Mar 4, 2024

Building the Book Pile #442

Welcome to Building the Book Pile!

Hello Readers, Bloggers, and Awesome people! 

Hi there friends. How is it March?! And how did the weekend jus fly right by us?!

I hope you week last week was wonderful and that this one brings you joy :) 
It is starting to get warmer here and I am ALLL for it! 
Starting to think about putting up the greenhouse and starting seeds for the veggie garden. 

What have you been up to? Any good Books lately?

Coming up on the Blog

Early Reader Review: The Boyfriend Wish by Swati Teerdhala (YA)

Monthly Re-Cap & TBR (Feb/March)

Early Reader Review: Empire of the Damned by Jay Kristoff (Adult)

Early Reader Review: The Someday Daughter by Ellen O'Clover (YA)

Books Received Recently...  

What have you been reading?  Leave a comment for me.

Happy Reading!

Mar 1, 2024

Recent Reads: New Witch on the Block by Louisa West

New Witch on the Block by Louisa West  
Series: Midlife in Mosswood #1
Publisher: Kindle Edition
Publication Date:  June 30, 2020

Format: Ebook
Source: KU/ Freebie


Goodreads Synopsis: 
She thought she was running away from her past, not catching up with it.

Rosemary Bell just wants to live a quiet, happy life and raise her daughter as far away from her toxic ex-husband as she can get. But when they move into a decrepit cottage in the woods of Mosswood, Georgia, Rosie realises her life will never be simple.

A gang of meddling neighborhood do-gooders want to run her out of town. The vicious laundromat machines keep eating her spare change. Not to mention her buff Irish stalker who insists that he’s a Witch King and that it’s her royal destiny to be his Queen.

And to top it all off, strange things keep happening around Rosie when she least expects it...

She could deal with it all, but her ex won’t rest until he tracks her down. When her ability to protect her daughter is threatened, Rosie shows them all that nobody messes with the new witch on the block.

Practical Magic meets Bridget Jones’ Diary in this fun, heart-warming short novel about starting over, putting family first, and finding love when you least expect it.
Sadly, I did not jive with this read. I wanted to DNF it but pushed through to see if it improved.  I normally love a withcy themed book regardless of the plot and characters but this one just didn't hit right on a few levels for me. It was a freebie on Kindle Unlimited and I think I was actaully able to 'buy it' for free on a Stuff your Kindle day. 

Plot overview - Rosemary is running from her abusive biker husband to live with her daughter in a new small town. This is the first book in a series. Rosemary finds out she is a witch from a weird guy living in the woods in a trailer and that she is his queen... it was very red-flag. 

I found the ploy messy overall. It wasn't great explanations, there was really no basis for witches and powers and that aspect was never fleshed out really. Otherwise the world was very normal and the drama experienced was very 'normal small town'. 

It seemed as if the author wanted a cozy- witch origin story but then was like 'oh I need drama and she is running from a bad guy'...  
She lost me pretty quickly when Rosemary took a cab to her location - I was a bit confused. I know that even getting away is a feat for women in abusive situations but she was so scared of being found and it seemed unlikely that a cabride distance would be enough space to keep him away...

There were a lot of plot holes like this. Characters were also a bit one-dimensional and the world build was non-existant. For was was dubbed as a Practical Magic alternative there was not enought magic build up at all. 

All that to say, I wasn't really into it. It was just OK, nothing great/ unique.

Feb 28, 2024

Recent Reads: Kawaii Cafe Bubble Tea: Classic, Fun, and Refreshing Boba Drinks to Make at Home by Stacey Kwong and Beyah del Mundo

Source: From Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.

Kawaii Cafe Bubble Tea: Classic, Fun, and Refreshing Boba Drinks to Make at Home by Stacey Kwong and Beyah del Mundo
Publisher: Rock Point
Publication Date:  January 9, 2024

Format: Ebook


Goodreads Synopsis: 
Satisfy your bubble tea cravings at home (and affordably)! Kawaii Café  Bubble Tea  includes over 60 easy-to-follow recipes, beautifully illustrated in a fun anime style.

No matter if you call it boba or bubble tea , this addictive drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s has taken the world by storm, with shops popping up on every corner and lines out all their doors.

Kawaii Café Bubble Tea covers all the basics, from brewing tea and making your own tapioca balls (aka boba) to handcrafting sweeteners, syrups, toppings, and more with all-natural ingredients and no corn syrup. Each recipe includes exciting anime-style illustrations and instructions for customizing to your preferred level of sweetness.

Learn how to make:
Milk Teas (lactose-free Thai, black milk, and green milk teas)
Fruit Teas (strawberry, mango, watermelon, kiwi, pineapple, pomelo, and cucumber teas)
Specialty Drinks (with special ingredients including coconut milk, almond butter, taro root, and ice cream)

Recipes include:
Pomelo Slushie (green or black tea with Pomelo Jam and Simple Syrup)
Lady Bug (black tea with Strawberry Syrup and Watermelon Syrup)
Area 51 (green tea with Cucumber Syrup and Kiwi Syrup)
Mint Tea Lemon Mojito (mint tea with Lemon Syrup, Simple Syrup, and mint leaves)
Pink Panda (milk, Strawberry Syrup, and cookies-and-cream ice cream)

With yummy recipes, down-to-earth writing, and a delightful design, Kawaii Café  Bubble Tea  is the ultimate guide to this global phenomenon.
Such cute aka. kawaii cover art - I was immediately sold and wanted to read all about bubble tea. This is a bubble tea....cook book of sorts. It is so much more than just a bunch of recipes though and it was far more intense than expected. 

'Reading' a cookbook for review is weird - and I haven't made any of the recipes so I cannot to that point. Overall, the book had a lot of seemingly great recipes and a lot of helpful information to share. 

The authors talk about boba, syrups, bases, james, homemade thai tea, and a pink drink variation called a Piglet. The illustration from the cover and its adorable nature continues throughout - watercolor style with detail of the drinks and components.

The notes they include are so thoughtful in the process of bubble tea making and helpful. They also note that pre-made is not the end of the world, which as a non-Bubble tea maker normally, that was a nice touch. Readers could be really intimidated by this cookbook, but they do a good job trying to keep it a little light and giving you a wealth of information.  

So fun, such a happy read and viewing experience. 

Feb 26, 2024

Building the Book Pile #442

Welcome to Building the Book Pile!

Hello Readers, Bloggers, and Awesome people! 

A bit of a late book pile.. happy MONDAY!
Another week into 2024... I spent it reading Empire of the Damned and finished it. SO GOOD. Review coming soon.

I picked up World of Warcraft again and have been playing Dragon Isles a bit. 

I was a little sick at the beginning of the week, the weather has been crazy here - 30/50/20/45... the fluxuations have been very annoying. Otherwise it was a normal week, work home repeat.

Coming up on the Blog

Recent Reads: Kawaii Café Bubble Tea: Classic, Fun, and Refreshing Boba Drinks to Make at Home by Stacey Kwong; Beyah del Mundo (Cookbook)

Recent Reads: New Witch on the Block by Louisa West (Adult)

Books Received Recently...  

Wild About You by Kaitlyn Hill  - from Netgalley and the publisher for review.

What have you been reading?  Leave a comment for me.

Happy Reading!

Feb 23, 2024

Early Reader Review: Avocado Magic by Taltal Levi

Source: From the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.

Avocado Magic by Taltal Levi  Publisher: NorthSouth Books
Publication Date:  March 5, 2024

Format: Ebook


Goodreads Synopsis: 
Avocado seeds and slow growing! A young girl’s impatience turns to wonder as she and her avocado tree gradually change and grow in this story inspired by Israeli artist Taltal Levi’s childhood.

Ellie is sulking—she celebrated her birthday yesterday under the old avocado tree. But she’s not even a little bit taller today! Dad tells Ellie a secret. She is like the pit of an avocado, he explains, small and full of magic. Together they put an avocado seed in a glass of water by the window and watch as both Ellie and her avocado plant grow, take root, and eventually bring new life.

In Taltal Levi’s native country Israel, avocados are ubiquitous and plucked straight from the tree. In her third book, Taltal Levi uses warm, earthy colors to tell a personal yet universal story about the magic of growth.

Includes instructions for growing your own avocado tree!
A girl named Ellie is upset about not growing fast enough so her dad has her learn about patience through the growth of an avocado seed. They patiently water it and watch it grow - very slowly. 

This was a cute story and picture book, focusing on growing up, patience, and that sometimes things just take time. I liked how it all came together, with teh age progression of Ellie and her avocado seed/plant/ tree. The book was vibrant and fun. Illustraions were flowing and really pretty.

I think that as she ages with the avocado and grows up, some nuance might be lost on some younger readers that she has a lovely tree for her kids... and that she has fully grown up.  Maybe not though. 

The book also included avocado seed instructions and care. 

Feb 21, 2024

Recent Reads: Not Happy Campers by Ash Keller

Not Happy Campers by Ash Keller 
Series: Road Trip to Love #1
Publisher: Cat Belly Press
Publication Date:  
January 23, 2021

Format: Ebook
Source: Freebie on Kindle, Stuff your Kindle Day, Also available on Kindle Unlimited.


Goodreads Synopsis: 
The only thing worse than being stuck in an RV with your enemy? Having to pretend you're madly in love.

Lance Blakeman is an up-and-coming literary agent with a chance to represent the biggest horror writer since Stephen King. Unfortunately, the client doesn't want to work with a bachelor. Lance needs a fiancée—fast.

Lainey Fredrickson is a struggling artist making ends meet by waitressing at a local diner. Or, she had been, until pretty boy Lance got her fired for accidentally spilling a beer on him. The way he carried on, you'd think she had deliberately doused him with radioactive waste. Now, she has exactly $4.23 to her name—not enough for an iced latte, let alone rent.

When Lance offers Lainey cash to pose as his fiancée, she can't afford to say no, even if it means spending a week in a cramped RV with him. But can they fool the client without fooling themselves? There's a fine line between love and hate. And with kisses this sweet, the line is bound to get blurred.

Not Happy Campers is a laugh-out-loud funny, clean romantic comedy with sizzling chemistry, witty banter, and spine-tingling kisses. If you love a good enemies to lovers or fake relationship story that ends with happy ever after, this book is for you!
This cover is adorable and fully pulled me in. Overall it was a fun quick read... but the best part for me was the Corgi. 

Lainey is down on her luck because of a man named Lance. He got her fired from her last job and now she has found herslef in a situation where he will pay her to pretend to be his fiance for a week. Lance is trying to win over an author, to become his agent, and he prefers an agent that has a partner. So for Lance, this was a great ploy. Lainey needs the money, Lance needs a fiance... and now they are stuck in a camper.. with Lainey's corgi too. 

1) Loooooved the dog! throughout this story he was the best part and had characters show more emotion. sadly there was more emotion around the dog than each other. 

2) I appreciated that she was an artist. Lots of books have authors, agents but illusrators are a bit more rare. I actually read a lot of 'book agent' books in January.

3) The banter was fun but not perfect.

4) Felt like it was too-stuffy a start but loosened up as it went, sadly at less tha 200 pages there wasn't much room for them to really get into things and fall fully (at least that is how it felt to me). 

Overall, cute, and I got it for free :)

Feb 19, 2024

Recent Reads: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Lovers by Emily Henry  
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date:  May 3, 2022

Format: Paperback
Source: Bought/own


Goodreads Synopsis: 
One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming....

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
I enjoy Emily Henry books, they are cute rom-coms with miscommunication or witholding of truths and they work well.

Nora is emmersed in her work as a book agent and so her love life never turns out to be her happily ever after. Charlie is an editor, who many think is harsh and Nora doesn't particularlu like him all that much because he turned down one of her books. They are brought together in the small town of Sunshine Falls, where Nora was dragged by her sister. 

I enjoyed the enemies to lovers trope used in this rom-com. Both Nora and Charlie are adorable together and apart. Libby (the sister) is sneaky but I also adored the sisterly bond that they share throughout the book. There was a lot of miscommunication in this one or witholding of truths from one another and all aroun dit worked well. I was rooting for everyone, even thought we 'hated' Charlie. 

This was just an absolutely perfect rom-com to lighten the to be read pile and I really enjoyed it. It had me laughing and crying and I couldn't put it down.

Feb 18, 2024

Building the Book Pile #441

Welcome to Building the Book Pile!

Hello Readers, Bloggers, and Awesome people! 

It has been a fun week... for reading. I picked up my arc of Empire of the Damned and I am about 350 pages in. The story has all the twist and turns I like and vampires...
This week I also binged Hazbin Hotel on Prime - loved it, but now I have to wait approximately a billion years for season 2 😞
On my switch I have ben alternating between A Little to the Left and Cozy Grove. Enjoying both. I really love A Little to the Left - so simple yet so satisfying.

What have you been getting up to?

Coming up on the Blog

Recent Reads: Book Lovers by Emily Henry (Adult)

Recent Reads: Not Happy Campers by Ash Keller (Adult)

Early Reader Review: Avocado Magic by Taltal Levi (Youth)

Books Received Recently...  

What have you been reading?  Leave a comment for me.

Happy Reading!

Feb 15, 2024

Early Reader Review: Country Bird by Angela Harrison Vinet

Source: From Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.

Country Bird by Angela Harrison Vinet
Publisher: Epic Ink
Publication Date:  February 20, 2024

Format: Ebook


Goodreads Synopsis: 
Get an informed yet cheeky perspective on the fascinating language of birds in rural areas with this witty twist on a traditional field guide.

City Bird gives birdwatching new meaning by pairing scientific insight on the sounds and songs unique to birds inhabiting rural areas of North America with a light-hearted narrative that reflects the personality and characteristics associated with country life.

As you explore, discover fun facts and jot down your thoughts and observations in the note-taking section for each bird . Vibrant illustrations help you identify the birds you see.

Learn about birding in a whole new, whimsical way. Give birding a go, learn, and listen to the beautiful sound of birds!

The Birds illustrated collection delivers a playful yet informative insight on the sounds and songs unique to birds inhabiting different geographical regions. From rural farmlands to bustling city streets or the salty air of the shore, each book features beautiful portraits and a lighthearted narrative that reflects the personality and characteristics of birds native to each location. Also available from this City Bird . 
Such an interesting take on a bird book. This book showcases birds (I didn't count, but I think it is around 50 or so) thought to be "country" birds, from across the U.S. Each bird has an illustration, a quirky southern saying or description, and then the actual description. If you want to learn how to differentiate them from other birds or spot them, this is probably not the best book option - but if you are looking for a creative description this was cute. 

The writing style can be very off-putting and slightly cringey at times but it was creative so I have to give the author credit for that. Each bird had a saying associated with them, akin to "bless her heart" or "a bit much" that have other meanings than stated. There is even a section for defining these at the end of the book. This was entertianing, but could also be too much for those actually looking for information about birds. At times it was even a little frustrating.

I liked learning about the birds, some descriptions were really good along those lines, some were more for enterainment than teaching though.  

Since I was reading an early, ebook copy,  some of the illustrations didn't live up to expectation and were a bit pixelated but I think that in the final copy they will be better - so try to take a look before buying. 

Overall, this was quirky and cute, but more entertainment than educational. 

Feb 13, 2024

Recent Reads: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date:   August 9, 2016

Format: Paperback
Source: Bought/Own


Goodreads Synopsis: 
Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman. 
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
Another grab from the TBR Shelf.

This is rivals to lovers perfection. The banter was swoonworthy and it was a page-turner at its finest. 

Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeton are two complete opposties. Lucy is bright and energetic to Josh's boring and blah. Lucy has to work with Josh but she does not enjoy it. Everyday since the acquisition that put them in the same office, they have been at war.  It all started on that first day, Lucy smiled at him and he coudln't be bothered to return the favor and since then he has been a smug a$$. 

Told from Lucy's POV. The beginning of the book recount their meeting, how it has been going and how they interact... or don't. The realy climax of the book is when Lucy starts to gain the interest of a guy at work and Josh starts to lose his cool around her. Additionally, there is now a promotion available and one of them will get it... the war continues. 

I liked Lucy's go-get-em attitude and was glad that she had support of her boss in this whole situation. I loved the banter and miscommunication aspects of the relationship between Lucy and Josh. Lucy was so oblivious and I love that it was written this way.  Their interaction was cute and dreamy and Josh is so much more caring than he lets on. 

Overall, Adorable.