Book Review

Book Review: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: May 22nd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Shouldn’t a girl get to star in her own love story?

Seventeen-year-old Megan Harper is about due for her next sweeping romance. It’s inevitable—each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love . . . with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream college’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

So when she’s cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school’s production, it’s a complete nightmare. Megan’s not an actress, and she’s used to being upstaged—both in and out of the theater. In fact, with her mom off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to baby #2 with his new wife, Megan worries that, just like her exes, her family is moving on without her.

Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright inspired by Rosaline from Shakespeare’s R+J. A character who, like Megan, knows a thing or two about short-lived relationships. Megan agrees to help Owen with his play in exchange for help catching the eye of a sexy stagehand/potential new boyfriend. Yet Megan finds herself growing closer to Owen, and wonders if he could be the Romeo she never expected.

In their fresh and funny debut, Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka break down the high school drama to find there’s always room for familial love, romantic love, and—most importantly—self-love.

WHEREFORE ART THOU OWEN?

I read this book after reading If I’m Being Honest (which is their second book). I can definitely say the sophomore book is a lot better. I still enjoyed this a lot, but not as much.

I had a hard time connecting with Megan. I appreciated her strong will and tenacity in regards to some thigns. At some points she was a biiiiit much for me. I felt she was too casual in her friendships and relationships (until the very end of the book). Which I realize is a part of her character arc, it still made things frustrating for me.

Owen though, I LOVE HIM. He’s precious. I don’t appreciate him cheating on Cosima though and I’m glad that ended swiftly after. I have no idea why she was even in the story. BECAUSE SHE WASN’T IN THE STORY. That may not make a lot of sense, if you read this book, you’ll understand. Besides that Owen was sweet, attentive, and a truly kind person that I was smitten with.

There’s quite a bit of drama in this (and I know it takes after Romeo and Juliet, so logically, this makes sense). I don’t mind drama, but so many people cheating on each other and a lot of casual discussion about sex is personally not my cup of tea. Especially for high school kids.

I liked the plot and that Megan got a chance to really dive into who she wants to be as she graduates high school. The play was a fun mix-in and kept the scenes rolling right along. This is a very quick read and it helped me through a reading slump.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a lot of casual discussion of high schoolers sex lives, a little detailed love scene
  • Trigger warnings: cheating boyfriends/girlfriends, divorce

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Book Review

Book Review: New Orleans Rush by Kelly Siskind

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 310 pages
Author: Kelly Siskind
Publisher: Everafter Romance
Release Date: April 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Falling for your surly boss is a rotten idea.
Letting him saw you in half is even worse…

Beatrice Baker may be a struggling artist, but she believes all hardships have silver linings…until she follows her boyfriend to New Orleans and finds him with another woman. Instead of turning those lemons into lemonade, she drinks lemon drop martinis and keys the wrong man’s car.

Now she works for Huxley Marlow of the Marvelous Marlow Boys, getting shoved in boxes as an on-stage magician’s assistant. A cool job for some, but Bea’s been coerced into the role to cover her debt. She also maybe fantasizes about her boss’s adept hands and what else they can do.

She absolutely will not fall for him, or kiss him senseless. Until she does. The scarred, enigmatic Huxley has unwittingly become her muse, unlocking her artistic dry spell, but his vague nightly activities are highly suspect. The last time Beatrice trusted a man, her bank account got drained and she almost got arrested. Surely this can’t end that badly…right?

WHERE CAN I GET A MAGICIAN LIKE HUXLEY?

This quick romantic comedy is a hidden gem in the genre. I absolutely adored this and it took me a day to finish because of it!

Beatrice is effervescent and optimistic about most things in her life. Being betrayed by the men she’s known (including her Father) she ends up in New Orleans, single, without a job or a home. But then she meets…HUXLEY. Oh their chemistry is dynamite y’all. Sparks flying every which way it could light up a night sky.

I couldn’t get enough of their banter and flirtatious moments. It was purely them meeting and getting to know each other that formed their friendship turned romance. I usually prefer a stand-out trope (like enemies to lovers) but this worked in such a magical way I was smitten with them. I love that Huxley took care of Bea and helped her get on her own two feet. Not only that, but Bea helped Huxley see the glass half full rather than empty. These two peas in a pod really completed each other. THEY’RE JUST SO PRECIOUS OKAY? Trust me on this.

Huxley and his brothers, Axel and Fox are also what brother goals are made of. These three had an incredible dynamic too. I love the different personalities and banter that made up their daily conversations. They all kind of grew up (even though everyone is in their late 20s and 30s) as they started to take care of each other. Huxley as big brother never got a chance to take a breath and his brothers (plus Beatrice) helped him step back and enjoy the finer moments of life.

The only reason I took off a half a star was a personal preference. I didn’t love that there was a whole chapter and a half dedicated to the sex scene. It was a bit much and a bit too detailed for me. It’s easily skipped over though so if this also isn’t your scene I promise the rest of the book is gold.

I liked the plot of this as well. It was different than other rom-coms I’ve read before. I felt there was a bit more at stake and it upped the drama overall. It never over took the romance, but wove seamlessly with it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: kissing, make outs, flirting, innuendo, Chapter 23 & beginning of Chapter 24: detailed love scene; Chapter 30: fade to black with a little detail
  • Violence: physical, being held at gun point
  • Trigger warnings: gambling addiction, gambling in general

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Book Review

Book Review: Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 373 pages
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences. 

THIS ONE TIME AT SUMMER CAMP.

As a parent I read this thinking my child is never going to a sleepaway camp HA. But that was just my musings. This was a pretty good read. Not The Simple Wild caliber, but this is my third Tucker book and I’m definitely hooked on her romances.

I always have a rough time with flashback books. There’s something jarring to me about flipping timelines back and forth a lot. This book used the device fairly well. I didn’t love how many chapters flipped back, yet it was less than it could have been. Kyle and Piper’s insta-summer-romance was actually kinda cute. The only thing? Kyle was a very much stereotypical *bad boy* and I could not even with that. Fauhawk, lip ring, tattoos, his character was trying way too hard at that time. It was fun seeing all the camp had to offer and the growing background story between the two.

Present day was my favorite part. Adult Kyle allllll daaaaaay looooooong. I’m still very much smitten over here. The way he walked back into Piper’s life, forever in love with her? YES PLEASE. I also thought the dynamics behind why he left were much more solid than I’ve seen in other second-chance romances. My general issue is that it’s an obvious communication error. And that drives me up a wall. Kyle’s choices at the time made so much sense and a frightened 17-year old did what he had to for his family and friends. I can roll with it.

I love the swoon worthy romance of it all as Piper and Kyle reconnected. Crossing barriers and letting all the secrets out, oh it was a lot. I love how Tucker conveys emotion into her books and gives us a deeper story. The way the side characters were brought in melted my heart and I was feeling all the emotions right along with them.

I enjoyed Piper as an MC. I thought it was amazing she was an executive at a company (even though she definitely had some daddy issues). Her Dad, Kieran, played a pivotal role that I didn’t even see coming. I liked the conflict resolution between them and how a truthful conversation really turns the tides.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance (second chance trope)
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a handful of romance scenes from second base to all the way; moderately detailed (but easily skipped over)
  • Trigger warnings: cheating spouses, underage drinking (and a physical accident with lifelong medical issues as a result), underage smoking, parents incarcerated, bribing a minor

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

I’m really proud of myself for this list. I only bought one book in January and the rest were from Christmas or before. I’ve been trying this year to keep my purchases in check and make sure I REALLY want them on my shelves. There’s not enough to time read a book that isn’t what you want.

Physical Books:

One of Us Is Next (One of Us is Lying #2) by Karen M. McManus

This was my first purchase for new releases in 2020! It was a great read and I have loved all of McManus’s books.


The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Yes, yes. We allllll know I’ve read this multiple times but I really wanted the physical copy and I got one for Christmas! YAYAYAYAY.


180 Seconds by Jessica Park

I actually finished and wrote for the review for this just yesterday! Spoiler alert: I LOVED IT.


Confess by Colleen Hoover

Of course another CoHo book is in this group. I have read this one too already and it was another 5 star amazing book by her.


P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

I plan on reading this soon as my second West book. Didn’t love the first one, but I’ve seen this one has the highest ratings so hopefully this works out better.


A lot of these books were from a HPB sale I went too, hence why I picked up another West book. Thought it was about time to read a couple of these.


Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson

THIS SERIES IS SO AMAZING. AND MY MIND IS ALWAYS BLOWN BY THE INTRICACIES. Oh guys. Take a chance on these books. Pleeeeease.


Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

There’s a theme here y’all. Because, OH LOOK another CoHo book! This was the book my friend and I chose for our book club in January. SUCH A GOOD BOOK.


Digital Books:

Vortex Visions & Chosen Champion (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #1 and #2) by Elise Kova

I am reading this series through Kindle Unlimited so I’m counting these as adding to my bookshelf. I really enjoyed book one and have just started book two. I love being back in this world.

Have you read any of these? What was your last book added to your bookshelf? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

ARC Book Review and Blog Tour!: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 368 pages
Author: Emma Lord
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the digital copy and for the opportunity to be apart of the blog tour! All opinions are my own.

SO CUTE & CHARMING Y’ALL.

This is the first book I’ve read that comes out in 2020! And it was great. Love when that happens. This is such a simply sweet high school rom-com. Lets break it down.

Okay, Pepper and Jack? PRECIOUS. From the synopsis I assumed that the drama of their budding relationship would resonate from the Twitter war and was surprised (in a good way) when it went in another direction. I thought this created a lot less of a mess and was very well done. Pepper was a great MC, but the real star to me was Jack. I LOVE THAT LITTLE CINNAMON ROLL. The poor guy just wanted to be appreciated for him (don’t we all?). I love that Pepper always knew who he was (and never mistook him for his twin). They had great banter and amazing chemistry through Twitter, texting and being together in general. It was a great slow-forming (I wouldn’t say burn, only because this book isn’t sexual at all in nature – it’s a very YA romance, which is another great bonus point) romance that had me cheering by the time I finally got my kiss scene. I was loving all of the fluff these two were giving.

I am so here for Pepper being a baker y’all. As one myself, it really solidified my connection with her. I love how willing she was to help others and tried to genuinely be kind in situations where I would understand her flipping out. Pepper had to deal with a lot on all fronts; school, mom, friends, etc. and handled better than I probably would have.

Pepper’s Mom though? Ugh. I knew she was up to something and had surmised what her “reasoning” would be and was not impressed (not with the writing or anything, just in how this character acted). If anyone needed to grow up it was her. I didn’t like the way she treated Pepper and was over her acting like a child by the end. I’m glad she did have some resolution and started acting like an actual adult.

The writing was pretty solid, I felt at times there were a lot of repetitive phrasing. So much so that I’m noting it here because of how often it occurred. I liked the New York setting and thought it was a great quirk that Pepper was afraid to go outside of her bubble to further places in Manhattan (because that would SO BE ME). I haven’t read a book with Twitter and burger/grilled cheese restaurants at the fore front. This made me love it more because I felt it was a newer look for young adult contemporary. And for someone that doesn’t even have a Twitter account, I didn’t mind one bit.

This was a great debut book and I’m excited to see what Emma Lord has in store next. If this is any indication, it will be another hit. Definitely check this one out! It’s as cute as it sounds.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: some language throughout
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying

Author Bio:

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

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Book Review

Book Review: Field Notes on Love on Jennifer E. Smith

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 271 pages
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?

PURCHASING A TRAIN TICKET ASAP.

This was really cute! It was a surprisingly very short book too. It was clever and fun, and I was sad the ending was so abrupt. Though I do feel like I need to take my husband up on his offer to take me on a train ride (he’s only been asking me the entire time we’ve been together…)

I adore Hugo. He was sweet, tender-hearted, and a truly well meaning person. Hugo had a wonderful character arc over this fast paced book as he got to seek out what would make him happy. I think it’s a bit coming of age because we are all seeking to find what path we want to take after high school and Hugo was able to do that with the help of a stranger, Mae.

Mae had to grow on me. I didn’t love her personality at first, but I think Hugo truly brought out the best in her. And her Nana. I love her Nana! Such a spunky and loving character. Her support for Mae provided her the opportunity to figure out that it’s okay to open your heart up. I loved watching Mae work on her new movie and thought it was a unique concept that gave a different perspective to everyone who participated.

I love the train traveling concept and wish the time could have been spread out more. I think that’s why it was a short book though, a train ride is only so long. It was a growing up kind of experience for both Hugo and Mae. The ending stopped way before I thought it would and would have loved a bit of an epilogue to know how this couple is doing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: none

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Book Review

Book Review: Be the Girl by K.A. Tucker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 313 pages
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 21st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Almost sixteen-year-old Aria Jones is starting over. New postal code, new last name, new rules. But she doesn’t mind, because it means she can leave her painful regrets behind. In the bustling town of Eastmonte, she can become someone else. Someone better.

With the Hartford family living next door, it seems she will succeed. Sure, Cassie Hartford may be the epitome of social awkwardness thanks to her autism, but she also offers an innocent and sincere friendship that Aria learns to appreciate. And Cassie’s older brother, Emmett—a popular Junior A hockey player with a bright future—well … Aria wishes that friendship could lead to something more. If he didn’t already have a girlfriend, maybe it would.

But Aria soon finds herself in a dicey moral predicament that could derail her attempt at a fresh start. It is her loyalty to Cassie and her growing crush on Emmett that leads her to make a risky move, one that earns her a vindictive enemy who is determined to splinter her happy new world.

HAD A GREAT MESSAGE.

I picked this up namely for the authors’ name. I love The Simple Wild and how could I pass up a free book on Amazon Prime? Well, I couldn’t.

Though, this wasn’t the contemporary romance I thought I was getting. Was I disappointed? Only very little. Be the Girl has a strong anti-bullying message and I can definitely get on board with that. I think this should be a book more people pick up. Tucker captured a lot of issues that teenagers face daily that need more spotlight.

I really liked the boy next door romance. It was cute, simple, and flowed pretty smoothly. Emmett was easy to love and had all the makings of the typical high school romance character, good guy. Aria and Emmett had some great banter, a few heated kissing scenes and a lot of genuinely good conversation.

The real star was Emmett’s sister, Cassie. She was funny, genuine, kind, and seriously brought the best out of this book. I loved seeing that her and Emmett’s relationship wasn’t perfect. They deeply love each other, but could both struggle to communicate at times. Emmett protected her fiercely, and I love that Aria never had a second thought about being a true friend to her.

Supporting cast was on point. I love that parents were actually involved in their children’s lives. They were fun and quirky. Add in an old Uncle and an old dog and this cast really sang.

I would have loved a much longer ending. It was somewhat abrupt after the last few choices from Aria in how she handled starting over. I wanted to have more of her and Emmett’s relationship. They were getting that golden moment of being able to start again with the truth laid out.

Some of the bigger plot moments are left unmentioned to avoid spoilers. They do focus around bullying [including cyber-bullying] and the horrendous affects it can have one someone. Anyone can become a bully and it’s important to pay attention to those moments. This was a tale of regret and redemption for Aria.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a few kisses and heated make-outs (clothes stayed on, except for one time shirts were removed)
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: cheating spouse, bullying, cyber-bullying, underage drug use (marijuana), Chapter 22: mention of a suicide by overdose, bullying someone with a learning disability

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