ROMANTIC YA CONTEMPORARY: All This Time Review

Summary (from the publisher):

From the team behind #1 New York Times bestseller Five Feet Apart comes a gripping new romance that asks: Can you find true love after losing everything?

Kyle and Kimberly have been the perfect couple all through high school, but when Kimberly breaks up with him on the night of their graduation party, Kyle’s entire world upends—literally. Their car crashes and when he awakes, he has a brain injury. Kimberly is dead. And no one in his life could possibly understand.

Until Marley. Marley is suffering from her own loss, a loss she thinks was her fault. And when their paths cross, Kyle sees in her all the unspoken things he’s feeling.

As Kyle and Marley work to heal each other’s wounds, their feelings for each other grow stronger. But Kyle can’t shake the sense that he’s headed for another crashing moment that will blow up his life as soon as he’s started to put it back together.

And he’s right.

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, AudibleB&N Exclisive Edition, iBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

I’ve been making my way BACK to my one true love, YA contemporary, in August & September, which led me to pick up Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott’s upcoming release, All This Time. I haven’t yet read their absolute hit, Five Feet Apart, but maybe I will soon because I so easily fell into their second book! All This Time follows Kyle’s worst nightmare turned true. As high school sweethearts Kyle and Kimberley break up on the night of their graduation, they get into a car accident. When Kyle wakes up from his brain injury, he finds out Kimberley died in the accident. Kyle struggles with his pain and grief, feeling like no one can possibly understand what he’s going through, except for Marley, a girl who’s suffering from a loss of her own. Despite that Kyle works through his grief with Marley by his side, he can’t help but feel that everything can’t be as right as it seems. 

All This Time reminded me of why I fell in love with YA contemporary & romances. This book would’ve been one of my favorite reads back in high school because it just speaks so much to first love and heartbreak. Kyle’s story of course takes on very tragic and somber tone, but Mikki Daughty and Rachel Lippincott’s writing style was very easy to fall into. I read the book in 2 or 3 sittings, but I definitely recommend breezing through this one on a cozy night in this fall. It’s also had been a while since I read a YA with a male protagonist or narrated by the lead male character, but I think Kyle’s storytelling was very relatable to anyone who’s suffered from loss or going through first love. 

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Top Five Wednesday: Romance Books I Should Read 

Today’s Top Five Wednesday topic is called “Reader Canon,” where we are prompted to talked about books that everyone in our bookish community has read. We can take this topic in any direction we’d like, whether that’’s by talking about five books we consider to be must reads, books we want to read, or books we just haven’t read. I’m going to take the second direction and talk about some contemporary romances I want to pick up.. eventually! I always tend to have books in the back of my mind or on my TBR that I know I should read. When I’m in the mood for that said genre or book, I usually just go to the library and pick it up that day! 

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – I feel guilty calling myself a contemporary romance reader when I haven’t read one of the most popular contemporary romance reads, The Kiss Quotient. This is a case of the hype keeping me away, but I know I’ll likely pick it up one day at the library. 

The Happily Ever After (The Friend Zone #2) by Abby Jimenez – The Happily Ever After completely took over my Instagram and blog feeds this spring. I know The Happily Ever After is the companion novel/second book to The Friend Zone, and while I believe there’s spoilers for the first book, so many people have said that you don’t need to read the first book to absolutely fall in love with this one. Read More »

TWO 2020 FAVORITES, ONE MISS: Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews

It’s one of my reading missions in life to also have a contemporary romance book ready to read! If you’re absolutely loving all the amazing contemporary romances that have come out in 2020, I have another two 2020 releases for you to read… and a 2019 much-loved release to maybe avoid….

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

On a beautiful day in August, I decided I wanted a fluffy book that would occupy my full attention while floating around the pool, which led me to pick up Mia Sosa’s The Worst Best Man. I’ll read nearly any book that has something to do with weddings. This contemporary romance follows Lina, a wedding planner who was left at the altar three years ago when her fiancé’s best man, Max, convinced Andrew to not get married the night before the wedding. Three years later, Lina is up for a wedding planning position at a luxury hotel in Washington D.C. and is forced to work with Max to prepare marketing materials for her final presentation. Although Lina finally gets the opportunity for some payback, her and Max begin to connect in ways both of them would have never expected.

The Worst Best Man is seriously one of my favorite contemporary romances of 2020! I instantly fell into this story and Lina and Max’s attraction. I thought it had the perfect balance between romance & relationship development, the setting, and the personal challenges each character faces. As I’ve said before, Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings are among my favorite reality TV shows, so I loved getting the inside look at wedding planning. I thought Lina’s job and all the details were so well-developed. As someone who has experience in marketing, it was also really fun to learn about Max’s job as a marketing executive and seeing him and Lina collaborate on their pitch. We also spend a lot of time with each character’s family, as Lina comes from a close-knit family led by women and is planning her favorite cousin’s wedding, while Max and Andrew are going head to head for the hotel pitch. 

This book  hit a home run when it come to one of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers. Lina and Max seriously had no feelings or attraction for each other at the start and even as their feelings begin to build, Lina is still getting revenge on Max for helping ruin her big day. I loved their antics and their more emotional scenes, romance scenes of course included. Read More »

FALL 2020 MUST READ: Grown Review

Summary (from the publisher): 

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom. 

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight. 

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields? All signs point to Enchanted. 

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown is a stand-out young adult must-read for 2020. The book follows seventeen year old Enchanted Jones, who dreams of becoming a singer. When she meets a legendary R&B artist, Korey, at an audition, Korey takes Enchanted under his wings. Soon though, Enchanted’s biggest dream of working with an artist like Korey turns into her biggest nightmare. Grown is filled with heavy content – sexual assault, rape, abuse, drug use all included – but it was such an addicting and important read.

Grown was very easy for me to fly through because I needed to know what happened next and quickly fell into Tiffany D. Jackson’s storytelling. I started Grown on a Sunday night and had it finished by the following Monday morning. However, the book is filled with very heavy content. Korey is 28 years old while Enchanted is only 17, which makes their relationship illegal and very complicated. Korey also abuses Enchanted. Her fear was very difficult to read. It was super uncomfortable to read the story at times, but I totally understand the author’s purpose and honestly, the fact that we as readers are likely supposed to feel uncomfortable by Korey’s actions. While Tiffany D. Jackson states in her author’s note that while her book is inspired by a case, it is not about R. Kelley. It was extremely frustrating, but unfortunately realistic  to read that no one believed Enchanted’s side of the story. It was also so, so frustrating to understand how many people knew about how Korey treated Enchanted and other women.

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Author Interview: A Place Called Zamora Q&A

The fall and winter makes me crave fantasy and dystopian books, which makes me so excited to share today’s interview with LB Gschwandtner! If you’re always craving a book that fulfills your The Hunger Games feels, her dystopian release might just do the trick!

Summary (from the publisher:

Niko and El are trapped in a politically corrupt dystopian city where brutality rules. After winning a cynical race where only one rider can survive, Niko tosses aside his chance to join the city’s corrupt inner circle by choosing lovely, innocent El as his prize―thus upsetting the ruling order and placing them both in mortal danger. With the Regime hunting them and the children of the city fomenting a guerrilla revolt, the two attempt a daring escape to the possibly mythical utopia, Zamora. But as events unfold, the stirrings of love El once felt for Niko begin to morph into mistrust and fear. If they reach Zamora, will Niko ever claim his secret birthright? And what will the future hold if he loses El’s love?

Author Interview with LB Gschwandtner

What is your book about?

The perilous love story of Niko and El unfolds against the backdrop of a brutal post-apocalyptic regime in a city controlled by corrupt systems at every level. After winning a cynical race where only one rider can survive, Niko tosses aside his chance to join the corrupt inner circle by choosing lovely, innocent El as his prize and puts them both in mortal danger. With the Regime hunting them, Niko and El must escape the city and find the possibly mythical Zamora where they hope to be safe. But the stirrings of love El once felt for Niko have turned into mistrust and fear. What will life in Zamora hold for these two if love is lost?

At its core, this story is about corruption. Yes, it’s a love story, too. But corruption takes many forms and is fed by many causes. The seven deadly sins of course. But there are others. And one of them is political corruption which, if we have the will to see it, has taken over much of our political system. Not all, but a lot of it. I’ve been appalled by the over the top blatant corruption in our country. Appalled and saddened. What happened to the beacon to the world, to the shining city on a hill (which was always a myth anyway but…)? We now have a class of billionaires an ever-shrinking middle class, and a growing base of people who can’t afford basic life necessities. And yet we are the “richest” country in the world. We can be rich in money and poor in spirit until eventually what created all that wealth will be an ever-shrinking resource that migrates to a few at the expense of many. And that will inevitably lead to less for most.Read More »

I LOVE THESE BOOKS: Adult Fiction and Non Fiction Mini Reviews

You might know that I devoured 17 books in August and had plenty of favorites, which included the following 2 adult fiction reads and my non-fiction read of the month: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, The Book of V. by Anna Solomon, and Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Rodham is for sure a read that divides readers. This adult fiction reads follows a young Hillary Rodham and what her life could have been like if she didn’t marry Bill Clinton. The first third of the book or so does follow Hillary and Bill’s relationship until their eventual break-up and Hillary’s personal life and political career from that point on. 

Many readers & reviewers have questioned how the ethical the book is, since it is a fictionalized account of Hillary’s life and includes depictions of many real figures. However, I can’t help but I admit that I absolutely loved this book and found it so thought-provoking! It’s clear that Curtis Sittenfeld put a ton of research behind Rodham, since the book does take into account Hillary’s real life and many real people. I thought it was so clever how Curtis Sittenheld meshed the real and fictional together. The book takes place from Hillary’s graduation from Wellesley College and all the way through the 2016 presidential election. Yes, this is especially where Curtis Sittenfeld really makes her own alternate reality, but it was just so, so fascinating to think about what could have been. Although I loved it, I know some readers might again recognize that some readers might not feel comfortable with Curtis Sittenfeld’s choices, especially when it comes to Bill Clinton and his depiction, specifically regarding his relationships with other women. I think I did a biography report on Hillary Clinton back in middle school, but I admit that immediately after I finished Rodham, I went into a Google deep dive about the Clintons! Rodham would make for such an interesting and endless talk-worthy book choice amongst friends or a book club! I could see myself picking up Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep or American Wife in the future. Read More »

TIMELY YA READ: Punching the Air Review

Summary (from the publisher): From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo. 

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born 

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white. 

The story that I think

will be my life 

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

I really can’t come up with a YA title to compare Punching the Air to because it is just so, so different from what is out in the YA book world. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book that follows a protagonist who is incarcerated, let alone one that deals with such timely themes and conversations. Co-written by Ibi Zoiboi and Yuself Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, Punching the Air is a YA novel told in verse following Amal, a teenager who is incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The novel begins with Amal’s court case and decision and soon transitions into his life living in a juvenile detention center. 

Punching the Air caused me to have so many visceral reactions, especially in stanzas when Amal is describing the violence and depression he experiences inside juvenile detention. The reader really begins to feel his frustration and anger, especially when talking to the social worker and other adults who can’t comprehend what Amal is going through. There are so many important stanzas centered around race and discrimination, as Amal identifies as Black and Muslim. Amal is also an artist, and he often attempts to work through his frustration with his (white) art teacher who never understood Amal or his desire to learn about artists with a similar identity as him. Amal tries to rely on art as a form of escapism while in prison, but he often prevented from doing so because it is seen as privilege there. 

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A BOOKISH HOLIDAY YA CONTEMPORARY: Recommended For You Review

Summary (from the publisher):

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets You’ve Got Mail in this charming and hilarious rom-com following two teen booksellers whose rivalry is taken to the next level as they compete for the top bookseller bonus.

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.

When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.

Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.

But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

Everyone knows that I’m crave bookish YA books, which made Laura Silverman’s Recommended For You one of my most anticipated releases this fall… not to mention that it takes place during one of my favorite times of the year, the holiday season! Shoshanna Greenberg is spending her winter break at her favorite place in the world, Once Upon, the local bookstore where she works. When her boss announces that the employee who sells the most books will receive a holiday bonus, Shoshanna is ready to up her book recommendation game even more so she can finally fix up her beloved car. What’s preventing her from doing so is Once Upon’s newest employee, Jake, both for that fact that he doesn’t even read and his charm. 

Recommended For You is one of the cutest enemies-to-lovers books that I’ve ever read!  It had such a fantastic atmosphere, between the holiday season and the bookstore & mall. The book takes place over the week leading up to Christimas, with Shoshanna’s family wrapping up their Hanukkah celebrations and Shoshanna working every day leading up to Christmas. Although I haven’t worked in a mall, I have worked in retail and Laura Silverman perfectly summarized the chaos surrounding last minute holiday shopping. Shoshanna’s best friends also work in the mall, and I loved their food court hang outs.

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Jenna Takes The Fall by A.R. Taylor Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Twenty-four years old and newly employed in Manhattan, Jenna McCann agrees to place herself under the dead body of a wealthy, prominent New Yorker―her boss―to hide the identity of his real lover. But why?

Because she is half in love with him herself; because her only friend at Hull Industries asked her to; because she feared everyone around her; because she had no idea how this would spin out into her own, undeveloped life; because she had nothing and no one?

Or just because?

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

The first line of the synopsis for A.R. Taylor’s Jenna Takes The Fall instantly caught my attention. The novel begins with twenty-four year old, NYC newbie Jenna falsely owning up as her billionaire boss’ mistress when he suddenly dies to hide the identity of his true lover. 

Jenna Takes The Fall was really different from most books that I normally read. It was this interesting cross between thriller and contemporary fiction, especially because the book begins with Jenna’s role in her boss’ death. The book is split between her life working at a newspaper conglomerate as an executive assistant of sorts to her new life after being bought out by the company’s law team. The reader definitely needs to suspend their sense of disbelief that Jenna is so willing to cover up the identity of a fellow co-worker in what would’ve been a huge cheating scandal without knowing really why she must do so. 

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17 BOOKS 1 FANGIRL: August 2020 Wrap Up

August was another one of those strange months where it felt long and short at the same time! This month, I celebrated my twenty-second birthday, had more beach & pool days, finished my first semester of grad school, and read a ton of books! I had two weeks in August in between the summer and fall semesters, so I spent so, so much time reading! I think it also helped that I didn’t have a ton of new shows coming out (aside from the 3 seasons that I did binge and my weekly reality TV schedule, oops), but I was also just genuinely in the mood to read! I knew in the back of my mind that I likely won’t be able to devour 17 books a month for the rest of 2020 or until at least December, since I just started my fall semester last Monday and have a pretty big course load. 

I have reviews already published and coming for 15 of 16 out of the follow books so I’m not going to be sharing my mini thoughts on them, with the exception of the books I DNF’ed. 

Anna K by Jenny Lee | 5/5 Stars

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wien | 2.5/5

The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan | 4.75/5 

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid | 4/5 Read More »