Monday, September 20, 2021

REVIEW: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glascow



Second Kathleen Glascow in the last few weeks and I'm waiting to read the only one of her novels I haven't read so that I can stretch out her reads for as long as I can. 

Girl in Pieces was a particularly relevant to me as I have a family member who has battled with self-harm and I know I've had too many students battling with it too. While my family member doesn't/didn't have the same relationship with self-harm that Charlie does, it still gave me so much insight into some of the thoughts and feelings that many may feel and that knowledge is immeasurably helpful. 

Charlie's journey was one that focused on not just her battle to heal (literally and figuratively) and embedded in that journey were stories of friendship, finding self-worth and self-confidence, grappling with the past and finding hope in the future. It also showed us that family isn't always the one that we were born into, but also the one that we choose and make for ourselves. Charlie's story was painful  and challenging, and yet it held so much hope and promise that I ended the novel feeling positive about Charlie's future.

As with both Glascow novels that I've read, I can't stop thinking about the characters. They now live in my heart and take up space in my head, and I just hope against hope that whatever they're doing, they're happy. That's the type of novel experience this was--one that just sticks with you. 

As a teacher of teens, I know that this novel may be triggering for some of my students on their own journeys of healing, but I hope to put it on my shelf soon, because I absolutely know that it is a novel that will also be so helpful for some in my classes.

SIDE NOTE: I enjoyed the unusually structured breaks between scenes and chapters and I love that the publisher/agent/editors encouraged a debut writer to take risks and not do the expected. Kudos to that team!



Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow's debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

REVIEW: The Devil and the Heiress by Harper St. George



Just like the first book in this series, The Devil and the Heiress leaves no detail unexplored. Harper St. George puts us in a world that is very far away and yet so very relevant; while no one I know has to be married off to create a presence in society, I do find that some of the issues that Violet and Christian must can be seen in the world today. The pressures of family and societal expectations and how your own needs and desires have to sometimes be pushed aside to meet those expectations, is something I know many people struggle with. 

These Crenshaw siblings are a delight, even if their parents are total a-holes. I love their fiery and independent spirits and their willingness to do whatever it takes to get what they want. Their romantic counterparts are equally interesting and delightfully flawed, stubborn, and swoony. Violet and Christian continue with those traits--their journey to their HEA made more interesting by the literal journey-- and I'm eager to see what happens next (with the hope that their parents finally get their comeuppance!). 


No one would guess that beneath Violet Crenshaw's ladylike demeanor lies the heart of a rebel. American heiresses looking to secure English lords must be on their best behavior, but Violet has other plans. She intends to flee London and the marriage her parents have arranged to become a published author--if only the wickedly handsome earl who inspired her most outrageously sinful character didn't insist on coming with her.

Christian Halston, Earl of Leigh, has a scheme of his own: escort the surprisingly spirited dollar princess north and use every delicious moment in close quarters to convince Violet to marry him. Christian needs an heiress to rebuild his Scottish estate but the more time he spends with Violet, the more he realizes what he really needs is her--by his side, near his heart, in his bed.

Though Christian's burning glances offer unholy temptation, Violet has no intention of surrendering herself or her newfound freedom in a permanent deal with the devil. It's going to take more than pretty words to prove this fortune hunter's love is true....

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

REVIEW: For Love or Honey by Staci Hart


For Love or Honey is such a treat. I consumed this novel in less than a day (which I always feel so guilty about because I know that it took months to write and I just inhaled it in a day, but I digress..) and was very put out when I got to the last page and there wasn't more. I would've gladly binged the next one and the next one, if they were available to read. 

So what made this such a fun experience? Wellllllll, first I love a good enemies to lovers trope and Jo and Grant most definitely start on opposite sides of fracking. They're both stubborn and tricky and the dialogue that comes from their run ins is perfect and hilarious. The way that each of them approach the other and try to get what they want...*chef's kiss*. Jo's tests and Grant's willingness to be put through them are also hilarious and build that romantic tension that we all love in Staci Hart's romcoms.

In addition to Grant and Jo's storyline, I can't help but fall in love with all of the secondary characters--her family, the small town friends, neighbors, and gossips--added warmth and familiarity. And of course, the small community, despite the small town gossip and conflicts that can arise, is romanticized in a way that makes me *think* I want to immediately move to a small town (having grown up in a small town, I definitely don't want that at this point but it such a testament to her writing that I would even entertain the idea). 

Not only did I fall in love with Jo and Grant's love story, I found myself loving to hate Grant's dad and all the things he represents. Staci Hart can write the heck out of villain and his dad was e-v-i-l and I wanted to smack him every time he arrived on my page.

All of this to say that I was completely absorbed and entertained by For Love or Honey and I'm sad that it's over but I'm eager to read what comes next. 

For Love or Honey by Staci Hart is a brand new enemies to lovers rom - com, available NOW! This new release is the perfect weekend binge. Grab your copy from your favorite online retailer!

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"Leave me with this book, the characters and the bees and I’ll be one happy reader - probably forever." - The Chatty Romance Reader


When the devil comes to town, you have to meet him head on.

Which is exactly what I did when Grant Stone rolled into our small Texas town, driving a sports car I could fit in the bed of my truck, wearing a suit as black as his soul. He’s here to acquire mineral rights to half a dozen farms in town.

And there’s no way he’s getting mine.

I don’t make deals with the devil.

So when he challenges me to show him the small town ropes, my motivation is the prospect of seeing him make a fool of himself. He might have an angle, but if he thinks he can finagle me into endangering my bee farm, he’s got another thi ng coming.

Until the line in the sand is washed away.

My farm in danger. A town in upheaval. A man who will stop at nothing to g et what he wants.

And me in the middle.

When the devil comes to town, you have to meet him head on.

And when he sneaks into your heart, he’ll only break it.

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't for get that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been dri nking whiskey. When she's not writing, she's reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Monday, September 13, 2021

REVIEW: Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes by Alexa Martin

I've been enamored with Alexa Martin's writing from the first novel I've read of hers; her novels contain a great mixture of humor and emotion and friendship and romance. While Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes focuses more on the friendship aspect, there's definitely a nice dose of romance that is threaded throughout

As noted in probably many other reviews, this novel is really an ode to female friendship. Lauren and Jude, lifelong best friends, become roommates for a variety of reasons, we come to learn. Lauren needs to escape her overbearing parents and has some financial constraints and Jude needs to escape her overbearing mother and also has financial constraints. Naturally, it stands to reason that they would room together, despite the obvious differences in their lifestyles--Lauren is a single, working mom working on some issues with her ex and Jude is a social media star, working through some issues with her formerly famous mom. Despite those differences, as it often does in real life too, their friendship works with and through these differences and makes for a sweet living arrangement. Until it doesn't.

One of the things I really appreciate about this novel is that it doesn't idealize friendship. It shows the challenges and strains that exist and the worries and concerns we all have when our friends are in trouble. It shows Jude and Lauren love each other and struggle with each other and how even best friends have challenges that aren't easily overcome. Rather than write a novel that romanticizes best friends, Martin shows the strength that a true friendship has, even with all of the missteps and dumb things we do to sometimes sabotage things. 

I also enjoyed the ode to the repeated image of how powerful and wonderful being a woman, having strong female friendships ,and lifting up other women that this novel had. Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes was a slight shift from the novels Alexa Martin has written before and I enjoyed the experience. 



Two best friends say "I do" to living together, for better or worse, in this bold women's fiction novel from Alexa Martin.

Jude Andrews is famous. Well, at least on Instagram. Her brand is clean eating, good vibes, Pilates, and casually looking like a sun-kissed goddess. In real life, however, she’s a total disaster. She has a strained relationship with her fame-hungry mom and her latest bad decision emptied out her entire savings account.

Lauren Turner had a plan: graduate medical school and become the top surgeon in the country. But when she became unexpectedly pregnant, those plans changed. And when her fiancĂ© left her, they changed again. Now navigating the new world of coparenting, mom groups, and dating,  she decides to launch a mommy podcast with all the advice she wishes someone had given her.

Jude and Lauren don't have much in common, but maybe that's why they've been best friends since the third grade. Through ups and downs, they've been by each other's sides. But now? They’re broke, single, and do the only thing that makes sense—move in together, just like they talked about when they were teenagers. Except when they were younger, the plan didn't include a five-year-old daughter and more baggage than their new townhouse can hold.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

NEW REVIEW: Saint by Sierra Simone


  SAINT by Sierra Simone Release Date: September 7th 
Genre/Tropes: M/M/Second-chance romance/Brothers Best Friend/Forbidden Romance   
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Saint is a meditation. It's a revelation. It's heaven and hell. Joy and agony. It's ahhhhhmaaaaazing. It's been a while since I've been in the world of the Bell brothers and what a world it is. Gah. While I found the previous two novels in this series to be unique and impossible to put down, Saint was so unexpectedly compelling that it was almost shocking to me. I wish I could adequately express exactly my reading experience but how do you put into words the image of me just staring off into space contemplating the various dilemmas presented and eventual conclusions that Aiden (aka Father Patrick) came to? Honestly. Sierra Simone actually made me miss going to church and I cannot tell you the last time I actually had that thought (literally-decades). 

The barrier to an Aiden and Elijah happily ever after, as you can see from the synopsis, are challenging (understatement, right). I mean the brother's best friend...we can work around that. The engagement? Those can be broken. Being in an exclusive relationship with God. Ummmm, how's that gonna work? Well as Sierra Simone has shown us time and time again, there's no such thing as too challenging in her book worlds. She takes each of these issues and, in a sometimes anxiety inducing way, manages to have her characters figure it out. No lie, there were times when this process of getting to the HEA was painful, but there were also times when it was delightfully naughty, or incredibly thoughtful, and most definitely there were times when it felt like pure joy. 

Out of all the novels in this series, I think this one might be my favorite (so far). I loved contemplating the questions that Aiden's dilemmas posed. I also loved the hints of answers that are given. And I especially loved the various conversations and opportunities to consider all of the ways religion and its institutions work or don't work for us. The removal of the suffocatingly strict binary that often times seems (seemed) like the only choice was a beautiful thing and I so very much enjoyed exploring the ideas that surrounded the removal of that binary. 

At this point, I'm rambling and it only probably makes sense to me. So I'll end where I began. This novel, Saint, was a revelation. A meditation. Heaven and hell. Joy and agony. And I'm jealous of all of you who get to read it for the first time.

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  Blurb: I can’t have Elijah Iverson.   I can’t have him because he’s my older brother’s best friend. I can’t have him because I broke his heart five years ago; because he’s now engaged to someone else—someone kind and dependable who deserves his whiskey eyes, his soft mouth, his fierce intellect.   I can’t have Elijah because I’ve chosen God instead.   The Bell brothers, though . . . well, we don't exactly have the greatest track record with vows. But I’m determined to do this monk thing right—to pledge myself to a cloistered life and spend the rest of my years in chastity and prayer. But now Elijah’s here. He’s here and he’s coming with me on my European monastery road trip, and between the whispered confessions and the stolen kisses and the moments bent over an ancient altar, my vows are feeling flimsier by the day.   And vows or not, I know in my heart that it would take more than a good and holy monk to resist Elijah Iverson right now. It would take a saint.   And we all know that I’m no saint.   (This is the third full-length standalone in the Priest Collection, featuring Father Bell's brother, Aiden Bell. You do not have to read Priest or Sinner to read Saint.)           

  About the Author: Sierra Simone is a USA Today Bestselling former librarian (who spent too much time reading romance novels at the information desk.) She lives with her husband and family in Kansas City. 
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