5 star, adult

Review: Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood

Series: The STEMinist novellas #2

Nothing like a little rivalry between scientists to take love to the next level.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Logically, Sadie knows that civil engineers are supposed to build bridges. However, as a woman of STEM she also understands that variables can change, and when you are stuck for hours in a tiny New York elevator with the man who broke your heart, you earn the right to burn that brawny, blond bridge to the ground. Erik can apologize all he wants, but to quote her rebel leader—she’d just as soon kiss a Wookiee.

Not even the most sophisticated of Sadie’s superstitious rituals could have predicted such a disastrous reunion. But while she refuses to acknowledge the siren call of Erik’s steely forearms or the way his voice softens when he offers her his sweater, Sadie can’t help but wonder if there might be more layers to her cold-hearted nemesis than meet the eye. Maybe, possibly, even burned bridges can still be crossed….



For the fact that this is a novella, Stuck With You packs on the chemistry and heat right from the start, once again showing that it isn’t about the length of a novel but the talent of the author to draw us into a story and the lives of its characters.

As always, I’m super invested in these women in STEM stories. Definitely would love to see more romance books featuring such smart and independent protagonists.

Sadie was a firecracker with her oddly specific superstitious rituals for good luck before interviews and her love for engineering in a workforce still dominated by men. I adored her voice, and the narrator on the audiobook did a superb job creating that excitement I vividly picture at Sadie’s passion for what she does. Which brings us to her love-hate relationship with Erik. She brings the passion so that also transfers to things (or PEOPLE) she passionately dislikes.

I liked the format of the story going back and forth between present day wherein she’s trapped in the elevator with the last person she wants to see, and the past explaining how she and Erik met. It keeps us guessing what went down between them when it seemed they really clicked initially. This made the pace go really well and never drag the story too long – if novellas can feel long.

Erik epitomized the kind of male love interests that people love. Stoic, strong, a bit brooding (or maybe because he didn’t speak all that much), and clearly misunderstood. Something clearly wasn’t adding up the more we learned of the past between Erik and Sadie.

And while it’s great to love characters individually, I will have to say that Erik and Sadie together just had sparks flying. Whew, how was that elevator not starting to move again when it could be fueled by their tension and electricity?? Their dynamic rivaled Ali Hazelwood’s debut duo from The Love Hypothesis. Perhaps it’s the grumpy-sunshine character combo but anyhow, this made the story. The angst is real, the miscommunication is probably in there somewhere and not too difficult to figure out near the end, and you just know how they make up for such communication breakdown is gonna be awesome.

And by awesome I mean chemically reactive!

If you haven’t hopped onto the Ali Hazelwood train, I would recommend you do. You can start anywhere with this novella series without ruining the other stories, but I definitely liked Sadie’s story the most so far.

Overall Recommendation:

Stuck With You is the classic forced proximity story that draws together two people with an extreme love-hate relationship. What do you get when you put 2 engineers together in an unmoving elevator late on a Friday evening? A combustive story detailing the mishaps of their initial meeting/attempts at romance and perhaps some steamy ways of making up for what happened. Sadie and Erik’s story may contain those common romance tropes but they’re what make the story so attractive. What makes the rest of it so good is the compelling storytelling all credited to Ali’s amazing writing. Definitely worth the pick up for such a short book.

5 star, adult

ARC Review: Breathless by Amy McCulloch

A high-altitude thriller that will take your breath away–Cecily Wong is on her most dangerous climb yet, miles above sea level. But the elements are nothing compared to one chilling truth: There’s a killer on the mountain.

Journalist Cecily Wong is in over her head. She’s come to Manaslu, the eighth-highest peak in the world, to interview internationally famous mountaineer Charles McVeigh on the last leg of a record-breaking series of summits. She’s given up everything for this story–her boyfriend, her life savings, the peace she’s made with her climbing failures in the past–but it’s a career-making opportunity. It could finally put her life back on track.

But when one climber dies in what everyone else assumes is a freak accident, she fears their expedition is in danger. And by the time a second climber dies, it’s too late to turn back. Stranded on a mountain in one of the most remote regions of the world, she’ll have to battle more than the elements in a harrowing fight for survival against a killer who is picking them off one by one.



**Breathless comes out May 3, 2022**

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

‘There’s a murderer on the mountain. Run.’

Breathless quite literally lives up to its name in this spellbinding story that had me gripped from the moment. Equal parts exhilarating and knowledge seeking, I was thrilled with the tension and mystery as the author intended, but I also learned so much about mountain climbing that I lived these experiences almost vicariously through these characters.

Cecily Wong is part of an exclusive team assembled to climb the last of the 14 mountains greater than eight-thousand-metres above sea level, Manaslu, alongside the legendary mountaineer Charles McVeigh. Unfortunately, she feels she has so much to prove to him (and the rest of the very experienced team) because she’s known as the girl who could NOT summit even a smaller mountain. But getting to exclusively interview Charles on the condition she summits is the chance of a lifetime and everyone plus their mother knows that.

I love Cecily’s perspective throughout this whole book. She’s a rather newbie climber so the logistics and extensive training that comes with mountain climbing is explained in the book for us who have no idea what this world is like. However, I don’t feel it’s too technical and boring at these parts because it’s so ingrained into what is happening in the story. The team requires acclimatization at higher altitudes before they can climb so high so of course, we follow that journey with them. It’s never an overload of information and everything is potentially relevant.

Besides the newbie perspective, Cecily is an empathetic protagonist because she sees people with a less detached attitude. Perhaps it’s because she’s yet to really experience the life and death moments in a place literally called “the death zone” like her fellow experienced climbers. But in this way, her heart and journalistic instinct leads her down a path that may be hold more secrets than she’s prepared to find.

Most importantly, the pacing was fantastic! I never felt bored as the team moved their way up the mountain. The first death occurs not too far into the book so it really sets the tone – is there something more to this death or is it her paranoia? In low oxygen atmospheres, it’s even a possibility hallucinations run rampant so we’re left questioning Cecily’s (and our) judgment of what’s really happening.

I will say this book balanced thriller and mystery very well. There’s the whodunnit if these deaths really were attributed to homicides instead of accidents, but also that tense feeling that something’s not right in the most remote landscape on Earth.

To end off this review, I can’t emphasize enough how much I loved the experience of reading this book. It’s like McCulloch took us on this journey to Manaslu’s summit with the amount of details and descriptions.

The peak stood out, its enormous bulk an ominous black mass against the sparkling night sky. It dominated the horizon, stretching up into the heavens, and the summit wore the stars like a crown.

It’s truly an adventure in a book but also a reminder to sometimes take a breath and admire this world and our tiny place in it. When faced against the elements found at such high altitudes, we may appreciate more what life entails when death may be just a breath away.

Note: all quotes are subject to change upon final publication

Overall Recommendation:

Breathless takes you on the most amazing journey that mankind can partake in – climbing one of the tallest mountains in the world. The prose is so immersive I truly felt like I was there with our protagonist, Cecily, facing the unknowns and her fears. Unfortunately, there’s also something else afoot on the mountain but we may not be able to trust our judgment when the high altitude sickness comes in. This is the best kind of thriller/mystery and Amy McCulloch did it so well. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed if you pick this up.

4.5 star, adult

Review: The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams

Is it ever too late to leave the friend-zone?

Hi, my name is Bree Camden, and I’m hopelessly in love with my best friend and star quarterback Nathan Donelson (so is half of America, judging by the tabloids and how much the guy dates). The first step is admitting, right? Except, I can never admit it to him because he clearly doesn’t see me that way, and the last thing I want is for things to get weird between us.

Nothing but good old-fashioned, no-touching-the-sexiest-man-alive, platonic friendship for us! Everything is exactly how I like it! Yes. Good. (I’m not crying, I’m just peeling an onion.)

Our friendship is going swimmingly until I accidentally spill my beans to a reporter over too much tequila, and now the world seems to think me and Nathan belong together. Oh, and did I mention we have to date publicly for three weeks until after the Super Bowl because we signed a contract with…oops, forgot I can’t tell anyone about that!

Bottom line is, now my best friend is smudging all the lines and acting very un-platonic, and I’m just trying to keep my body from bursting into flames every time he touches me.

How am I going to make it through three weeks of fake dating Nathan without anything changing between us? Especially when it almost-sort-a-kinda seems like he’s fighting for a completely different outcome?

Send help.
XO Bree



If any of you know me, just one fact about me, it’s that I absolutely adore the best friends to lovers trope. It’s such a niche romance trope that I’ve hardly come across it. But I LOVE all the angst that comes with such a hard transition from platonic relationship to something different. More often than not, this is accompanied by the excruciating angst that comes with unrequited feelings. Does this make me a masochist that I particularly enjoy such angst? Yes? Maybe?

The Cheat Sheet does this trope very well. It’s pretty much 300+ pages of unrequited feelings from Bree. And from Nathan. Did I mention this book is all about lack of communication between the love interests?

Bree was an amazing protagonist to follow. She’s confident in her standing in Nathan’s life even when the women he dated got jealous of her closeness to him, regardless that nothing romantic ever occurred between them. She’s kind and super empathetic when it came to teaching ballet to youth who may not be able to afford such lessons normally. She didn’t let life take away her ambitions when a tragic accident made her change her life’s trajectory. She was never insecure when it came to Nathan’s feelings for her, or what she thought they were. Hey, if I had a bestie who loved everybody but me, I may not handle such constant rejection as well as Bree did.

Nathan, meanwhile, wasn’t too bad of a catch himself. I normally don’t love sports stories. I’m not very much into any particular sport myself so this world just doesn’t fascinate me. Regardless that Nathan was a well-known football player and that this book contains perhaps 65% football-related storylines, I felt this element helped frame more of Nathan’s character which in turn helped me understand him more. He was adorable with the way he freaked out over Bree’s lack of romantic interest in him. If there ever was a need for the comedy in the romantic-comedy, it can definitely be found among some big football players trying to map out a PG-13 plan to get the girl to fall for her best friend.

The story flowed well, although I was taken aback by the dual POVs. Don’t let the synopsis fool you into thinking it’s only Bree’s feelings to concern yourselves with. Also deceiving is how far along the book gets before the fake dating trope enters the picture. It’s not right at the beginning but I felt this made more sense because it allowed us to understand Bree and Nathan’s history and dynamic before throwing them into the deep end of unknown relationship territory.

The one half-star docked off comes from the sheer length. The book isn’t long, but nearer to the end, I do feel the miscommunication about their reciprocated(!!) feelings was getting a little tiring. Just tell each other you like one another, I wanted to shout at them both. I mean, this may be the angst getting to me at this point. Maybe this is a good sign if that’s what the author intended? All I can say is, I was totally invested in seeing them figure things out. The end may be a little rushed for some, but I think it worked for their particular story.

Do I think this story will be for everyone? I guess that depends on how much you like this kind of romantic angst with its tensions but lots of communication issues. This is weirdly my favorite trope so if you’re like me (a niche weirdo), then you’re in luck because Bree and Nathan have got a story to tell.

Overall Recommendation:

The Cheat Sheet is a charming story about unrequited love between best friends – or rather, miscommunicated and very much requited love between our leads. It’s a cute and fairly digestible contemporary that’s perfect for a lazy afternoon to put you in the feels as we root for the leads to finally get their communication fixed. I certainly read it in one sitting like this! The best friends to lovers trope may not be as common or popular but this TikTok sensation blew up for a reason and I can confidently say it was well earned.