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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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MsArdychan's bookshelf: read

I Owe You One
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Love, Hate & Other Filters
The Wartime Sisters
The Belles
The Gilded Wolves
Hey, Kiddo
Blackberry and Wild Rose
Queen of Air and Darkness
Firestarter
The Retribution of Mara Dyer
The Evolution of Mara Dyer


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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

ARC Review: Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett


Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis:

Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world's first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party--or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.

So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily's research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.

But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones--the most elusive of all faeries--lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she'll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all--her own heart.

Review:

I have been in a severe reading slump for the past several months.  Although I have plenty of books to read, I just haven't been motivated to read.  But Emily Wilde's Encycloaedia of Faeries, by Heather Fawcett, was the book that made me fall in love with reading again!  It was full of engaging characters, set in a small village, and had a charming romance.  The story was full of mystery and intrigue, as well.  I just loved this novel so much, and I hope the next book comes out soon!

What I Liked:

Characters:

Emily is an unconventional main character.  She is messy, not conventionally pretty, and incompetent in social situations! But, she is lovable, all the same.  I really like that Emily is in her thirties, and has no thoughts of finding a mate.  Emily is in love with her research.  And who wouldn't be? It is about chronicling all things related to faeries!  She is so absorbed in her work that she doesn't know how to make friends, or even recognize when someone is interested in her.  I felt that she set herself apart from others because she really didn't know how to relate to most people (and perhaps didn't want to get rejected from others).

Wendell is her colleague, and fellow Faerie researcher, who follows her to the small Nordic village where Emily is studying the local Fae.  He is her exact opposite, easily charming anyone he meets, and effortlessly getting others to do his work.  Although Wendell exasperates Emily with his ways, they do get along quote well, and accept each other for who they are.

The people of the village don't know what to think of Emily, and (of course), don't like her at first.  The village has strict traditions of hospitality, which Emily hasn't bothered to learn about.  So on her first evening at the pub, she immediately gives offense by refusing to let someone pay for her dinner.   But Emily eventually wins the affections of the people with her knowledge and assistance with the Fae.  

I really liked the townspeople.  They were naturally cautious about outsiders, and needed to see that they were being respected by Emily and Wendell.  As they come to see Emily as a deeply caring person, the villagers slowly begin to cooperate and help Emily.

Setting:

Emily is researching the Faeries of the Nordic regions of Europe.  Winter is setting in, and there is a stark, yet majestic  beauty to the landscape.  Full of forests, crystal-clear lake, and towering mountains, this is already a magical setting.  The author does a wonderful job of integrating the landscape into the story, and made me want to visit this fictional place!

I loved the small village, where Emily is quite the outsider.  Having lived most of her life as an academic in England makes her ill-equipped to handle the unforgiving weather.  At first, Emily is constantly cold, and hungry, as she must learn how to chop wood, make a fire and fetch her own water.  As expected, the townspeople find this hilarious, but do step in when they realize Emily really doesn't known how to do things.  They teach her how to survive in their harsh climate, showing Emily great patience.

Romance:

Although Wendell and Emily are colleagues, and are used to each other, they are really thrown together in this situation.  The reader gradually sees that Wendell is in love with Emily; but the character herself is oblivious.  There is also the mystery of why Wendell is in the village in the first place.  Is he really there to do research on Faeries?  Or is this just a ruse to spend more time with Emily? I love how the friendship evolves over time.  As I really liked Emily, it was lovely to see that others really valued her as she was.

Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Release Date:  January 10th, 2023

Author:  Heather Fawcett

Publisher:  Del Rey Books

Genre:  Fantasy

Page Length:  336 pages 

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  Overall, this was a highly entertaining book with characters and situations that made this a quick and enjoyable read.

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Saturday, November 5, 2022

ARC Review: Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

 




Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from the Publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings.

But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery.

The town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.
 

Review:

If you have read my other reviews, you would know that I am a fan of books about small towns.  They usually have a mix of different characters, and everybody knows each other's business.  But those books are usually heartwarming sagas of small town life,  Spells for Forgetting, by Adrienne Young, does have those elements, but with a distinctly sinister twist.  And there's actually very little magic in the novel.  Except for a surprising plot twist, it really was irrelevant to the story. 

Having said that, this is a tale of generations of grudges and misdeeds coming to roost.  As we get to know each character, we learn their backstory.  Slowly, the pieces come together so that we can understand why things are happening.  It would be almost worth it to read it once, and then read it again knowing all the information.  This is an atmospheric mystery that is perfect to read in the Fall, as the temperature drops, and we want to cozy up with an engaging book.  I loved it.

What I liked:

Atmosphere:

The story is set on a small island off the coast of Oregon, where the locals are completely dependent on tourism to survive.  Ferries take mainlanders to the picturesque island to pick apples, drink cider, and take in the quant little village shops.  Everyone is all smiles when the tourists are around.  But once they leave, the townspeople are full of people with various personalities.  Some are easy-going hippie types, while other are resentful of the town's reliance on outsiders to provide income.  There is also a undercurrent of magic in the woods.  Trees turn to autumn colors not gradually, but overnight.  The ever-present fog insulates (and also traps) people in their homes.  The message is, "Don't go out at night"!

Characters:

The two main characters, August and Emily have a love story for the ages.  August left the town as a teenager, when he was accused of killing one of his friends.  He denies it.  But there's a lot of evidence that points to him.  Emily was his girlfriend at the time, and she was devastated by him and his mother leaving without so much as a note.  When August returns, so many feelings arise between the two.  Each is trying to figure out if the other has feelings for them.  It's obvious that they still love each other.  But will that be enough to erase the hurt that was caused?

There are many supporting characters who add depth to the story.  It seems that each generation has a cohort of BFF's who's friendships really do last forever.  August, Emily, and Lily all had mothers who were best friends.  And all their grandmothers were besties, as well.  This leads to generations of strong ties, and stronger resentments. 

Story:

This essentially the story of the old adage, "You can go Home again".  But, in August's case, he shouldn't go back because everyone thinks he murdered his  friend!  But, he is determined to bury his mother's ashes, settle her affairs, and then leave.  But, there is a lot to settle, especially with the girl August left behind. This is also a story of second chances, and redemption.   Will the people of the town every trust him?  Can he ever explain what happened to Emily? Maybe the only way to do this is to figure out who actually killed Lily.  But that leads to other secrets being revealed that could destroy the town.

I loved this story for the many layers in it.  There's the initial mystery of who killed Lily.  But there's also domestic abuse, and people who looked the other way.  There's town resentment and greed.  And there's a hint of magic.  It's a delight to unravel this web.

Trigger Warning for domestic abuse and child abuse!

Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Release Date:  October 8th, 2022

Author:  Adrienne Young

Publisher:  Delacorte

Genre:  Magical Realism

Page Length:  352 Pages

Format:  E-Book

Source: NetGalley

Recommendation:  This is a moody look at small town life, with a little bit of magic thrown in.  I enjoyed the characters and the atmosphere of this island.  I think this will be a great read in the Autumn.





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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

ARC Review: Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

 


Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

With her trademark spare, crystalline prose--a voice infused with "intimate, fragile, desperate humanness" (The Washington Post)--Elizabeth Strout turns her exquisitely tuned eye to the inner workings of the human heart, following the indomitable heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton through the early days of the pandemic.

As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it's just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea.

Rich with empathy and emotion, Lucy by the Sea vividly captures the fear and struggles that come with isolation, as well as the hope, peace, and possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we're apart--the pain of a beloved daughter's suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love.

Review:

This series, starting with the novel, My Name is Lucy Barton, centers around a woman who comes from abject poverty and abuse, into a world as different to her upbringing as possible.  By attending college, she is thrown into a life of literature, science, and a culture she cannot fathom.  Though successful in many ways, Lucy has always been an outsider.  She's too removed from her siblings to get along well with them.  But she also never quite connects with her children, and the men in her life, who cannot understand just how haunted she is by her childhood.

This novel, Lucy By The Sea, continues her journey, as she reacts to the turmoil of the COVID pandemic.  This feels like the closing of the series, as Lucy deals with the death of her second husband David, and finds a different way to relate to her first husband, William.  There's also much more about Lucy's two daughters, as well.  

It's strange to think that we are at a point, already, where we can begin to reflect on that time that was just a few years ago.  But, the book brings all the events back, from the uncertainty of what the virus was, to the abrupt lockdowns and social distancing, and to the social unrest that follows.  But, we also see Lucy able to have great empathy to people with completely different reactions to the pandemic.  I loved that Lucy was the one who was able to be the bridge between various groups.  Her diverse life experiences lead her to connect in ways most people could not.  

This is a very special book.  I dearly loved the characters, the relationships, and most of all, Lucy's reflections.  I hope you love it as much as I did.

Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Release Date: September 20th, 2022

Author:  Elizabeth Strout

Publisher:  Random House

Genre:  Literary Fiction

Page Length:  304 Pages

Source: NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  This book is a wonderful tail-end to a moving series.  The characters of Lucy and William are full of life experiences that make this a rich and wonderful novel.  Please read the three proceeding novels to really get the complete effect of how these characters change over time.  It is a lovely book and I highly recommend it.

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Sunday, October 9, 2022

ARC Review: Three Kisses, One Midnight by Roshani Chokshi, Sandhya Menon, & Evelyn Skye

 


Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

he town of Moon Ridge was founded 400 years ago and everyone born and raised there knows the legend of the young woman who perished at the stroke of twelve that very same night, losing the life she was set to embark on with her dearest love. Every century since, one day a year, the Lady of Moon Ridge descends from the stars to walk among the townsfolk, conjuring an aura upon those willing to follow their hearts’ desires.

“To summon joy and love in another’s soul
For a connection that makes two people whole
For laughter and a smile that one can never miss
Sealed before midnight with a truehearted kiss.”

This year at Moon Ridge High, a group of friends known as The Coven will weave art, science, and magic during a masquerade ball unlike any other. Onny, True, and Ash believe everything is in alignment to bring them the affection, acceptance, and healing that can only come from romance—with a little help from Onny’s grandmother’s love potion.

But nothing is as simple as it first seems. And as midnight approaches, The Coven learn that it will take more than a spell to recognize those who offer their love and to embrace all the magic that follows.

Review:

The authors of this book have written some of my favorite books.  Roshani Chokshi's book, The gilded Wolves, is full of complicated relationships and adventure.  Sandha Menon is the queen of YA romance with such novels as When Dimple Met Rishi.  And Evelyn Skye writes fantasy novels such as The Crown's Game, which has amazing fantasy elements.  These three wonderful authors teamed up to create a magical, romantic Halloween romp.  Three Wishes, One Midnight follows the story of three friends and their journey to true love on a very special Halloween.  I loved the festive Halloween atmosphere of the big party, the characters, and the stories of romance.  This is a perfect book to read in October, or anytime a reader wants to get in the Halloween spirit.

What I Liked:

Atmosphere:

I love books about small towns, and the little town in this book has lots of charm and local legends. Every one hundred years, the spirits of two lovers reunite on Halloween.  And Onny's parents have an annual party to celebrate.  But this is no ordinary party.  Onny's folks have serious money (I found it really wonderful that these parents were Filipino, and not your stereotypical white, entitled rich people).   And every year, they put on a midnight ball where the whole town is invited to participate.  

This create a magical party full of all sorts of different people, including the crushes of Onny and Ash, and True's semi-evil ex.  But Onny is on a mission to find true love through a love potion invented by Onny's deceased grandmother.  Will the trio use the love potions on their crushes?  Or will the romantic atmosphere of a masquerade ball be all that's needed to let romance blossom?

Characters:

Onny, Ash, and True are friends who will do anything for each other.  Onny is convinced that giving each of them a love potion is what is needed for each of them to find true love.  The friends know that Onny is rather dramatic, but they grudgingly go along.  I enjoyed that each of the three characters get their own POV story, and they all fit with each other.  Of course, the path to true love is never a straight one.  Each of them has a strange, and wonderful adventure on this magical night.

The supporting characters are also lots of fun.  While Onny is obsessing with her crush, her nemesis, Byron, keeps popping up during the party.  Why does he seem to be the one that Onny is attracted to?   Ash, a sensitive artist, is certainly less outgoing than Onny.  And the girl that he has a crush on was a really interesting person (and...the girl next door!).  Although she seems like an overachiever, there is a compelling reason that motivates her to excel.  And True's love interest is almost so perfect, she pushes him away.  But they keep bumping into each other.  Can True trust that this guy might actually be a perfect match?  

Onny's parents are an adorable couple, who show Onny what a loving marriage looks like.  And I really loved the town's mayor and his teacher husband.  They were complete opposites who somehow make sense together.  What a charming representation of healthy relationships!  Loved it.  

Story:

I loved that the book is split evenly into three parts, where each friend gets to have their own storyline.  This was a fun format that let the reader see some of the same events from different angles.  Make no mistake, this is a lighthearted story with plenty of meet-cutes, romantic moments, and a few mysteries, that keeps the reader intrigued.   I would love to live in a little town where everyone goes to a celebration like this one.  I also liked that each story has it's twists, having each of the main characters question their own biases about people they think they know.       

Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Release Date:  August 30th, 2022

Authors: Roshani Chokshi, Sandhya Menon, Evelyn Skye

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: YA Romance

Page Length:  288 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  This was a fun, romantic Halloween book that I think I will read in succeeding Octobers to get into the Halloween spirit.  I highly recommend this book.


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Friday, September 23, 2022

ARC Review: Call Me When You're Dead by A.R Taylor

 


Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.


Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Call Me When You're Dead is a darkly comic novel about payback gone wild, gone sour, maybe even sweet. "If anything bad happens to me, I want you to get him." That's what Eleanor Birch's glamorous friend Sasha Cole requests of her during a New York City dinner one hot August night. Something bad does happen, and Eleanor is forced to become another person altogether in the wilds of Manhattan, acting as her own little Pygmalion in the harsh world of advertising and its remorseless denizens. How she triumphs, and how her prey becomes first her ally and then her lover, makes her journey a tragic romp, a hilarious disaster, and even an all-out farce--but one with very serious consequences.

Review:

I didn't quite know what to expect when I requested Call Me When You're Dead, by A.R. Taylor.  Was this a serious revenge thriller?  A rom-com?  A story about life and death?  This novel had some elements of each.  But also, it was a screwball comedy that I think would make a terrific movie.  This is a comedic, modern-day look at thirty-somethings in Manhattan, friendships, and the world of advertising.  The main character, Eleanor, in her quest to seek revenge on her dead friend's ex-boyfriend, transforms from a quiet, librarian, into a woman at ease in the New York social scene. I found her journey to be a reminder to live life to the fullest now, because one never knows when life will be cut short.  There were also many other wonderful characters, especially the ex-boyfriend, Jon, and his brother Walter, along with a cadre of Jon's colorful advertising colleagues.  While the antics sometimes were over the top, the behind the scenes look at making commercials was hilarious.  This was a fun, engaging book.  I highly recommend it.

What I Liked:

Characters:

Eleanor lives in Buffalo, New York and has a job that she loves as a research librarian.  But her social life is pretty stagnant.  The antics of her high school friend Sasha provides lots of exciting stories whenever they get together for dinner.  But, when Sasha suddenly dies, Eleanor feels obliged to grant Sasha a last request: get even with the man who broke Sasha's heart.  But what is Eleanor supposed to do?  She doesn't even know the guy's last name!  Well, Eleanor does what a librarian does best; she does her research.  Also, luckily, she teams up with another of Sasha's friend, a New York actor who knows everything about New York.  While figuring out what she needs to do, Eleanor undergoes a transformation, inspired by Sasha.  What I loved about this change was it was driven by Eleanor finding out what she really liked.  She didn't change into a fake version of a Manhattanite, but into her authentic self.  

Jon, is a career-driven advertising executive.  Far from trying to hurt Sasha, he is just so busy, and under so much pressure, he can't focus on anything but his job.  And (probably unknown to Sasha) Jon has a very complicated family that includes overbearing parents, and his brother, Walter, who has some challenges of his own.  When Eleanor finally meets him to inform him of Sasha's death, it hardly registers, at first.  But, as the story progresses, Jon begins to see how he let Sasha down.  And he is intrigued by that friend of Sasha's (is it Eleanor?) who he keeps running into. 

Romance:

As all good rom-com's go, there is an unusual meet-cute, hidden intentions, and then heartfelt connection.  Eleanor first meets Jon on one of the worst days of his life.  The commercial he has just created, gets stuck on a loop on CBS, making it one of the most instantly annoying commercials in history!  Jon is so caught up in his now imploding career, he barely hears Eleanor's news about Sasha.  His seeming indifference is infuriating to Eleanor, who doubles down on her commitment to ruin Jon on Sasha's behalf.

But, eventually, Eleanor sees Jon for the stressed out person that he is, who cares deeply for his parents and brother.  And Jon begins to notice how genuine Eleanor is with everyone.  They are actually a perfect match.  But can Eleanor fall in love with the man she has vowed to avenge on behalf of her friend?

Advertising:

I really loved this aspect of the book.  The people at Jon's advertising company are as cutthroat as they come.  One of his colleagues is a brilliant art director, with a heavy addiction to drugs, alcohol, and affairs with his co-workers.  With all the chemicals in his body, it's a wonder he's still alive.  His other co-workers all seem to be scheming to get ahead. And if that mean sabotaging another's work, then so be it.  But who messed with Jon's commercial?  Jon leaves no stone unturned to find out.  And if he has to break into other peoples computers?  Well, they shouldn't have left them turned on.

Things come to a head as Jon and his rival both have to shoot commercials in the desert with wives, girlfriends, a herd of buffalo, and the world's most obnoxious director in tow.  These scenes were really funny and would make for a terrific movie.

Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Release Date: September 6th, 2022

Author:  A.R Taylor

Publisher:  She Writes Press

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Page Length:  368 Pages

Format: E-Book

Source:  NetGalley

Recommendation:  This was a really entertaining read with plenty of great characters and romance.  I highly recommend it.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

With Love from Wish & Co. by Minnie Darke



Please note:  I received and advance copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Two boxes, both alike in size and shape . . .

Marnie Fairchild is the brains and talent behind Wish & Co., a boutique store that offers a bespoke gift-buying service to wealthy clients with complicated lives. Brian Charlesworth is Marnie's most prized customer, and today she's wrapping the perfect anniversary gift for his wife, Suzanne . . . and a birthday present for his mistress, Leona. What could possibly go wrong?

For years, Marnie's had her heart set on moving Wish & Co. to the historic shopfront once owned by her grandfather. When the chance to bid for the property unexpectedly arises, Marnie--distracted--makes an uncharacteristic mistake. Soon Brian is in a fight to rescue his marriage, and Marnie is scrabbling to keep her dreams alive. With the situation so complicated, the last thing Marnie needs is to fall for Brian and Suzanne's gorgeous son, Luke. In the end, will it be her head or her heart that wins out?

Review:

I love a good rom-com, and With Love, from Wish & Co., by Minnie Drake, has all the ingredients for a delicious story.  There's the career-driven 30'ish woman and her friends who have all paired up.  There's a hunky furniture builder who still hasn't found true love.  But, I also found lots of unique elements that aren't usually found in this genre.  As much as this is a story about 30-somethings finding love, there is also an older married couple who are trying to come to grips with their marriage.  Along with many happy times, there are difficulties, and betrayals that must be addressed if they want their relationship to continue.  And it's not a simple question of whether or not to forgive.  The author never judges the characters, and this helps to make these people actual humans, with lots of problems.  Each of the characters has their issues, and their charm.  I really enjoyed this novel for it's gift-giving advice, as well as it's romance.  And, even though it seems at first to be following a formula, there were lots of twists and turns that kept this book a real page-turner.  I highly recommend this book.

What I Liked:

Characters:

Marnie is a successful business owner who is always working.  She runs a successful gift-giving service, mostly for wealthy men who don't have the time (and don't want to be bothered) to shop for gifts. She genuinely loves what she does.  But this doesn't leave much time for a social life.  Even when she's off the clock she is doing research by scouring social media for gift giving ideas for her clients.  But she is really driven to prove to her father's family that she is an upstanding, hard-working person.  There's a whole history to this that I don't want to spoil.  But it makes for a compelling motivation on Marnie's part.

Luke is the son of Marnie's most important client, and she has been "buying" gifts for him for years.  When they meet IRL, the sparks fly!  Even though it feels to Marnie that she already knows him, there are parts of his life that he hasn't shared on social media.  He's just found out he has a daughter.  What will his parents think?  Should Luke get to know his daughter, or is it too late?

Suzanne and Brian are Luke's parents and are going through a VERY rough patch.  At first, I would say that Brian is pure evil, but as the story progresses, we begin to see his motivations.  I would not say his character ever became completely likable, but I certainly didn't think him the as the devil incarnate by the end.  Suzanne, far from being the sweet little stay at home mom, has lots of fire left in her.  If Brian wants to stay married to Suzanne, he's going to need to work for it.  

The Art of Gift-Giving:

Since Marnie's business is all about gift-giving, there are many interesting takes on what a good gift is, and how one can go about finding it.  There are many great tips that I intend to try out for myself, as Christmas approaches.  Don't know what someone's interests are?  Look on their Instagram and Facebook accounts to see what they're talking about.  Don't have lots of money?  Create an experience for them that is unforgettable.  I loved this!  

But, all fun aside, I really enjoyed that the author took the time to really make Marnie's business interesting.  You could really see someone having a business like this. Rather than making this just a quirky detail of the character, it actually enriched the story.  


Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Release Date:  August 16, 2022

Author:  Minne Darke

Publisher:  Dell Books

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Page Length:  416 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  This is a fun, romantic book, and I highly recommend it.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

ARC Review: The Alchemist of Riddle & Ruin By Gigi Pandian

 


Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When Zoe Faust sees the ghost of a murdered young woman, is it really a spirit-or a flesh and blood woman who stopped aging because she's a fellow alchemist?

Sixteen years ago, high school student Ridley Price discovered a secret she planned to reveal through a party game-but someone killed her first. The baffling crime was never solved. Zoe's friend Heather has always wondered: which of the seven guests at the party killed Ridley? When the newly-appeared ghost turns dangerous, threatening people they love, Zoe teams up with her gargoyle roommate Dorian to unmask the supposed specter.

Review:

This is the sixth book in the Accidental Alchemist mystery series by author Gigi Pandian.  I started to read this series a few years ago, out of order.  But the wonderful thing about this series is that it isn't absolutely necessary to read it from book one.  Each book gives enough of the backstory that the reader is never lost.  But, having said that, it would actually be best to read this series from the beginning, if only to feel the delight in how these characters have developed over time.

I love this series for the wonderful cast of characters, from the main character, Zoe Faust (a 300 year-old alchemist), to her ex-police detective boyfriend, Max, to the lovable gargoyle (yes, gargoyle), and gourmet chef, Dorian.  There is also a wonderful feeling of community in this book, as well.  Zoe's friends are artists, artisans, small business owners, and several young teens.  She seems to create a vibe that is full of positivity.  Maybe this is because Zoe is an herbalist and vegan, but she has a way about her that is full of living a healthy and happy life. Her friends, and the reader are pulled in.

But, above all, this is a mystery novel.  I appreciate that not all of the novels are murder mysteries, but this one actually is.  But, in this case, the murder in question happened sixteen years earlier.  There was a clear list of suspects, but the author had me guessing until nearly the end of the book!  The details were fun, and full of twists and turns.  I enjoyed the use of the language of flowers, and poetry as they relate to the riddles that helped solve the case.

There is really so much to love about this book.  With fully realized characters, romance, a puzzling mystery, and vegan recipes, this novel checks all the boxes for an enjoyable book.

Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Release Date:  August 30, 2022

Author:  Gigi Pandian

Publisher:  Gargoyle Girl Productions

Genre:  Mystery

Page Length:  256 Pages

Source:  Author

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  This is a fun mystery series filled with great characters, an intriguing mystery to solve, and recipes!  I highly recommend this book. 





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