CONTEMPORARY READS & REALITY TV MOOD: April 2020 Wrap Up

April was another month filled with ups and downs. I’m super grateful for my health and safety right now, but I am definitely missing college life and like everyone, wondering when we’ll be able to get back to some state of ‘normalcy.’ This month, I technically finished my undergraduate work (online), had some fun Zoom sessions and reunions with friends, and again had so many books and TV shows as comfort.

whatireadnew

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee | 4/5 Stars

The Thousandth Floor was the first book of April that fit my ‘let me catch up on all the YA dystopian contemporary (trust me it’s a category)’ and shortly after reading, found myself buying books #2 and #3.

IMG_4290

Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams | 5/5

Undercover Bromance was such a great companion sequel to The Bromance Book Club. It also made me realize how much I need a book featuring the Russian.

Brunch and Other Obligations by Suzanne Nugent (ARC) | 4/5

It had been a while since I picked up a women’s fiction book, but I enjoyed Brunch and Other Obligations for its slightly comedic twist.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris | 3/5

My sister finally got me to read Behind Closed Doors in April. It definitely wasn’t the best book ever (sorry sis), but at the same time, I couldn’t seem to put it down. 

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher | 4/5

I took a little break from (adult) contemporary romances in April , but I’m glad I still read Not the Girl You Marry. Despite the mixed reviews for this one, I thought it was a cute & funny read.Read More »

Fangirl News Round Up #3: Upcoming Books, TV, & Event Updates

I didn’t plan on having another bookish news round-up posted in April, but keeping up with book and other fandom news, TV and events included, has been one of my favorite ways to distract myself lately—even though some of the following changes have been caused by the current state of the world. My first and second round-ups are titled as ‘Bookish News,’ but I decided to change this series to ‘Fangirl News’ because I want to talk about things other than books. I am going to discuss some more changed dates today, but this round-up thankfully has more good news than bad!

Bookish News

New Release Date for Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch | Release Date: November 10

The third book in Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato series, Love & Olives, will now be released on November 10, 2020. Love & Olives was originally scheduled to release in July. I think this will such a great summer escape read this winter because the book takes place in Greece!

Love at First Fight by Sandhya Menon | Release Date: June 1/June 30

Sandhya Menon will be publishing another Dimpleverse e-novella, Love at First Sight! While I’m not the biggest novella fan, I absolutely adored Sandhya Menon’s first e-novella, As Kismet Would Have It, featuring Dimple & Rishi and Sweetie & Ashish. Love at First Fight will again include those two couples, but also Pinky and Samir- the leads of 10 Things I Hate About Pinky (July 21, 2020). This new e-novella does not contain spoilers for 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. Love at First Fight technically has two release dates. If you register for an account at rivetedlit.com, you can access the e-novella for free starting on June 1. It will then be available to purchase as an e-novella on June 30.

New Jenn Bennett YA Book | Release Date: Fall 2021

Jenn Bennett announced on her social media that week that she has another YA contemporary published by Simon & Schuster coming in Fall 2021! As one of my all-time favorite authors, this is such exciting news to begin with, but especially since Jenn Bennett’s 2020 release, Chasing Lucky, was recently pushed back to November 2020. The Fall 2021 release’s working title is Always June, but Jenn said in her Instagram announcement that the title is likely to change.Read More »

FOODIE ROM-COM: Tweet Cute Review & Inspired Recipe

Summary (from the publisher):

81AFV9waKfLMeet 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.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

You’ve probably had everyone and their mother screaming- or tweeting- over their love for Emma Lord’s YA debut, Tweet Cute, on your timelines this year… and now it’s my turn!!

There are a few early 2020 releases I need to get to, but Tweet Cute was on the top of my list because it spoke to my bookish and foodie soul so much. The book is told from the perspective of high school seniors, Pepper and Jack. In between being swim team captain, overall overachiever, and running a baking blog with her sister, Pepper pretty much runs her family’s fast chain’s Twitter account. Her classmate, Jack, class clown and secret app developer, does the same for his family’s NYC classic deli, Girl Cheesing. When Big League Burger starts selling a grilled cheese sandwich very similar and with the same name as Girl Cheesing’s specialty sandwich, a Twitter war breaks out with Pepper and Jack running the show.

IMG_4187

I guess Tweet Cute ultimately does fall into the hate-to-love category, but Pepper and Jack really don’t see each other as ultimate enemies. There are some tense moments between Jack and Pepper, but there’s never any true animosity or rivalry between them. Their chemistry is instantaneous, and their banter carries throughout the story. It was just so refreshing and was such a YA enemies-to-lovers romance done absolutely right! I don’t want to spoil it here, but their ultimate ship name was just so, so clever and fit the book perfectly.Read More »

STRESS PURCHASES, ARCS, & LIBRARY HOLDS: April 2020 Book Haul

I’ve been buying more books lately for a variety of reasons including:

  • I want to be supporting the book industry as much as I can right now
  • I don’t know when my county public library will be re-opening. I live in regret that I didn’t put more on hold or borrow more books before everything shut down
  • I need so many, aka ALL, the new releases immediately
  • I have a love for stress buying
  • I live in fear of running out of books to read on-hand
  • I apparently enjoy ignoring the books I do already own and still haven’t read
Processed with VSCO with dog3 preset
I thought about dressing up for this photo, but it’s an honest  depiction of my quarantine outfit: sweatshirts everyday and sunglasses for reading outside!

While I did buy some books in March, I decided to keep my book-buying momentum going in April. I knew I wanted to buy more books in this month (see reasons above) and while watching one of Jessica of Peace Love Book’s April book hauls, she noted that she had ordered books from Better World Books. Better World Books is a company that sells used or donated books and then matches the amount of books you purchase to donate to non-profit organizations. They also have new editions available. I thought this was a great way to buy books while supporting a good cause and saving some money- let’s be honest, buying multiple print copies from a retailer can quickly add up. I ordered four books and they all came in pretty great condition – I think all four came from libraries and it was fairly simple to take off the library plastic covers off the three hardcovers. There’s some glue stuck on the inside, but you can’t tell from the outside and the dust jackets stayed in great shape. My only ‘complaint’  that obviously makes a lot of sense (especially right now) is that they don’t have many new books available at used/bargain prices.

Additionally, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some really exciting upcoming releases for review. You probably know that I am not the biggest e-book fan, but I’ve been changing my ways lately and have started using Netgalley- despite having an account for two years now,oops! I use an iPad to read e-books, either through Kindle or Aldilko – I tried setting up my Netgalley copies with Kindle and it wouldn’t work. If you’re an e-book reader or want to branch out into them, I’ve been telling everyone IRL to check out Libby, which synchs up to your local library and provides their e-book and audiobooks.

Purchased Books

The Dazzling Heights and The Towering Sky (Thousandth Floor #2 and #3) by Katharine McGee –  The Thousandth Floor series falls into a bunch of my reading moods combined: books I should’ve read a while ago, author whose earlier works I want to check out (PSA TO PLEASE READ AMERICAN ROYALS), and books with a lot of drama and extravagance that are bound to distract me for a while. I read The Thousandth Floor earlier this month and really enjoyed it. I see myself reading the next two books back to back.

The Selection by Kiera Cass – I would just like to note that I ordered The Selection BEFORE the Netflix adaptation was announced. I feel like I’m in this reading mood at the moment where I want to catch up on all the classic YA or hyped reads that I haven’t read. I also really want to read Kiera Cass’ upcoming release, The Betrothed, which isn’t related to The Selection, but I want to read something of hers before that comes out in.Read More »

My Middle Grade Reads: Inspired by The Eye of Zeus

Middle Grade is a genre I’ve really tried to read more of over the past few reads. I find that many bloggers who read YA books tend to read middle grade and I’ve wanted to see what all the hype was about. I admit that I do struggle with the genre at times- there has to be something about the book’s synopsis that really grabs my attention. One recent release that definitely did is Alane Adams’ The Eye of Zeus. The first book in the Legends of Olympus series, The Eye of Zeus follows twelve-year Phoebe, who’s just found out she’s the daughter of Zeus and must travel back to ancient Greece to save someone very important to her. The Eye of Zeus speaks to the Percy Jackson fan in all of us, but I especially love how it features a female protagonist. I haven’t seen too many books about characters in foster care, like Phoebe. I also really admire Alane Adams, as an author, professor, and literary advocate! Her Rise Up Foundation helps children and teachers in need through book donations, classroom support, and grand-making.

In honor of The Eye of Zeus, today I’m going to be talking about my most memorable middle grade reads over the past few years.

IMG_4296

Small Spaces by Katharine Arden (Small Spaces #1) – As a fan of Small Spaces and her adult fantasy series, Winternight, I am firm believer that Katharine Arden writes so incredibly across genres. Her writing is the definition of atmospheric. Small Spaces is a four book series set in Vermont and follows twelve-year old Ollie’s spooky adventures with her best friends. Small Spaces takes place on Ollie’s class field trip to a local farm whose haunting history comes to life. This book is the absolute perfect Halloween read, and I thought it was such a fun mystery. I unfortunately didn’t enjoy the second book in the series, Dead Voices. I loved the setting, taking place at a ski resort during a blizzard, and the conversations between Ollie and her dad about loss in their lives, but I was not a fan of the plot.

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day – I Can Make This Promise follows a young girl who discovers and wants to know more about her Native American past. I thought this was such an educational read for middle grade readers who are first learning about Native Americans’ lives and struggles. I felt like I learned so much about Native American life near Seattle. I really appreciated its focus on family through Edie’s unraveling of her past.

The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin – I’m cheating a tiny bit with this one because I haven’t read it in a while, but the soon-to-be Netflix adaptation has me too excited! The Baby-Sitters Club is my all-time favorite middle grade series. When I was in elementary school, a trip to the library wasn’t complete without picking up at least one TBS book. I also read some of the graphic novel adaptations by Raina Telgemeier.Read More »

FEMINIST TEAM SPIRIT: We Are the Wildcats Review

we-are-the-wildcats-9781534439900_lgSummary (from the publisher): Tomorrow, the Wildcat varsity field hockey squad will play the first game of their new season. But at tonight’s team sleepover, the girls are all about forging the bonds of trust, loyalty, and friendship necessary to win.

Everything hinges on the midnight initiation ceremony—a beloved tradition and the only facet of being a Wildcat that the girls control. Until now.

Coach—a handsome former college player revered and feared in equal measure—changes the plan and spins his team on a new adventure. One where they take a rival team’s mascot for a joyride, crash a party in their pajamas, break into the high school for the perfect picture.

But as the girls slip out of their comfort zone, so do some long-held secrets. And just how far they’re willing to go for their team takes them all—especially Coach—by surprise.

 

WILDCATSBlogTour

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

We Are the Wildcats had been on my TBR since June 2018! Having loved Siobhan Vivian’s books, from The Last Boy and Girl in the World to the Burn for Burn trilogy with Jenny Han to my personal favorite, Stay Sweet, it’s basically guaranteed that I will read any book of hers. We Are the Wildcats especially grabbed my attention because it follows a girls’ high school field hockey team, having been a former high school field hockey player myself. Aside from Spencer from Pretty Little Liars, I’ve rarely seen field hockey in YA and I was so excited for a book that featured the sport.

We Are the Wildcats takes place over the twenty fours before the West Essex girls’ field hockey team’s first scrimmage of the season. Having lost last year’s state championship for the first time in six years last season, there is a lot of pressure on the girls to perform, most of all from Coach. Coach takes the definition of tough coach to a whole new level, but the Wildcats will do anything and everything to impress him. We follow six different characters who are dealing with this pressure and their own personal struggles:

  • Luci, the only freshman who made varsity
  • Phoebe, whose ACL strain last season left her team struggling
  • Mel, who wants to be the best team captain yet while dealing with Coach’s expectations and trying to rekindle her friendship and on-the-field chemistry with Phoebe
  • Kearson, who was pulled up from JV last season to replace Phoebe and couldn’t perform
  • Grace, who was antagonized by the JV girls last year & wants a fresh start on varsity
  • Ali, the star goalie who still struggles to reveal why she froze up during the championship game.

IMG_4196

Siobhan Vivian completely owned the multi-perspective game! Each perspective was totally unique, and it was easy to follow along their own journey and struggles. There was the perfect balance between plot and getting to understand what went down before this season.

I genuinely enjoyed all six perspectives, but I especially enjoyed Ali and Phoebe. I’m ready to steal Ali’s navy and white gingham dress from the Psych Up! I loved Ali’s discussion of her Korean culture and traditions- and of course her love for her baby nephew- but also her own struggles. What happened to her during the championship game made me absolutely sick to my stomach and it was interesting to follow its whole story throughout the book. Phoebe was another favorite of mine for her own flashbacks to last season, since there’s a lot to be revealed about Coach, team, and her friendship with Mel. One of the very few elements I didn’t enjoy was the animosity surrounding Kearson’s ability to perform well on varsity. For a team that is so supportive of another, I thought it wasn’t deserved at all, but it is definitely another element that gets unraveled.

We Are the Wildcats is definitely a quick read, but there is so, so many twists and revelations by the end that are so worth the ride.I don’t want to say that We Are the Wildcats is a sports book because I think readers of all backgrounds will find something to relate to, but the plot does revolve around and incorporate many elements surrounding the team. I admit that I’m probably biased because of my love for field hockey. Having played, the mention of certain drills and plays gave me flashbacks and they were so well described. You don’t need to have an understanding of the game to get these details. The purpose behind them is often to reflect the girls’ hardwork and dedication, their chemistry, and what was going through their mind during key moments or plays. There were also a lot of other relatable athlete & field hockey player moments, from Phoebe’s insight on awkward tanlines and how her dog also wanted to lick her sweat after practice (trust me, it’s a thing).

We Are the Wildcats is by no means perfect and I think that’s why I love it even more. It was really difficult to support Mel at times and she struggled to see the truth surrounding her. She fits the image of the perfect field hockey girl: her family has money and lives a very sophisticated life, she has talent, she’s just earned a spot on the college team of her dreams, and she has her captain’s letter. Readers might get annoyed with some of Mel’s actions and her support for Coach, but it was showing Coach’s influence. Coach of course was the the hardest character to read. From the get-go, there’s just this eerie sense about him. It’s one thing to have a tough coach, but it’s another to have another that will do anything to win and will do anything to get into his players’ minds. His conversation about scouts in Phoebe’s first chapter made me realize that he was such a bad guy. Although I knew there would likely being some reveals about Coach’s character and actions, they still shocked me and made me feel sick. Siobhan Vivian does such a fantastic job of putting the reader in the girls’ position.

Overall, I highly recommend checking out the We Are the Wildcats. We Are the Wildcats screams female empowerment and the importance of standing together, especially in the toughest situations.

I was sent We Are the Wildcats by the publisher in exchange for review. By no means did this affect my thoughts and opinions.

newfireborder

Have you read We Are the Wildcats? Have you read anything by Siobhan Vivian? Share in the comments!

LIVE LOVE BROMANCE: Undercover Bromance Review

Summary (from the publisher):

46842429Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:  

I had been anticipating Lyssa Kay Adams’ Undercover Bromance the moment I finished reading the first book in her rom-com series, The Bromance Book Club, in December. The series follows a group of professional athletes and successful guys in Nashville who  read romance novels to help them navigate their own relationships. Undercover Bromance follows the leader of the book club, Mack, and the sister of The Bromance Bookclub’s female protagonist, Liv. When Liv gets fired from her job as a pastry chef after walking in on the restaurant’s celebrity chef harassing an employee, Liv teams up with Mack and the book club in exposing her boss’ past.

IMG_4280I knew the book was about Liv and Mack working together to bring down her boss, but I didn’t realize that it was about a sexual harassment case. In one of the first few chapters, Liv walks in on her boss sexually harassing a fellow female employee. This certainly wasn’t an easy topic to read about, but I think Lyssa Kay Adams really handled it well. While Liv is willing to do anything to help the women who have been harassed by her boss, she didn’t really understand why the women stayed silent. I think the author did a great job of showing Liv’s flaws and more importantly, sharing the perspectives of the women.

I usually favor the female perspective in my romance reads that share both male and female perspectives, but I absolutely adored Mack. Mack is willing to do anything for Liv. Like with Liv, Lyssa Kay Adams shows the flaws in his rationale. Regardless, I still enjoyed following his perspective and see his feelings and relationship with Liv progress. I also enjoy Lyssa Lay Adams’ writing style particularly because she uses third person perspective. Outside of Mack and Liv’s relationship and their investigation, we also get so spend time with the guys of the book club, Liv’s adorable nieces, and Rosie and Hop, who work on the same farm as Liv. All of these characters provide such a cute family (and sarcasm filled) atmosphere.

Is it bad to admit that I think my favorite part of Undercover Bromance was one of my all-time new favorite secondary characters, The Russian?? Whenever he was in a scene, I was always on the edge of my seat, waiting for his reaction or comic relief. I kept my reading notebook close to me at all times  and I’m pretty sure I noted every single one liner from him. My absolute favorite moment involving the Russian was one when the book club meets at Rosie’s farmhouse for the first time and he is more than content with Rosie’s hens walking around. I am already ready to preorder the Bromance Book Club installment that follows him!Read More »