NEW ADULT REVIEW: Until the Last Star Fades

Summary (from the publisher):

51F6iP08QWLIn her senior year at NYU, Riley Hope appears to be on top of the world. With a loving mother who makes Lorelai Gilmore look like a parenting slacker, ride-or-die friends, and a long-time boyfriend destined for the National Hockey League, she puts on a smile for the world. But behind it, she’s drowning. Racked with fears for the future, she battles to stay afloat amid life in the shadows of a heartbreaking illness.

And then, Ben Fagan comes crashing into her life. Twenty-three-years-old, British, and alone in the Big Apple after a disastrous pilot season in LA, the struggling actor is looking for an escape: booze, mischief, sex—minimum commitment, maximum fun—anything to avoid returning across the pond. 

As they form an unlikely bond, Riley keeps her reality from Ben so that he remains a happy refuge. But how long can she hold back the truth…and is Ben keeping his own secrets, too?but Until the Last Star Fades 

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

 Jacquelyn Middleton’s Until the Last Star Fades had been on my TBR since 2018. I read London Belongs to Me back in 2017 and really enjoyed its London setting and emphasis on fandom. Until the Last Star Fades features some cameos from London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait?. I have not yet read this sequel and don’t think you need to read either book to read this book, but you will run into minor spoilers from that series.

 Until the Last Star Fades follows soon-to-be NYU gradating senior Riley and her life after her meet-cute with Ben, a British actor who’s had no luck finding acting jobs in the States. The book follows their evolving relationship against the many setbacks that they are both experiencing. Told in the third person, the book mainly follows Riley’s perspective with a few scattered chapters from Ben.

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 Until the Last Star Fades was a much heavier read than I had anticipated. I admit that I hadn’t really re-acquainted myself with its synopsis before picking it up, but much of the plot revolves around Riley’s mom’s battle with cancer. I really appreciate Jacquelyn’s honest and emotion-filled depiction of Maggie’s illness and the struggles both her and Riley experience, but it may be a triggering reading experience for readers who have been in a similar situation. In between being there for her mom, finishing up college, hanging with friends, and working two jobs, and yes, developing her relationship with Ben, there is also a lot of discussion about Riley’s smiling depression. Jacquelyn Middleton  sheds light on some hard issues and situations.Read More »

Summer Reading Recommendations: The YA Edition

Instead of doing one mega summer reading recommendations post, I wanted to spread the summer reading love around and do recommendations in stages. While last week I shared summer reading recs based on what I read in 2019, today I’ll be talking about all the YA books that are perfect summertime reads. 

When I think of YA summer reads, my mind instantly goes to Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door. My Life Next Door was THE hot book of 2014/2015, especially on BookTube. In honor of this post, I actually reread My Life Next Door during my beach and pool days this week! It wasn’t as amazing as I remembered it to be – it definitely moved down from a 5 star to a 4 star read because it really didn’t provide solutions to the book’s conflicts – it still is a really great atmospheric summer read, as it takes place in a Connecticut beach town. I never read the companion novel, The Boy Most Likely To, so I actually might give it a read this summer! 

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon – Althought it doesn’t come out until July 28th, you better adjust your summer reading plans now to include Rachel Lynn Solomon’s upcoming novel, Today Tonight Tomorrow. Taking place on the last day of senior year, enemies Rowan and Neil must pair together to win their senior class game. This book’s swoony romance and adventure provides for a fun way to fulfill some wanderlust this summer. 

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett – I am a firm believer that all of Jenn Bennett’s YA contemporaries make for perfect summer reads, but Starry Eyes especially does so! The book follows best friends turned enemies Zorie and Lennon’s group camping trip gone wrong. 

Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll – One book that I always wish got more love is Jen Doll’s Unclaimed Baggage – how can its adorable cover NOT grab your attention! I actually read Unclaimed Baggage on vacation two summers ago. It is such a unique summer contemporary, following three teens and unlikely friends working at a lost luggage store for the summer.Read More »

June 2020 Mini Reviews: Books I Should’ve Read A While Ago

Stay-at-home orders forced me to look around all the bookshelves in my house for books that I hadn’t yet read.  I have been buying more books lately and reading more e-books than normal thanks to Netgalley and Libby, but physical books will ALWAYS have my heart. My hunt for books led me to pick up books that I should’ve read a while ago, both in the sense that they’ve been on my TBR for a while and that they are extremely loved and well read.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

9781524763138Although I admit it wasn’t a TBR priority, Michelle Obama’s Becoming was always one of those books that I knew I would read one day. A few of my friends started reading it back in April, so I decided to join in by listening to the audiobook. I’m a sucker for almost any auto-biography or celebrity audiobook that is narrated by the author. Becoming definitely took me a while to listen to – at almost 20 hours in length, it took me over 6 weeks to get through it. This is also because I’m someone who has to be doing something while listening to audiobooks and even podcasts, most commonly when I’m walking or coloring. I also listened to a big chunk of this while unpacking from my college dorm room.

Audiobook listening strategies set aside, Becoming was just as good as everyone says it is! The book really provides Michelle Obama’s backstory before her husband was elected president of the United States. I really enjoyed listening to her time in college and when she first started working (which soon happened to include meeting Barack). It was so fascinating to learn that she never really wanted anything to do with politics and even after she finished serving as First Lady. Throughout, she includes many lessons and conversations surrounding race, education, work, family, and politics. It was interesting hearing about her time in the White House, although it did feel like more of the book dealt with her childhood and pre-First Lady days. I couldn’t help but love anytime she mentioned Lin Manuel-Miranda and her own love for Hamilton.Read More »

NEW ADULT FUN: The Play (Briar U #3) Review  

Summary (from the author): 

413eh7lf2nL._SY346_What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Elle Kennedy is my favorite new adult romance author. Her Off-Campus series stole my heart last summer, so I knew I needed to kick off my June with one of her Briar U books, The Play. Briar U is the spin-off series to Off-Campus. Both series follow romances between the women of the fictional Ivy League school, Briar University, and the college’s hockey players. The Play follows Hunter, who we’ve seen in both series, and a new female lead, Demi. As the newest hockey team captain and after years of being a playboy, Hunter decides to take himself out of the dating world in order to focus on his team. Hunter isn’t expecting anything from his psychology project partner, Demi, until a nasty break-up makes Hunter and Demi closer than they ever expected. 

The Play was everything I look for in my Elle Kennedy books: charming male leads, college life (partying included), hockey, romance, and smart,sarcastic female leads. I’ll admit that Hunter was never really my favorite male lead, especially after The Chase, but he really grew on me in this book. Having his perspective brought out a new side of him. There’s a little bit of talk about his  feelings for Summer, but his romantic focus in this book was really combatting his feelings for Demi while trying to stick with the commitment he made to himself. Demi and Hunter have such great chemistry from the very beginning, and while they had always been flirty with one another, it was fun seeing them move from friends into something more. 

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I don’t think Demi was my favorite Briar U/Off-Campus protagonist, but she grew on me. I believe Demi is the most diverse protagonist in all of the series, having a black father and Cuban mother, but there’s been a lot of discussion in reviews about the authenticity (or lack thereof) of her representation and a few stereotypes associated with her. While I did enjoy Demi’s intelligence and strength, I do agree with reviewers that her representation did need some further development. Read More »

If We Were Having Coffee: June 2020 Edition

If We Were Having Coffee is my favorite way to share current happenings in my life  outside of my usual fangirl and bookish-ness. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of talk about the books, TV, and podcasts I’ve been consuming lately. 

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Although I’m waiting for my  honors cords to come in the mail, my cap and gown did come in, which called for an impromptu photoshoot!

If we were having coffee, I’d probably be having a cup of coffee with milk and cinnamon. I feel like I’m cheating on summer by saying that I haven’t been drinking iced coffee that much lately. 4 out of the 5 people in my house drink at least two cups of coffee everyday, so instead of making single cups using the Keurig, we usually make two or three pots a day using Dunkin Donuts’ Original Blend. My sister and I love blending cinnamon in the grinds before brewing. 

If we were having coffee, I’d probably tell you that my mind feels like its in five different places at once. It’s weird to think that I feel busier being at home vs. being out in the world at school and work. I know I’ve mentioned it in a wrap-up and maybe another post, but since my If We Were Having Coffee about my college graduation, I made the decision to stay at my alma mater to attend their Master of Arts in Teaching program. I had actually been admitted into the program back in March and hadn’t made a decision about when and if I’d join the program when the world went into madness. Since one of my summer jobs went from full-time to part-time remotely, I made the decision to join the program and start taking summer courses. 

Although I’ve still been eating up 3 or 4 books a week (summer time is the best reading season for me), I’ve been doing so much work and reading for school since mid-May. Two of my classes met for two weeks each every day, so now I have a slight lull in my schedule. I have a weekly elective until the end of June when the second round of classes  begins. I am also doing some remote work for the organization I worked at as an undergraduate. It’s definitely a busy schedule, but I am of course grateful to know that I am able to partake in all of these things from home. Read More »

Summer Reading Recs: Based on What I Read in 2019 Edition

My ideal summer reads are usually books that are on the lighter and fluffier side. I do delve into some heavier or longer books, but I tend to save a lot of my romance and contemporary reading for the summer time – which happen to be two of my most read genres or most read genre when you’re talking contemporary romance. I plan on having a few summer reading recommendations posts available over the summer. 

This first recommendations list will be based on the books that I read last year. I tend to end the reviews of my most loved summer reads with something along the lines of “this book is the perfect summer read,” or “make sure you bring this book along to the pool or beach,” so I wanted to create a one-stop recommendations list for those! 

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon – There’s Something About Sweetie stole my heart last June. Sandhya Menon’s Dimpleverse books all take place during the summer. The sweet romances make their summertime mood even better. While I highly recommend that you check out 10 Things I Hate About Pinky when it hits shelves on July 21st, especially for its lakeside summer vibes, There’s Something About Sweetie is my personal favorite because Sweetie and Ashish are such a cute couple. 

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen – Whenever I think of perfect YA books for summer, Sarah Dessen immediately comes to my mind. Although almost all of her books incorporate some sort of family element, The Rest of the Story is all about family, as Emma reconnects with with her grandma and cousins as she helps run the family lakeside motel. I think a fair amount of summer YA contemporaries take place at a lake, but this book felt super unique, not to mention cozy & atmospheric. 

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills – Famous in a Small Town is often a hit-or-miss for Emma Mills fans, but it was a hit for me! While the book does involve Sophie’s determination to get a county music star to help with a fundraiser, the book is really about Sophie and her friends’ final summer together before their senior year of high school. I’ve found that Emma Mills’ books aren’t so plot heavy, but rather focus on friendship and character development instead.  

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo – Somewhere Only We Know was another hit or miss book in 2019 for readers, but I LOVED it! While Maurene Goo’s The Way You Make Me Feel will forever have my heart, I loved this book’s Roman Holiday-esque adventure as romantic interests Lucky and Jack take on Hong Kong. 

Maybe This Time by Kasie West – Never have I ever devoured a Kasie West book as fast as I did with Maybe This Time. I have memories of beginning this one while floating around the pool and then staying up way past my bedtime, sitting on the couch to finish it! Maybe This Time completed nailed its synopsis, following a girl who works for the town florist and the 9 events where she keeps running into her absolute enemy. It also has one of the few unlikeable protagonists I actually like. 

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne – The Wrong Side of Right came out in 2015, but its a YA contemporary not to miss out on! I think after loving Casey McQuiston’s Red, White and Royal Blue (another FANTASTIC book I read in 2019 and makes for an amazing summer read), I wanted more books somewhat centered around politics. The book follows Kate’s summer on the father she never knew’s presidential campaign and developing feelings for the son of the campaign enemy. I also recommend checking out Jenn Marie Thorne’s Night Music. Read More »

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2020 Edition 

I think out all of the years I’ve done the Mid-Year Freak Out tag, I think 2020 is the year it’s officially okay to say that I can’t believe it’s June. This year has felt like the longest and fastest year yet. I spent some time this weekend with my best friends and as we were reminiscing, it’s really crazy to think what we thought June and summer would look like in January vs. March vs. even a month ago.

I plan on having my If We Were Having Coffee for June posted this week, where I’ll probably talk about how busy I’ve been lately between graduate school and starting remote work. I was so excited then that the Mid Year Freak Out tag was starting to float around the book community over the past week because I think it’s a nice to reflect on the reading I’ve done and some of my reading plans for the rest of the year. The first 2020 version I saw was from Jessica of Peace Love Books. At the time of this post, I’ve read 50 books so far this year – I think there might be at least two novellas in there, but I’m not getting technical until the end of the year. 

Best book you’ve read so far in 2020

Who really thought I’d be able to pick one book? Check back at the end of 2020 if I could choose just one book, but for right now I’m going with a toss-up between all of the books below (blame my indecisiveness and current tiredness):

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

House of Earth & Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

It’s technically a companion novel, but 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon was such a fun return to the Dimpleverse.

Read More »

FINISHING THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR: The Dazzling Heights & The Towering Sky Review

You probably know that diving into YA dystopian/series about rich teenagers has been part of my 2020 reading game. If you’re in need of a read to distract you from reality (although I do not want to ignore the fact that this is such an important time for us to be educating ourselves & diversifying our reading), I can’t help but recommend Katharine McGee’s The Thousandth Floor trilogy. Since I’ve already reviewed the first book, today I’ll be sharing my mini reviews for the final two books in the series, The Dazzling Heights and The Towering Sky.

About The Thousandth Floor:

IMG_4341A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor #2)

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

{E412C39E-9870-4F64-BD9C-D65C35ACAE49}Img100After finally getting on the hype train for Katharine McGee’s The Thousandth Floor in March, I knew I had to get my hands on the sequel, The Dazzling Heights. The Thousandth Floor is the dystopian meets Gossip Girl meets Pretty Little Liars series you didn’t know you needed. 

This series overall, but The Dazzling Heights in particular, is like ‘reading candy’; once you eat one piece you can’t get enough! I devoured The Dazzling Heights in two sittings, having been immediately drawn back in the world of Avery, Leda, and co. living in their glamorous and elite world – with plenty of deadly secrets in tow. The Dazzling Heights picks up a few months after the ending of The Thousandth Floor, with Avery, Leda, Watt, and Rylin keeping plenty of secrets and blackmail between them. The Dazzling Heights also introduces a new perspective, Calliope, who immediately knows upon her arrival who her next con will be.Read More »

SUMMER MUST-READ: Beach Read by Emily Henry

Summary (from the publisher):

48079190._UY2048_SS2048_Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

 

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Beach Read has deservedly found it way into nearly every corner of the book blogging community.  So many of my bookish friends have loved this contemporary romance, myself included!

Since there have been a ton of Beach Read reviews floating around the book blogosphere, I’ve decided to forgo my usual review style to explain why you need to actually pick up this must-read beach read of summer 2020.

It’s much more complex than the title & official synopsis suggests. Beach Read does meet its synopsis: Augustus, a literary fiction writer, and January, a romance writer, are both in writing ruts and decide to challenge each other by writing a book in the other’s genre. But Beach Read goes beyond this competition.

I don’t want to include too many spoilers, but both January and Gus have experienced some hardship and loss. After the death of her father, January is left with his beach house in Michigan. January is struggling to cope with his death, his hidden past, and the manuscript of her latest romance novel that is due to the publisher by the end of the summer. January decides to spend the summer at the beach, packing up the house and writing her novel. Early on in the story, it’s revealed that January’s grumpy neighbor is none other than Augustus, a best-selling literary fiction author AND January’s college rival.

There’s a ton of exploration into the two main characters’ past, loss, and their college history. As Gus and January move from enemies to lovers (you really don’t believe that the synopsis says no one falls in love, right?), the two reveal more about their family and relationship history. Somewhat unrelated and a bit random I admit, Gus is also doing a lot of research on cults for his book. The two spend a few of their literary fiction research nights on that subject and interviewing people with heavy histories of their own.

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While there is heaviness and depth, there is plenty of humor. I wouldn’t say that Beach Read is a rom-com (sidenote that I agree with the growing sentiment that publishing is using ‘rom-com’ too much to describe contemporary romances), but Gus and January have such incredible chemistry that leads to a lot of laugh and a few jokes at the other’s expense (in the most light-heartedly way possible).Read More »

MUST READ NOVELLA: Love at First Fight Review 

Summary (from the publisher): 

love-at-first-fight-9781534482524_lgFrom New York Times bestselling author Sandhya Menon comes a delightful enovella sequel to When Dimple Met Rishi and There’s Something about Sweetie, about a Valentine’s Day group date gone hilariously, disastrously awry. Ashish Patel has never considered himself a hopeless romantic. But now that he’s found his other half, Sweetie Nair, there’s nothing he wants more than to celebrate love in all its forms. So when Valentine’s Day rolls around and he hears about a romance-themed escape room, he knows it’s the perfect opportunity to bring together Sweetie along with his newly engaged brother and sister-in-law-to-be, Rishi Patel and Dimple Shah. On their way to the escape room, the group runs into Pinky Kumar and Samir Jha—both friends to Ashish but nemeses to each other. Despite Pinky’s kneejerk reaction to the cheesy theme (which gets her a high-five from Dimple), the two of them agree to join the group. The escape room is as insufferably saccharine as Pinky feared, but even she is surprised when she and Samir actually…work well together. Samir embodies everything Pinky despises—following rules, having no fun, consuming single-use plastics. Getting along with someone like him—a shiny Volvo when she’s so used to junkers—sends Pinky into a tailspin. Sparks are definitely flying, but it’s unclear if that’s a good thing. Could this be love at first fight?

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Sometimes I question the purpose of novellas … but that’s never the case when it comes to Sandhya Menon. After loving the first When Dimple Met Rishi/Dimpleverse novella, As Kismet Would Have It, I knew I had to read Love at First Fight. 

Let me take some time to explain the Dimpleverse. The Dimpleverse is composed of When Dimple Met Rishi, There’s Something About Sweetie, and 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, and the two novellas. I do recommend reading As Kismet Would Have It AFTER reading There’s Something About Sweetie, but BEFORE Love at First Fight. Sandhya Menon has also stated that you do not need to read Love at First Fight before reading 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. However, I did read the novella before reading the upcoming book, which comes out on July 21, 2020. I really wanted to revisit the Dimpleverse, and yes, I also wanted to read everything in chronological order. 

Ultimately, I do not think you have to read the novellas to fully understand the Dimpleverse, but I do recommend reading them. They’re such cute compliments to the books and offer a where-are-they-now glimpse at the characters since their books. Both As Kismet Would Have It and Love at First Fight are currently available for free on rivetedlit.com. 

Love at First Fight takes places on a Valentine’s Day couples date, in which Rishi & Dimple and Sweetie & Ashish decide to go to a romance-themed escape room. Along the way, they meet us with friends and polar opposites, Samir & Pinky, who are NOT a couple – Pinky makes that clear to everyone and anyone. 

I really loved getting to check in with Dimple & Rishi and Sweetie & Ashish. Dimple & Rishi are just so classic, and I love how they’ve really stayed true to themselves since their book. Rishi is ever the romantic, while Dimple still disputes a lot of stereotypes surrounding relationships. I’m interested to see if there’s any talk about marriage in 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. Maybe Sweetie’s name is some form of foreshadowing, but Ashish and Sweetie are just so sweet! I think I enjoyed their chapter working together to find clues the most. 

And last, but not least, Pinky and Samir’s dynamic sets up for their book. As much as Sam and Pinky clash about nearly everything, there’s no denying that they have feelings for one another. Like Dimple, Pinky is such a headstrong character, but even within the novella, we get to experience her softer side. I think their book is going to explore much about Sam’s family life and why Pinky puts on such a hard exterior. I also hope there’s some sort of reference to their escape-room photo. 

Overall, Love at First Fight was such a cute compliment to the Dimpleverse and will makes readers even more excited to get their hands on 10 Things I Hate About Pinky -and reread the first two companion books! 

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Have you read Love at First Fight? Have you read any books in the Dimpleverse? Is 10 Things I Hate about Pinky on your TBR? Share in the comments!