#Blogtober Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

 

Blogtober“As she struggled against me, suddenly all I could think of was my mother and how she’d shown me that living a life in fear was no way to live at all. It was a choice.”

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

webber

 

signature5da8e3b9ed56d

This was the perfect book to kick off my September reading. I have been reading quite a few books which follow the same plot line of this story, and have thoroughly enjoyed them all.*woman returns home and inherits xxx* usually a bed and breakfast, but in Anna Kate, our heroine of this novel’s case, a cafe.

“Once upon a time there was a family of Celtic women with healing hands and giving hearts, who knew the value of the art and used its abundance to heal, to soothe, to comfort. Doing so filled their sounds with peace and happiness. Those women held a secret.”

The cafe and specifically the blackbird pie is a staple in the small town of Wicklow, Alabama. Anna Kate never really spent any time in Wicklow, Alabama growing up but when she returns, I don’t think she quite grasped how important her family cafe meant to the community. The magical realism in the story kicks in early in the book when we get glimpses of her grandmother’s storytelling and throughout the book when we get scenes with Anna Kate and the blackbirds. I love what the birds symbolize and how much the importance of love and the magic of love are honed in, in the book.

Grief. This book really touches on how a tragic accident. One moment in time. One incident. How it can affect everyone who has now experienced a loss. We see how grief affects who you become. We see how grief affects relationships and a lot of this book in its own magical way, is a good look at healing.

There is a lot going on in this story, and the story itself is set in a small Alabama town which I felt was a character itself. I love when setting plays a huge part in the story and Wicklow definitely did. You truly get the small town vibe: everybody knows everybody’s business, when there is trouble someone is coming by to help and the southern charm is irresistible.

cafe mood board

Overall, I loved it. I already know it is a story I will be recommending for a very long time. I rated it 5/5 stars. Add this one to your autumn tbr if it’s not on there already.

B5EF10B8C3AF2A7E7A5CADAA74704D8C

 

Imperfect Match by Melanie Harlow & Corinne Michaels

Imperfect Match by Melanie Harlow and Corinne Michaels

Published April 26, 2019 by Love & Olives Ink

Average Goodreads Rating of 4.12 Stars

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis:

Rule number one for a professional matchmaker?

Don’t fall in love with your client.

I screwed that up when I fell for my best friend, Reid Fortino. He’s gorgeous, successful, and sexy as hell. I figured it would be easy to find him a match—and save the family business at the same time.

But the more time I spend attempting to find the perfect girl, the more I realize how much I want him for my own. What’s the harm if we give in for just one night?

I should have known that would never be enough.

Now I’m on the verge of losing my job and my heart.

We were an imperfect match from the start, but I don’t know how to let him go.

Processed with VSCO with au5 preset

My Thoughts:

I’m at the point where Melanie Harlow can just do no wrong, so I was excited to see that she not only had a new release coming out, but a new release that she co-authored with Corinne Michaels who I am new to.

I knew immediately after reading the synopsis to this book that I had to read it and that I’d love it. Imperfect Match was fun, it was sexy as hell and it also dealt with some pretty heavy, important topics as well..I love when a romance can balance different aspects and tie everything together nicely in the end.

“I’ve always dreamed of children, marriage, and the picture-perfect happily ever after, with a little chaos thrown in. The problem? I have the worst taste in men ever. I’ll think a guy is great, enjoy the first date, and then he asks for anal or something ridiculous on the second date…and boom, single again. Yet another example of how much I suck at matchmaking…I can’t even find myself someone worthy of a second date.”

Friends to lovers is casually making it’s way to the top of my favorite tropes list. There are just so many ways authors can be creative and spin it. I like how in Imperfect Match, Willow and Reid have been best friends for a few years now. I caught on pretty quickly that Reid, who may have a reputation for being a bit of a player, has secretly always had a thing for Willow though. With the hopes of taking over her mother’s matchmaking business, there arises this whole idea of if Willow can set Reid up with a girl he likes and can fall in love with, within 6 months, then the business is hers. I liked that this plan to find the perfect girl for her bestie leads to Willow realizing that there may be something a little bit more there as far as she is concerned as well. Reid was always pretty much crazy about her, but it really took some time for Willow.

“She picks up her head and looks down at me. Can she feel how fast and hard my heart is beating? For a moment, I feel like I can’t breathe, like I’m suffocating, like there’s not enough oxygen in the room and it’s affecting my brain, which must be true because there’s no other explanation for what I do next. I kiss her.”

I really like Reid and it is easy to get a little nervous that he’s perfect in the best friend zone..so why ruin it? He’s also pretty stubborn for a while. Willow really, really wants to have kids and for a big part of the story has an appointment with a fertility clinic. Reid however, is against having kids. With the crappy upbringing he’s had, he wants no parts in having children because he doesn’t think he knows how to be a good dad. I really enjoyed seeing how the authors explored just how real, and long lasting, the way you’re raised can affect you, your thought processes and the decisions you make. Seeing Reid have to deal with and overcome his family issues added a more serious element to the story that I thought fit perfectly.

Imperfect Match

“Please understand, you’re the best friend I’ve ever had, and I don’t want to lose that. I need you on my side for the rest of my life, and if I open myself up to you, and you decide I’m not what you want, I’ll never recover. It’s not worth the risk.”

I think this story did a fantastic job of capturing the nervousness and hesitation behind taking that leap with someone you’re already close to but also that moment you realize you already know so much about the person and all the reasons you do fit. I overall really loved this book. It was fun, perfect for spring. I loved the side characters *and am secretly hoping maybe we get Aspen and Leo’s romance, I just feel like they belong together!* I highly recommend checking it out.

B5EF10B8C3AF2A7E7A5CADAA74704D8C

 

 

Should’ve DNF’d..

They Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo

Published May 14, 2019 by Gallery Books

Average Goodreads Rating: 3.75 Stars

My Rating: 2 Stars

 

Synopsis:

All’s fair in love and business.

The de la Rosa family and their wedding planning business have been creating happily ever afters in the Washington, DC area for years, making even the most difficult bride’s day a fairytale. But when their parents announce their retirement, the sisters—Marisol, Janelyn, and Pearl—are determined to take over the business themselves.

But the sisters quickly discover that the wedding business isn’t all rings and roses. There are brides whose moods can change at the drop of a hat; grooms who want to control every part of the process; and couples who argue until their big day. As emotions run high, the de la Rosa sisters quickly realize one thing: even when disaster strikes—whether it’s a wardrobe malfunction or a snowmageddon in the middle of a spring wedding—they’ll always have each other.

Perfect for fans of the witty and engaging novels of Amy E. Reichert and Susan Mallery, The Key to Happily Ever After is a fresh romantic comedy that celebrates the crucial and profound power of sisterhood.

Processed with VSCO with ss1 preset

My Thoughts:

It’s not you, it’s me. The timing was just all wrong. Let it go and if it’s meant to be, it’ll find it’s way back to you. All of these are crap lies that at some point or another you may have been told or witnessed a friend relaying a story to you about how it was told to them. Well if you have never..you’re witness to it today, as you’re reading this post. These are lies I told myself as I finished The Key to Happily Ever After today by Tif Marcelo which really what it boiled down to was simple: I didn’t like this book.

This book had a lot going for it. Diverse cast of characters..I’ll never tire of heroines who are brown skinned getting their chance to shine. Ever. A mixed race love interest. A culture that is not my own. The story of the complex relationship between sisters..with the added in stressor of running a business together and that business being wedding planners which is a beast in itself! This book had a lot to it that I was convinced going in that would just make me love this story, but I was sadly wrong.

Really for this review there isn’t much to say other than that I was so bored reading this book. A lot of why I was bored with this book I really believe has to do with how it is marketed.  This book is all over the place right now and it’s really advertised as this cute romantic comedy but the bigger focus in the book is the relationship between sisters. That’s great! But that’s also Not what I began reading this book to read about.

Processed with VSCO with l4 preset

Had the book been advertised as a women’s fiction novel with a dash of romance I would’ve been fine with that because I would’ve known what to expect. Being a mood reader, I have to be in the mood for women’s fiction. I wasn’t in the mood for this story, this type of story. I think a lot can be chucked up to timing. Had I read this at a time where my mind was yearning for the type of story,  I can totally see myself having loved it but for right now, that’s not the case.

Sadly, I was so bored while reading this book, I have very little recollection as to what happened. I realized this at about 57% of the way into the book and should’ve just DNF’d it but I was questioning myself…“Have I been easily distracted?” “Have I been zoning out?” So I tried sitting on the couch, headphones on and following along with my physical copy.  Nope! Didn’t make a difference.

I recently listened to Tif Marcelo’s interview on The Wicked Wallflowers Club Podcast and I think hearing her interview and learning how amazing of a person, how sweet of a woman, she is also played a huge part in my excitement for this book and wanting to love it. But we can’t love them all, right? I will keep an eye out for whatever she puts out and am rooting for her..who knows, maybe I’ll revisit this one again and love it. For now though, it just wasn’t for me.

B5EF10B8C3AF2A7E7A5CADAA74704D8C

 

#AhotMess 3 Star Read

No Two Ways by Chi You Rodriguez

Published April 27, 2019

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.00 Stars

My Rating: 3 Stars

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

 

Synopsis:

AJ Felipe makes the most of being the head information security engineer for a local law firm with the help of her loyal team of nerds. Their job isn’t really the most fun, but things take a turn when one of her junior security engineers decides to nominate her for a makeover show.

Enter Jackie Niño, the one-night stand AJ didn’t expect to meet again—who also happens to be the makeup artist who’s going to get her all dolled up on national television.

More complications arise after the episode is aired and another ghost from her past comes back to haunt her: Axel Herrera, the ex-boyfriend who still thinks she left him because she’s a lesbian.

Spoiler alert: She isn’t.

Being bisexual is hard enough. How will AJ navigate new feelings while finding closure for old heartaches?

 

My Thoughts:

Oh where to start. Okay, I don’t know why, but I had high hopes for No Two Ways. I have had pretty good luck with shorter books so far this year. It’s authored by a woman of color, follows a woman of color and has a whole cast of diversity that was so refreshing and awesome and just what I wanted at the time.

Long story short though, there were a few things I liked about this book but a whole LOT that I couldn’t get down with.

Okay, AJ, our heroine and Jackie hook up. Jackie gets super pissed and offended afterwards when she learns that AJ is bisexual. AJ works as an information security officer with a team of people she loves and one day learns that her team has nominated her, submitted her, to be on this reality make over type show. Well guess what dear friends? Take a wild guess as to who her makeup artist is for the show..If you guessed Jackie, then you guessed right! So bam! Now these two have sort of reconnected.

So the show airs and BOOM, enter blast from the past, Axel..AJ’s ex boyfriend who believes that she broke up with him because she is a lesbian. The summary to this book made me feel like Axel entering the picture was really going shake things up. Wrong! All Axel did was bring him and AJ the “closure,” they needed. It added no value to the story. It didn’t make the story any more complicated. There is a scene where AJ and Axel are basically at His mom’s birthday party and I was super anxious for some drama to happen *how dare you break my son’s heart all those years ago* type drama..and NOTHING FREAKING HAPPENS! Yet, Axel is the least of our problems.

My biggest issue was AJ being a chump and Jackie being my least favorite person in the world. Sorry, not sorry.

Processed with VSCO with l1 preset

Let me just share with you some of the crap that comes out of Jackie’s mouth:

“You’d be so perfect if you weren’t bi. Like, I imagine you wearing one of my shirts sometimes, you know? Standing by my bed in the morning. You’d drown in any of my clothes and it’s so cute to think about, my heart hurts.”

I seriously have no idea why it wasn’t this exact moment that AJ told Jackie to kick rocks and to dismiss herself. And this is after Jackie asks her, “Why did you have to be biiiii”

Next is a text message from good ol’ Jackie to AJ. This text comes after the two link up and have sex in the bathroom of a bar that they coincidentally both end up at: AJ by herself and Jackie with a group of friends. After their bathroom sexcapades, Jackie goes back to her group and AJ sits at a bar. Some guy comes and sits next to her and next thing we know she’s going home..but Jackie, *insecure much* flips out on her!

“Am I just some straight girl fantasy to you? Are all the women you’ve slept with just fantasies you needed to fulfill? You know, AJ, I kinda can’t resist you, But watching you with that dude at the bar made my stomach turn, you know? Like, what are you even doing?”

Now as someone who doesn’t identify as bisexual I am by no means claiming to understand what living as someone who does, must be like. In the beginning of this book I could totally understand and feel the frustration AJ felt when it came to having to explain herself. People not understanding..I mean reading their frustration was frustrating to me for her. I got it. But also with just being a decent human being, I thought Jackie was kind of a shitty person and I thought AJ was dumb for going around and around in circles with her. Like AJ is obviously an intelligent person, but when it came to Jackie her book smarts and street smarts just weren’t leveling up for me. I want to see more heroines that stick up for themselves. I wanted AJ to freaking own her sexuality but it felt like she just sat idly by waiting for Jackie to either get with it or be on her way. Which fine, it worked I guess.. but in the end I felt like she settled. 

Jackie admits that she read some articles and educated herself..she tells AJ, “I read about you.” So AJ is all like, “I’m not famous enough for there to be anything out there on me,” but what Jackie really meant was, she read some stuff on bisexuality and Ta-Da things are up hill from here friends! *eye rolling*

I would’ve been very happy with Jackie taking the initiative to educate herself and be a better human but this book is less than 200 pages so obviously with it being short, there is the risk of certain characters not really being fleshed out. That was the case with Jackie *and Axel* but hey, he’s literally in the book for 2.5 seconds. Had I maybe gotten a few chapters from Jackie’s perspective, maybe the turn around and the happily ever after at the ending would’ve been believable, but I didn’t and it wasn’t. What should’ve been a happy moment because yay for happily ever afters, was one roll of the eyes after another. I was rooting for the female/female love story but hell I would’ve chosen Axel in this case and he was honestly, no better! AJ could’ve ended up alone and I would’ve been happy.

I think if you’re going to write a book and advertise it as female/female but yet have one of the females be biphobic, you really need to showcase their growth as a character and the work they put in to understand and do better. I don’t think it’s fair to write a passage where they say I DID THIS and then things are magically better. Like hell no, especially with all of the pretty bad things Jackie said to AJ throughout the book..I felt she deserved to prove herself a bit more.

In the end I gave this one 3 stars because although the bad outweighed the good by a long shot..there was some good. I am so happy this book followed an intelligent woman who not only has this cool job you don’t read about much, but was also the Boss. I loved that this followed a woman of color in her native country and I loved AJ’s family. Love love Loved them. I found myself anticipating more scenes with them. Both blood family and friends who became family.

I will continue to keep a lookout for more stories by this author. I’m rooting for her, but this one was just okay to me.

 

B5EF10B8C3AF2A7E7A5CADAA74704D8C

 

 

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

It is a gloomy Friday evening as I’m lounging on my sofa typing this post and I deserve this chill! Life is great at the moment, and my Friday mood was made even better because I finished A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole which I have been reading for the past few days..

A Princess in Theory is Book 1 in Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series

Published February 27, 2018 by Avon

Average Goodreads Rating of 3.84 Stars on Goodreads

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Processed with VSCO with l1 preset

 

Synopsis:

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

 

My Thoughts:

“I feel like my entire life has been me trying to keep everything together, but right now I want to fall apart. And I want you to be the guy that makes me.”

Read This Book! I totally understand now why this book has been so hyped up. The hype this book receives is a huge part of the reason it took me so long to read it (finally)! I was nervous. I was a bit intimidated.

I honestly just want to share a few reasons why I think you should jump on the bandwagon like I finally did, and pick A Princess In Theory up.

  • Royalty romances are a pretty big deal, but when was the last time you picked one up where the Princess was a woman of color betrothed to an African Prince? I’ll wait. If royalty romances are your jam, I dare you to read this one that steps away from the norm and features two people of color. *triple dog dare*
  • Naledi, our heroine in A Princess in Theory grew up an orphan in New York City. Alyssa Cole wrote Naledi’s character so well. She is such a complex woman. There are so many layers to her. One minute she frustrated the hell out of me, the next I wanted to be her best friend and the next she had me totally confused. The big issue with Naledi is all of her life she was passed from one family to the next. She never felt as though anyone *chose* her. Alyssa Cole really captured the repercussions of that and showcased what life as an adult who experienced that can be like. Because of this Naledi doesn’t expect any of the relationships she has with people to be anything long term. She always has the mentality basically of, “why would they choose you?”
  • Thabiso! Prince Thabiso finds himself humbled real quick during his visit to NYC. I enjoyed the fake identity trope while it lasted. Seeing how much Thabiso enjoyed his time as Jamal really made me put into perspective how much work being a royal must be.
  • Likotsi. Okay, had I not already read Once Ghosted, Twice Shy I’d be begging for Likotsi to have a novel of her own but as I do..I read her novella before even reading this book. Likotsi is Thabiso’s assistance and I love her. She is so much more technologically advanced than basically everyone and I was here for it.
  • I think this romance did a fantastic job of looking at identity from the perspective of a woman of color who basically had no idea who she was thanks to her crappy upbringing. Naledi grew up the way she did, then finds herself on the complete opposite of the spectrum.
  • It shows what greed and hatred can push people to do.
  • Naledi is so smart and hustles her butt off. Even she, as smart as she is though, takes one co-workers crap one too many times before finally standing up for herself. And when she did, she got a Hell Yeah from me as I read it.
  • The romance was also very complicated. Naledi is Thabiso’s betrothed which he has known all of his life since they were kids. So it is literally them meeting as adults and rather than convincing her to marry him because she is supposed to, he has to do things her way. And I think the icing on the cake for me with this one is that Naledi didn’t have to leave her life behind because of Thabiso. She worked very hard to get where she is so seeing her not have to leave everything she worked for behind was great to see.

 

B5EF10B8C3AF2A7E7A5CADAA74704D8C