Review Roundup | The Do-Over, The Appeal, and Cold Clay

Posted March 13, 2023 / Book Reviews, Review Roundup / 0 Comments

Review Roundup | The Do-Over, The Appeal, and Cold ClayThe Do-Over by Lynn Painter
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published by Simon and Schuster on November 15, 2022
Format: Audio/Physical (304 pages) • Source: Purchased, Scribd
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four-stars

In this “unequivocally hilarious and delightful” (Kirkus Reviews) young adult romp for fans of Recommended for You and A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, a teen girl has the worst Valentine’s Day ever—only to relive it over and over again.

After living through a dumpster fire of a Valentine’s Day, Emilie Hornby escapes to her grandmother’s house for some comfort and a consolation pint of Ben & Jerry’s. She passes out on the couch, but when she wakes up, she’s back home in her own bed—and it’s Valentine’s Day all over again. And the next day? Another horrendous V-Day.

Emilie is stuck in some sort of time loop nightmare that she can’t wake up from as she re-watches her boyfriend, Josh, cheat on her day after day. In addition to Josh’s recurring infidelity, Emilie can’t get away from the enigmatic Nick, who she keeps running into—sometimes literally—in unfortunate ways.

How many times can one girl passively watch her life go up in flames? And when something good starts to come out of these terrible days, what happens when the universe stops doling out do-overs?

I’m a sucker for Groundhog Day / time loop stories, as everyone knows by now. I was intrigued by THE DO-OVER when I saw so many people reading it but didn’t set out on a mission to read it until (a) I realized it was a Groundhog Day book and (b) it took place on Valentines Day. I was so determined to read it during Valentines Day that I went to three different stores and attempted two store pick-up orders before I finally snagged it in the fifth and final attempt (another Target store pickup).

When Emilie sees her boyfriend cheating on her on Valentines Day, she wakes up the next day only to find it is yet again Valentines Day. Can she stop him from cheating? Does she even want to? The story progresses in a similar way to other time loop stories with the MC trying new ways to live out the day and see if it resets the loop. She ends up getting close to Nick, her surly lab partner, on and off throughout the days and sparks fly on one of her repeating days.

All in all, the book was really cute and enjoyable to read! There were absolutely has some cringe-worthy levels of cheesiness toward the end but I got through it. Every Groundhog Day book has at least one day where the MC does whatever they want, damn the consequences, because there ARE no consequences. That particular day for Emilie was definitely cringey.

These “Groundhog Day” books will always be on my TBR and I love to see how they each end, since it’s usually a little something different with each book. I ended up fairly frustrated at this one’s “end of the time loop” but the actual ending made up for it in a lot of ways. There were some deeper meanings to why THAT specific day broke the time loop. The more I think about that, the more I like it.

Review Roundup | The Do-Over, The Appeal, and Cold ClayThe Appeal by Janice Hallett
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Atria Books on November 1, 2022
Also by this author: The Christmas Appeal , The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels
Format: eBook (448 pages) • Source: Scribd
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four-stars

The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival. But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—or of the good intentions of those involved. As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head at the explosive dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that the killer may be hiding in plain sight. The evidence is all there, between the lines, waiting to be uncovered.

I’ve been watching a ton of Meg With Books on YouTube and she’s the murder mystery queen, TBH. She’s also the queen of mixed media or epistolary books. I’ve seen her talk about THE APPEAL and THE TWYFORD CODE so many times on her channel and it made me really in the mood to read a a mixed media/epistolary murder mystery lately. I decided to start with THE APPEAL since it was released first and I actually had it on my TBR before I saw Meg talk about it.

I truly picked it up on a whim while we were on vacation and couldn’t put it down over the course of two days! I’ve always loved books that feature letters, emails, texts, podcasts, etc. to tell the story (or at least add to it like A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER). This book is told 100% through emails, interviews, text messages, and other paperwork or documents.

I was fascinated by all the characters and how things would end. It was a little confusing to keep up with all of the people potentially involved but they did list out the cast a couple of times throughout the book to help remind the reader. I was a little confused at the end when the lawyers were coming up with theories and I didn’t love the actual “end” of the mystery (the whodunnit part). I predicted a couple of things that turned out to be true but at least the culprit was a surprise.

Overall, this was an enjoyable reading experience (primarily due to the format). It was twisty and unexpected. I’m excited to read her next book too – I’ve heard it’s even better!

Review Roundup | The Do-Over, The Appeal, and Cold ClayCold Clay by Juneau Black
Series: Shady Hollow #2
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard on March 1, 2022
Also by this author: Shady Hollow, Mirror Lake, Twilight Falls
Format: Paperback (240 pages) • Source: Library
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three-stars

The second book in the Shady Hollow series, in which some long-buried secrets come to light, throwing suspicion on a beloved local denizen.

It's autumn in Shady Hollow, and residents are looking forward to harvest feasts. But then a rabbit discovers a grisly crop: the bones of a moose.

Soon, the owner of Joe's Mug is dragged out of the coffeeshop and questioned by the police about the night his wife walked out of his life--and Shady Hollow--forever. It seems like an open-and-shut case, but dogged reporter Vera Vixen doesn't believe gentle Joe is a killer. She'll do anything to prove his innocence. . .even if it means digging into secrets her neighbors would rather leave buried.

I really loved the first SHADY HOLLOW book – all of the vibes were immaculate. So many reviews even say “I’m just here for the vibes” and generally same here. Cozy mysteries with woodland creatures solving them in a cute small town? Sign me up.

I’ll say that the cozy, cute animal stuff is definitely the same in this one. The overall premise and setting for the books are so charming that I think I could read a million of them and still love the overall feeling I get while reading. They’re also super quick books, under 250 pages.

The mystery in this one is about Joe’s wife Julia, who went missing when she left him 11 years before. Her bones are unearthed in the local apple orchard and Vera Vixen, local fox reporter, is on the case again. Did Joe have something to do with it? And what’s up with the new mink that moved to town?

Unfortunately, compared to book one, this mystery was unbelievably obvious. I almost don’t even want to write that because it’s practically a spoiler for how it ends – it’s that apparent. I thought it was a red herring honestly. I also said in my first review that I was so distracted by the vibes of book one that the mystery could have been obvious and I wouldn’t have noticed… unfortunately not the case here. It also got quite repetitive as a result of that. Vera was like “oh wait! I forgot about this piece of evidence I’ve had in my house that could solve this” like ten times throughout the book, like it was just dragging it all out.

No regrets on reading and continuing this series – you better believe I will – but this one doesn’t compare to book one. I’m hoping for a strong book three! There’s also a holiday prequel novella I’ll read later this year, and a fourth book recently added to Goodreads that comes out next year. Yay!

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