The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

glass hotel

official blurb

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I’ve only read Station Eleven by Mandel, but I loved it. In fact it is probably my most widely recommended books.  However if you’re reading this review and you’re still in the throws of coronavirus- now is not the time to read Station Eleven.  But feel free to still go over and read my review of it! 🙂

Now let’s get started with this review.  I decided to format this one a little bit differently because why the heck not.  Here are some of my notes I wrote down while reading this beautifully written book.  You can decide when you read them, what my rating should be. Because I still haven’t totally decided what this book should be rated.

  • 55 pages in and it’s really confusing. There are seemingly random numbers on the pages throughout the chapters. The chapters are written from multiple characters perspectives. There are a ton of names to keep track of and I can’t remember them all. I keep flipping back and forth to see if it’s a name from a previous section and it rarely is.
  • There’s a girl named Vincent. Who names a girl Vincent? It has taken me at least 50 pages to remember that Vincent is a girl.
  • Over 90 pages in and no real plot yet. They keep alluding to the plot but not much of anything has happened. I’m enjoying the journey though.
  • I don’t know anything about pyramid schemes other than people making jokes about Young Living. Which I think is more MLM but honestly don’t know. After reading this I’m still completely confused about it. I think it needed to be actually explained to the laymen better. Page 205, an actual explanation! Yay! (And I actually even followed the explanation with “newborn mom brain” working against me!)
  • Page 240 before the storyline of “the woman who disappeared off of the boat.” This whole time I thought it was referring to… well to someone else (I don’t want to spoil that) It wasn’t…
  • I think this book should have a different title. Maybe Ghost Stories.  You decide what you think when you finish it and let me know what you think the title should be.  I feel like Ghost Stories is a pretty strong contender.

I would recommend reading this on a Kindle. Like station eleven, only in writing style, there are roughly 7000 names in this book. Okay, you got me, not 7000. I have a flair for the dramatic. But there were a lot of names. And if you have a memory like mine, a Kindle will be your best friend for the X-ray feature.

After finishing this book I have NO idea what to rate it. I didn’t feel fulfilled with the ending and it actually seemed like it was a two different stories written in the same book. That’s not to say that the stories didn’t converge in some sense but… Not enough for it to make sense to me.

I HAVE to mention that there are little easter eggs in this book if you’ve read her other books.  I’ve only read Station Eleven, like I mentioned, but I’ve heard that some characters from her other books made their way into this one as well.  That’s right, keep your eyes peeled and you might see some of your old friends from Station Eleven in this one!  

When I say I really enjoyed the writing style, I mean it!  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

-“Why were the righteous so often irritating?”
-“One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid.”
-“It’s always possible to fail to know the people closest to us.”
-“That’s what money gives you: the freedom to stop thinking about money”
-“Very few people who go to the wilderness actually want to experience the wilderness. Almost no one.”

Okay it’s time for me to rate this thing.  I know I won’t be widely recommending it like Station Eleven.  It really had a slow but steady pace… which in fairness I think quite a lot of adult fiction has this pacing.  It seemed like different stories were all jammed into one book.  The characters weren’t very likable (I think this is a trend for Mandel that she writes “realistic” characters.  I put that in quotes because I hope that if you met me in real life I would be likable and I am also a real person.  So with all of that in mind… I think I’m going to officially rate it:

3.75 our of 5

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Christmas On Mistletoe Lane by Annie Rains

arc review

christmas on mistletoe lane

official blurb
Christmas is coming to the North Carolina mountains, and the air is fresh and crisp and filled with promise. After the devastating loss of her job in the big city, the small town of Sweetwater Springs feels like heaven to Kaitlyn Russo. She’s inherited her grandparents’ charming (if a little rundown) bed and breakfast, and it’s just the new lease on life she needs. Only “heaven” comes with a catch – and a handsome and completely infuriating one at that. After what he hopes will be a quick trip, Mitch Hargrove wants nothing more than to put his hometown in the rearview mirror. But his plans get derailed when he learns he’s now half-owner of the Sweetwater B&B. The fact that he’s given only two months to make the inn a success is a huge problem, but it’s his pretty – and incredibly headstrong – partner who’s the real challenge. With the holiday fast approaching and a grand re-opening looming, will Mitch keep running from the ghosts of Christmas past . . . or will he realize the true gift he’s been given?

3.5 stars

🔥🔥 Steam Level 

 

what i liked
This book had total hallmark vibes and I am here for it!  If you’re expecting a hallmark movie including a dog at some point then you’re in luck.  This book ties up things quickly and makes you want to visit a super cute Bed and Breakfast in a small town.  It even had me brainstorming about what couples in love I would name my hypothetical b&b rooms after!  (In case you were wondering I was thinking Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly!)  This was the first Christmas book that I ever made it through and enjoyed.  I don’t know why those tend to fall short for me even though I LOVE Christmas.  This one was a hit in my book!

what i didn't like
At the height of drama in the book, I felt like our heroine let our hero off the hook really quickly. Also it should be noted that the epilogue was maximum cheese level.

trigger warnings: car accident, sexual harassment/ sexual assault (beginning of chapter 5)

while reading you should
Make: Chocolate chip cookies
Watch: The Hallmark Channel’s trilogy: All of my heart, All of my heart: The Wedding, All of my heart: Inn love.
Watch: I mean while you’re at it you might as well use that Netflix subscription you’re paying for and watch Falling Inn Love

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Oopsie Daisy by Iris Morland

oopsie daisy

arc review

official blurb
You know when you meet your new professor, and he ends up being the same man you had a one-night stand with three months ago? Okay, maybe not. Let me explain. I hadn’t intended to sleep with my professor. I might be known as the impulsive, prankster daughter in my family, but I’m not insane. I just wanted to have some fun in Ireland at my sister’s wedding, and maybe lose my virginity, too. When I met Lochlann Gallagher at a pub one night, I couldn’t resist him. He was hot, Irish, and entirely set on seducing me. One unforgettable night under the sheets with him, and my V-card went up in smoke. Well, that night had one itty bitty consequence because Lochlann totally made my eggo preggo. And if this story isn’t crazy enough, Lochlann is not just my baby daddy: he’s now my professor and my advisor for grad school. Somehow we have to figure out a way not to reveal this rapidly gestating secret while resisting the explosive attraction between us.Except there’s just one more complication to this story: I think I’m totally falling for my baby daddy. Oopsie daisy.

 

3.5 stars
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
I read this book very quickly and laughed quite a few times throughout. A lot of double chuckles happening… You know, “haha!” I really enjoyed the writing style, it was conversational – and that’s my favorite kind of narrator!  I feel like I could read one thousand books with this kind of narrator and not get tired of it.

what i didn't like
The storyline became a bit stressful to me at times, because of the whole secret baby. That involved some secret keeping, and some poor communication. Being pregnant right now with my third, there were some pregnancy inconsistencies that were obvious to me but would probably not be obvious to the everyday reader. Overall the novel was too steamy/dirty talky for me, but it is marketed as a steamy romantic comedy!

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His Royal Highness by R.S. Grey

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arc review

3.5 stars

🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

official blurb
I’ve spent eight years wishing I’d fall out of love with Derek Knightley. Blowing out birthday candles, chasing after shooting stars, making it rain spare change into mall fountains—every time it’s the same wish: forget about DerekBut the day he walks back into my life, I realize there are two things time has yet to soften: my feelings for him and his chiseled jawline. It’s infuriating that my heart still races when he walks into a room. I refuse to fall prey to old unrequited love, so I decide the less I’m around him, the better. Avoidance is key. Unfortunately, Derek isn’t going to make it easy. As a teenager, I would have crawled on my hands and knees to attract his attention. Now I can’t seem to escape it. I’m not sure why he’s bothering. He’s not just out of my league—he’s out of my tax bracket. As the sole heir to the Knightley Company, he’s as close to American royalty as you can get. As for me, I’m just a part-time princess at Knightley’s flagship magical theme park. I spend my days playing make-believe, but Derek has no use for fairytales. His unwavering confidence makes it clear he thinks I’ll surrender in the end. He’s just biding his time. Making me sweat.  His Royal Highness always gets what he wants. And he wants me.

what i liked
This book featured a slow burn, which I am a big fan of! I love a slow burn! I think the first steamy scene was well into the 60%.
I think going into this book it’s helpful to know it’s a romdrom.  Well in my estimate it is anyways.
I read this book really quickly, as I do with all of R.S. Grey’s books! I was finished in less than 24 hours with two toddlers and a baby on the way.  So that is in the pro list for me, for sure!
Probably my favorite part about the book was that it really put you into the world of amusement park princess.   (Similar to how you felt like a you really were immersed in Well Met!)  Have you ever thought about how the actors move around the amusement park? Or how much goes into those parades?!  I loved the whole experience!

what i didn't like
I really didn’t laugh much in this book and a few times thought… Wow I’m only that percent in, huh?  Again, if I would’ve gone into this book as a romdrom I would’ve been better off I think.
I didn’t exactly bond with our heroine of the novel.  She’s pretty stuck in her life and everyone can see that, but it takes the whole book to see some changes.  That was hard for me to read about.  You know how I feel about my characters having a lot of gumption!
There is a 10 year age gap trope in this book!  Age gaps are perhaps my least favorite trope.  But if you love an age gap trope, this one was done really well and this book will be for you!

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Stud Muffin (Donner Bakery #2) by Jiffy Kate

20190718_DB02_Stud Muffin_Kate_KDP_FINAL

 

arc review

 

official blurb
It’s hard to get revenge without getting a rap sheet. After Tempest Cassidy walks in on her husband banging her high school nemesis, her whole world gets turned upside down. She goes from being known as the Duchess of Muffins to the town crazy. Her new MO: revenge. Eventually, Tempest grows weary being arrested. Yet what choice does she have? If she’s not angry, then she’s simply . . . sad. Just as she decides to get her life back on track, in walks Cage Erickson, the new bouncer at the local strip club. He’s scary-handsome and the polar opposite of her ex. She’s attracted to him, but she’s not looking for a rebound. He’s attracted to her, but he’s not looking for a serious relationship. So, they agree to be friends. But when lines get blurred in the friend zone, will they both get burned? Or will it be a TKO?

3 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level (I had a hard time deciding between 4 and 5 steam level here if that helps anyone!)

 

what i liked
I liked our leading lady, Tempest, a lot and her struggles were real. I felt her anger and identified with her quick temper. I mean I’ve never been in jail or burned someone’s clothes in my driveway, so I guess identify is a strong word. But I was so angry with her and her situation that I felt like I could identify with her.
I liked getting to see more of Hank in this book. You also get some Jenn overlap (Tempest works at one of Jenn’s bakeries!). This bakery book (compared to the first one) featured a lot more baking and it made me want to make ALL of the cupcakes!!

what i didn't like
Let’s talk about our leading man. Cage. Cage, Cage, Cage… I didn’t love his chapters. He had a repetitive mindset. His sexual innuendos got old. Like really old.  I could start a sentence and roll my eyes until I got a headache.  It just seemed like I could have removed quite a few of his chapters and still have gotten the gist of the story.
My biggest problem was that Tempest still seemed to be pretty darn attached and hurting from her first love while still realizing she was in love with someone else.  Someone could tell me this is realistic but even if it is, I didn’t like reading about it that way.

Overall, it was a quick read in the SmartyPants Romance series!

 

while reading you should
Listen to: Loretta Lynn
Bake: cupcakes
Do- turn down the invitation for your high school reunion. Seriously… Nothing good will come from going.

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Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

royal holiday

official blurb
Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality. Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling. Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?

my blurb!
A romance featuring an older couple, the holidays, and a trip abroad. (This book is the fourth in a series but can be read as a standalone novel).

arc review

3 out of 5
 🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
I read this book quickly.  When a book is three stars, I think this needs to be stated. Because usually three stars mean the book was just okay- but it wasn’t bad enough to make me put the book down and pick up something else!
This book makes you crave scones and want to travel to England (maybe even over the holidays!) It gave me a lot of Hallmark Movie vibes. (Which you know, to me, is a major plus because I love a good Hallmark Movie).
The main couple was in their 50s, and I’ve never read a romance novel where the leads were that “old” – I thought that was really cool!

what i didn't like
There were some major repetitive bits in this book- like Vivian’s job description and what she will be doing soon.  To the point where I wondered if they were going to cut it all out of the final copy (being this is an advanced readers copy, you don’t know what will make it into the finished version of the book). AND if they did cut it all out, would the book end up being a lot shorter?
The book felt really formulaic to me.  No surprises, very predictable.
I could never picturing Malcolm with an accent for some reason, maybe my head doesn’t naturally read with an accent even though I know it should be there! OR maybe he didn’t have enough random phrases that felt British to me.
I never laughed out loud while reading this book, so I wouldn’t consider it a romcom, simply a light holiday romance.

Shall we tackle the steam level?  In the words of Rory Gilmore, “let’s shall!”  It was a 3 steam level but overall description was minimal. But if 🍆 is involved then a 3 it must be!

when to read
This book is perfect to read over any wintery/cold month! But preferably over the holidays up to New Years!

while reading you should
Watch- The Holiday
Listen to- The Holiday Soundtrack (it’s one I listen to ALL the time!)
Do- check in with your mom!
Eat – scones!

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Baking Me Crazy (Donner Bakery #1) by Karla Sorensen

baking me crazy

official blurb
I’m Levi Buchanan, and until five years ago, I thought the legend of my family’s curse was a load of crazy, Southern nonsense. No curse can make you fall in love at first sight. No curse can force a true, deep, passionate, all-consuming love that will haunt you all the days of your life. Then I met Jocelyn Abernathy and I realized how completely wrong I was. The problem is, Jocelyn guards her feelings like well-armed soldier. She’s the most beautiful, stubborn, infuriating woman I’ve ever met. Every time she talks, I want to kiss the living daylights out of her. But I can’t. Because when we met, she didn’t need true love. She needed a best friend. And that’s what I’ve been to her… for five years. But when Jocelyn meets a handsome stranger her first day working at Donner Bakery and she lets him buy her a dill pickle cupcake, I realize with ominous regret that I may have missed my window with my best friend. If I can’t get her to see past our friendship, my new curse may be to watch the love of my life move on with someone else.

my blurb!
A story of a “frelationship” where one person is finally ready to change the rules.

 

arc review

3.5 stars
🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Ah! My first book in the Penny-verse!  Don’t know what I mean? Well, Penny Reid (who you’ve read me ranting and raving about with her Knitting in the City series and her Winston Brothers series) has agreed to let other authors write books based in the world she created!  This is the first of the books to come out (I think they’re all classified as Smartypants Romances) and I was so excited to get my hands on it!
It was so fun to get little glimpses of characters I love – but the overlap was pretty minimal.  Nonetheless even the mention of places I have in my head from the other book is still exciting to me.
Levi, our main hero, also had chapters from his perspective and I loved those! He was really likable and made you root for him.  Seriously, I was team Levi from the first chapter I read from him.
Let’s talk about how romance books are the most inclusive books ever.  Want to find a genre that you can see yourself in? Well, look no further than romance! In this case our heroine, Jocelyn, is in a wheelchair.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the entire book the main character is in a wheelchair.  Three cheers for inclusivity!
There were some characters mentioned that I can’t wait to see again, or find out what their stories are! I read this book within a week and enjoyed my time with it.  If you’re a fan of the Penny-verse you will enjoy this book!

what i didn't like
I had a hard time bonding with the heroine in this book. Everyone seemed to love her but she was prickly and not prickly lovable to me. Maybe more on the side of drama and bitchy.  I know that’s a strong word but it’s the word that came to mind multiple times while reading the chapters from Jocelyn’s perspective.
I mentioned loving the chapters from Levi’s perspective. And I did! But it should be noted…the way that he wooed her I thought could’ve been even better.  I didn’t have a moment while reading where I thought, “I wish could be wooed this way!”
I would’ve loved to have even more baking scenes in this book, especially based off of the title. It seemed like Levi’s mom (a side character) might have been the biggest baker in the book!

Again, I think that Penny fans will really enjoy this book, but I didn’t laugh out loud, or swoon greatly so it won’t make any must-read lists for me.

while reading you should
Do: Bake bread
Go: try a new flavor of cupcake at a local bakery (maybe not pickle though)
Listen to: My Best Friend by Tim Mcgraw

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