Book Review

ARC Book Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Expected Release Date: October 22nd 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment Weekly) My Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

Thank you to Gallery Books and Goodreads for the ARC. This was my first ever Goodreads win! All opinions are my own.

YES, I READ THIS IN ONE SITTING.

Why you ask? Because Christina Lauren can do that to me.

I thought this was a great read, not my favorite by them, but still a solid quick book.

I liked most of the story line. The first love romance that happens on vacation and then is dramatically cut short and they are apart for years. The insta-young love happening here actually worked out well for me in this context. I am wary of second-chance romance stories and loved how this one was done.

What I didn’t love was the movie that Tate was filming during the second half of this book. It was fine and dandy and everything, but was taking up a lot of space in the story. Reading lines, doing scenes, etc. It made that feel like it was almost more important than Sam and Tate’s story. It also took away from Sam’s background. I never got to know much about him and wanted to connect deeper with his character.

Sam was precious though. I really did enjoy them re-connecting. They actually tried to communicate with each other and Tate had a chance to learn what actually happened between them. The very ending was the perfect Hallmark movie moment that I was SO HERE FOR. It was tender and sweet. Exactly how I expect and want CL books to end. HAPPY ENDINGS ALWAYS.

Leading up to the ending was a bit abrupt and rushed. I think there were a lot of unresolved Daddy issues that were NEVER resolved. Tate, for whatever reason, didn’t call out her Dad or stand up to him when she had multiple chances to do so. It left this line open ended, and trust me, her Dad deserved it. UGH.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a handful of detailed love scenes (I didn’t find them as vulgar as I’ve seen before, but they are definitely adult scenes)
  • Trigger warnings: cheating spouse

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Book Review

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 409 pages
Author: Josie Silver
Publisher: Broadyway Books
Expected Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

INFINITELY BETTER AS IT WENT ON.

So close.

This was another so close to DNF. I have unfortunately hit a streak of these, but luckily I am still giving them a chance! I started this as an audio book while owning a copy. I did NOT like the audio. I have no concrete reasons, couldn’t connect with the narrator, hated the MC and there was too much language for me to listen comfortably.

So I turned it off and instead tried reading the book. I read it over a month in short spans when I didn’t have to pick up my next book immediately. Did this help? YUP. Game changer.

Laurie really annoyed me at first with her inability to chill about Jack. I couldn’t handle the crazed enthusiasm to find this ONE GUY after seeing him ONE TIME. Then her continual pining for him while he was dating her best friend really bothered me.

Finally, finally. Laurie grew up a bit. Accepted the fate in her hands at present and went about her life. They all did. And from there I saw a growth in friendships, relationships, work, family, many areas! It was terribly difficult to watch the struggles, pain, and hardships that these three had to fight through. The story really blossomed and I was falling hard for Laurie, Jack, and Sarah.

By the end, the story had wrapped around my heart and held it in a tight grip as the movie-like ending rolled on the page. IT WAS SO PRECIOUS. And while cheesy was exactly what this book called for and made me hand over four stars. Why four? I personally could not handle the unnecessary use of language. It was flagrant, out of place and I didn’t like it. Also, since it took so long for me to go give this story a chance I knocked it down a bit.

If you’re like me and curious about this book, I would definitely give a try! Reese Witherspoon picked this book for a reason!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction romance
  • Language: a lot of strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, love scenes (ranging from fade-to-black to mildly descriptive)
  • Violence: car wreck, physical, emotional
  • Trigger warnings: cheating (by way of kisses), cheating (emotionally attached to someone while with someone else, yes, I do count this as a form of cheating)

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Book Review

Book Review: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 13th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about family, hope, and learning to love against all odds. 

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

WELL. THE SECOND HALF WAS MUCH BETTER.

I truly almost DNF this. I only kept reading because everyone else seemed to enjoy it and I was trying to figure out what I was missing. I did NOT like the MC, Cassie. She was quite full of herself, and I personally didn’t like how much she hated love. It came off as short-sighted and unwilling to be open-minded.

I also struggled with the writing style. Most of the time things were being TOLD to me and not SHOWN. I wanted more dialogue and interactions with characters, especially with Owen. Speaking of Owen, one large, annoying fact: I didn’t know his name until 49% way through the book. WHAT. I was so sick of him being called rookie. And I was so grateful when that bit was *mostly* over. I really couldn’t stand her co-workers at the fire department either. I feel like everything was laid on thick. Their crude jokes, misogynistic remarks and hazing really rubbed me the wrong way. Hallelujah that drifted off as the book went on.

Enter the second half of the book.

What a difference. I thought the writing picked up speed and that there was more showing vs. telling. While the relationship between Cassie and Owen was a touch insta-love, it was done well. It still wasn’t immediate which let me warm-up to them. I thought Owen was sweet, cute, and full of feelings. I liked their interactions and how Cassie had to learn to trust and rely on someone again.

There was additional drama thrown in from her Mom being present in the book. It was pretty obvious what that side plot line was and it didn’t make me feel one way or another. I did like that Cassie and her Mom got to connect again and to learn forgiveness. That was a big part of this book, forgiveness is more than saying sorry…(please someone name that movie)! I like how it wove into the story.

Cassie did win me over by the end of the book. I thought the growth she went through actually played a part in her actions and decisions. She didn’t say she was going to be different and then wasn’t, Cassie actually put into action the type of woman she wanted to be. The ending was super cutesy and all the heart eyes. Made me smile at least.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language throughout
  • Romance: some kisses, one love scene (little detailed, mostly fade to black)
  • Violence: massive fires, physical, see Trigger section for more
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault (unwanted touching – Chapter 2), inappropriate workplace jokes, sexism, misogynism, harassment, hazing, suicide attempt (by drug overdose – Chapter 28), addiction to painkillers, a description of past rape (mostly vague, chapter 28)

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Book Review

Book Review: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Fiction + Contemporary Romance
Length: 291 pages
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

A QUICK READ WITH ALL THE FEELS.

This is one of those books that came in hard and fast and left me reeling.

Annika is a brave, strong, caring and loyal woman. She is on the autism spectrum and while I can’t speak to whether this was a good depiction or not, I love how quirky, unfiltered, and sweet she was.

This was a second chance love story with Annika’s first everything love, Jonathan. I ADORED HIM. He was someone who may not have always understood Annika, but never tried to force her into something she wasn’t comfortable with or treat her poorly otherwise. I think we all want to feel that kind of respect and love in our lives. Their relationship flowed beautifully and I appreciated that this second-chance wasn’t because of some over dramatic break-up. Both Annika and Jonathan may not have handled the break-up in the best way (which they both acknowledged), they were at least finally able to discuss what needed to be said.

JANICE. What a friend y’all. I also think everyone needs a friend like her. She was absolutely wonderful and I thought her and Annika’s friendship was amazing. Their friendship grew and changed over time as well, and I love that they continually reached out to one another even when states apart.

I thought this was a great use of the back and forth timeline trope. Sometimes it can get bogged down in one area or another, but this one flipped back and forth at the perfect times. The chapters are shorter and easily flow. I literally finished this book in one day because I could NOT PUT IT DOWN.

The twist towards the end did blindside me a bit. There were definitely a few hints I am now looking back and realizing. Was it necessary to add that craziness? Maybe not, but I still panicked and flipped out nonetheless. I didn’t love how quickly it ended, but since I got my tender and sweet love story I’m okay with it. I could have definitely used an epilogue though.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction + Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a few explicit love scenes (but not vulgar if that makes sense)
  • Trigger warnings: bullying, miscarriage, depression, suicide ideation, plane crashes

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Book Review

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Avoiding On My TBR and WHY

This is such a fun week! I’m excited about this topic and dove right into my TBR to find some books.

I found a list of books that I’m definitely hiding from for a myriad of reasons. Check them out below!

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

WHY – I have heard great things about this middle grade series, but it’s also a LONG series and LONG books. And I just haven’t hit the mood of wanting to read them yet. I can get them all digitally from my library though which is a huge plus.


Eidolon (Wraith Kings #2) by Grace Draven

WHY – I really loved the first book, Radiance, and thought I’d dive right into the next one but never got the chance. Now I’m afraid I’ve waited too long and won’t love it like I want to. So there it sits on my TBR.


The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

WHY – I have seen SO MANY CONFLICTING REVIEWS Y’ALL. Everything from 1 star I hated this, to 5 star this was amazing. Which is why I stare at it on my shelf and have yet to pick it up.


Princes at War by Deborah Cadbury

WHY – I am a mood reader. And I haven’t really been in the mood for a non-fiction. I picked this up for super cheap on Book Outlet and I really hope to get to this soon. It sounds interesting!


Hunting Prince Dracula & Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

WHY – I’m including these together since they’re by the same author. I have wanted to continue this series and binge the last two before Capturing the Devil came out. My library hasn’t gotten EFH yet though. And I’ve requested a few times without getting anywhere. They have the first two so I thought they would be cool with getting the third? UGH.


The Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer #3) by Elizabeth May

WHY – I’m not loving this series as much as I’ve seen other people. And since I’ve been reading it through the library it’s turned into an out of sight, out of mind book. I might eventually get to it, we’ll see.


Vortex Visions (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles #1) by Elise Kova

WHY – Okay, it’s no secret around here. I LOVE THE AIR AWAKENS SERIES WITH MY WHOLE BOOKISH HEART. This is the next series and is a spin-off. Oh how I want to read it. Oh how I’m frightened to meet new characters and know I will compare it to Air Awakens.


The Devil’s Thief (The Last Magician #2) by Lisa Maxwell

WHY – After super enjoying The Last Magician, I was excited to get to The Devil’s Thief. Then I saw some reviews and people seem to hate the second book?! WHY. This makes me want to pick it up, and also hide from it.


Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

WHY – I LOVED BEARTOWN. And thought I would pick up book two immediately. I spoke to a Bookstagram friend about why she DNF this one. She mentioned that it was a bit repetitive if you read it right after Beartown (they go over everything that happens in book one). So for now I’m putting this away until I can’t remember Beartown quite enough to really love this one.

What books are you hiding from on your TBR? Are any of these on your list? Lets talk in the comments! Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

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BOTM

Special Announcement: September BOTM YA Book Picks (And what I chose this month!)

This post may contain referral/affiliate links. If you buy something, I may earn a commission.

Howdy! We have school’s back in session, the air maybe getting a touch cooler, and Hobby Lobby already making sure you have your Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas supplies READY.

But a new month also means new BOTM YA books! I am excited about this months picks (I’ve even read one of them already) and can’t wait for my book to get here. Check out below the options and if you’re interested please make sure you to use the link below!

Book of the Month YA

Fantasy:

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

I received an eARC through Netgalley, find my review here!

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.


Contemporary Romance:

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out…


Historical Fantasy:

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Debut!)

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.


Contemporary Fiction:

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner. 

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.


Contemporary Romance:

Frankly in Love by David Yoon (Debut!)

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

My pick for September is: The Ten Thousand Doors of January! I hadn’t even heard about it until reading over the options for this month and it sounds like a great pick. I’m going to be reading it with a friend and we’re both excited to check out this debut.

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Book Review

Book Review: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Adult contemporary romance
Length: 306 pages
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: July 17th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Colleen Hoover delivers a tour de force novel about a troubled marriage and the one old forgotten promise that might be able to save it.

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

ALL THE EMOTIONS.

This book tore me up. I love anything CoHo writes. I haven’t read all of her books, but currently I’m at 8 of them and this one might be my favorite yet. Hoover is able to take this intense situations and emotions and create a book that somehow still gives you hope at the end (even if you’re crying).

I really felt this book because of it’s main issue, infertility. This is not a light conversation ever and while I personally haven’t had to deal with this, I know many families who have. I thought the way the book conveyed how deeply infertility can affect someone (and those around them) was done well. There were so many sides to take in and brought in a lot of moments that made the book an easy five stars.

“I love you more in this moment than any moment that has come before it.” 

The now vs. then timeline had me speeeeed reading because I had to know what happened next. It was the perfect stop and starts as I got to see them fall in love, and find that love again. The last couple of chapters with Graham’s letters DESTROYED ME. I seriously went to go kiss my husband after finishing this book because it made me consider a lot. Every couple has to remember why they love each other sometimes and not to give in at the same time. So many truths in this book.

Characters made me want to hug them, yell at them, cry with them, and much more. I couldn’t believe some actions taken by others. It was hard to watch. I am in awe of how great this book was and I am forever a CoHo fan.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a bit of strong language
  • Romance: kiss, make-outs, detailed romance scenes
  • Trigger warnings: self-harm (MC cuts her wrist once), infidelity, infertility, miscarriage, depression, grief, cheating,

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