Monday, February 26, 2024

REVIEW: The Graham Effect by Elle Kennedy


 I haven't read all of the Briar U or Off Campus books but that didn't stop me from enjoying The Graham Effect. I'm sure I missed some of the references to past stories and characters, ultimately I didn't need to know all of these to have fun with Gigi and Ryder. I loved that this romance featured two hockey players--I'm not sure I've read a romance where both athletes play the same sport and therefore understand each other on a whole other level because of it. I enjoyed how strong both of these characters were and that their conflict wasn't really with each other at all, though they enjoyed snarking at each other for a while, and that the conflicts that existed seemed appropriately tense but not over the top. Gigi had a strong sense of herself and her goals and that allowed her to be the lead in how to 'do' this relationship. She showed Ryder how to open up and be there in ways he hadn't really been able to be there for others. And Ryder's trusting her gave her something she didn't know she needed either.

While The Graham Effect started a smidge slow for me, by the time I was hooked, I was hooked. I was laughing at some of the foolishness happening with Ryder's roommates and teammates and turning the pages, knowing that their happily ever after would be so good. It was. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series, while grabbing the backlist of these older series to catch up with the first generation of these characters.



The first book in the delicious, icy-hot Campus Diaries series, a spinoff of BookTok sensations Off-Campus and Briar U, by New York Times bestselling author Elle Kennedy.

Gigi Graham has exactly three goals: qualify for the women’s national hockey team, win Olympic gold, and step out of her famous father’s shadow. So far, so good, except for two little things. Fine–a little thing and a big, grumpy thing. She needs to improve her game behind the net, and she needs help from Luke Ryder.

Ryder is six-foot five, built, opinionated, rude…and sexy as hell. But he’s still the enemy.

Briar’s new hockey co-captain has his reasons, though. The men’s team just merged with a rival program, leaving Ryder with an angry roster where everyone hates one another’s guts. To make matters worse, the summer coaching spot he’s angling for with the legendary Garrett Graham is out of reach after he makes the worst possible first impression on his hero. So, really, this compromise with Gigi is win-win. He helps her make the national team, she puts in a good word
with her dad.

The only potential snag? This bone-deep, body-numbing, mind-spinning chemistry they’re trying to ignore. It’s a dangerous game they’re playing, but the risks just might be worth it.

Monday, February 19, 2024

REVIEW: Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros


This series is going to be the death of me...the wait alone is for book 3 may end me. The way that book two ends ...I just.... ugh. I can't wait for Court to finish it so we can both speculate on all the things. In the meantime....Violet and Xaden's story picks up right where we left off in Fourth Wing. We get more answers about Brennan. We get more intrigue. More history. More evil. More romance. And the beauty of it is that we get all of that from the comfort of knowing these characters, so you get to settle in and just enjoy the interactions, while deepening knowledge of who they are, which means that when new characters are introduced, it's not overwhelming because you already feel so comfortable with the characters from book 1. 

Violet seems stronger than ever and Xaden seems more human and their relationship? More complicated than ever. Each of them contribute to the complexity and it's kind of infuriating, even though there are times when you get why they're each dug into their positions.

I'm loving getting to know the secondary characters, too. They add humor and conflict and tension and relief and enrich and already engaging read--you can't help but root for all of them. And don't even get me started on the dragons--their snark and commentary is perfect.

This review kinda sucks but I'm realizing how hard it is to write without spoiling too much (but I will say that I accidentally happened on some HUGE spoilers for this book and it didn't take away from my enjoyment of reading, at all), so I'll just end with a huge, gushing READ THIS SERIES. IT'S SO GOOD.



Everyone expected Violet Sorrengail to die during her first year at Basgiath War College—Violet included. But Threshing was only the first impossible test meant to weed out the weak-willed, the unworthy, and the unlucky.

Now the 
real training begins, and Violet’s already wondering how she’ll get through. It’s not just that it’s grueling and maliciously brutal, or even that it’s designed to stretch the riders’ capacity for pain beyond endurance. It’s the new vice commandant, who’s made it his personal mission to teach Violet exactly how powerless she is–unless she betrays the man she loves.

Although Violet’s body might be weaker and frailer than everyone else’s, she still has her wits—and a will of iron. And leadership is forgetting the most important lesson Basgiath has taught her: 
Dragon riders make their own rules.

But a determination to survive won’t be enough this year.

Because Violet knows the real secret hidden for centuries at Basgiath War College—and nothing, not even dragon fire, may be enough to save them in the end.

The Empyrean series is best enjoyed in order.
Reading Order:
Book #1 Fourth Wing
Book #2 Iron Flame


Monday, February 12, 2024

REVIEW: Wildfire by Hannah Grace




The next novel in the Maple Hills Series, Wildfire, features Russ ("muffin") and Aurora and since we didn't learn too much about them in Icebreaker, the first part of the novel gives us a deep dive into their histories, flaws, and their strengths. Russ is battling some serious self confidence issues, brought on by a craptastic family issues. Aurora, too, has some crummy family issues and has allowed that to fuel some impulsive, self destructive choices. Together these two should be a disaster-their first hook up made it seemed like it would be-but they're actually good for each other and to each other. Aurora provides space for Russ to be vulnerable and honest about his upbringing and he returns the favor by being a good listener as she reveals her fears and desires to change. All of this is happening while they work as camp counselors at a summer camp, where it's strictly forbidden to hook up with each other. While they try hard to abide by that rule, it's inevitable that they can't resist each other...and the forbidden nature of it makes it that much more fun. 

Hannah Grace makes it easy to get sucked in to the world she creates and when you finish you can't help but want to read her next thing...which I know we're all hoping will be Henry or JJ or having met Xander, Xander. So many options and future reads. Can't wait. 



The latest in the TikTok sensation and deliciously “swoonworthy” (Elena Armas, New York Times bestselling author) Maple Hills series follows two summer camp counselors who reconnect after a sizzling one-night stand.

Maple Hills students Russ Callaghan and Aurora Roberts cross paths at a party celebrating the end of the academic year, where a drinking game results in them having a passionate one-night stand. Never one to overstay her welcome (or expect much from a man), Aurora slips away before Russ even has the chance to ask for her full name.

Imagine their surprise when they bump into each other on the first day of the summer camp where they are both counselors, hoping to escape their complicated home lives by spending the summer working. Russ hopes if he gets far enough away from Maple Hills, he can avoid dealing with the repercussions of his father’s gambling addiction, while Aurora is tired of craving attention from everyone around her, and wants to go back to the last place she truly felt at home.

Russ knows breaking the camp’s strict “no staff fraternizing” rule will have him heading back to Maple Hills before the summer is over, but unfortunately for him, Aurora has never been very good at caring about the rules. Will the two learn to peacefully coexist? Or did their one night together start a fire they can’t put out?

Monday, February 5, 2024

REVIEW: Rainfall by Alison Rhymes



Admittedly, I'm very out of the loop in the current book world. Between work and teenage daughters and chemo brainfog, I have been just snagging books when I see them being posted online by someone else...not even knowing to anticipate them because I'm just in a different realm of my life many days. All that to say that when I saw Alison Rhyme's had a new novel that looked like the beginnings of a new series, I quickly grabbed it and dug in.

Rainfall is the beginnings of a new series, I think? It features all new characters and a new sport, hockey. It also features one of my favorite tropes--the secret baby trope. I should also forewarn you, as I can see that many reviewers have a *thing* about cheating, that there's definitely that too. In the case of Isla and Cillian, they meet because he's a player in her father's junior hockey league, they fall in love as teenagers, and when he eventually gets drafted into the NHL, things go wrong. There's long distance, a shady girl situation, and then a shut down of communication when things go terribly terribly wrong. Fast forward to several years later and Cillian has been moved to Isla's dad's professional NHL team and that's when all the secrets and lies are revealed.

I know that the tropes, the decisions and consequences, and overall not great choices are not everyone's cup of tea and I get it. I think for me it was how they went about fixing things that I found interesting and laudable. I don't that I could be as forgiving as either of them, given the situation...but then again I can hold a grudge like it's my job, when I really feel like it. If all of this sounds appealing, grab Rainfall and get to know these characters. I found it to be entertaining and an escape from all the things that trouble me in the world and I'm looking forward to what she does next with this series and these characters. 



I met the love of my life at ten years old.

At sixteen, I gave him my heart.

Three years later he was drafted to the NHL and moved across the country.

Five years after, he’s back. And he’s meeting his daughter for the first time.

I still hate him.

Even if my heart says that’s a lie.


At ten years old, she changed my life.

At sixteen, I told her I loved her.

Three years after, I left and broke her heart.

Five years later, I’m coming back home to the surprise of my life.

I hate her for it.

Even though my brain says this is all my fault.

Friday, February 2, 2024

REVIEW: Through the Glen by Samantha Young


 The hardest thing about reading this series by Samantha Young is trying to write a review without saying the same thing that you always say because while these characters are distinctive from previous ones, the main thing I know is that I love being in this world she's created and I fly through every book she's written on these characters. But to be more specific about Through the Glen, I've been really curious about what makes Theo tick (ie why can he be such a dick) and what makes Sarah so shy. We definitely get the answers to those questions as they get to know each other and what I learned, I really liked...or at least understood and it worked. Learning about why Theo seems so distant and rude and cold helped me to like him and see him as the protector and good guy that he is. And watching Sarah bloom into a more confident introvert and seeing the love that she had for those she cared for made it clear that these two were meant for each other. I enjoyed how quickly they got thrown together, how that went down, and what developed because of it. Their love story was easy to read, easy to love, and you have to know that I'm hoping that Sarah's brother gets the Samantha Young treatment next. 

A great weekend read that you won't want to put down until the end...and when you get there, you'll be so happy that you read it. 

Through the Glen by Samantha Young is now live! 

He’s a cynical, world-weary Londoner. She’s a shy Scot. They might seem like opposites, but a few weeks in the Highlands will bring them together in ways they can’t imagine…

Theo Cavendish is the second son of a British viscount, and he’s spent years running from the aristocratic world he grew up in. Betrayal and loss taught him lessons he’s not quick to forget. As an award-winning screenwriter and creator, Theo prefers to throw himself into the world of film and television. He moves from one project to another, never really letting anyone truly know him.

As a housekeeper at the exclusive Ardnoch Estate, shy Sarah McCulloch feels invisible most days. No one really knows her, and they definitely don’t know she’s a bestselling crime writer. She dreams of seeing her series on screen and believes only one person can develop it for television. On the day she quits the estate for good, she shares her secret with club member, Theo, and asks him to consider her books.

Sarah never expected him to say yes or to show up on her doorstep ready to write with her. Or that weeks spent locked up in her cottage would lead them to form an intense but undeniable connection. A bond that Theo is not sure he’s ready to accept, even though he can’t bear to be without her.

However, when they finally venture out of their bubble, Theo finds he’ll have to battle more than his own demons to protect Sarah from hurt. For he has another fan, one intent on bringing the darkest elements of his most famous script to life. And unless he can figure out this real-life antagonist’s next move, Theo could be in danger of losing Sarah forever.

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Meet Samantha

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She's been nominated for several Goodreads Choice Awards. Samantha writes adult contemporary and paranormal romance, YA urban fantasy and YA contemporary fiction and is currently published in 31 countries.
She resides in Scotland.


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