Review Roundup | The Brothers Hawthorne, Project Hail Mary, and The Pumpkin Spice Cafe

Posted November 10, 2023 / Book Reviews, Review Roundup / 3 Comments

Review Roundup | The Brothers Hawthorne, Project Hail Mary, and The Pumpkin Spice CafeThe Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Inheritance Games #4
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Published by Penguin on August 29, 2023
Also by this author: The Fixer, The Long Game, Little White Lies, The Lovely and the Lost, Deadly Little Scandals , The Inheritance Games , The Hawthorne Legacy , The Final Gambit , The Naturals, Killer Instinct , All In , Bad Blood
Format: Hardcover (480 pages) • Source: Purchased
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Four brothers. Two missions. One explosive read. Jennifer Lynn Barnes returns to the world of her #1 bestselling Inheritance Games trilogy, and the stakes have never been higher.  

 Grayson Hawthorne was raised as the heir apparent to his billionaire grandfather, taught from the cradle to put family first. Now the great Tobias Hawthorne is dead and his family disinherited, but some lessons linger. When Grayson’s half-sisters find themselves in trouble, he swoops in to do what he does best: take care of the problem—efficiently, effectively, mercilessly. And without getting bogged down in emotional entanglements.

 Jameson Hawthorne is a risk-taker, a sensation-seeker, a player of games. When his mysterious father appears and asks for a favor, Jameson can’t resist the challenge. Now he must infiltrate London’s most exclusive underground gambling club, which caters to the rich, the powerful, and the aristocratic, and win an impossible game of greatest stakes. Luckily, Jameson Hawthorne lives for impossible.

  Drawn into twisted games on opposite sides of the globe, Grayson and Jameson—with the help of their brothers and the girl who inherited their grandfather’s fortune—must dig deep to decide who they want to be and what each of them will sacrifice to win.

I’m really bummed by this one to be honest – it was really just FINE. I’ve loved this series so much and was excited to get into the heads of a couple of the brothers for this “spinoff” fourth book. It follows Jameson and Grayson as they embark on their own individual journeys. (It may have been more fun to follow Nash and Xander instead because they were featured less than Grayson and Jameson in other books.)

Grayson’s part of the story was more interesting as he learned more about his father and the family that he never knew about. There was a little mystery there for him to solve and some lovable new characters introduced. Jameson is also dealing with his father and more games/riddles. I thought the concept behind his part of the book was good but not executed in a way that made me want to keep reading?

It took me all of September to read this one because I just kept being more interested in other books. I did end up reading the final section pretty quickly and was curious to see how things would wrap up. I’m glad there’s another book and I’m hoping it’ll be more interesting than this one was.

Review Roundup | The Brothers Hawthorne, Project Hail Mary, and The Pumpkin Spice CafeProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Genres: Adult, Sci-Fi
Published by Ballantine Books on May 4, 2021
Format: Audio/Physical (476 pages) • Source: Audible, Owned
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Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

I really enjoyed THE MARTIAN despite not usually reading adult science fiction. (Even YA sci-fi is lower on my list unfortunately, despite enjoying them!) I kept seeing insanely positive reviews for this one and decided I should give it a try. The audiobook also came highly recommended so I grabbed that in addition to the paperback.

I was dying for something different than the series I was in the middle of reading and sick of all my podcasts, so PROJECT HAIL MARY became my audiobook selection. I did like the quality of the audiobook but was expecting more full production in some areas based on how highly recommended it was. Either way, there were certain ~things~ that sounded better in the audiobook than in the physical copy.

I liked meeting Ryland and how he slowly became familiar with his surroundings. We learn why he’s there, how he got there, what’s going on with Earth, etc. through flashbacks as he starts to get his memory back. His two crew members are dead and he’s racing to figure out what happened and what he needs to be doing. This was a cool way of getting us the backstory.

I wasn’t sure how “single man alone in space” would fare with me again (since THE MARTIAN was pushing it for me), but it largely went well. It’s hard to review this book without spoiling some things so I’ll probably leave a spoiler section below. Ryland was very similar to Mark from THE MARTIAN but I think it’s because Andy Weir just knows how to write snarky white male scientists. I liked him a lot. The middle of the book is just a loooot of science so it did drag for a little while, which is why this book couldn’t be higher rated from me.

This was really a bittersweet story and while I enjoyed the ending, I was definitely sad too. (There ya go, basically defined what “bittersweet” means here lol). Now for some spoilers: View Spoiler »

Review Roundup | The Brothers Hawthorne, Project Hail Mary, and The Pumpkin Spice CafeThe Pumpkin Spice Café by Laurie Gilmore
Series: Dream Harbor #1
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Published by One More Chapter on August 30, 2023
Format: Audio/eBook (267 pages) • Source: Purchased, Scribd
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When Jeanie's aunt gifts her the beloved Pumpkin Spice Café in the small town of Dream Harbor, Jeanie jumps at the chance for a fresh start away from her very dull desk job.

Logan is a local farmer who avoids Dream Harbor's gossip at all costs. But Jeanie's arrival disrupts Logan's routine and he wants nothing to do with the irritatingly upbeat new girl, except that he finds himself inexplicably drawn to her.

Will Jeanie's happy-go-lucky attitude win over the grumpy-but-gorgeous Logan, or has this city girl found the one person in town who won't fall for her charm, or her pumpkin spice lattes…

The Pumpkin Spice Café is a cozy romantic mystery for fans of Gilmore Girls, with a grumpy x sunshine dynamic, a small-town setting and a HEA guaranteed!

- grumpy x sunshine
- small town
- found family

I kept seeing this book everywhere and decided to follow the fall vibes and read it, along with everyone else on bookstagram! It does take place throughout the month of October so it turned out to be quite seasonally appropriate.

Jeanie movies to Dream Harbor to take over the Pumpkin Spice Cafe that her aunt gifted her when they both needed a fresh start. Jeanie is doubting herself and her life choices when her high-powered boss in Boston dies at his desk and she finds him. Logan, the male main character, is a Dream Harbor local who had his heart broken before by another gal from Boston who decided the small town life wasn’t for her after his public proposal.

This book ended up not really being what I expected! Based on the cover and synopsis, I thought it would be a closed-door small town romance companion series starter (think: Annie Rains or Debbie Mason). While it does hit the mark for the second half of that sentence, this was steamy! I don’t think I’ve read a book that’s otherwise very cutesy and cheesy with this level of sexiness as well haha. Not really a bad thing necessarily but it did feel a little out of place?

This book was simultaneously too short (characters were underdeveloped) and too long (super repetitive scenes and internal monologues). I genuinely think it would have worked better as a novella. The ending dragged on a LOT. There wasn’t a ton of miscommunication or drama so that was nice, but it led to the “getting back together” scenes going on and on through the end of the book. I kept wondering how the audiobook still had 15-20 minutes left haha. Logan and Jeanie were a cute character but after the fifth time they hooked up and got interrupted and the twentieth time he compared Jeanie to his ex… I was over it.

I’ll continue with the next book because the town of Dream Harbor is cute and I enjoyed the glimpses of side characters so far.

3 responses to “Review Roundup | The Brothers Hawthorne, Project Hail Mary, and The Pumpkin Spice Cafe

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