Monthly Wrap-Ups

November Wrap-Up

Happy December, Everyone! Time is flying by and now it is full speed ahead into Christmas. November was such a great reading month for me. I managed to read 4 books total, but I didn’t have a lot of time to write up individual reviews throughout the month. So, I thought I would do a monthly wrap-up with 4 mini-reviews. So here goes:

Roomies by Christina Lauren ✰✰✰✰

I was in the mood for something lighthearted and fun over the Thanksgiving weekend and Roomies was a perfect choice. It definitely indulged my weepy romantic side, but it was also really well written. The characterization of both Holland and Calvin was so unique and really gave a sense of the whole person, not just who they were in terms of the relationship and the plot. I loved that the authors included all of their embarrassing moments – including Holland’s obsession with her “hot subway busker,” and Calvin’s marriage lies to his family back home in Ireland. These were all very real and relatable moments. My only complaint here was that I never really questioned either character’s motives in the same way they questioned each other. So it was a little frustrating at times to watch the two of them essentially make up things to be upset about. But overall, this was a perfect feel-good romantic comedy with really adorable characters.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren ✰✰✰✰

img_1016Ok, full disclosure, I read Roomies so fast that I needed another feelgood romance to finish out the long Thanksgiving weekend. Since I loved Roomies so much, I picked up Josh and Hazel. This was a really cute “friends to lovers” troupe with a fun twist. Ok, Hazel herself is really the twist. She was so unlike any female lead character I’ve read. She is unapologetically over-the-top, loud, blunt, free, and absolutely amazing! I loved that even though she’d been told time and time again that she was “too weird” or “too crazy” she never changed. She never altered herself in any way or attempted to please anyone but herself. For that, I give Christina Lauren a big high five. Hazel’s personality contrasted so well with Josh’s uptight demeanor and they made such a funny pair of opposites. I also really loved the Portland vibes. Having lived there for two years, I can definitely see someone like Hazel being happy and thriving in this amazing city. Thanks for keeping Portland weird Christina Lauren.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager ✰✰✰✰

The second I read that this book took place at a creepy summer camp in upstate New York where a mysterious crime once took place, I was all in. Emma is a prominent New York artist who returns to the summer camp she attended at age 13 to confront the unsolved disappearance of her 3 cabin roommates 15 years prior. Once Emma actually arrives back at the camp, she starts to uncover cryptic clues and messages left by the girls. She has to unravel these clues in order to finally figuring out what happened to them. This novel was so fast paced and kept me guessing the entire time. It led me on a wild goose chase. Emma herself is constantly following different leads and theories, and I was following right along with her. Every time I thought I had it figured out, a new clue appeared and it was right back to square one. With about 5 pages left in the book, I thought everything was nicely wrapped up. I was completely wrong! Another crazy plot twist left me stunned. This was a perfect mystery with a crazy fun plot twist! My only complaint was that at times there was this weird time warp happening- where things happened exactly as they did in the past. Even down to what the camp served for dinner. I am not sure if all of this was intentional, but it took away from the believability at times.

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay ✰✰✰✰

After Halloween, I was really feeling the witchy vibes. Although the plot took a little while to pick-up for me, I loved the mood of this book. Witch grimoires, talking ravens, crafting spells, reading tea leaves- all of this created such an irresistible mood. The 1880s (Gilded Age) New York was the perfect setting for this story- gas lamps, horse-drawn carriages, bowler hats, parasols, plus the growing urbanization of the city. Adelaide, Beatrice, and Eleanor, our witches, are powerful women, but still, have to hide their talents for fear of persecution. With the start of Women’s Suffrage at this time, their little tea shop becomes a safe haven for all women seeking change. The overall message of the story was a really powerful one about what women can accomplish when they come together.

So that is my November Wrap-Up! Here’s to some more cozy holiday reads in December! Happy reading! 

-Erin

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Reviews

Review: ARC of Tiffany Blues ~ by M.J. Rose

Tiffany Blue Book Image

Review: ARC of Tiffany Blues ~ by M.J. Rose

336 pages ~ Genre: Historical Fiction, 1920s  

August 7th, 2018 ~ Atria Books

My Rating: 3/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

New York, 1924. Twenty-four-year-old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall. But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson. As the summer shimmers on, the competition between artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, as series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her. Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculpture, and Oliver, Jenny pushed her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne follows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night wehn Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moments, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my review of the novel.

This book had so many elements that I adore in a book, which is why I jumped at the chance to read it and review it. The 1920s, the art world, the forbidden romance, and murder mystery….these are all genres that I gravitate towards. While I really loved the aesthetic and the atmosphere of this book, there were elements of the writing and plot that just didn’t work for me. I definitely enjoyed parts of it, but the mystery element just never seemed to deliver. Below were some high points and low points for me:

High Points

  • Detailed descriptions of Mr. Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall- as a giant history nerd, I really loved the long lovely, detailed descriptions of the Hall and the art within it. This also made the connection to the real life Tiffany and his history, even stronger. I am sure that some people may find these sections a little long, but I just ate them up.
  • Likewise, the description of the setting was fascinating. The combination of the Jazz Age and New York City, made for a stunning backdrop to this story.
  • I really loved Jenny as a heroine- she has a dark and interesting past that makes her very intriguing. Every new piece of her past that came to light made me want to get to know her more and more. I became very attached to Jenny and wanted her to overcome her trauma.
  • Description of the artistic process- I am not an artists, but I am fascinated by the artistic process, so getting these detailed descriptions that really showed Jenny’s passion was a huge bonus for me.

Low Points

  • At the times the writing was just confusing. I wasn’t sure if sometime was happening in the present or if it was a flashback in Jenny’s memory. This became very distracting.
  • Plot was very slow moving- Even though I loved all of the detailed description of the art, the artistic process, and the setting- I just kept waiting for the plot to really take off. I wanted to stay with the mystery and find out more about Jenny’s past. When I did finally get to the bottom of the mystery it felt rushed and slapped together kind of haphazardly. I really hate saying this, because I loved so much of the detail in this book, but I really wanted an engage plot, too. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t a balance between the two here.

Overall, I would still recommend this to someone who loves the 1920s art world, and is looking for a more atmospheric read with lots of detail, but maybe not necessarily something that is very fast paced and suspenseful. Thank you so much to the published and to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi