NEW ADULT FAKE DATING: The Dare (Briar U #4) Review

Summary (from the author):

52918684._SY475_College was supposed to be my chance to get over my ugly-duckling complex and spread my wings. Instead, I wound up in a sorority full of mean girls. I already have a hard time fitting in, so when my Kappa Chi sisters issue the challenge, I can’t say no.

The dare: seduce the hottest new hockey player in the junior class.

Conor Edwards is a regular at Greek Row parties…and in Greek Row sorority beds. He’s the one you fall for before you learn that guys like him don’t give girls like me a second glance. Except Mr. Popular throws me for a loop—rather than laughing in my face, he does me a solid by letting me take him upstairs to pretend we’re getting busy.

Even crazier, now he wants to keep pretending. Turns out Conor loves games, and he thinks it’s fun to pull the wool over my frenemies’ eyes.

But resisting his easy charm and surfer-boy hotness is darn near impossible. Though I’m realizing there’s much more to Conor’s story than his fan club can see.

And the longer this silly ruse goes on, the greater the danger of it all blowing up in my face.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

I was beyond excited when Elle Kennedy announced back in April that there would be a fourth installment in the Briar U series. This spin-off series to the Off-Campus series follow a new set of hockey players and college students at the fictional Ivy League school, Briar University – but don’t worry, there’s plenty of cameos from the Off-Campus series! The Dare follows college junior & aspiring teacher, Taylor, who’s had enough of the mean girls in her sorority and California surfer & heartthrob of the Briar U hockey team, Conor. When Taylor and Conor begin to fake date after a dare, the two realize that could potentially be a couple even without being dared to. 

The Dare was a fun take on the fake dating trope. I really liked how Conor and Taylor are friends before moving on to anything really romance-related. Most of the relationships in the Briar U world start with romance before relationship statuses are set, so it was a refreshing take. I’ll admit that sometimes the boys of Off-Campus & Briar U blend together, but I feel like Conor wasn’t as much as a bad boy & player as some of the other guys. I also really liked Taylor as a protagonist, having enjoyed her relationships with her mom and her best friend, Sasha. It was also fun reading about her field experience as a student teacher. 

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Books I Loved & Not So Loved: YA Mini Reviews

I’ve read so many YA books this spring & summer that I can’t help but fangirl all over about (although I have had a few misses here or there). Today I’ll be sharing two books I LOVED and one I unfortunately didn’t love as much as I wish I had.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

If there’s at least one 2019 YA release that you need to catch up on, it’s Elizabeth downloadAcevedo’s With the Fire on High! With the Fire on High has received so much hype & praise from my bookish friends & fellow bloggers that I knew it was time to finally pick it up. The book follows Emoni, a high school senior living in Philadelphia who dreams of running her own kitchen. When her high school offers a culinary arts class that includes a week-long trip to Spain, Emoni is willing to do anything she can to make sure she gets into that class and go on the trip. But life has never been easy for Emoni, especially now as she raises her two year old daughter and tries to balance her life as a high school student and mother, with her abuela there to support.

Elizabeth Acevedo is so well known for her beautifully written verse. Although With the Fire on High isn’t written in verse, her writing style shines through and was so descriptive! The chapters are between 2-5 pages each, with each chapter title’s alluding to its main theme. I always feel like I blow through books with shorter chapters faster for some reason, which only added to how I could not put With the Fire on High down. Emoni was a really complex character. I think what is likely the most intriguing part of her story is that Emoni has a daughter, having had her when she was a freshman in high school.  Emoni directly disputes a lot of the stereotypes associated with her as a mother. Emoni has to make some tough decisions as a student and as a mother, but she fortunately has her grandmother and her best friend to help support her and her daughter, Emma. Growing up in a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood in Philadelphia there are also somer really great discussions surrounding race, as Emoni identifies as Afro-Puerto Rican.Read More »

Happy 22nd Birthday to Me: 22 Favorite Books, TV Shows & More 

If you couldn’t tell by the title, today is my twenty-second birthday. To say the least, it’s definitely a weird birthday thanks to our current reality. I’ll be going out shopping – in mostly outdoor shopping outlets –  for the first time since January and I have plans to celebrate with friends later on this week. 21 was a big growing up year for me, and despite the events of the last five months or so, I loved being 21. I think 22 is going to be another big growing up year for me, as I navigate post-college life, real working world and grad school included. I’m trying to be more optimistic and less stressed in August, and I want to do my best to carry out this attitude this year!

I wanted to bring some birthday cheer to the blog today, so I’ll be sharing 22 of my favorite things that have brought me so much joy this summer, in the forms of books, TV/movies, and podcasts – you’ll likely recognize a few repeats from my monthly wrap-ups but I can’t stop gushing about them so much! I also didn’t want to share strictly books because I recently shared my favorite reads of 2020, and let’s be honest yearly wrap ups or a summer wrap up will be here before we know it!

Books

Some books that I’ve LOVED but haven’t shared too many details about yet or full reviews for include: 

The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks – I feel like I’ve mentioned The Heir Affair in so many blog posts this summer, but I officially read & finished it last week… and I can’t stop thinking about this sequel to The Royal We! I actually got too impatient to wait for a physical copy from the library, so I borrowed a digital copy and devoured it on my Kindle in about 2 days. The Heir Affair was everything I wanted in this sequel, and while I’m really content with the way it ended, I seriously would not mind a third book. 

Anna K by Jenny Lee – Anna K is hands-down one of the best YA books I’ve read in 2020. I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to use the Gossip Girl meets Crazy Rich Asians comparison because while it has GG vibes (and honestly not really CRA), it is such a story of its own. I loved its Anna Karenina retelling, and it just felt so mature. I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on the upcoming sequel. Read More »

Folklore Book Tag 

Music Taylor SwiftOut of all the things, books and film included, that haven’t been able to happen in 2020, the last thing that I expected this year was a new Taylor Swift album! folklore is not my absolute favoriteeee Taylor Swift album… but that doesn’t mean I haven’t listened to it at every opportunity possible! I really do love its indie vibe, and I find that it makes for the perfect background music while I’m doing school work or blogging. Like every TSwift album, my top 3 favorite songs are always changing but my current three faves are “betty,” “illicit affairs,” and “august” (with “exile” and “invisible string” as a very close #4 & #5). I’m also going to be providing my thoughts on each song in the corresponding prompts!

This album has also caused me to fall into Taylor Swift Tik Toks – I especially love the ones focusing on the bridge of “betty” transitioning into the “All Too Well” bridge and the ones comparing life when Lover came out last August vs. pandemic life with folklore. I definitely relate to this last category so much, considering that when I did the Lover book tag last fall, I was starting my senior year of college, commuting to the city every week, and living with my best friends…. but at least we have folklore now to compliment all of our feels! I also admit that I came to close to hitting ‘submit order’ for the merch cardigan from the “cardigan” music video, but I’ve determined to find a lookalike! 

The folklore book tag was created by Ilsa of A Whisper of Ink, and I was tagged by Rebecca of bookishlyrebecca. I also want to shout out Erin from rin’s reads, where I first saw the tag and I love her graphics for each question! I also really loved Cristina from Girl in the Pages’ folklore-inspired post, where she paired books on her TBR with songs on the album!

the one: a book with an ending that left you speechless

I’m going to go with a recent read of mine, Verity by Colleen Hoover. It’s been a while that I’ve read a book with an ending that still has me thinking about it and rethinking the book’s ending weeks later! 

song review: I think “the 1” is a strong first song, and it sort’ve reminds me of the vibes of Lover’s first song, “I Forgot That You Existed.”Read More »

August 2020 TBR ft. ARC August

I go in spurts of sharing my monthly to-be-read piles, mainly because I’m such a big mood reader and I tend to read more than what I list on my published TBRs – including this August TBR. I have a few books on hold from the library, so what I actually read will largely revolve around what books I’m able to get. I already have a few books out from the library that I need or want to finish – although my library is actually extending due dates past the usual 2 week deadline. With the fall publishing season right around the corner, I also have a few books that I need to read for review. I am really excited to be once again participating in ARC August, an annual readathon hosted by Octavia and Shelley of Read. Sleep. Repeat. This TBR will be split into my ‘regular’ TBR and my TBR for ARC August. 

Library & Owned Books TBR

The Heir Affair ( The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – After rereading The Royal We last week, I couldn’t wait any longer to read the sequel and I decided to checkout a digital copy from the library. I’ve had a hold for a physical copy of The Heir Affair for over a month now, but I think my country library system is a little behind on receiving new releases. I’m currently reading this one & loving it so far – if my physical copy does come in soon enough, I’ll probably transition to the digital to physical copy… but let’s be honest, I’ll probably will be finished reading it by then!

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare – I hauled The Duchess Deal in last’s month library haul, so I won’t go into too much detail. I do plan on reading this one ASAP, although it’s not due until September. I took a little break from romance in the second half of July, but I know I’ll be ready to jump back in ASAP.

The Worst Man by Mia Sosa – The Worst Man was also part of my July library haul, but I know once I’m really back into the romance reading mood, this will be one of the first books I pick up!

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover – After really enjoying Verity last month, I’ve decided to give Colleen Hoover’s another go, starting with Regretting You. So many of my friends have loved this one and it seems like a really great blend of YA and adult romance. Read More »

All The Right Mistakes by Laura Jamison Review

Summary (from the publisher):

alrFive college friends have arrived at forty in very different circumstances, but with at least one thing in common: they are among the more privileged in society. Elizabeth and Sara are lawyers, Martha is a doctor, Carmen is a wealthy and well-educated homemaker, and Heather, the most successful, is a famous tech executive―and after more than two decades of friendship, they know one another better than anyone.

Then Heather writes a women’s advice book detailing the key life “mistakes” of her four friends―opting out, ramping off, giving half effort, and forgetting your fertility―that becomes wildly popular, and Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, and Carmen all feel the sting of Heather’s cruel words. Despite their status, these women face everyday obstacles, including work problems, parenting challenges, secondary infertility, racism, sexism, financial stress, and marital woes―and as they weather their fortieth year, each one can’t help but wonder if their life might have been different if they had followed Heather’s advice.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Laura Jamison’s debut, All the Right Mistakes, was the first book I read while floating around the pool this summer – and it was the perfect choice! I’m always ready for any book about female friends from college, especially having been obsessed with Elizabeth Ames’ The Other’s Gold last summer. 

Ever since their first move-in day at Dartmouth, Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, Carmen, and Heather have been best friends. Instead of bonding over sorority rushes and homework like they used to, the women are now more likely to talk about their struggles with work-life balance and motherhood over anything else, despite having found success in their own ways. But when Heather, a famous tech executive, publishes an advice book based on her friends’ ‘mistakes,’ the other four begin to question each other’s friendship and all the choices that they’ve made since. 

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BEST READING MONTH OF 2020: July 2020 Wrap Up

July was a weird month. It wasn’t bad in the least bit – I had plenty of days floating around the pool, I was finally able to hang out with friends from college whom I hadn’t seen since we left campus in March, went to the beach every week, celebrated one of my best friend’s 22nd birthday, AND got a new T-Swift album! At the same time, I was really busy with grad school this month, and I feel like my uncertainty for the rest of this year really set in.

I’m really content with the amount of books I read July, having read 14 in total! I feel like I’m really in my summer reading groove now – I find that I basically binge read 2-4 books every week between Thursday through Sunday! I read books that I LOVED this month, but I also had a few misses. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read so many good books this year and a few that have become all-time favorites, but I don’t really have any big expectations for the second half of my 2020 reading year just because of the way life IRL is right now.

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The Dare (Briar U #4) by Elle Kennedy | 4/5 Stars

The Dare was another fun installment in the Briar U series (review is coming in August!), but it wasn’t my absolute favorite in the series.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee | 4.5

The Idea of You was so, so worth the read – if you need a scandalous romance this summer, pick this one up!

Playing with Matches by Hannah Orenstein | 5/5

I’ve been really excited to read Head Over Heels soon, so I figured I should try Hannah Orenstein’s debut, Playing with Matches, beforehand and I LOVED it!

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo | 4/5

I’ve made it my mission to read all of Elizabeth Acevedo’s books this year, and I started with her latest release, Clap When You Land. It was such a unique story, and I loved Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing.

Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl | 5/5

I want to put Have a Little Faith in Me in the hands of every reader looking for a summer camp read or YA book with tons of sex positivity and discussions.Read More »

BEST YA SUMMER CAMP READ: Have a Little Faith in Me Review

Summary (from the publisher): 

417JivBqhwLWhen CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan—God’s or CeCe’s—goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.

Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul—is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:
I think almost every YA contemporary fan craves a book set at camp during the summer. Sonia Hartl’s puts such a unique spin on the YA summer camp setting with Have a Little Faith in Me. In Have a Little Faith in Me, when her born-again boyfriend breaks up with her after they have sex, CeCe decides to follow him to Christian summer camp to win him back. Problem? CeCe knows nothing about Jesus or Christianity, making her best friend Paul go along with her. When CeCe gets to camp, she discovers that there’s a lot more for her untangle about her relationship with Ethan than she thought. She also soon finds out that her fellow female campers and cabin mates could use some advice when it comes to relationships and sexuality.

Although there is seriousness surrounding sex and faith, Have a Little Faith in Me was such a funny read. A lot of its humor came from CeCe and Paul. Their friendship screamed instant chemistry from the get-go. I loved all of their ‘that would make for a great band name’ jokes and stories. Everyone knows that I love a well-executed fake-dating trope, and Paul and CeCe’s fake relationship totally sold in Have a Little Faith in Me. I also loved how their fake relationship and budding feelings for one another didn’t take the entirety of the novel.Read More »

Anticipated Releases Tag: 2020 Edition 

I can’t believe it will soon be time for me to share my Fall 2020 anticipated releases lists! I plan on having one or two posts dedicated to the rest of the 2020 releases I’m excited about towards the end of August or in early September, but today’s Anticipated Releases Tag will give a sneak peek of the books I’m most excited about! I first did the anticipated releases tag back in 2019. The tag was originally created by Ellyn of Allonsythornraxx.

81VNTxfWaCLMost Anticipated Release 

I’m currently the most excited about Majesty by Katherine McGee, the sequel to American Royals. American Royals was in my top 3 favorite books of 2020. I’ve basically been waiting for the sequel to come out since last summer, especially because of it’s ending! I think I’m going to reread American Royals in August to re-familiarize myself on this book following the AMERICAN royal family. 

 

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A Book You’re Not Anticipating 

I probably will pick it up at some point, but I’m not super excited for Marissa Meyer’s Instant Karma. I’m so for reading any genre from Marissa Meyer, but I’m not that interested in the slight magical realism aspect.

 

Most Underhyped Release 

I’m so excited for Laura Taylor Namey’s A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, especially because I loved her debut, The Library of Lost Things. 

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FAVORITE YA ROM-COM: Today Tonight Tomorrow Review

Summary (From the publisher):
Today Tonight TomorrowToday, she hates him.

It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.

Tonight, she puts up with him.

When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.

As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.

Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

I usually save the following statements until the end of the review but here it goes: Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon is one of my new favorite YA books!

Today Tonight Tomorrow follows high school rivals Rowan and Neil. Rowan cannot stand Neil whatsoever, and after Neil is named class valedictorian, Rowan only has one thing left to win: Howl, a senior class game that takes the graduates around Seattle in a competition to win a big cash prize. Rowan’s dream of winning the money to put the money towards college, where she’ll hopefully be able to keep working on her secret romance novel, is put on hold when she’s forced to partner up with Neil for the game. As they play, Rowan and Neil learn a lot about each other and try to figure out why they were always rivals and maybe not something more… 


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