BEACH & BAKING: Small Town Hearts Review & Recipe

smallheartcoverSummary (From the publisher): Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?

 My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

If you’re ready to trade your winter jacket for your bathing suit and need a book to match the mood, look no forward than Lillie Vale’s Small Town Hearts. Better yet, if you’re seriously in the mood for a dessert (or three), Small Town Hearts is sure to spark the baking (or dessert-eating) within you. If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I was totally charmed by this adorable YA summer contemporary following one girl’s summer in her sleep Maine beach town.

Small Town Hearts has everything you need in a summer contemporary: days spent at the beach, working at the local coffee shop, and picking blue berries. There’s also plenty of friendship and romance to go around. Speaking of romance, outside of her amazing baking and barista skills, our main character, Babe, is a unique YA protagonist for her bisexuality. Babe deals with the past when her ex-girlfriend is back in town for the season as she breaks one of her most important rules: never fall in love with one of the summer boys.

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Parks & Recreation Book Recommendations

It’s no secret that Parks and Recreation is my all-time favorite TV show. I first watched Parks & Rec during summer 2015 on Netflix, quickly falling hard for a dysfunctional, but loveable group running their city’s Parks and Recreation department. In short, this show is insanely laugh-out-loud funny, has an incredible cast and guest stars (hello Michelle Obama!) and clever.

In honor of the upcoming Parks & Rec reunion at PaleyFest (I WILL find a way to watch),the following book recommendations are based on Parks & Rec characters’ personalities.

And yes, it makes me very sad that Leslie Knope does not like libraries. Then again, if Tammy was my local librarian…

Leslie Knope- The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

I can picture Leslie Knope reading across many genres, but she would especially love this summer contemporary about a politician’s daughter. The Unexpected Everything is in my top three Morgan Matson books, following Andie’s change in summer plans after her dad’s political scandal. Did I mention she becomes a dog walker?

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COLLEGE YA FUN: The Dating Game Review

Summary (From the publisher):
When a notoriously difficult class for future entrepreneurs leads to three freshmen developing the next “it” app for dating on college campuses, all hell breaks loose…

Type A control freak Sara lives by her color-coordinated Post-it notes.

Rich boy Braden wants out from under his billionaire father’s thumb.

Scholarship student Roberto can’t afford for his grades to drop.

When the three are forced to work together in one of the university’s most difficult classes, tension rises to the breaking point…until, shockingly, the silly dating app they create proves to be the most viable project in class. Late nights of app development, interest from investors and unexpected romance are woven into a true-to-life college drama that explores what it means to really connect online and IRL.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

Since college YA is one of my favorite contemporary sub-genres, I’ve been highly looking forward to reading Kiley Roache’s books, Frat Girl and The Dating Game. While I haven’t yet read Frat Girl, I will be soon because I absolutely loved The Dating Game!

The Dating Game is one of those books that I absolutely fell into and didn’t want to put down. The Dating Game does depict college culture in most of its stereotypicalness–fraternities, drinking, all nighters, NETFLIX. Nonetheless, it was a fun ride.

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LIVE LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION: Within These Lines Review, Quotes & Giveaway

Summary:

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

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Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill 

Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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FEMALE FANTASY LOVE: Truthwitch & Windwitch Review

Truthwitch Summary:

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

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With the latest installment in Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series, Bloodwitch, gracing our bookshelves in February, it was time to redive into the first two books, Truthwitch and Windwitch.

I first read Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch upon its release in 2016. Maybe it was because I hadn’t read as much fantasy as I do now back then, but I had some trouble with the world building. However, I did love the focus on friendship and how well Susan Dennard executed the politics and romance. Looking back on my Goodreads review from 2016, I really don’t understand why I didn’t continue with this series then!

I am completely blaming myself for being a fantasy newbie back then, because the world and world-building in Truthwitch is just that good. I loved learning about the different types of witches and the characters’ backstories, from monasteries to Threadwitch tribes. The female friendship is insanely strong and well-executed. I love how much time Isuelt and Safi do spend together taking on the Witchlands. My favorite duo though? Safi and Merick! I couldn’t get over their quick remarks to one another and loved seeing their relationship bloom.

“When at last Iseult popped out beside her Threadsister, it was just in time to see Safi grab a fistful of the young man’s unbuttoned shirt

“Is this how all Nubrevnans dress?” Safi snatched the other side of his shirt. “These go inside these.” ” (57)

My Rating: 5/5

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Windwitch by Susan Dennard

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Windwitch picks up approximately two weeks after the events of Truthwitch. While I somewhat appreciated the fast-paced atmosphere, I wish we were able to experience what happened in those two weeks instead of just referring to it. This world definitely gets a lot more complicated with the Twenty Year Truce over and our four main leads scattered in the southern Witchlands. I liked being able to explore different characters’ perspectives in each chapters. While there were page breaks, I wish hey would have had their own chapters.

Once again, the world-building as absolutely phenomenal in Windwitch. With the addition of a few new characters, there’s also a ton of character development for our four main leads, Merick, Iseult, Safi and Aeduan. I found myself much more invested in Aeduan’s story in this book, which makes me even more excited to jump into Bloodwitch. While I still have much love for Safi, I’m especially excited to see where Iseult and Merick’s journeys take them.

My Rating: 4/5

Thank you to Tor Teen and Big Hocho Media for providing me with Truthwitch and Windwitch. By no means does this affect my thoughts or opinions.

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Have you read Truthwitch or Windwitch? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

BRING ON THE BOOKS & TV: February 2019 Wrap-Up

February, you left this fangirl craving more reading and binge-watching TV shows. Fine, maybe it wasn’t so much February’s fault, but more so midterms season! Compared to January, I wish I read more in February but it was a super busy month for me academically and socially. However, aside from my one DNF, I really enjoyed the books I read (especially since I found my favorite 2019 read thus far). I also especially loved my February content and the TV/movies I indulged in this month. I’m currently on spring break, so here’s to hoping to being able to catch up on reading and TV (and the two papers I need to write for next week!).

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The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden | 4/5 Stars

Much like the first two books in the Winternight trilogy, The Winter of the Witch is filled with luscious and atmospheric writing. I loved Vasya’s relationship with Morozko and as always, Olga, Marya, and Sasha were the perfect family compliments. However, I found myself feeling some disconnect with the story. It took me some to figure out what Vasya was doing for what cause, and I was really expecting to love this conclusion a bit more.

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SPRING SHELVES: Spring 2019 Anticipated Releases

Seasonal anticipated book releases posts are among my favorite blog posts to read and write. I’m especially excited about all the amazing books coming out this March through May 2019. While I have some historical fiction and fantasy mixed among my anticipated reads, there are seriously some MANY contemporary releases I cannot wait to get my hands on.

Since I’ve covered most of the books below in my most anticipated 2019 releases posts (ALL THE BOOKS PLEASE: Most Anticipated 2019 Non-Contemporary Releases & CONTEMPORARY ME: 19 Most Anticipated 2019 Contemporary Releases), I’ll be shortly covering why I’m excited for said book. I’ve also dedicated a section to spring releases I will be reviewing here soon.

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