Show Us Your Books: Dine With Me, The Hazel Wood, and More!

Posted January 14, 2020 by shooting in Book Review / 30 Comments

It’s the first Show Us Your Books of 2020 and I’m here to share some mini reviews of books I’ve read recently. As always, the link-up is hosted by the lovely Jana and Steph!

Counter Culture by J.L. Merrow

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own (add to Goodreads

I’ve read a few books by Merrow at this point and I really love them, so I was excited to check out their newest release, Counter Culture. The book takes place in the U.K., following Robin Christopher, who works in retail, and Archie Levine, who almost always dresses in Victorian/Steampunk attire, works in a museum, and co-parents his son. I loved how into Steampunk Robin got once he gets to know Archie – he finds it fun and interesting. However, the store that Robin works for is being protested against by Archie’s mum – so Robin hides where he works instead of upsetting them. Secrets are never good in a relationship, but I understood Robin’s reasoning. I thought Robin and Archie made a really sweet couple and I liked following them on their journey!


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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Review by Lauren

Source: library copy; all opinions are my own (add to Goodreads

The Hazel Wood is the first book in a YA series (the second book, The Night Country, was just released). It follows Alice, who has been moving from place to place her entire life. Darkness seems to follow her and her mom, but she’s hoping she can finally relax and settle down a bit. Unfortunately, people from the Hinterland start appearing, desperate to take Alice away. The Hinterland is the “made up” place in her grandmother’s dark stories. I thought the stories from Alice’s grandmother were fascinating and dreadful, and I loved when we got to read some of them throughout the book. Alice is a tough character to like, but I understood certain aspects of her personality. I read this book for my book club in December, and while most of the group didn’t really care for the book, my sister and I really enjoyed it, so it’s definitely a hit or miss type of read!

Dine with Me by Layla Reyne

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own (add to Goodreads

I’ve read quite a few books by Layla Reyne at this point, and I’ve really enjoyed them all. Dine with Me is quite a departure from what she normally writes, but I still really liked it! This book is about a final tour to taste all of Chef Miller Sykes’s favorite foods. He has cancer, and he’s decided to let himself die instead of trying to fight it – since the odds aren’t great, and he might lose his sense of taste in the process. He needs someone to help finance the trip though, and that’s where Dr. Clancy Rhodes comes in – his family pays for the trip as a medical school graduation gift.

As the two travel together, and try many fantastic foods, they start to learn more about each other and eventually fall for one another. Miller still doesn’t want to get treatment, and Clancy eventually figures out his secret, causing a rift between the two of them. How do you let yourself fall in love if one half of the relationship is willing to let himself die without a fight? It’s an emotional read at times, but it’s also a love letter to amazing food. If you don’t like food descriptions, you might not really enjoy this book – there is a LOT about food. I’m not the biggest foodie, but I still found it intriguing!

Hearstopper: Volume 2 by Alice Oseman

Review by Lauren

Source: library copy; all opinions are my own (add to Goodreads

I read and reviewed Heartstopper: Volume 1 already, and I really loved it, so I was excited to finally have the chance to check out Volume 2. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t read the first volume, but basically, Heartstopper is about two friends – Charlie and Nick. Charlie is out, but Nick has always thought he was straight…until he gets to really know Charlie and finds himself with a bit of a crush. This graphic novel is done in all black and white, and while the illustrations aren’t technically amazing, they are really fun and make you smile when you see them. I think this is a great story and I’m excited for Volume 3. I like that we are going on a journey with Charlie and Nick throughout each volume, as they learn and discover new things about themselves, each other, and their friends/family.

Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea, illustrated by Yana Bogatch

Review by Lauren

Source: library copy; all opinions are my own (add to Goodreads

Grimoire Noir is a graphic novel about Bucky Orson. He lives in a town called Blackwell, where all the girls are witches. None of the men are though. Bucky is a bit jealous of this, as he’d love to have his own powers – like his mom, little sister, and best friend (who he’s estranged from in the beginning of the book). When his sister is kidnapped for her amazing abilities, Bucky sets off around Blackwell to find her, since his sheriff father is not allowed to question witches without proper cause. Bucky doesn’t let this stop him, even though others try to, and he finds out a lot more about Blackwell than he ever knew. I really liked Bucky. I thought he was a great older brother, and I love that he didn’t let certain rules keep him from looking for his sister. The artwork in the book is so beautiful and well done. They are done in black and white, with a little added color here and there. It really fits the setting and tone of the book. While Grimoire Noir does wrap up nicely, there is still enough left to warrant a sequel – and I hope there will be one!

I also recently reviewed the memoir This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps if you want to check that out!


Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?

If you have not read these, I’d love to know if any sound interesting to you!

30 responses to “Show Us Your Books: Dine With Me, The Hazel Wood, and More!

  1. Jen

    The Hazel Wood sounds really interesting. I ought to grab the first book though and start there. I wonder if her Grandma’s made-up stories were to protect Alice when they came?

  2. I really liked the first 1/3 of The Hazelwood. It reminded me of Once Upon a Time. I could see it going far. Then it just turned into a mess, I thought. Maybe an editor could’ve cleaned it up, but I loved the idea of the story!

  3. I’ve seen mostly positive reviews for The Hazelwood so I’m glad to see you (and your sister) enjoyed it. And Heartstopper looks so sweet! I’ve only read one or two graphic novels (ever) but I’m tempted to see if my library has this series.

  4. I absolutely love the cover for The Hazel Wood, but sadly I’m just not a fan of fantasy or magic realism- I tried, I swear! I’m still wondering WHY or HOW Busy Phillips is even famous and/or relevant. I’ve literally only seen her on Dawson’s Creek, I don’t even really remember her role on that, and yet she’s everywhere! Maybe I need to read her memoir to find out! Unrelated question, but why does it always say “Review by Lauren?” Was there someone else writing reviews here? Maybe there was/is and I never really paid attention- which is completely plausible lol!

    Dani recently posted: December Reads
    • shooting

      Yes, I used to have other people write reviews. It’s mostly been me for awhile now, but I kind of got in the habit of putting my name!

  5. I liked Dine with Me but I thought it was very *insider* when it came to food. I did get most of the references because I watch a chef’s Table and all those shows but I wonder how it will go over for readers who don’t.

    I’ll have to check out that Merrow and The Hazel wood has been on my shelf for years! lol

    Karen @ For What It’s worth

  6. I’ve trying meaning to to get to the Hazel Wood forever!

    Especially because of what I heard of Alice’s grandmother stories! Glad to hear you and your sis really enjoyed it despite being a minority in your club 🙂

  7. Helia @ Rose Quartz Reads

    I’m glad you enjoyed The Hazel Wood! I plan to re-read it soon before I pick up the sequel, and I’m excited to dive into that creepy fantasy world again.

  8. Heartstopper is such a cute story! I’m really excited for volume three as well even though I know it’s all available on Tumblr. I just like reading the paperback copies much more 🙂 I’ve got a copy of The Hazel Wood but for some reason I never go for it when I’m trying to decide what book to read next. The premise sounds super interesting, though, so maybe I need to give it more of a chance. Counter Culture sounds really cute and I love the addition of steampunk! I’ve always loved steampunk clothes and have gone to conventions in steampunk outfits a bunch of times 😀

    Chiara recently posted: Review: Reverie by Ryan La Sala

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