The Inheritance Games
The Inheritance Games #1
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
September 1, 2020
March 30 - April 4, 2023
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why—or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man's touch—and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he's determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather's last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
If you’ve seen the movie Knives Out, The Inheritance Games is a little like that. This book released about a year after the movie, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she was inspired by the film. It’s absolutely not a carbon copy knock off though. In fact, I liked the book better than the movie.
Teenager Avery inherits like, a bajillion dollars, from a random old man she’s never met named Tobias Hawthorne. Not only did he give her his money, house, and most of his worldly possessions, he all but disinherited his own children and grandchildren!
The stipulation of her inheritance? She must live in the estate she’s inherited for one full year. The catch? None of Hawthorne’s family, who live there, are to be evicted…unless given good cause.
Let the games begin.
Going from living in her car to being thrown into a world of excess and luxury, Avery must navigate her new surroundings (they say Hawthorne added a new room or wing to the house every year!) and watch her back, all while trying to figure out why she was left this fortune, and could it have anything to do with her dead mother?
Living in the house with her are Hawthorne’s four grandsons, each one displaying varying degrees of hostility toward her. Listening to the audiobook, I’m not going to lie, they were fairly interchangeable to me. I’m hoping that changes with books 2 and 3. This did make me wish I’d been reading the ebook or print book, but alas… I’m a slow reader and am committed to reading my NetGalley e-ARCs, I can’t spend that “eyeball reading” time on other books!
Overall, despite my getting the grandsons confused, I really enjoyed this book. I did wonder how this would end, knowing there are 2 more books to come. I hate books that end abruptly with no satisfying conclusion. This one ended beautifully. There was enough information revealed to satisfy me (for now) while also making new revelations/opening new questions to make me come back for book 2. I absolutely recommend this book to fans of YA books.
March was sort of light on reviewed books, but I actually spent a chunk of it reading a huge 100k+ book submission for the indie publishing house I work for, Fire & Ice YA Books, which ate up a good amount of my lunchtime reading.
Currently, I’m working my way through my NetGalley backlog (I wish I could read quicker!) I have a ways before the next book is published so I can work on some of the titles with release dates I missed, so that’s something!
At the time of this posting I am reading: – Lucky by Jackie Collins (Print) – Throwback by Maurene Goo (E-ARC) …and that’s it! I finished my audiobook (Big Boned by Meg Cabot) today and am waiting for one of my library holds to come in, so I can start another.
And in OTHER NEWS, I’ve been re-reading my novel, Something I’m Good At, and taking notes so I can get to work on the sequel. (4 years later! Yikes!)
Home in Carolina
Sweet Magnolias #5
June 28, 2016
March 28 - 30, 2023
There's no place like home, especially if it's Serenity, South Carolina. For Annie Sullivan, though, the homecoming is bittersweet. She'd always envisioned a life there with her childhood best friend, Tyler Townsend. But Ty's betrayal has cost her the family and the future they'd once planned.
For Ty, losing Annie was heartbreaking. Still, he can't imagine life without the three-year-old son whose mother left him for Ty to raise. Ty wants it all—Annie, his child and the future he'd dreamed about—and he's back home in Serenity to fight for it. But getting Annie to forgive and forget may be the hardest challenge he's ever faced. With the stakes so high, this is one game he can't afford to lose.
The Sweet Magnolia’s is a series of stand alone romance novels with different characters in the small town of Serenity, South Carolina. Home in Carolina is Annie’s story.
We first met Annie in the original trilogy, especially book 2, A Slice of Heaven, which was her mom, Dana Sue’s book. Annie was just a teen then, but now she’s all grown up with a career as a sports therapist working at the spa her mom and her mom’s best friends own and run.
Enter Tyler Townsend. Her childhood best friend-turned love of her life-turned ex. While Annie was in college and Ty was on the road as a big time baseball player, he cheated on her. (He claims they weren’t “officially together” at the time, but I think there was some poor communication back then. I definitely got some Friends “We were on a break!” vibes.)
After suffering an injury, Ty is back in town and doing his physical therapy in the spa’s gym in the evenings. Ty could do his PT anywhere, what he really wants is to win Annie back. That won’t be so easy though, because not only did Ty cheat, he got another woman pregnant and when his son’s mother left the baby outside Ty’s hotel room, he ended up raising the little boy alone. But now his baby mama is also back in the picture, and she wants custody of the little boy she abandoned. When Annie sees Ty with his baby mama, it just opens old woulds and pours salt right inside.
Historically, with this series anyway, I don’t think the author does a great job with sub-plots, but I really liked the subplot in this book. While Annie and Ty are dealing with their drama and feelings for one another, Annie’s childhood friend Sarah is back in town, running from a bad marriage. I loved Sarah’s subplot, I thought it was interwoven with Annie’s perfectly.
What I didn’t like was how things wrapped up. I glanced at my library app and realized I was in the final minute of the book. I was shocked. Things were settled, but I didn’t feel like they were settled completely.
If you’ve read the first books in the series, you may as well continue with this one. It wasn’t exceptional, but it was a nice short read. That said, if you will not forgive a character who cheats, don’t bother. Skip this one and move right along.
Rich People Problems
Crazy Rich Asians #3
Contemporary | Drama
May 23, 2017
March 10 - 28, 2023
Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, is back with an uproarious new novel featuring a family driven by fortune, an ex-wife driven psychotic with jealousy, a battle royal fought through couture-gown sabotage, and the heir to one of Asia's greatest fortunes locked out of his inheritance.
When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside—but he's not alone. The entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe to stake claim to their matriarch's massive fortune. With each family member vying to inherit Tyersall Park—a trophy estate on sixty-four prime acres in the heart of Singapore—Nicholas' childhood home turns into a hotbed of backbiting and intrigue. As Su Yi's relatives fight over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu but tormented by her ex-husband—a man hell-bent on destroying Astrid's reputation and relationship. Meanwhile, Kitty Pong, married to China's second richest man, Jack Bing, still feels upstaged by her new stepdaughter, famous fashionista Colette Bing.
In this sweeping tale that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a kidnapping at Hong Kong's most elite private school to a surprise marriage proposal at an Indian palace that is caught on camera by the telephoto lenses of paparazzi, Kevin Kwan hilariously reveals the long-buried secrets of Asia's most privileged families and their rich people problems.
I listened to the audiobook of Crazy Rich Asians back in 2019, shortly after I took my long hiatus from blogging my reviews. I was convinced I listened to the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend shortly after, however upon reading the blurb for CRG right now…. I’m fairly certain I did not! WHOOPS!
So, this review must be taken with a grain of salt, as a review from someone who missed the middle book in the series, and therefor, was slightly confused most of the time.
In book 1, we follow Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young, as Nick prepares to introduce Rachel to his ridiculously rich family back in Singapore and ask her to marry him. Nick’s family is not just rich, they’re crazy rich.
Fast forward, it’s a few years down the line, and Nick’s grandmother, Su Yi, has fallen ill and isn’t expected to live long. Nick, who was always the presumed heir to her grand estate, Tyersall Park, has fallen out of favor due to his marriage to Rachel. He immediately rushes home to apologize and make amends, and is soon amidst all of his crazy rich family drama.
Let’s first talk about Eddie, Nick’s cousin who is the absolute worst. I feel so bad for his poor wife and children. He’s convinced he’s sucked up enough by staying at Su Yi’s bedside that she’s changed the will to give him the estate. He probably made the biggest impression on me in this book. Simply because everything about him is so dramatic.
Astrid, Nick’s stunningly gorgeous cousin is going through a bitter divorce and becomes embroiled in her own drama thanks to her soon-to-be ex-husband making trouble for her and her boyfriend, Charlie.
There’s also Kitty Pong, who we met in the first book as a social climbing piece of work who has since moved on to her second husband, Jack Bing, and is now stepmother to fashionista turned duchess Colette Bing. Kitty is forever trying to one-up her step-daughter.
We won’t even get into all of Su Li’s extended relatives who crawl out of the woodwork to be with her at the end!
There is literally so much going on in this book that I could barely keep up. That said, I enjoyed every second of the ride, even when I wasn’t entirely sure who I was reading about. I really think that, had I read China Rich Girlfriend, as I thought I had (D’OH!), I would’ve been able to keep up just a little better. I plan to get that audiobook from the library soon! (Maybe after I listen to all of the book holds I keep delaying because I’m listening to something else… whoops!)
Also, the epilogue was fantastic. Really wrapped everything up nicely!
In short, if you love drama and reading about the filthy rich, this is the book series for you. Absolutely read them in order. Don’t be like me. 🤦♀️
Love on the Brain
Berkley / Sphere
August 23, 2023
February 27 - March 9, 2023
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.
Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project - a literal dream come true - Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.
Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school - archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.
But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas... devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.
But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there's only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?
I absolutely adored “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood. It was utterly enchanting and I had a hard time putting it down. I put a library hold on her second book, “Love on the Brain” almost immediately after I began reading the TLH.
So, how did this one stand up? While I really enjoyed both books, I think I liked TLH just a little more than LotB. But maybe not! Both books take place in academia, LotB takes place at NASA, with an NIH neuroscientist, Bee, teaming up with a NASA engineer AKA her arch-enemy from grad school, Levi.
Bee is so excited for the opportunity to work with NASA astronauts but when she finds out who she’ll be working with she’s also annoyed. Levi was so rude to her in grad school, it was obvious he absolutely despised her!
Once Bee actually arrives at NASA, everything starts going wrong, and all signs point to Levi being the source of the problems! Bee is not surprised in the slightest.
Meanwhile, Bee, who is obsessed to an almost annoying degree with Marie Curie, has a Twitter account as Curie and other users tag her and she’ll re-tweet to bring exposure to their questions/complaints—mostly about how hard it is to be a woman in STEM. She uses her account to try to bring awareness to inequality and causes she believes in. It’s there she met a fellow STEM user with whom she became good friends. He is her confidant, the person she complains to about Levi and all her work problems. I love their relationship.
Bee has plenty of quirks (including fainting constantly) and Levi has his own little secrets Bee slowly learns as they’re forced to work together.
The side characters are also enjoyable to read about, especially Bee’s goth assistant. (In my head, she’s Aubrey Plaza.)
This book ends with a bang. When everything really goes wrong for Bee, it’s literally everything. I can’t say much more without spoilers.
Mr. & Mrs. Witch
St. Martin's Griffin
March 7, 2023
February 18 - March 10, 2023
In Mr. & Mrs. Witch, the next novel from bestselling author Gwenda Bond, a couple discovers at the altar the surprising secret identities they’ve kept from each other.
Savannah Wilde is a witch, a very powerful one—an identity that only her fellow witches know. Following a whirlwind romance that surprised herself and her family, Savvy is all set to marry the love of her life. But she isn’t the only one with a secret that needs to be kept, even from her soon-to-be husband.
Griffin Carter is a top agent for a clandestine organization that, well, used to primarily hunt witches, but now mainly tries to shut down supernatural threats their own way. He can’t wait to lay his eyes on the woman he’s about to spend the rest of his life with.
As Savvy walks down the aisle to Griffin, the wedding quickly goes from blessed day to shit show when their true identities are revealed. To say there’s bad blood between their factions is putting it mildly. Savvy and Griffin are tasked to take the other out, but when they discover a secret that could take down both of their agencies, they realize the only way to survive is to team up. With assassins hot on their trail, will Savvy and Griffin make it out alive to try again at ‘I do’?
To be honest, I struggled with this book in the beginning. The third person present tense was, throughout the entire reading, at times jarring. I’m usually fine with first person present, but third person present was just…. a lot.
As you can see, I still gave this book 4 stars, because the story was lovely. The title is what drew me to requesting an ARC of this book from NetGalley, assuming it was an intentional play on the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And it totally was.
Savvy is a witch and a member of C.R.O.N.E., an organization that uses their powers to help the ordinary, non-magical populace from the supernatural. Meanwhile, Griffon is a member of H.U.N.T.E.R, an organization of mortals who use technology to combat those same supernatural threats. Throughout time, C.R.O.N.E. and H.U.N.T.E.R. have been enemies, but the last 300 or so years have been spent in a tentative truce, each side waiting for the other to do something to bring on full war once more.
So, needless to say, when Savvy and Griffin fall in love, they keep their secret identities to themselves. Members of secret organizations aren’t known for blabbing about what they do.
And then the wedding day comes. And who should attend but the very leaders of each organization, sending what should be a blissful day into utter chaos.
The book is told alternating between Savvy and Griffon’s POVs, as well as both present day and the timeline leading from the day they meet up ’til the doomed nuptials.
This was a fun book. I really loved reading both Savvy and Griff’s POVs of their love story from the beginning, as well as the aftermath of the wedding-interrupted. I really didn’t know where the story was going, but I loved where we ended up. I can’t imagine any other ending for this tale.
My only question for the author is… will we get to read a follow up with certain other side characters?
February is a short month, but I still managed to cram 4 and a half books into the month! (Sorry, I don’t count comic strip/graphic novels as a full book because it takes significantly less time to read!)
February was a very good book month for me. Both my Five Stars were absolutely amazing. The Last Beekeeper especially blew me away, which was awesome because I requested that book from NetGalley on a whim, not having any preconceived opinions of it. Despite being nothing alike, aside from romance novels, Book Lovers gave me similar feels to The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.
Even my 3 star reads weren’t a total disappointment, I got some enjoyment or new food for thought from each of them, even if they didn’t hold my attention as well as I’d hoped.
I’m really looking forward to March now! February is going to be a tough month to follow, but I supposed it’ll all depend upon which audiobooks come in from my library holds!
At the time of writing this I am reading: – Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood (AUDIOBOOK) Can she do it again? The Love Hypothesis is going to be a tough act to follow! – Mastering The Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge (Print Book ARC) – Mr. & Mrs. Witch by Gwenda Bond (E-ARC)
Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome
Review: Fiber Fueled by Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MSCI
Non-Fiction, Health & Nutrition
Avery Publishing Group
May 12, 2020
January 22 - 24, 2023
The instant New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly bestseller
A bold new plant-based plan that challenges popular keto and paleo diets, from an award-winning gastroenterologist.
The benefits of restrictive diets like paleo and keto have been touted for more than a decade, but as renowned gastroenterologist Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, or "Dr. B," illuminates in this groundbreaking book, the explosion of studies on the microbiome makes it abundantly clear that elimination diets are in fact hazardous to our health. What studies clearly now show--and what Dr. B preaches with his patients--is that gut health is the key to boosting our metabolism, balancing our hormones, and taming the inflammation that causes a host of diseases. And the scientifically proven way to fuel our guts is with dietary fiber from an abundant variety of colorful plants.
Forget about the fiber your grandmother used to take--the cutting-edge science on fiber is incredibly exciting. As Dr. B explains, fiber energizes our gut microbes to create powerhouse postbiotics called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are essential to our health. SCFAs are scientifically proven to promote weight loss, repair leaky gut, strengthen the microbiome, optimize the immune system, reduce food sensitivities, lower cholesterol, reverse type 2 diabetes, improve brain function, and even prevent cancer. Restrictive fad diets starve the gut of the critical fiber we need, weaken the microbes, and make our system vulnerable.
As a former junk-food junkie, Dr. B knows firsthand the power of fiber to dramatically transform our health. The good news is that our guts can be trained. Fiber-rich, real foods--with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes--start working quickly and maintain your long-term health, promote weight loss, and allow you to thrive and feel great from the inside out.
With a 28-day jumpstart program with menus and more than 65 recipes, along with essential advice on food sensitivities, Fiber Fueled offers the blueprint to start turbocharging your gut for lifelong health today.
Some years ago I watched a news segment or something about a fecal transplant. Sounds gross, right? Well, for whatever reason this woman had this transplant done and after having lived her entire life at a healthy weight, and making no other lifestyle changes apart from the transplant, suddenly she put on weight. And more weight. And she didn’t know why and she was frustrated. Which led doctors to wonder, could the bacteria in her donor’s fecal matter have changed their patient in more ways than expected? Ever since then, fecal transplants and the microbiome have been in the back of my mind.
Now, if you’ve followed me or my blog at all in the last few years, you’ll know that I’ve been really interested in health, nutrition, and fitness, which led me to this book: Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome.
That’s a big title packed with promises, so does it deliver? I can’t say. But what I do know is, the basis of his claim just makes sense. While the author, Dr. Bulsiewicz, appears to be a firm advocate for veganism, he isn’t preachy about it. He uses his own anecdotal evidence from his own life in this book, how he went from a college grad student living on energy drinks and fast food, to being a young doctor working long hours and drinking endless coffee and enjoying steak dinners whenever and wherever possible, to finally meeting the woman he would eventually marry and seeing her living a plant based lifestyle and being healthier and having more energy, to starting to emulate her and feeling so much better.
The main take away from what he preaches is this: eat plants, lots of them, and often. (Which is a throw back to a book I read last summer, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan.) What Dr. Bulsiewicz adds to the argument that Pollan makes, is that the wider the variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains you eat, the healthier and more diverse your gut microbiome will be.
My own anecdotal evidence for eating healthier foods and cutting out (most) of the processed junk we all favor, is this: In 2019 I started taking my health seriously. I cut back on the breakfast cereal, take out food, processed foods from the freezer and cans, and started living mostly on chicken breasts, eggs, brown rice, fruits and veggies. (I already only drink water, so I didn’t have the easy fix of cutting out soda or juice!) and I felt so much better! I didn’t eat a wide variety though.
This book has recipes in the back. I did not try those recipes because I do not have a good relationship with food, in that I’m an extremely picky eater and afraid to try new things. That said, I have come a long way in the last 15 years, and every day is a new chance. For me though, I’m better off finding a recipe on the internet and using my best judgment about how nutritious it is.
Whew! That was a lot of word vomit. In conclusion: This is a great, easy to read book about the importance of having a healthy gut biome. If my library has more books on the topic, I will absolutely check them out in the hopes of gleaning more information.
OH! Fun fact I just remembered: Apparently you can sprinkle mustard on cooked broccoli to activate an important enzyme that fights cancer causing cells or something. Google it. Or just read this book!
Overall, this was a pretty good month for reading. All The Dangerous Things really surprised me, I still have trouble putting into words how that book hit me. All of my 4 star books were absolutely worth reading (especially Fiber Fueled, which does not yet have a review.) The 3 stars were a little harder to get through for various reason, each took me longer to read than I’d like, but each one brought me at least some enjoyment.
Sweeter Than Chocolate
January 17, 2023
January 15-30, 2023
Soon to be a Hallmark Channel original movie!!! Do the “Cupid chocolates” from Lucy’s shop really help people meet their One True Love? Dean, a TV reporter, has his doubts…
Lucy’s chocolate shop, How Sweet It Is, has been in her family for generations…along with the secret recipe for Cupid chocolates. Rumor has it that if you eat one on February 14, you’ll meet your soulmate. Lucy herself isn’t sure if it’s magic or just romantic optimism, but a family legend is at stake. Besides, with her grandmother to support and a rival bakery opening up across the street, it certainly doesn’t hurt to believe. Dean, an ambitious and skeptical TV reporter, doesn’t like the idea of a business taking advantage of romantic desperation. He doesn’t count on Lucy joining him as he tracks down and interviews couples supposedly brought together by the chocolates. Together, they find that the truth can be complicated…especially when it comes to their own hearts.
I am WOEFULLY behind on reviews, so get ready for the onslaught. Starting…. NOW! (I’ll also probably post a January recap soon… even though we’re already 10 days into February. Where does the time go??? ☠️)
Finally! FINALLY I was approved for an audiobook by NetGalley! You guys, I can DEVOUR like, 10 audiobooks in the time it takes me to read an ebook or print book. Come on NetGalley, give this girl more Audiobooks!
Okay. Enough of that. Onto the book!
Sweeter Than Chocolate is a Hallmark book, and TBH, that scared me. I thought, “Oh boy, this is going to be so unbelievably cheesy, what if I can’t read more than a page without rolling my eyes?”
Well, fellow readers, I’m happy to announce that I was so off base! This book was absolutely adorable and not at all overly cheesy.
Lucy is a woman with a good head on her shoulders. Her family has a legend about the Cupid Chocolates they make in their chocolate shop: if you eat a Cupid Chocolate you will find your true love. And the magic is strongest on Valentine’s Day. Lucy isn’t quite sure if she buys into the magic of the Cupid Chocolates, but she’s open to the possibilities of her chocolates bringing true love to her patrons.
Meanwhile, Dean is a TV news journalist sent to film a puff piece about Lucy’s Cupid Chocolates when they go viral on social media, but what he’d really love to do is create an expose about the fraud Lucy is perpetuating. Chocolates that make you fall in love? What a joke! Unfortunately for Dean, to salvage his career, he has to stick to the puff piece to show his softer side.
After a rocky start, Lucy and Dean soon become allies. But when everything starts to fall apart for Lucy, she starts to believe that the curse also associated with the magic love chocolates, is at work.
This was an adorable slow burn romance. Learning about both Lucy and Dean was so interesting. Dean especially had interesting character growth. But watching Lucy learn to let go and accept the success of the chocolates was heartwarming.
I definitely recommend this adorable contemporary romance to anyone… and not just around Valentine’s Day!