Review: Some Dukes Have All the Luck (Synneful Spinsters #1)

Title: Some Dukes Have All the Luck (Synneful Spinsters #1)
Author: Christina Britton
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Forever
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 8, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ash Hawkins, Duke of Buckley, no more wants to marry than he wants a stick in his eye. As the owner of a gaming hell, he is all too aware the odds of a happy marriage are against him. But raising his three rebellious wards alone is proving more than he can handle. He needs to find someone who stands to benefit from a marriage of convenience as much as he does. Someone logical, clinical, and rational. And in a stroke of luck, he quite literally stumbles over just such a woman.

After years of ridicule for being more interested in bugs than boys, Bronwyn has accepted that she’ll never marry for love. Her parents, however, are threatening to find her a husband. Bronwyn doesn’t need any scientific research to show her Ash has secrets. But his proposal would give her the freedom to continue her entomology research and perhaps finally get published. Just as long as she can keep her mind on her work and off his piercing eyes, broad shoulders, and wicked, wicked tongue.

Review:

Ash Hawkins, the Duke of Buckley knows he never wants to get married. He has enough trouble looking after his three rebellious wards. When two of them run away to his family’s other home on the Isle of Synne, Ash goes there after them. The two little girls meet Bronwyn Pickering, a young woman who is more interested in entomology than getting married. However, her parents insist that she marries someone with a title. After seeing how well Bronwyn gets along with his wards, Ash decides he should marry her so that she can help look after them. The marriage works for Bronwyn, by making a match that her parents approve of. However, their relationship becomes more complicated when they form real feelings for each other. Ash and Bronwyn have to decide if they will give in to love or live separate, unhappy lives. 

This was a fun regency romance. Ash and Bronwyn had a marriage of convenience that worked out to fill the things that each of them needed, but they had great chemistry right away. I was able to figure out the twist at the end before it happened, but it was a cute family story. 

I’m looking forward to the next book in this series next year!

Some Dukes Have All the Luck is a great regency romance. 

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Always Be My Duchess by Amalie Howard

Have you read Some Dukes Have All the Luck? What did you think of it?

Review: Lord of the Fly Fest

Title: Lord of the Fly Fest
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Horror
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Source: Once Upon a Book Club
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 30, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

One of Us Is Lying meets Lord of the Flies meets Fyre Fest in this wickedly addictive and funny YA thriller.

Rafi Francisco needs something really special to put her true crime podcast on the map. She sets her sights on River Stone, the hearthrob musician who rose to stardom after the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend. Rafi lands herself a ticket to the exclusive Fly Fest, where River will be the headliner.

But when Rafi arrives on the Caribbean island location of Fly Fest with hundreds of other influencers and (very minor) celebrities, they quickly discover that the dream trip is more of a nightmare. And it’s not just confronting beauty gurus-gone-wild and spotty WiFi. Soon, Rafi goes from fighting for an interview to fighting for her life. And, as she gets closer to River, she discovers that he might be hiding even darker secrets than she suspected . . .

Review:

Rafi Francisco has a true crime podcast called “Musical Mysteries.” For season 2 of her podcast, she decides to explore her theory that heartthrob musician River Stone killed his girlfriend and lied that she mysteriously disappeared. Rafi goes to Fly Fest, an influencer festival on a Caribbean island where River will be performing. However, there isn’t anything set up on the island when everyone arrives. There are no buildings, no food, and almost no Wi-Fi. Rafi convinces everyone to stay so that she can get her interview with River, but she discovers what lengths influencers will go to to have a good time at the festival. 

This story was more funny than I expected. The influencers who were on the island with Rafi were caricatures of influencers, going to extreme lengths to make it look like they were having a good time. I loved the quote: “People would rather live in a lie utopia than in a true dystopia.” So much on social media is a lie made to look much better than real life. I’ve done that too. When I’ve been having a bad day, I’ll post a positive, happy post rather than something that reflects how I’m really feeling. This story took it to the extreme where the influencers made it seem like they were having a great time while it was actually a disaster. 

I was expecting this story to me more dark and graphic, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that dark. It had a creepy atmosphere on the island, but everything that happened had a logical explanation. There were some gross scenes, but there were so many funny parts that made up for it. 

Lord of the Fly Fest is a fun YA story.

What to read next:

You’re So Dead by Ash Parsons

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky

Have you read Lord of the Fly Fest? What did you think of it?

Happy Pub Day – November 8

Happy Pub Day to these authors!

Never Rescue a Rogue by Virginia Heath

Luminary: A Magical Guide to Self-Care by Kate Scelsa

Some Dukes Have All the Luck by Christina Britton

Gleanings by Neal Shusterman

White Out by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon

Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

The Q by Amy Tintera

The Secrets We Keep by Cassie Gustafson

Children of Ragnarok by Cinda Williams Chima

Black Internet Effect by Shavone Charles

Cursed by Marissa Meyer

Charm by Tracy Wolff

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Mihi Ever After by Tae Keller, Geraldine Rodríguez (illustrator)

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger

Blue Like Me by Aaron Philip Clark

Nubia: The Awakening by Omar Epps, Clarence A. Haynes

Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin

The Duke in Question by Amalie Howard

A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: The Witch Haven (The Witch Haven #1)

Title: The Witch Haven (The Witch Haven #1)
Author: Sasha Peyton Smith
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 31, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards.

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet—her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there.

Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?

Review:

1911: Frances Hallowell is a seamstress in New York, still mourning her brother after his mysterious death months ago. When she’s attacked one night by her boss, he ends up dead with her scissors in his neck. Before she can be arrested for his murder, she’s whisked away to Haxahaven Sanatarium, which is a school for witches disguised as a tuberculosis sanatarium. Frances learns how to use some of her new found magic, but she wants to learn more. She’s lured out to the forest to meet her brother’s old friend, Finn, who promises to teach her more magic and find out who killed her brother. As Frances learns more, she must figure out what’s most important to her: Finn, her new witch friends, or discovering her brother’s murderer. 

This was a great witchy story. I loved the spooky atmosphere of New York in 1911. There were people being mysteriously murdered and incurable diseases. Indigenous racism was also addressed a bit, as one of the witches at the school was abused at a residential school. 

There were some great twists at the end of the story. I suspected the big one before it was revealed, but I was still surprised with how the story ended. I’m glad the sequel is out now so I can read it soon!

The Witch Haven is a great witchy story.

What to read next:

The Witch Hunt by Sasha Peyton Smith

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Other books in the series:

  • The Witch Hunt

Have you read The Witch Haven? What did you think of it?

Review: Love from Mecca to Medina (Love from A to Z #2)

Title: Love from Mecca to Medina (Love from A to Z #2)
Author: S.K. Ali
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: October 18, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart. 

Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable. 

Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. Adam is thrilled; it’s the reboot he needs and an opportunity to pray for a hijra in real life: to migrate to Zayneb in Chicago. Zayneb balks at the trip at first, having envisioned another kind of vacation, but then decides a spiritual reset is calling her name too. And they can’t wait to see each other—surely, this is just what they both need.

But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s former love interest in their traveling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb when she’s supposed to be “spiritual.” As one wedge after another drives them apart while they make their way through rites in the holy city, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world?

Review:

Adam is in Doha, Qatar, trying to find work as an artist while his MS isn’t bothering him. Zayneb is in Chicago, trying to find an apartment while she studies and has to fend off accusations from her school’s newspaper. They are both looking forward to spending a week together in England, but when Adam is offered a trip on the Umbrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, he has to take the opportunity while he’s feeling well. They change their plans to go on the Umbrah together, but their relationship faces the ultimate test on this spiritual journey, making them question if they’re meant to be together. 

This was another fabulous S.K. Ali book! It was so nice to be reunited with these familiar characters. There were also characters from the Saints and Misfits books, which was fun to see all of the characters together. The characters were college age, so they had to deal with more adult problems than in a young adult novel, but it was nice to see the characters grow up in this story. There were some chapters from the perspective of Bertha Fatima, Adam and Zayneb’s cat, which were so entertaining. 

I didn’t know anything about the Umbrah or Mecca and Medina so I learned a lot in this story. It inspired me to look up some of the terms and places to be able to picture them. The story was detailed and described the entire trip so I got a full picture of this experience. 

Love from Mecca to Medina is a great story! 

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

What to read next:

The Eid Gift by S.K. Ali

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Other books in the series:

Have you read Love from Mecca to Medina? What did you think of it?

Happy Pub Day – November 1

Happy Pub Day to these authors!

The Seaside Corpse by Marthe Jocelyn

Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria

Salt and Sugar by Rebecca Carvalho

Seasparrow by Kristin Cashore

Wait for Me by Sara Shepard

Kiss Me, Catalina by Priscilla Oliveras

Ex Appeal by Cathy Yardley

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win by Susan Azim Boyer

She’s Gone by David Bell

Friends Like These by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Cruel Illusions by Margie Fuston

The Hunger Between Us by Marina Scott

The Wicked Remain by Laura Pohl

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

Sugaring Off by Gillian French

The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch

The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

The Quarry Girls by Jess Lourey

Love in the Age of Dragons by Fatima R. Henson

The Cloisters by Katy Hays

White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey by Serena Burdick

Blood in the Water by Caleb Roehrig

The Art of Insanity by Christine Webb

A Very Merry Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match

Title: Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match
Author: Sally Thorne
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction
Publisher: Avon Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From USA Today bestselling author of The Hating Game Sally Thorne comes something a little unexpected… a historical rom-com that imagines Victor Frankenstein’s sheltered younger sister, and her attempts to create the perfect man. 

For generations, every Frankenstein has found their true love and equal, unlocking lifetimes of blissful wedded adventure. Clever, pretty (and odd) Angelika Frankenstein has run out of suitors and fears she may become the exception to this family rule. When assisting in her brother Victor’s ground-breaking experiment to bring a reassembled man back to life, she realizes that having an agreeable gentleman convalescing in the guest suite might be a chance to let a man get to know the real her. For the first time, Angelika embarks upon a project that is all her own.

When her handsome scientific miracle sits up on the lab table, her hopes for an instant romantic connection are thrown into disarray. Her resurrected beau (named Will for the moment) has total amnesia and is solely focused on uncovering his true identity. Trying to ignore their heart-pounding chemistry, Angelika reluctantly joins the investigation into his past, hoping it will bring them closer. But when a second suitor emerges to aid their quest, Angelika wonders if she was too hasty inventing a solution. Perhaps fate is not something that can be influenced in a laboratory? Or is Will (or whatever his name is!) her dream man, tailored for her in every way? And can he survive what was done to him in the name of science, and love?

Filled with carriages, candlesticks, and corpses, Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match is the spooky-season reimagining of the well-known classic that reminds us to never judge a man by his cadaver! 

Review:

Angelika Frankenstein is the assistant to her brother Victor in all of his experiments. When he wants to bring a man back to life, Angelika joins in on the fun. She hasn’t been able to find an appropriate suitor and now she’s run out of men in her town, so she decides to choose her own corpse to bring back to life. However, the man who she revives is more focused on figuring out his identity from before he died than being her husband. Though he is her perfect match, Angelika does everything she can to help him discover his former life. 

I loved the premise of this book, but it wasn’t executed as well as I expected. The romance between Angelika and Will, her creation, was stilted and forced. One minute they would be kissing, and the next minute he would tell her why they couldn’t be together. This happened over and over again, so it was tiring to read. 

The other characters tried to be quirky but I didn’t feel that they stood out on their own. Some of the side characters didn’t really serve a purpose to move the plot forward. Those storylines could have been cut shorter to make the story more concise. 

Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match wasn’t what I hoped it would be. 

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for giving me a copy of this book.

Have you read Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match? What did you think of it?

Review: If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

Title: If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It
Author: Colleen Nelson, Kathie MacIsaac, Scot Ritchie (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Nonfiction
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: October 25, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There is no single path to the job of your dreams.
What does it take to become a stuntperson? How does a
mathematician spend her days? When does a barber become the center of a community? In this refreshing take on a careers book, meet twenty-five individuals of different backgrounds, genders, and abilities who have found their careers through a wide range of experience, education, intention, and inspiration. From Joshua Jones, who built a business where he could thrive as a Deaf interior designer, to Teresa Tam, whose hunger for knowledge led her to
the position of Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, each of these dreamers found ways to dig deep into their passion, to gain experience and knowledge, and to turn that into a job.

Review:

This book talks about 25 inspiring people who found their dream jobs. These jobs range from the arts to sciences and everything in between. These weren’t all typical jobs that are taught about in school. For example, there was a human rights lawyer, a meteorologist, a smokejumper, and an NHL scout. These jobs are all inspired by things the people were interested in and decided to incorporate into their job. 

I liked that there were related jobs listed in each section, to give more examples of work in those fields. There were examples of how a young person can become involved and learn about the job, as well as a real example of a young person who is already making their mark in that field. Many of the people featured were Canadian, which was nice to see in a Canadian book. 

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It is an inspiring book about finding your dream job!

Thank you Pajama Press for sending me a copy of this book.

Have you read If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It? What did you think of it?

Review: In the Shadow of a Queen

Title: In the Shadow of a Queen
Author: Heather B. Moore
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: October 4, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Based on the true story of the free-spirited daughter of Queen Victoria.

Princess Louise’s life is upended after her father’s untimely death. Captive to the queen’s overwhelming mourning, Louise is forbidden to leave her mother’s tight circle of control and is eventually relegated to the position of personal secretary to her mother—the same position each of her sisters held until they were married.

Already an accomplished painter, Louise risks the queen’s wrath by exploring the art of sculpting, an activity viewed as unbefitting a woman. When Louise involves herself in the day’s political matters, including championing the career of a female doctor and communicating with suffragettes, the queen lays down the law to stop her and devotes her full energy to finding an acceptable match for her defiant daughter.

Louise is considered the most beautiful and talented daughter of Queen Victoria, but finding a match for the princess is no easy feat. Protocols are broken, and Louise exerts her own will as she tries to find an open-minded husband who will support her free spirit.

In the Shadow of a Queen is the story of a battle of wills between two women: a daughter determined to forge her own life beyond the shadow of her mother, and a queen resolved to keep the Crown’s reputation unsullied no matter the cost.

Review:

Princess Louise was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. She was close with her mother, becoming the Queen’s personal secretary after her sisters had married and moved away. Louise was a sculptor, which was scandalous for a woman at the time. She was also interested in women’s rights, though her mother didn’t support that cause. It took a long time to find her a match, but she ended up breaking protocols to marry the man she loved. Princess Louise was an extraordinary woman. 

When I began reading this story, I realized I didn’t know anything about Queen Victoria’s children. I had read stories about the Queen’s early years, but not about her life during her reign. Though Louise made controversial decisions, her mother supported her. Even when Louise wanted to do something that Queen Victoria didn’t approve of, she eventually came around and allowed her daughter to do what made her happy. 

Princess Louise’s mark is still present today. She made the sculpture of Queen Victoria that sits in front of Kensington Palace. That’s one of my favourite statues and I had no idea Princess Louise had made it. Canada’s province of Alberta is named after Princess Louise, as Alberta is her middle name after her father Prince Albert. I didn’t realize she had a strong connection to Canada, living here for many years while her husband was Governor General. I’m glad to see she left a legacy in the world, and I hope it becomes more well known. 

In the Shadow of a Queen is a wonderful story about Queen Victoria’s daughter. 

Thank you Shadow Mountain for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

An Indiscreet Princess by Georgie Blalock

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Have you read In the Shadow of a Queen? What did you think of it?

Review: Hide

Title: Hide
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Horror, Contemporary
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything.

Even though everyone is desperate to win–to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts–Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she’s an expert at that.

It’s the reason she’s alive, and her family isn’t.

But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.
Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

A high-stakes hide-and-seek competition turns deadly in this dark supernatural thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

Review:

Would you spend a week in an abandoned amusement park to win $50,000 dollars? That’s the challenge that Mack enters. She lives in a shelter and has nothing to lose, so she decides to enter the challenge along with thirteen other people. Each day the contestants must hide from the “seekers,” with two contestants being “out” each day. However, this is a much darker game than they predicted. They have to figure out how to hide so that they make it out alive. 

This was such a psychologically creepy story. There wasn’t anything actually scary on the page for most of the story, but the threat of some unknown seeker gave the story a spooky atmosphere. 

I wish there was more character development. There were three characters that had full backstories, but the other eleven contestants weren’t as well developed. It would have been helpful to even have a list of the contestants at the beginning so I could tell them apart. I had a higher opinion of this book when I read the acknowledgements at the end. Kiersten White tells her inspiration for writing this book, and it made me understand the terrifying atmosphere in this story. 

Hide is a creepy horror story!

Have you read Hide? What did you think of it?