Peanut: Book geek

Meet Me in the Margins - Melissa Ferguson

Title: Meet Me in the Margins
Author: Melissa Ferguson
Genre: Chick-lit, ARC
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 320
Date read: October, 2021

Savannah Cade is a low-level editor at Pennington Publishing, a prestigious publisher producing only the highest of highbrow titles. And while editing the latest edition of The Anthology of Medieval Didactic Poetry may be her day job, she has two secrets she’s hiding.

One: She’s writing a romance novel.

Two: She’s discovered the Book Nook—a secret room in the publishing house where she finds inspiration for her “lowbrow” hobby.

After leaving her manuscript behind one afternoon, she returns to the nook only to discover someone has written notes in the margins. Savannah’s first response to the criticism is defensive, but events transpire that force her to admit that she needs the help of this shadowy editor after all. As the notes take a turn for the romantic, and as Savannah’s madcap life gets more complicated than ever, she uses the process of elimination to identify her mysterious editor—only to discover that what she truly wants and what she should want just might not be the same.

I was sent this book in return for an honest review, and I'm so glad. This is chick-lit when it's at its best. Fun, engaging, relatable and with a bunch of book talk that meant it was right up my aisle.

Other people have made the comparison to "You've Got Mail" and for good reason. While the two stories are very different, the general idea (falling in love with somebody through writing) and atmosphere is very much the same. However, "You've Got Mail" is one of my all-time favourite movies, so that's just an added bonus in my book... no pun intended.

While some of the characters were perhaps a tad one-dimensional, others were very relatable, and I really grew to love Savannah as she tried to navigate the waters of a new boss and attempting to edit her own manuscript, while still having to live up to her family's expectations.

Of course I had seen the ending a mile off, but that's to be expected with this genre. I still enjoyed the ride very much, and really appreciated that it didn't fall into some of the same traps that books like this often do (being vague to avoid spoilers...).

At times laugh-out-loud funny, this was one of the best new reads of the year. I'll definitely want to add this to my physical library as well.
Peanut: Book geek

Oddball - Sarah Andersen

Title: Oddball (Sarah's Scribbles #4)
Author: Sarah Andersen
Genre: Graphic novel, ARC
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 105
Date read: October, 2021

The fourth book in the enormously popular graphic novel series, the latest collection of Sarah's Scribbles comics explores the evils of procrastination, the trials of the creative process, the cuteness of kittens, and the beauty of not caring about your appearance as much as you did when you were younger.

Just as good as the other Sarah's Scribbles graphic novels. I like that she's returned to the format of the first book, and even though I recognized many of the comics from her instagram, as always there were some new ones as well to read and enjoy. Besides, they are all so relatable, so it was an enjoyable revisit with the ones I already knew as well.

Will definitely be purchasing this, when it comes out as a physical copy, so I can add it to my collection.

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC.
Peanut: Book geek

The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness

Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 352 pages
Date read: October, 2021

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

By far the best book I've read by Patrick Ness so far. The writing style took some getting used to, but once I realized what he was doing with the chapter summaries I was absolutely blown away by the brilliant way he managed to tell two stories at the same time - making the "ordinary" plot the more important one.

It's definitely YA, but it's good YA, and I really enjoyed both the characters and the plot. Mikey and Henna especially came across as very real, and liked how Mikey had separate and distinct relationships with Henna, Jared and Mel.

Really good "coming of age" story.
Peanut: Book geek

The Little Lady Agency - Hester Browne

Title: The Little Lady Agency
Author: Hester Browne
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~14hrs
Date read: September, 2021

When sweet, naive Melissa seeks a job with her old Home Economics teacher she is half- way through the interview before it dawns on her that Mrs McKinnon isn't interested in her cookery skills, but is in fact running an escort agency. Melissa panics...but she needs the cash. What harm can providing lonely men with stimulating conversation over dinner do? More exciting still, she'll get to wear a disguise...

The things I liked, I really liked - the things I didn't like, I REALLY didn't like.

Basically it had three glaring issues that mostly ruined it for me.
- Melissa's dad. He was a two-dimensional tyrant with absolutely NO redeeming qualities. He was mean just for the sake of being mean - no explanation ever made, no come-uppance ever received. He was so unpleasant to read about and all scenes involving him basically made me want to put down the book and not pick it up again. I have seldom wanted to hit a man that much.
- Melissa's insecurity. She's awesome as Honey and a total pushover as anybody else.
- Melissa's way of handling Jonathan. I always get so frustrated when the main conflict of a book only occurs because of miscommunication. I don't know if it's lazy writing, but it's certainly annoying writing.

The narrator was generally good. Her normal voice was pleasant and easy to listen to, but some of the voices she put on for some of the minor characters got a bit grating.

All in all, not a bad book, but not one I would recommend either.
Peanut: Book geek

Outer Order, Inner Calm - Gretchen Rubin

Title: Outer Order, Inner Calm
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 165
Date read: August, 2021

For most of us, outer order contributes to inner calm. In a new book packed with more than one hundred concrete ideas, she helps us create the order and organization that can make our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.

In the context of a happy life, a messy desk or crowded coat closet is a trivial problem–yet Gretchen Rubin has found that getting control of the stuff of life makes us feel more in control of our lives generally. By getting rid of things we don’t use, don’t need, or don’t love, as well as things that don’t work, don’t fit, or don’t suit, we free our mind (and our shelves) for what we truly value.

In this trim book filled with insights, strategies, and sometimes surprising tips, Gretchen tackles the key challenges of creating outer order, by explaining how to “Make Choices,” “Create Order,” “Know Yourself–and Others,” “Cultivate Helpful Habits,” and, of course, “Add Beauty.”

A very quick read - it's only 165 pages, and pages with very little writing on them at that. It was a decent enough book, and made some solid recommendations, but for somebody who's read both "The Happiness Project" and "Happier at Home" as well as FlyLady's "Sink Reflections" and Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up", there was very little new information.
Peanut: Book geek

Fairytales from Verania - T.J. Klune

Title: Fairytales from Verania
Author: T.J. Klune
Genre: Fantasy, short stories
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 329
Date read: August, 2021

In the opening story—The Unicorn in the Tower—Gary is a princess trapped in a stone tower by the evil Lady Tina DeSilva, who plans on sacrificing him on the first full moon after his eighteenth birthday. With help from his friends—a bird named Tiggy and a mangy weasel called Sam—Gary interviews potential suitors to rescue him and love him above all others, as he so rightly deserves.

The Unicorn in the Tower is followed by Sam and the Beanstalk, wherein a poor farm boy exchanges his family’s bull for magical beans and the promise of treasure in the sky. But when he climbs the beanstalk, Sam finds things are not as he expected them to be.

The Good Boy sees Todd and his immaculate ears taking center stage. When Todd’s father dies, he leaves his son in the care of his evil stepmother and two stepsiblings who live to make Todd’s life a living hell. It’s not until the household receives an invitation to attend a ball for the mysterious Sir that Todd begins to wish for a life beyond what he knows.

David’s Dragon, the final—and only canonical—tale, is set a thousand years before the rise of the Dark wizard Myrin. It begins simply: a lonely boy in a small village befriends a dragon. What follows is a story of love and sacrifice, hope and heartbreak, and what it means to earn your place amongst the stars.

Welcome back to Verania. It’s going to be a hell of a ride.

I really wanted to love this, but just... didn't :-/ It was okay, but didn't come close to TJ Klune's usual standards.

The Unicorn in the Tower, 3 stars
Stereotypical Gary-as-Rapunzel. I liked this one alright. It was pretty over the top in places, but very on-point for Gary.

Sam and the Beanstalk, 4 stars
Probably my favourite of the lot. It emphasized the friendship between Gary, Sam, Tiggy and Ryan, which has always been my favourite part of the series. For a moment there, I was afraid for the ending, but it turned out alright :-)

The Good Boy, 2 stars
Todd-as-Cinderella. I really didn't care for evil!Gary and the dom/sub plot wasn't my cup of tea either. Also, it was just too long! Could easily have been shortened some.

David's Dragon, 1.5 stars
Though it was the only completely original story of the lot, it was also my least favourite :-( The sense of dread and foreboding that followed me for most of the story made it almost painful to read.

So a 2.6 star average.
Peanut: Book geek

Are You Watching? - Vincent Ralph

Title: Are You Watching?
Author: Vincent Ralph
Genre: Suspense, YA
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 371
Date read: August, 2021

Ten years ago, Jess's mother was murdered by the Magpie Man. She was the first of his victims but not the last.
Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she's using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.

A bit slow to start, but once I got properly into it, I couldn't put it down. Definitely a page-turner, and thanks to the very short chapters (which annoys me sometimes, but it worked okay here), it was really easy to just keep reading.

The plot was not at all believable, but it stayed true to its own universe, so I can accept it as just being AU. There were some twists and turns I had NOT seen ahead of time - and also some twists and turns I was certain would come, but never did. It kept me guessing to the very end, which - even if it did come a bit quickly all of a sudden - made sure to tie everything up nicely.

Kinda on the more graphic / scary side for a YA, but not too bad.
Peanut: Book geek

The Road Trip - Beth O'Leary

Title: The Road Trip
Author: Beth O'Leary
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~10.5hrs
Date read: August, 2021

Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend's wedding in the north of Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.

But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie's ex, Dylan, who she's avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they've totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with three hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can't avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship...

Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly... is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?

I rounded down my rating on goodreads (they don't do half-stars), because it really was just okay.

Which is a shame - I've liked both of the other books I've read by Beth O'Leary - but there was nothing at all feel-good about this novel, and it is just not romantic at all to read about the start of a relationship when you KNOW from the set-out that they're going to eventually break up. (Of course I also knew they'd get back together again - it's that kind of book). Reading about a relationship falling apart is just unpleasant.

I did like (most of) the characters, I loved the friendship between Addie and Debbie, but the plot itself? No thanks.
Peanut: Book geek

Sentinel - Audrey Faye

Title: Sentinel (Ghost Mountain Wolf Shifters #8)
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 208
Date read: August, 2021

Newborns change everything—even when they haven’t arrived yet.

The birth of a baby raven is expected any day now, and Ghost Mountain Pack is kind of falling apart, or at least their dominants are. A tiny ball of fluff calls on some of their most powerful instincts—and slices into their deepest wounds.

Rio knows it’s his job as sentinel to walk alongside those dominants as they struggle.

Which would be easier if he wasn’t one of them.

Every bit as good as I've come to expect from this series. I really enjoyed seeing Kelsey and Grandpa Cleve come to their own in this one (well.... mostly Cleve. Kelsey has known who she was since the very first book!). I do think Audrey Faye has started changing viewpoint a bit too often though. I really like that we get to hear from several shifters, but wish she would stay with each one for a bit longer.
Peanut: Book geek

Tempests and Slaughter - Tamora Pierce

Title: Tempests and Slaughter
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~13hrs
Date read: July, 2021

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

After a false start several years ago, I had no troubles finishing this the second time around. My initial impression still stands though - Tamora Pierce peaked with her "Protector of the Small" series, and her books since then haven't been as good.

That said, "Tempests and Slaughter" is closer to her old standards. She's brilliant at seeing the atmosphere in a "school" environment, and this is no exception. I enjoyed reading about Arram's classes and how he grew as a mage. It was bittersweet to read about his friendship with Ozorne though, as I know how that turns out from the "Wild Magic" quartet.