Reviews

ARC Review: Twice in a Blue Moon ~ by Christina Lauren

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Review: ARC of Twice in a Blue Moon ~ by Christina Lauren 

Gallery Books

October 22, 2019 – Adult Romantic-Comedy 

My Rating: 4/5 

Goodreads Description:

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

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Note: I received an ARC of Twice in a Blue Moon from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are all mine. 

3edaa2d8-9887-495f-ac9a-d2f90de31223My Thoughts: 

I am a huge fan of Christina Lauren’s romance novels. They have never disappointed me, and Twice in a Blue Moon was no exception. While it was not my favorite of theirs, I still really enjoyed it and had tons of fun while reading it. 

Highlights: 

  • Tate and Sam’s whirlwind romance lasts a short two weeks while they are on vacation in London. Even though this is such a short period of time, the story really captured how, when you are young and falling in love for the first time, two weeks can seem like an eternity. CLo really managed to capture what it is like to experience this overwhelming and intense emotion for the first time, and how first love never really fades. 
  • Sam was the first person to ever really know Tate and the first person to encourage her to go after her dreams. In such a short period of time, they manage to help each other figure out who they are and who they want to become as adults. Because of this, their intense connection is even more profound. After all, isn’t this what love is really all about? 
  • The connection to the love story between Luther & Robert/Ellen & Richard was beautifully done. Through the filming of the fictional movie, Milkweed, the reader not only gets to see Tate and Sam’s love story unfold, but also the love story of Sam’s Grandparents. This added a really heartwarming connection and wisdom about love that both Tate and Sam learn from.

Drawback:

  • The only drawback for me was that it ended rather abruptly. I really think that the book needs an epilogue where the authors sum up all of the loose threads. For example, what happened at Tate’s press release? How was the movie received? What did Tate and Sam end up doing with their fame? These were all things that I think most readers will also want answers to. 

Thank you so much Gallery Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read this early edition in exchange for an honest review. Twice in a Blue Moon is out October 22, 2019! 

For more information on Christina Lauren and their books, check them out on Goodreads 

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

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Reviews

Review: The Kiss Quotient ~ by Helen Hoang

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Review: The Kiss Quotient ~ by Helen Hoang

336 pages ~ Contemporary Romance   

June 5, 2018 ~ Berkley

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

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My Thoughts:  

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said?! Ok, I’ll give it a try…..

Like so many people, I found Stella and Michael’s story to be super sweet, funny, sexy, heartwarming, but also really inspiring. It was difficult at first watching both of these characters beat up on themselves for their perceived “flaws.” They’re both such genuine, honest, and loveable people, but I wanted them to love themselves as much as I loved them. It was frustrating at times that they didn’t realize their own awesomeness. However, this frustration ultimately gave way to inspiration when I saw them come together to battle for each other and for their own dreams.

This book will restore your faith in the healing power of love!

Here are a few highlights for me:

  • It was so interesting and insightful to read a book from an autistic perceptive, written by an autistic author. This really helped me better understand the struggles and the unique way people on the spectrum see the world. Getting inside Stella’s head- her work obsession, her daily routine, her approach to love and communication- this was all so fascinating and was by far my favorite element of the book
  • The sex scenes were actually about love and connection – there was no weird power play or struggle for dominance, everything is very tender and romantic
  • Michael’s family – I really loved the connection to Michael’s mom, sisters, grandma, and cousins. Not only were they all adorable and hilarious, but it was also a really cool look into a Vietnamese/American family. This also highlighted the cultural difference between Michael and Stella and how beautifully they were able to come together.  

Overall, I really loved this book. The only downfall for me was that I found it difficult at times to relate to Stella. However, this did not deter from my enjoyment or my appreciation for Stella as a character. If you are interested in other books that center around autistic characters, The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves is also wonderful.

Happy Reading!!

For more information on Helen Hoang and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ACR- Passion on Park Ave. ~ by Lauren Layne

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Review: Passion on Park Avenue (The Central park Pact Vol. 1) ~ by Lauren Layne  

288 pages (Paperback) ~ Romance/Woman’s Fiction   

May 28th, 2019 ~ Gallery Books

My Rating: 3/5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strong-minded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

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Note: I received a digital ARC of Passion on Park Avenue from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Gallery Books & NetGalley.

img_1883My Thoughts:

Passion on Park Avenue was a super fun, sexy read. I read it in one sitting and while I did find fault with a few things, overall, I enjoyed it.

Highlights for me:

  • The sexy banter between Naomi and Oliver had me laughing out loud through the entire book. The sexual tension and chemistry between the two made this the highlight of the book for me.
  • I also really loved the New York scenes and the juxtaposition between Park Ave and the Bronx. I’m always a sucker for a good New York setting.
  • Oliver was just adorable. He was smart, kind, devoted to his family, and loyal. I found myself relating more to him in this book than to Naomi, which usually never happens for me.
  • The “real life” struggles that Oliver and Naomi have to face- caring for sick parents, etc. was a refreshing departure from typical romance novels.

What I didn’t love:

  • The three friends, Claire, Naomi, and Audrey, become friends really quickly and in a super unrealistic way. I didn’t mind the unrealistic part because I’m not really looking for reality when I read, but the set up of their friendship could have been done better. They seemed to just randomly stumble into each other in Central Park, discover each other’s identities and decide “hey, we should be friends.” This was really hard to swallow. I think that the friendship between the three women could have been better set up and established. It just felt so awkward and forced.
  • There was a constant mention of fashion labels. I get that the author is trying to establish that Naomi has money, but the constant mention of “Chloe” bag and “Chanel” sunglasses became so distracting.
  • The beginning starts with a death and there were completely crass mentions of death and hell by the main character that really turned me off.
  • There were a lot of inconsistencies in the story- ie: characters who had supposedly never meet knew more than they should about each other. There was also a lot of repetition. The main characters having the same observations again and again – I hope some of these errors get worked out before the final edition is published.
  • A lot of cliches – for example- Naomi states that she wants to wear red high heels because that is the opposite of what a “good girl” would wear. What!? Who says “good girls” don’t wear red high heels?
  • Naomi was immature and annoying at times. There were times when I really liked her, but also times when I found her super annoying.
  • Steamy scenes did not deliver enough steam. There was a lot of build up, but very little delivery.

Overall, I enjoyed it- It was a nice palette cleanser and a fun distraction. This story is a perfect vacation or beach read! It comes out May 28th! Just in time was Summer!

For more information on Lauren Layne and her books, check her out on Goodreads 

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC- The Girl He Used to Know ~ by Tracey Garvis Graves

Review: ARC- The Girl He Used to Know ~ by Tracey Garvis Graves

304 pages (Hardcover) ~ Literary Fiction/Romance   

April 2nd, 2019 ~ St. Martin’s Press

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

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My Thoughts:  

I read The Girl I Used to Know in one sitting. These two characters captured my heart from the start and would not let go. At first, it seemed to be following the typical trope of a college couple reuniting after years apart, but this story became anything but typical. Reading this book was an emotional, heartwarming, and inspiring experience for me.

The writing is really smart and thoughtful. The story alternates between Annika’s and Jonathan’s perspectives and between two different time periods-  both characters have their own unique voice that is true to their character. Their voices change and grow over the years and really shows the full arc of their characters. Getting to read the unique perspective and understanding of Annika- who is on the autism spectrum- really endeared me toward her. It was really heartwarming to see her grow over the course of the novel and command more agency in her own life. I absolutely fell in love with her character- crying when she was struggling and rooting for her success. It was heartbreaking to read, but also really refreshing and inspiring at the same time.

“I remember feeling stunned when Tina explained that most people draw these conclusions instantaneously, without any extra analysis at all. How amazing but also heartbreaking, because I’ll never be one of them.”Annika

  • The support that Annika receives from those that love her- her parents, Janice, her brother, and Jonathan-  really shows that it is not about those that try to bring you down for your differences, but the precious few that love you because of your differences.

“I’m trying to explain that the way you navigate the world will never be more important than the type of person you are.” Jonathan

My only complaint was that the climax and resolution both seemed a little rushed. I wanted the long, super sappy, drawn-out ending, but I was still really happy with the ending overall. This story has a powerful and heartwarming message that I think will resonate with everyone. It hits bookstores on April 2nd!!

For more information on Tracey Garvis Graves and her books, check her out on Goodreads.

Note: I received an E-ARC of The Girl He Used to Know from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC of The Unhoneymooners by ~ Christina Lauren

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Review: ARC of The Unhoneymooners ~ by Christina Lauren

Pages 416 Paperback ~ Gallery Books

May 14, 2019 – Adult Romantic-Comedy

My Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Description:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

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Note: I received an ARC of The Unhoneymooners from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are all mine.

img_1761My Thoughts:

This was my third Christina Lauren book and it was hands down my favorite. These two authors have really outdone themselves with this book. It is absolutely hilarious, I had a smile plastered on my face the entire time, the writing is smart and insightful, and I could not put the book down for two days straight. Both Olive and Ethan completely captured my heart, and I did not want to let them go.

Here are a few of my highlights:

  • Christina & Lauren do such an amazing job with their characters. Both Olive and Ethan are fully fleshed out characters with their own dreams, struggles, personality quirks, sense of humor, family issues, and personal issues that they are each trying to work through individually. Many romantic comedy novels do not always give a complete picture of who these individuals are apart from the relationship, but that is never the case with Christina Lauren, and definitely not the case in The Unhoneymooners. Olive is adorable, awkward, and a little salty at times, which is something that I really related to, but she is also so caring, thoughtful, and loyal. Ethan is really insightful and honest in a way that felt true to his character. It was so much fun watching them fall in love and overcome their “pride and prejudice” moment of misunderstanding.
  • The Banter – because this is an “enemies-to-lovers” story, there is some seriously epic banter between Olive and Ethan. These two are so funny and smart that I was laughing the entire time. I can only imagine the fun that these authors had when they were co-writing this book.
  • The theme of luck/fate vs. choice- Olive struggles with the idea of luck at the start of the novel and the authors do such a great job of weaving this theme throughout everything that she experiences with her family, with Ethan, and with her job. Olive’s changing perception of luck vs. choices made this more than just a romance novel for me. It is also a journey of self-realization and understanding.
  • Realistic nature of family/relationships: Both Ethan and Olive are fiercely devoted to their siblings which is a quality that is really admirable in both of them. However, when these sibling relationships start to come between them, their loyalty to each other is tested. I thought that this portion of the plot was really realistically portrayed. Ethan and Olive have found something special, but it is often difficult to reconcile new love with family responsibility and expectation. None of these issues felt forced or exaggerated. It just felt very natural and honest, and something that we can all relate to. 

If you enjoy a good rom-com in between some more “serious” reads, I can’t recommend this book enough. It is funny, heartwarming, honest, sexy, and just an overall fun escape. The Unhoneymooners comes out May 14th (just in time for summer vacation)!

Thank you so much Gallery Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read this early edition. I absolutely loved it!!

For more information on Christina Lauren and their books, check them out on Goodreads & Instagram. You can also check out my reviews of two of their other books: Roomies & Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC of The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

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Review: The Beast’s Heart ~ by Leife Shallcross

Paperback 416 pages ~ YA fantasy

Paperback February 2019 ~ Ace Publishing

My Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★

Goodreads Description:

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse. _____________________________________________________________________________

Note: I was provided with an ARC of The Beast’s Heart through NetGalley and Berkley/Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:  

I have always loved classic fairy tale retellings, Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites, and The Beast’s Heart definitely did justice to the amazing story. There was so much to love here so I will start with what I loved most.

img_1529What I loved:

  • The POV of the Beast was, of course, my favorite part of this book. It added a really fresh take on a story that has been told so many times. I really liked the connection to the Beast’s family and his legacy/heritage through the portrait of his Grandmother. Also, the legacy of his father that he desperately wanted to escape. This made the Beast a really well rounded, fully fleshed-out, human character rather than just a mythical fairy tale figure.
  • The magic, the land/house, and invisible servants- I really loved that the magic of the land and the house was connected to Isabeau’s arrival. However, I loved that in this version, Isabeau stays of her own accord. The Beast never wants her to stay with him because of her potential to break the curse. He is not even aware of this possibility until at least halfway into the book. Instead, he is interested in her as a person, and their conversations reflect this mutual interest. I also appreciated that Shallcross didn’t attempt to recreate the servants as enchanted tea-cups, and teapots, etc. Instead, they are invisible forces tied to the house and land that seem to be orchestrating things the best they can.
  • Writing Style- the writing was reminiscent of an old fashion classic – think Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters- I really liked this style and thought that it added another interesting layer to the story.

What I didn’t love:

  • My biggest complaint with the book was that there wasn’t much in the way of conflict between the Beast and Isabeau. While I loved that Isabeau was given a choice in whether she stayed with the Beast or not, this really caused a lack of tension in their relationship. This story is typically one of unlikely friendship/love, but there was nothing really unlikely here. They share mutual respect and admiration right from the beginning. They are considerate and polite to each other and Isabeau never once seems frightened of the Beast. They seem to really like each other, if not love, pretty early on. Therefore, there is no conflict or suspense. 
  • While there is no tension between the Beast and Isabeau, there is tension between the sisters and their father/the Beast and Isabeau’s father. However, this tension is also very simply resolved. I never felt like the book reached any point of tension or suspense. When it did, it was resolved rather quickly. 
  • As much as I loved the connection to the Beast’s family legacy, I really wanted more. I would have loved some flashbacks that showed the relationship between him and his Grandmother/him and his father, rather than just being told what their relationships were like. It’s called the Beast’s Heart, and I really wanted details and experiences that showed what shaped his heart other than Isabeau. All the time spend watching Isabeau’s family would have been better spent diving deeper into the Beast’s character because he was really the most interesting part of the novel. 

For more information on Leife Shallcross and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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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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