Review: The Love Match

Title: The Love Match
Author: Priyanka Taslim
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: January 3, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Pride and Prejudice in this delightful and heartfelt rom-com about a Bangladeshi American teen whose meddling mother arranges a match to secure their family’s financial security—just as she’s falling in love with someone else.

Zahra Khan is basically Bangladeshi royalty, but being a princess doesn’t pay the bills in Paterson, New Jersey. While Zahra’s plans for financial security this summer involve working long hours at Chai Ho and saving up for college writing courses, Amma is convinced that all Zahra needs is a “good match,” Jane Austen style.

Enter Harun Emon, who’s wealthy, devastatingly handsome, and…aloof. As soon as Zahra meets him, she knows it’s a bad match. It’s nothing like the connection she has with Nayim Aktar, the new dishwasher at the tea shop, who just gets Zahra in a way no one has before. So, when Zahra finds out that Harun is just as uninterested in this match as she is, they decide to slowly sabotage their parents’ plans. And for once in Zahra’s life, she can have her rossomalai and eat it too: “dating” Harun and keeping Amma happy while catching real feelings for Nayim.

But life—and boys—can be more complicated than Zahra realizes. With her feelings all mixed up, Zahra discovers that sometimes being a good Bengali kid can be a royal pain.

Review:

Zahra Khan has to work long hours at the tea shop Chai Ho the summer after high school. She’s had to give up her dream of studying at Columbia after her father died and she had to help support her family. Her mother decides the best way to help the family would be for Zahra to marry into a rich family. Her mother sets her up with Harun Emon, whose family supports the match. However, Zahra and Harun aren’t interested in being together. They decide to follow through with the dates their parents plan, to show them that they aren’t a good match. Meanwhile, a new boy, Nayim Aktar, starts working at Chai Ho with Zahra. He is an orphan supporting himself, so he doesn’t fit Zahra’s mother’s plans, but she starts to develop feelings for him. Zahra needs to figure out if she should follow her heart or do what’s best for her family. 

I loved this story. There were lots of references to classic romances like Jane Austen and Bridgerton. Zahra is a writer, but she struggled to follow her dream because her mom didn’t think it was a profession that would support her. Zahra had to find a way to satisfy her family while also following her dream, but not everyone in real life is lucky enough to find the balance. 

The twists at the end really surprised me. There were subtle clues throughout the story but I was pleasantly surprised by how everything happened. 

The Love Match is a great YA romance!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Have you read The Love Match? What did you think of it?

Review: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)

Title: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 5, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Review:

Kate Harker will do anything to get her father’s attention so he will bring her back home, including burning down her school’s chapel. Her father brings her back to the divided city of Verity where he allows the monsters to roam free and has humans pay for his protection. Meanwhile, August Flynn is the “son” of the ruler of the other half of the city. August is a monster, with the power to steal a soul with a violin song. When the Flynn family find out that Kate will be attending school in the city, they send August to masquerade as a student and get close to her. However, power is shifting in their city. When Kate’s life is put in danger, August has to put his secret at risk to figure out who is trying to kill them. 

This was such a thrilling and suspenseful story. It was an original and complex world. A lot of the rules and history of the world weren’t described until halfway through the story. I would have liked to learn that earlier so I could really understand the world. I still really enjoyed this story!

This Savage Song is a great story! I can’t wait to read the sequel!

What to read next:

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Other books in the series:

  • Our Dark Duet

Have you read This Savage Song? What did you think of it?

Review: Salt and Sugar

Title: Salt and Sugar
Author: Rebecca Carvalho
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: November 1, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The grandchildren of two rival Brazilian bakeries fall in love despite their families’ feud.

Trust neither thin-bottomed frying pans nor Molinas.

Lari Ramires has always known this to be true. In Olinda, Brazil, her family’s bakery, Salt, has been at war with the Molinas’ bakery across the street, Sugar, for generations. But Lari’s world turns upside down when her beloved grandmother passes away. On top of that, a big supermarket chain has moved to town, forcing many of the small businesses to close.

Determined to protect her home, Lari does the unthinkable—she works together with Pedro Molina to save both of their bakeries. Lari realizes she might not know Pedro as well as she thought—and she maybe even likes what she learns—but the question remains: Can a Ramires and a Molina truly trust one another?

Review:

Lari Ramires’s family bakery, Salt, has always been at war with the Molina’s bakery across the street, called Sugar. The feud goes back a couple of generations. When Lari’s grandmother passes away, she’s faced with the hard truth that the bakery is struggling. A new supermarket chain that has opened nearby is trying to get all of the small businesses to close. Lari is desperate to save her family’s bakery, so she teams up with Pedro Molina, the grandson of Sugar’s owner, to try to save their family legacies. 

I love this kind of star-crossed lovers story. Lari and Pedro were from feuding families, like Romeo and Juliet. The tension between them was there immediately, since their families were enemies. At the same time, they had a lot in common since their families had the same type of business with the same problems, which was a recipe for romance. 

If you read this one, I highly recommend having some sweet treats nearby because the descriptions of pastries and treats made me so hungry!

Salt and Sugar is a cute YA romance!

Thank you HCC Frenzy for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Have you read Salt and Sugar? What did you think of it?

Review: Season of Love

Title: Season of Love
Author: Helena Greer
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Forever
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 11, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Miriam Blum has no choice but to face the past she thought she’d left behind when she inherits her great-aunt’s Christmas tree farm in this witty, glittering, heart-filled romcom.

Thanks to her thriving art career, Miriam Blum finally has her decoupaged glitter ducks in a row—until devastating news forces her to a very unwanted family reunion. Her beloved great-aunt Cass has passed and left Miriam part-owner of Carrigan’s, her (ironically) Jewish-run Christmas tree farm.

But Miriam’s plans to sit shiva, avoid her parents, then put Carrigan’s in her rearview mirror are spoiled when she learns the business is at risk of going under. To have any chance at turning things around, she’ll need to work with the farm’s grumpy manager—as long as the attraction sparking between them doesn’t set all their trees on fire first.

Noelle Northwood wants Miriam Blum gone—even if her ingenious ideas and sensitive soul keep showing Noelle there’s more to Cass’s niece than meets the eye. But saving Carrigan’s requires trust, love, and risking it all—for the chance to make their wildest dreams come true.

Review:

When Miriam Blum’s great-aunt Cass dies, she goes back to visit her family for the first time in 10 years. While there, Miriam learns that she has inherited Cass’s Jewish-run Christmas tree farm with her cousin and the grumpy manager of the farm. On top of that, they learn that the farm is in danger of going under. Noelle Northwood is the manager of the farm. She doesn’t trust Miriam since she’s come back after being away from her family for so long. All that Noelle knows is that Miriam wasn’t there when her family needed her, so she really doesn’t want to fall for her. Noelle, Miriam, and Miriam’s cousin Hannah have to work together to put aside their differences to save the farm. 

This was a fun holiday rom com! I loved all the quirky characters. They were all distinct and had their own storylines, which leaves open the possibility of more books in a series. 

The characters celebrated many holidays from October to January. They celebrated both Jewish and Christian holidays. Miriam’s family was Jewish, but since they work at a Christmas farm with Christians, they also celebrated Christmas all together. It was fun to see so much celebration in a holiday story!

Season of Love is a fun holiday story!

Thank you Forever for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

You’re a Mean One Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

Have you read Season of Love? What did you think of it?

Review: Blood Orange (The Dracula Duet #1)

Title: Blood Orange (The Dracula Duet #1)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Karina Halle
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 16, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Once there was a man who fell deeply in love with a woman he could never have. When their affair was uncovered she was brutally murdered in front of him, and he discovered he was cursed, doomed to live forever as a vampire.

Over the centuries, he found his love again, and lost her again, until he was so broken he gave up on love entirely, sinking into the depths of depravity, losing his humanity.

Then one day, she came back into his life. A student of music studying under him at the conservatory in Venice, Italy where he was a professor. But even though he found her beautiful and intriguing, he didn’t recognize his fated mate at all.

Because this time she had to hide her true self.

This time she came back as a witch, whose destiny wasn’t to love him…but to kill him.

Blood Orange is a modern-day Dracula retelling about the “real-life” Dracula that inspired Bram Stoker. This is a dark vampire romance with plenty of content warnings (check interior of book for CW) and while it is a spinoff of The Dark Eyes Duet, it can be read as a standalone. It was previously referred to as “King of Darkness”

Review:

Dahlia Abernathy is a witch who has been trained to be a vampire hunter. Her goal is to pretend to be a music student and kill Professor Valtu Aminoff, the vampire who inspired Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. However, Dahlia didn’t expect to fall in love with him. Dahlia disguises her appearance under a glamour, so that Valtu can’t see that she’s actually a witch. Valtu also can’t see through her disguise that Dahlia is actually the reincarnated version of his first loves who died tragically. Their love is put to the ultimate test when they discover the truth and have to decide if history will repeat itself. 

This was an intense story. It was spicy and bloody. There were some quite graphic scenes that were difficult to read. I highly recommend checking the content warnings before reading this book. 

Though it was a graphic story, I absolutely loved the ending. I love the idea of history repeating itself, particularly when someone is reincarnated through different time periods. This story ended on a cliffhanger, so I’m glad the sequel will be out on December 31!

Blood Orange is a spicy and intense story!

What to read next:

Black Rose (The Dracula Duet #2) by Karina Halle

Other books in the series:

  • Black Rose

Have you read Blood Orange? What did you think of it?

Review: Once Upon a December

Title: Once Upon a December
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 4, 2022
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A one-of-a-kind Christmas market offers holiday magic in the new romance from the author of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club.

With a name like Astra Noel Snow, holiday spirit isn’t just a seasonal specialty–it’s a way of life. But after a stinging divorce, Astra’s yearly trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market takes on a whole new meaning. She’s ready to eat, drink, and be merry, especially with the handsome stranger who saves the best kringle for her at his family bakery.

For Jack Clausen, the Julemarked with its snowy lights and charming shops stays the same, while the world outside the joyful street changes, magically leaping from one December to the next every four weeks. He’s never minded living this charmed existence until Astra shows him the life he’s been missing outside of the festive red brick alley.

After a swoon-worthy series of dates, some Yuletide magic, and the unexpected glow of new love, Astra and Jack must decide whether this relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they’re feeling is as ephemeral as marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa.

Review:

Astra Noel Snow loves going to the Milwaukee Christmas market with her best friends every year. They eat, drink, dance, and go to the mysterious Julemarked area of the market where they buy kringle pastries from a handsome man. Jack Clausen is one of the workers at the bakery. He’s looking forward to seeing Astra again that Christmas, but she won’t remember him. The Julemarked is a market that only exists from December 1st to 24th, and then jumps to a different city to open as a Christmas market there. Only a few special people can remember the Julemarked from one year to the next. Jack is hoping this will be the year that Astra finally remembers him. After spending a night together, they make plans to meet again at the end of the month. When Astra can’t find him for their date because the Julemarked has disappeared for the year, she spends her time searching for answers so she can finally have her happily ever after. 

This was an unusual story. The world of the Julemarked was hard to wrap my head around. It was confusing at first. The people who live and work at it only ever experience the month of December in different cities around the world. They don’t know what year or location they will end up for each month. It was disorienting and unexpected. 

I really didn’t like Jack. He had a closed mind when it came to deciding on his and Astra’s relationship. He wanted her to give up everything for him without even thinking about it. There was also the dreaded pregnancy trope, which seemed forced. 

Unfortunately Once Upon a December didn’t work for me. 

Thank you Berkley for providing a digital copy of this book.

Have you read Once Upon a December? What did you think of it?

Review: By the Book (Meant to Be #2)

Title: By the Book (Meant to Be #2)
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Hyperion Avenue
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A tale as old as time—for a new generation… 

Isabelle is completely lost. When she first began her career in publishing right out of college, she did not expect to be twenty-five, living at home, still an editorial assistant, and the only Black employee at her publishing house. Overworked and underpaid, constantly torn between speaking up or stifling herself, Izzy thinks there must be more to this publishing life. So when she overhears her boss complaining about a beastly high-profile author who has failed to deliver his long-awaited manuscript, Isabelle sees an opportunity to finally get the promotion she deserves.

All she has to do is go to the author’s Santa Barbara mansion and give him a quick pep talk or three. How hard could it be?

But Izzy quickly finds out she is in over her head. Beau Towers is not some celebrity lightweight writing a tell-all memoir. He is jaded and withdrawn and—it turns out—just as lost as Izzy. But despite his standoffishness, Izzy needs Beau to deliver, and with her encouragement, his story begins to spill onto the page. They soon discover they have more in common than either of them expected, and as their deadline nears, Izzy and Beau begin to realize there may be something there that wasn’t there before. 

Best-selling author Jasmine Guillory’s reimagining of a beloved fairy tale is a romantic triumph of love and acceptance and learning that sometimes to truly know a person you have to read between the lines.

Review:

Izzy is a twenty-five year-old, who works in publishing, and still lives at home with her parents. She’s overworked and finds it hard to speak up for herself, as the only Black employee at the publishing company. When she hears her boss complaining about the high-profile celebrity who is late with his manuscript, Izzy gets an idea. Izzy goes to Santa Barbara to give the author, Beau Towers, a pep talk. However, when she meets him, she discovers that he is so withdrawn that he will need more than one pep talk. Izzy stays with him and encourages him to tell his story. As Beau writes his memoir and gets closer to the end, Izzy discovers they have more in common than she expected, and she doesn’t want to leave him when they’re finished. 

Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairytale, so I was excited to finally read this retelling. This was a fun twist on the story with a publishing spin. It’s not realistic that a publishing assistant would be sent to live with and help a celebrity write their memoir, but it was a fun fantasy to read about. 

By the Book is a cute Beauty and the Beast retelling!

What to read next:

If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

Other books in the series:

Have you read By the Book? What did you think of it?

Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

Title: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 2, 2012
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. 

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Review:

Celaena Sardothien is an assassin, living in a prison, when she’s summoned to the palace. She will compete with twenty-three other killers, thieves, and warriors to become the king’s champion. Celaena looks like a weak girl, but she’s been through a lot and is stronger than she looks. She’s protected and coached by the Crown Prince, Dorian, and the head of the king’s guard, Chaol. However, soon after the competition starts, the competitors are killed off one by one in mysterious circumstances. Something is out to get the competitors, and Celaena needs to figure out how to survive and win her freedom. 

This is actually my second time reading Throne of Glass. I read it for the first time years ago, but for some reason, I didn’t remember anything that happened. I’m so glad I decided to reread it because now I’m hooked and need to know what happens next. 

I’m really looking forward to continuing the series in the new year! I can already tell this will be one of my favourites.

What to read next:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Other books in the series:

  • Crown of Midnight
  • Heir of Fire
  • Queen of Shadows
  • Empire of Storms
  • Tower of Dawn
  • Kingdom of Ash

Have you read Throne of Glass? What did you think of it?

Review: Witcha Gonna Do? (Witchington #1)

Title: Witcha Gonna Do? (Witchington #1)
Author: Avery Flynn
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 6, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An unlucky witch and her know-it-all nemesis must team up in the first of a new, hot romantic comedy series from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn.

Could it possibly get any worse than having absolutely no magical abilities when you’re a member of the most powerful family of witches ever? It used to be that I’d say no, but then I keep getting set up on dates with Gil Connolly whose hotness is only matched by his ego. Seriously. I can’t stand him. Even if I also can’t stop thinking about him (specifically kissing him) but we’re going to pretend I never told you that part.

So yeah, my life isn’t the greatest right now, but then it goes straight to the absolute worst hell when I accidentally make my sister’s spell glitch and curse my whole family. And the only person who can help non-magical me break the spell? You guessed it. Gil the super hot jerk. 

Now we have to work together to save my family and outmaneuver some evil-minded nefarious forces bent on world domination. Oh yeah, and we have to do all that while fighting against the attraction building between us because I may not be magical, but what’s happening between Gil and I sure feels like it.

Review:

Tilda Sherwood is part of a large magical family, but she doesn’t have any magic. She keeps getting set up on dates by her godmother, and every date is with the same guy: Gil Connolly. He’s gorgeous but annoying, and Tilda can’t stop thinking about him. One day when Tilda’s sister is doing a spell, Tilda interferes with it, and something goes wrong, freezing her entire family in ice. Since Tilda doesn’t have magic, she has to go to Gil for help. They have to find a spell to unfreeze her family, while also fighting the growing attraction between them. 

This was such a fun rom com! Tilda is a bit of an outcast, being surrounded by magic but unable to use it herself. Gil has secrets of his own that add a lot of tension to the story when he has to lie and keep them from Tilda. 

The epilogue was so good. There’s a lot of potential for future stories about other characters. I can’t wait to read the next book!

Thank you Berkley for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Witchful Thinking by Celestine Martin

Have you read Witcha Gonna Do? What did you think of it?

Review: River of Shadows (Underworld Gods #1)

Title: River of Shadows (Underworld Gods #1)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: self-published
Source: Author
Format: Physical arc
Release Date: January 27, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

River of Shadows is an adult dark fantasy romance based on Finnish mythology and the underworld of Tuonela.

When 24-year old Hanna Heikkinen’s estranged father dies, she reluctantly makes the trip to Northern Finland for his funeral. Being in the enchanting land of ice and snow feels miles away from Hanna’s busy life back in Los Angeles, especially under the complicated circumstances.

But when Hanna discovers that her father’s body is missing, that’s when things really get weird. A mysterious man, Rasmus, tells Hanna the truth: her father was a powerful shaman who went into Tuonela, the Realm of the Dead, in order to barter for more life, and has been held captive by Tuoni, the God of Death. The only way her father can be freed is if she travels with Rasmus into the mythical underworld to rescue him.

Willing to do anything to have a second-chance with her father, Hanna accompanies Rasmus into the dark and bloody realm, traveling via the River of Shadows, stalked by dangerous creatures, monsters, and the living dead, until they finally come into the haunted kingdom ruled by Death and his family.

Only for her to be captured and held prisoner by the God of Death himself.

Turns out Death is intrigued by Hanna’s beauty and fierceness and makes a bargain with her. If she marries him, and spends an eternity in the Realm of the Dead as his wife, he’ll set her father free.

But even the most noble sacrifices come with hidden costs, and Hanna’s might involve the most unexpected of all things: her heart.

Review:

When 24-year-old Hanna Heikkinen’s father dies suddenly, she travels to Finland for his funeral. Soon after arriving, she discovers that his casket is empty. A young man named Rasmus tells her that her father didn’t actually die, but that he’s a powerful shaman who went into the Realm of the Dead to try and save his own life. Her father is being held captive by the God of Death, and the only way to save him is for Hanna to travel to the Realm of the Dead with Rasmus. They travel along the River of Shadows, until Hanna is captured by the God of Death. She volunteers to stay as his prisoner in exchange for her father being let go. Death likes Hanna and wants to make her his wife, but she doesn’t expect to develop feelings for him. 

This was such a wild story! I was hooked right from the start. I liked Hanna right away and I was rooting for her. There were lots of twists, that kept me in suspense throughout the story. I loved the “Beauty and the Beast” plot that the story followed, since that is my favourite fairytale. The romance became quite steamy towards the end, which was fun. 

The only thing I wondered about was what life Hanna was missing when she went into the Realm of Death. She didn’t really give much thought to the people in her old life who would be missing her and wondering where she went. The story ended on a huge cliffhanger, so I’m glad the next book is already out for me to read soon!

River of Shadows is a great steamy romance! 

Thank you Karina Halle for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Crown of Crimson by Karina Halle

Other books in the series:

  • Crown of Crimson (Underworld Gods #2)

Have you read River of Shadows? What did you think of it?