Monday, February 27, 2023

REVIEW: The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

So I just finished The Candy House and I am hungry to find friends who've read it so that I can hash out all of my thoughts. I don't even know how I feel about any of it and I kinda like that I am this mixed up. On the one had, I really loved the episodic, non-linear experimental way that Jennifer Egan put this together (having not read her other works, I've heard this is just her style?). It kept me on my toes and forced me to stop trying to read it in my normal way. I had to give myself permission to not try and connect all the dots and know all the things; I had to relax and enjoy it for the journey that it was. As much as I enjoyed that, I also was uncomfortable with it. I didn't always like not knowing how the puzzle pieces fit and I hated thinking I was missing something or that I was missing the point because I couldn't see the small picture inside the bigger one. 

Days later, I'm still pondering all the things that The Candy House brought up about technology and relationships and how those work separately and together, about the ripple effect of relationships and how one innocuous moment can influence the entire life of someone, about how the more we progress, we sometimes seem to regress, and maybe at the heart of all of this the ideas of loneliness and grief and loss and desire and love and connection. 

I've talked two of my colleagues and friends into reading The Candy House and I cannot wait to hear what they think and why they think it. 


* Named a Top Ten Best Book of 2022 by The New York Times Book Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Slate * Named a Best Book of 2022 by The New Yorker, NPR, Oprah Daily, Time, Harper's Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Vogue, and many more! *

“A compelling read that showcases Egan’s masterful storytelling.” —Time
“Dazzling.” —
“Radiant, exhilarating.” —
“Mesmerizing…A thought-provoking examination of how and why we change.” —

From one of the most celebrated writers of our time comes an “inventive, effervescent” (Oprah Daily) novel about the memory and quest for authenticity and human connection.

The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is forty, with four kids, restless, and desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—which allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share your memories in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes.

In the world of Egan’s spectacular imagination, there are “counters” who track and exploit desires and there are “eluders,” those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles—from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter, and a chapter of tweets. Intellectually dazzling, 
The Candy House is also a moving testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for connection, family, privacy, and love.

“A beautiful exploration of loss, memory, and history” (
San Francisco Chronicle), “this is minimalist maximalism. It’s as if Egan compressed a big 19th-century novel onto a flash drive” (The New York Times).

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

REVIEW: The Baby Blitz by Lex Martin

Title: The Baby Blitz
Author: Lex Martin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Tropes: Enemies to Lovers/Surprise Pregnancy
Release Date: February 21, 2023


 What is it about this series that is like my own personal catnip? I'm addicted and I cannot stay away and the absolute worst part is that I read them so dang fast that they're over before I know it and I have to wait months for the next one. It's a great problem to have but's the worst.

Like all of the other books in this series, we have an enemies to lovers, football romance that involves a surprise baby at some point. Why is this my jam? I have no idea because on the face of it, it seems like a hard road for any romance, right? Think about it, you have two characters (Olly and Maggie) who grew up together, had a falling out, and now don't particularly care for each other (even though they actually have been crushing hard for years). So they have to somehow overcome their dislike of each other to fall for each other, plus overcome the other obstacles of being poor college students, striving to graduate (and in Olly's case, be drafted) so that they can financially help their families (the pressure! the stress!), plus deal with the usual BS that comes with college romance (the gossip, exes, rumors, fears, etc). Throw in a surprise baby and you have a hot mess. A hot mess that I cannot stop reading the second I start it. Seriously. I'll forsake the most precious thing (sleep) just to see what will happen next. 

As with all of the previous books in this series, I really enjoyed Olly and Maggie's love story. I loved the backstory, the pranks, and how human they both were. They were both compassionate and hardworking and seriously stressed. Martin wrote them realistically and never made them seem too good to be true--their reactions to some of the good and bad things that happened seemed accurate and believable and I think that's a large part of why I enjoyed reading--I believed in what they were feeling, could sometimes identify (or the very least, sympathize) with various fears and concerns, and overall just felt all the things for them and with them. I also just enjoyed that even with all of the potentially heavy things/issues surrounding them, The Baby Blitz never felt too heavy; there were many moments of levity.

If this series went on forever, or at least for a very long time, I would not be mad about it at all. I'm looking forward to Charlie's story next and while it seems August is a lifetime away, I know it'll be here before I know it.  


Two pink lines won’t change the bad blood between us.

I haven’t always hated my brother’s best friend, but Michael Oliver gets under my skin and brings out the worst in me. He knows how to push my buttons, and I relish pushing all of his. He betrayed my trust years ago, so I’ve made it my mission in life to aggravate him until he admits he was wrong.

When his sister’s wedding brings us together, Michael suggests a truce for one night. If only he weren’t so handsome and smart, maybe I could resist the allure, but I’ve always been a little impulsive, and this man is my ultimate temptation. After years of pent-up frustration and unrequited lust, I finally let down my guard, and that’s all it takes for us to combust.

But like all bad decisions, the morning after brings a reckoning, and I leave his hotel room swearing to never waste another moment of my time pining after him. Who needs that grumpy jerk warming her bed? Not me.

I don’t let myself think about that steamy night together, or how it pained me to hear about his football injury, or how much I know he wants to get drafted so he can help his family. Because I’m cutting Michael out of my life for good.

Only the two little pink lines mean I can’t forget him. Even if I desperately want to.

* * *

The Baby Blitz is a companion standalone to USA Today-bestselling author Lex Martin’s sensational college football romance novels, The Varsity Dad Dilemma and Tight Ends & Tiaras. Readers will love this sensual multicultural romance featuring a scorching-hot college football player and the feisty, but slightly nerdy girl next door—the one he swore he’d never make a move on.

Will Michael make the right decision if he has to choose between Maggie or fulfilling his dream of playing professional football?




Lex Martin is the USA Today bestselling author of The Varsity Dad Dilemma, the Texas Nights series, and the Dearest series, books she hopes readers love but her parents avoid. A former high school English teacher and freelance journalist, she resides in Texas with her husband, twin daughters, and a bunny named Dandelion.



Monday, February 20, 2023

REVIEW: Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma


Dating Dr. Dil was a first for me, I'm embarrassed to admit. I don't think I've read a romance novel with Indian leads and now I just want to know why this is? I won't waste time with a ramble about the hows and whys of this being a first but will say that it most definitely won't be my last. I loved getting cultural insights into Kareena and Prem's family backgrounds and found myself curious and feeling so very ignorant to so many things. Even more than that, I found myself entertained by the hilarity of the friends and family of Kareena and Prem as well as feeling for them as they tried to work around the obstacles in front of them. I loved their friend groups and Kareena's aunties were larger than life--all of them providing lots of giggles and sound advice. 

While both Kareena and Prem had serious end goals to meet in a very short amount of time and lots of pressure, the real story was the story of Kareena's wish for a soul mate who would marry her for love and Prem's struggle to believe in a thing called love. Being on opposite sides of what it meant to connect and be in love made for their impending deadline and possible solution to feel almost impossible and yet, through the magic of Nisha Sharma, it ended exactly as you'd hope. 

Call me a new fan and look out for more reviews featuring Indian-American leads...I can't wait!


"Nisha Sharma's Dating Dr. Dil is what would happen if you put all my favorite romantic comedy tropes into a blender: a frothy, snarky, hilarious treat with a gooey, heartwarming center. The perfect addition to any rom-com lover's shelf." —Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation

Nisha Sharma’s new romantic comedy features enemies to lovers, a cast of best friends, and a gaggle of aunties determined to make a match.

Hi! I’m Kareena Mann. As cheesy as it sounds, I’m looking for my soulmate. In four months. And he must gain the approval of my meddling aunties.

Kareena dreams of having a perfect love story like her parents did. That’s why on the morning of her thirtieth birthday, she’s decided to suit up and enter the dating arena. When her widowed father announces he’s retiring and selling their home after her sister’s engagement party, Kareena makes a deal with him. If she can find her soulmate by the date of the party, he’ll gift her the house, and she’ll be able to keep her mother’s legacy alive.

Hi, I’m Dr. Prem Verma, host of the Dr. Dil Show. Prem means love, Dil means heart, and I’m a cardiologist. Don’t let my name fool you. I only fix broken hearts in the literal sense.

Prem doesn’t have time for romance, which is why it’s no surprise when his first meeting with Kareena goes awry. Their second encounter is worse when their on-air debate about love goes viral. Now Prem’s largest community center donor is backing out because Prem's reputation as a heart-health expert is at risk. To get back in his donor’s good graces, he needs to fix his image fast, and dating Kareena is his only option.

Even though they have warring interests, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he thinks she’s might actually be the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. In this Taming of the Shrew re-imagination, for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.

“Bursting with character, spicy tension and laughs, Dating Dr. Dil is the enemies to lovers dream book!” —Tessa Bailey, New York Times bestselling author of It Happened One Summer

Monday, February 13, 2023

REVIEW: Hiding in the Smoke by Ofelia Martinez

When one of your favorite novelists recommends a novel that's on sale, of course you snap it up, right? Right. That's how I came to find Ofelia Martinez's Hiding in Smoke

This novel had everything I wanted: a strong female lead and ...a German rockstar? 

Sofia owned her own bar and was the queen of one night, no strings, fun with the people of her choosing. She had no desire for a long term commitment while she was busy focusing on running her successful bar. 

Brennan was a famous lead singer for a rock band that started in Germany. He was living a big life and used to the women who fawned all over him. 

You can imagine, then, how surprised he was to find Sofia (who was a plus one to his show) more engaged in texting than paying attention to him when he sat down next to her at his post show meet and greet. He was intrigued but ultimately insulted at her lack of fawning and couldn't decide what to do about it. They somehow ended up at her bar for an afterparty and as things do in romance, Bren and Sofia find themselves together. Over a series of months and meetings it becomes clear that Bren wants to lock things down with Sofia permanently while she's more than content with things the way they are. When things go spectacularly wrong, the heartache that follows them both is devastating. 

It was refreshing to see Sofia and Bren in such role reversals and how the fallout from that devastating night impacted them. It was satisfying to see how they worked things out and the evolution of both of them as the months and years passed. 

I am most definitely interested in the rest of these characters and their journeys to love and will be continuing this to come. 



One night.
No cuddling.
No sleepovers.
These are the rules I live my love life by. Running a business as a bar owner leaves no time for relationships—or their drama. But when I meet international rock star Brenner Reindhart, he makes me want to break all the rules . . .

Industrial November at the top of the best-selling charts for over eight years has taken a toll on me, and I’m ready to slow down.
I’ve been burned by love before, and I’m finally ready to try again. I think Sofia Ocampo might just be 
the one. Only, she has no plans to ever be in a relationship.
Aware she has no interest in it, I still give her my heart.
I can only hold my breath and hope she won’t break it.

***This high-steam, contemporary rock star romance contains adult content with some taboo elements not suitable for all readers. Read responsibly. All novels in the Industrial November on Tour series can be read in any order.***

Thursday, February 9, 2023

REVIEW: Fake Crowne by C.D. Reiss


The Crowne Brothers Series continues with Fake Crowne. I'll be honest, it's been a while since I've been in this world so I didn't remember all of the ins and outs of Colton and how his brother perceived him, though I think I put it together (and honestly it doesn't matter all that much because these all can be read as stand alones). Another bit of honesty is that it took me a minute to settle into this read. Colton was a little discombobulating for me but the more I got to know him, the more I got sucked into his story with Skye. 

Colton feels like the loser Crowne (but I truly think they've all felt like this at some point) because he blew through is money and now lives in his brother's garage apartment, trying to resurrect his career. He is asked to produce Skye as a 'favor' for one of his brothers but doesn't appreciate the pity favor so he declines...until he hears Skye and sees her potential. For Skye's part, she feels like she's running out of time to try to pursue this dream career because she's promised to go to med school if she can't make a go of music and as she's had zero critical success, she knows working with Colton may be her last chance. 

Through a series of well meaning but poorly thought out ideas from his brother, Colton doesn't just end up producing Skye, he also is fake dating her. Except there's really nothing fake about it from day one. Both of them are incredibly attracted to each other, need each other, and see something in the other that seems like no one else can. She sees his heart and desire to succeed and he sees beyond her crippling performance anxiety and together they push forward to try to make something of this opportunity. 

As stated earlier, this wasn't the easiest novel for me to dive into and part of it was being so far removed from the original few books. I think it also had to do with some gaps in the backstories that were eventually, for the most part, filled in and helped me understand their motivations and doubts better, which then helped me connect to them better. This was a super quick read, featuring an insta-connection, and felt like it was just warming up when it was time for it to be over. All of this to say that I became so invested that I was happy to see the HEA but really wanted to get to know them more. Hopefully the next Crowne book will give me more looks at these two; I can't wait. 


Colton Crowne is famous for two things: being one of the music industry’s most talented producers and partying away his massive inheritance.

I’m a singer with stage fright who’s famous for…well…nothing yet. And I promised my family if I didn’t make it big by the end of this year, I’d go back to med school.
My agent thinks Colton and I would be a great team both in the studio, and outside of it—especially if label executives think we’re dating.
The rules? We can kiss in public, but not in private.
We can act like we’re doing the deed, as long as we’re not.
And as far as having actual feelings for each other goes…that’s obviously out of the question.
But after so many late nights in the studio and a bunch of stolen kisses, I start to see beyond his party boy facade to something real underneath. And he believes in me–with his coaching and encouragement, I’m finally overcoming my anxiety and giving the best performances of my life.
If only time wasn’t running out so fast.
Then Colton has an idea to keep us together. It’s terrible, but it’s the only way.
How can I let him destroy everything he’s worked for just to make me happy?

INCLUDES: Hero with a heart of gold, stolen kisses, surprising chivalry, private stuff in a public bathroom, swank parties, grinding it out, stolen glances, and Momma Crowne setting her boy straight. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

REVIEW: Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey


 Secretly Yours features a sweet gardener, Hallie, who is grieving the loss of her grandmother (her mom figure) and Julian, a professor who is home to write a novel. Instantly, they seem completely opposite: she's got this sunny, generally optimistic personality while he's intense and grumpy and super type A. Even with all of their differences, he cannot seem to resist her and she's always secretly had a thing for him. Over the course of weeks, Hallie gardens her way right into Julian's heart and he cannot help but look for her gardening on the grounds, can't help but want to protect and support her, and cannot stop the inevitable fall for her. Meanwhile, Hallie's crush continues to grow into real feelings that she somehow captures in a secret admirer letter to him--a letter she never intends for him to see but after he does, she *facepalm* continues to write them. 

Over a series of events, Julian and Hallie find themselves together and things appear to be going in the right direction, even with some lingering questions about what their future will be. There are a few hurdles--the letters, both of them struggling with career choices, and a major miscommunication--but thankfully, the angsty times are brief and we get to their HEA quickly. 

Secretly Yours is a fun romcom, with a hefty side of steam, that would be a great weekend escape and it looks to be the start of a fun new series. 



Hallie Welch fell hard for Julian Vos at fourteen, after they almost kissed in the dark vineyards of his family’s winery. Now the prodigal hottie has returned to their small Napa town. When Hallie is hired to revamp the gardens on the Vos estate, she wonders if she’ll finally get that smooch. But the grumpy professor isn’t the teenager she remembers and their polar opposite personalities clash spectacularly. One wine-fueled girls’ night later, Hallie can’t shake the sense that she did something reckless—and then she remembers the drunken secret admirer letter she left for Julian. Oh shit.

On sabbatical from his ivy league job, Julian plans to write a novel. But having Hallie gardening right outside his window is the ultimate distraction. She’s eccentric, chronically late, often literally covered in dirt—and so unbelievably beautiful, he can’t focus on anything else. Until he finds an anonymous letter sent by a woman from his past. Even as Julian wonders about this admirer, he’s sucked further into Hallie’s orbit. Like the flowers she plants all over town, Hallie is a burst of color in Julian’s grey-scale life. For a man who irons his socks and runs on tight schedules, her sunny chaotic energy makes zero sense. But there’s something so familiar about her... and her very presence is turning his world upside down.

Monday, February 6, 2023

REVIEW: The Boston Hawks Collection by Gina Azzi


I have no idea how I happened upon The Boston Hawks Collection, though I suspect it was through one of my favorite book bloggers during my Christmas buying frenzy. I'm a sucker for a good sports romance and this collection was on sale, so I grabbed it and read it throughout my Christmas break. The four novels and one novella in this collection follow the stories of 5 hockey players (brothers or friends) and the women they fall in love with....or is it four women and the hockey players they fall in love with? At any rate, this series had that comfort read feel to it--these novels weren't going to shake my foundation with newness but they were going to entertain me and make me interested in the lives of these characters. Each novel had some familiar traits--the characters all bit the corners of their mouths when feeling especially entertained or moved by something, there was some hands to chests, and other physical reactions that seemed the same in all characters and novels. And they all had that familiar tension of should they, could they, would they? Because of course, at some point, all of these characters struggled with whether getting into a relationship with their love interest was something that should happen. Luckily for us, these are romance novels so they did get involved and eventually found their HEA. While each set of characters had their own individual plights and hardships that made the different novels unique, the flow and pace of the story and familiar characters made for easy and fun reading. 

Should you have an opportunity to grab this collection, do it and enjoy a week of hockey players meeting and falling for their perfect matches. 



Fall in love with the Boston Hawks Hockey Team in this collection of novels including an exclusive, bonus novella!

The Sweet Talker - Book 1
I’ve sworn off hockey players. Until the pregnancy test turns pink. I need to tell Noah the truth. But when I do, will I end up with everything I never knew I wanted? Or on my own?

The Risk Taker - Book 2
My brother's best friend, NHL god Easton Scotch, has always seen me as a kid. Now, I'm his new roommate and I'm determined to show him that Claire Merrick is all grown up.

The Faker - Book 3
NHL hotshot Torsten Hansen is a lot of things. My husband shouldn't be one of them. If I give him my heart, how will I survive our eventual divorce?

The Rule Maker - Book 4
NHL Boston Hawks captain Austin Merrick used to be my boy-next-door. Now, he’s the man on my mind. If Austin learns the depth of my feelings, will he give us a real chance? Or are some rules better left unbroken?

The Charmer - Exclusive Novella
Reese Keller is golden. He’s an engaging and charismatic NHL player who has the potential to make me, a woman with jagged edges, believe in rainbows and sunshine. If I allow myself one weekend with Reese, will I stop fantasizing about him? Or, will I end up charmed by the ultimate charmer?

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