripped Bodice (signed copies) || Bookshop.org || B&N || Amazon

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Erin La Rosa
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: July 27th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

They go together like water and oil…

All chef Nina Lyon wants is to make a name for herself in the culinary world and inspire young women everywhere to do the same. For too long, she’s been held back and underestimated by the male-dominated sphere of professional kitchens, and she’s had enough. Now, as co-host of the competitive reality TV series The Next Cooking Champ!, she finally has a real shot at being top tier in the foodie scene.
Too bad her co-host happens to be Hollywood’s smarmiest jerk.

Restaurateur Leo O’Donnell never means to get under Nina’s skin. It just seems to happen, especially when the cameras are rolling. It’s part of the anxiety and stress he has come to know all too well in this line of work. So nothing prepares him for the fallout after he takes one joke a smidge too far and Nina up and quits—on live TV.

To make matters worse, the two are caught in what looks like a compromising situation by the paparazzi…and fans of the show go absolutely nuts. Turns out, a “secret romance” between Nina and Leo may just be what their careers need most.

Now all they have to do is play along, without killing each other…and without catching feelings. Easy as artisanal shepherd’s pie. Right? 

Thank you to HQN for the eARC!

DELECTABLE.

I didn’t have any wild expectations going in for this and found myself completely wrapped up this story. I wouldn’t call it enemies to lovers, but more a rival angle. There’s fantastic banter that made me laugh and were such great quips. The spark definitely ignited as Leo and Nina got to know one another.

And how did they get to know one another? FAKE DATING Y’ALL. Another beloved trope that I loved the execution of. I thought all of the dates dove deeper into each layer of their budding relationship. I liked how they got to know one another, apologize for past grievances and work together to save their restaurants.

I did find the last 10/15% a little slow. I liked that Leo’s anxiety was addressed and he was able to work on that for himself and that Nina found a new path for her career to move to. I don’t mind some time away, but it did go on just long enough that I was wondering where the grand finale was finally going to take place.

Different from a lot of books recently, this one focused on cooking over baking. I loved that and it made me continually hungry and in need of a personal chef to make some of these grand meals for me. I loved the outside plot that didn’t overtake the romance but helped push it forward. The side characters (family and friends) were wonderful and added a perfect touch too. A seriously great read and I look forward to more!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: multiple open; med/high explicit
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: anxiety, panic attacks (on page), sexism, bullying (including cyber)

AUTHOR BIO:

ERIN LA ROSA is a writer living in Los Angeles. As a writer for BuzzFeed, she frequently writes about the perils and triumphs of being a redhead. Before BuzzFeed, Erin worked for the comedy websites Funny or Die and MadAtoms, as well as E!s Fashion Police, Wetpaint, and Ecorazzi. Erin has appeared on CNN, Headline News, Jimmy Kimmel, and The Today Show on behalf of BuzzFeed. She is the author of Womanskills and The Big Redhead Book.


Author Website: https://www.erinlarosacreative.com/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/erinlarosalit/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/erinlarosalit
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erin.larosa 
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@erinlarosawrites

And for fun, some recipes from the chef’s themselves!

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Book Review

Book Review: Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Helena Hunting
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: August 11th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn’t plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn’t spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success.

From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there’s also an undeniable chemistry. When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they’re forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it’s possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.

As two neighborhood shop owners battle for business, they prove opposites attract in this outrageously funny romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of Meet Cute.

INTRIGUED.

An audio contemporary romance that gave me the happily ever after I was hoping for! This was such a sweet read and it felt like a newer plot than those I’ve read previously. Though it did have my favorite trope, enemies to lovers!!

I adored Ronan. He was strong and the right kind of snarky. He also knew how to apologize and lift those up around him. He was kind and I thought the chemistry between him and Blaire was pretty magical. Blaire is full of absolute fire and I loved that for her. A bit “not like the other girls” nonsense, but otherwise a great character. I liked the opposites attract themes here too between a bar and a bakery.

Blaire’s family was a bit all of the place . It felt really forced to have THAT much drama surrounding them in the handful of scenes they were actually on page. That plus the very heavy innuendo were my only pitfalls. The steamy scenes are definitely steamy, but easily skippable, so those of either preference can easily enjoy this read. There’s no overly dramatic miscommunication issue. I thought the ending and the epilogue were absolutely precious and the kind of sweetness I love seeing in a contemporary.

This was my first book by Helena Hunting and it’s intrigued me enough to take a look at some of her backlist titles!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Lease on Love by Falon Ballard

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Falon Ballard
Publisher: GP Putnam
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Beach Read meets The Flatshare in this warmly funny and delightfully sharp debut rom-com about a down-on-her-luck young woman who turns an innocent mix-up between a dating app and a roommate app into a new chance at love.

After getting passed over for an overdue—and much needed—promotion, Sadie Green is in desperate need of three things: a stiff drink, a new place to live, and a one-night-stand. When one drink turns into one too many, Sadie mixes up a long-ignored dating app for a roommate-finding app and finds herself on the doorstep of Jack Thomas’s gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone. Too bad she’s more attracted to his impressive real estate than she is to the man himself.

Jack, still grieving the unexpected death of his parents, has learned to find comfort in video games and movie marathons instead of friends. So while he doesn’t know just what to make of the vivaciously verbose Sadie, he’s willing to offer her his spare bedroom while she gets back on her feet. And with the rent unbeatably low, Sadie can finally pursue her floristry side hustle full-time. The two are polar opposites, but as Sadie’s presence begins to turn the brownstone into a home, they both start to realize they may have just made the deal of a lifetime.

IT WAS SWEET.

I flew through this audiobook in a day. It was great! Definitely recommend the audio for those who love that option!

This was a low angst, high sweetness kind of romance. I liked the roommate aspects and how they absolutely adorable these two were texting, talking, and generally just being there for each other as Sadie found a new pathway in her life. Sadie and Jack made my heart melt.

I struggled with Sadie’s character at times. Her final moments of grow didn’t fully have a breakthrough until 90+%. That didn’t leave much room for exploration past that point as things wrapped up pretty swiftly after. It also made me not love how the entirety of the conflict went down.

Besides that issue, this romance was great. I loved her friend group and the support there was for everyone to find happiness in their own way. I couldn’t get enough of all of the flower talk and loved the floral glow up Sadie went through.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: multiple open door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of parents (off page, a main theme), emotional/verbal abuse of a child (mentioned)

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