ONE OF MY FAVE 2021 YA BOOKS: Kate in Waiting Review

kaSummary (from the publisher):
Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

IMG_3782Over the years, I’ve enjoyed Becky Albertalli’s books. I think the only one I haven’t yet read is her co-written novel with Aisha Saeed, Yes No Maybe So, and her book, The Upside of Unrequited, is one of my FAVORITE YA contemporaries. There was just something about her upcoming book’s synopsis, Kate in Waiting, that made me instantly add it to my TBR. The book follows Kate, a high school junior with a love for theatre, and her best friend’s crush on the same guy from the summer camp. Kate and Andy have had communal and often unrequited crushes on the same guys throughout their friendship and are ready to leave their crush on Matt behind at camp… until Matt transfers to their school. Suddenly the two are left to discover if either of their feelings for Matt are unrequited after all, as they all work on the school musical together. 

I was fortunate enough to begin my 2021 reading with Kate in Waiting back in January. I really enjoyed jumping back into Becky Albertalli’s writing style and this new fictional high school world. Kate was such a fun protagonist. While the book is about her friendships with Andy & their squads and figuring out her relationship with Matt, the book is also super about her self-growth, as she begins to find herself outside of her friendship with Andy. Don’t get me wrong, Kate and Andy have such a solid and fun friendship, but their mutual feelings for Matt definitely strains their relationship. Kate often contemplates how she is to respect Andy’s feelings while dealing with her own emotions and spending some one-on-one time with Matt for the play. Maybe I’m biased because I genuinely loved Kate, but I thought Andy wasn’t so respectful of Kate’s own feelings. Becky Albertalli’s books always feature diversity surrounding religion (Kate is a Jewish female lead), sexuality and gender, and coming out was another element to the love triangle that made Kate and Andy’s boundaries for one another difficult. 

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A 2021 HIDDEN GEM: The Love Proof Review

54304106Summary (from the publisher): Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.

When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities.

Spanning decades, The Love Proof is an unusual love story about lasting connection, time, and intuition. It explores the course that perfect love can take between imperfect people, and urges us to listen to our hearts rather than our heads.

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

I had a feeling Madeline Henry’s The Love Proof would be one of my hidden gems of the year based off reviews, but I didn’t realize just how hooked I would be by this contemporary romance following a physics prodigy at a Yale University. I started The Love Proof on Saturday morning and even after spending some time during the day doing school work, exercising, and some Sex & the City rewatching, I made time to keep reading and had it finished right before I went to bed that night. At just under 300 pages, The Love Proof spans over decades, beginning with Yale freshmen Sophie and Jake’s meet-cute in their Intro to Psychology course. Jake has dealt with some tough circumstances leading up to the point of getting into Yale, while Sophie has been a science and news sensation for her brilliant understanding of physics. As Sophie and Jake get wrapped up in their relationship over the time during undergrad, Sophie finds herself losing her passion for finding answers about time and physics, but unexpected circumstances inspire Sophie to chase after those questions. 

The Love Proof was one of the most unique contemporary books I’ve ever read. I have never taken physics in my life, but you don’t even need a basic understanding of the subject to deep dive into Sophie and Jake’s relationship. The book alternates between their third-person perspectives from their undergrad days at Yale through their adult lives. I think the book begins somewhere in the 2010s, and I liked getting small peeks at the future between the mentions of how tech and life has evolved during Jake and Sophie’s adulthood. 

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TRAVEL MEETS BRITISH CONTEMPORARIES: April 2021 Mini Reviews 

Everyone knows that contemporary is my forever reading mood, but it seems like contemporary is going to be the theme of reading especially in April. Today, I’ll be sharing thoughts on a few books I finished up in late March and kicked off my reading with in April, including books about a month-long adventure in Italy, a very popular book with a library filled with alternate realities, and a much-loved British contemporary. 

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Due to the lack of travel IRL right now, I’ve recently been reaching for books set in other countries – and apparently books set in Italy! I loved Lori Nielsen Spiegelman’s The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany back in January, and I had been craving another light and fluffy read in that setting ever since. One of my favorite authors and Instagram-book-recommenders, Emily Henry, posted about Jennifer Probst’s Our Italian Summer this year and I was instantly hooked in its synopsis. Told from the perspective of three generations of women from the same family, Our Italian Summer follows grandmother Sophia’s request that her daughter, Francesca, and granddaughter, Allegra, spend a month in Italy together learning about their culture and more importantly, trying to fix Francesca and Allegra’s dynamic. 

This book instantly transported me to Italy and made me want to travel there even more. The descriptions of all the places the Ferrari women visit were so detailed and fully immersed me into the country – I especially now want to visit Rome and Capri… not to mention eat ALL the bread and pasta. I liked the focus on relationship development and growth, as Francesca and Allegra try to reconcile their issues between Francesca’s workaholic tendencies and Allegra’s recent rule (& slightly law)-breaking habits. While Francesca was often in the wrong, there were definitely times when I wanted Sophia to stand up more to Allegra about the way she treated her mother .There’s also some romance, as Francesca and their tour guide bond and Allegra spends time with a cute Irish companion. If you loved the first season of RomComPods, you’ll especially love Francesca’s relationship with the tour guide. This didn’t affect my review of the book necessarily, but I thought there was a slightly weird emphasis on looks, or how certain characters, including Francesca and the male love interests, were described as ‘average’ or ‘not traditionally beautiful’. Overall, Our Italian Summer was such a light-hearted read exploring mother-daughter dynamics that makes me want to book a flight to Italy for a month ASAP!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Midnight Library has been absolutely EVERYWHERE since its release last September. It’s a Good Morning America Book Club pick, Goodreads Choice Awards Winner for Best Fiction, and was recently the Bad on Paper Podcast book club pick for March. There is a trigger warning for suicide, as the book begins with Nora’s decision to end her life. After Nora ends her life, she soon finds herself in an alternate reality in the form of a library, in which she can choose any book that then transports her to lives she could’ve lived if she had made different decisions about her relationships, career, and so much more. 

The Midnight Library is definitely a heavier read, given Nora’s decision to end her life and her depression. The book really adopts this what-if mentality, as Nora gets to experience so many different lives with both good and bad results.There is such a wide variety of Nora’s lives, from being a scientific researcher to pub-owner to swimming champion and so much more. Like many readers, my heart broke the most during Nora’s last book. The story is definitely dark and depressing, but does transition to a much more hopeful message about life and making the most out our lives in both the best and worst circumstances. I definitely see why so many readers have loved this one given its messages about life, but I personally wasn’t super in love. I had a hard time getting into the writing style and following the explanations about the library at times between Nora and the librarian. I wish this book had inspired me or resonated with me as much as other readers, but I overall felt like it was an enjoyable read that ultimately might not stick with me for too long. 

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

After loving Beth O’Leary’s The Switch and highly anticipating The Road Trip, I had to dive into her first book, The Flatshare. This book has circulated throughout so many contemporary/contemporary romance recommendations over the past few years that I finally had to check it out. After a difficult break up (trigger warning for emotional abuse), book editor Tiffy is in need of a new and cheap living arrangement. She soon finds herself, sharing a flat with a nurse, Leon, with a unique living situation: since Leon works at night and Tiffy works during the day, they’ll never see each other…which makes it easier to share the flat’s 1 bed. However, Leon and Tiffy’s notes for another about cleaning the flat and food in the fridge soon turns into them learning much more about one other than they could have ever expected.

The Flatshare was a light read that I overall really enjoyed, but incorporated heavier themes than I had expected when I first picked up the book. Tiffy has had an on-and-off again relationship that has finally been put to an end, but she begins to realize that she suffered from emotional abuse throughout their time together and struggles with that as she begins to start talking to other guys…and when said ex keeps on popping up. Meanwhile, Leon is trying to balance life an overnight nurse, his relationship with his girlfriend, and most importantly, helping his brother out as much as he can for a crime he didn’t commit. Tiffy’s relationship with her ex and Leon’s commitment to helping his brother added a complex layer to the story that was very interesting to explore. As Tiffy and Leon leave notes for each other around the flat, they begin to learn about this issues and help each out. The book by no means is all dark: Tiffy is a book editor, with her biggest client as a super knitter who seems to always need Tiffy as a model for some humor-infused book events. Tiffy and Leon’s notes were often sweet and funny, and it was so much fun seeing their relationship transfer from post-its to in-person. I also laughed out so many times over Tiffy’s best friend, Rachel, and her remarks on romance and relationships.  I definitely recommend The Flatshare for readers looking for a blend of light-hearted contemporary and more serious situations. 

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Have you read Our Italian Summer, The Midnight Library, or The Flatshare? What did you think about them? Are they on your TBR? Share in the comments

25 Fangirl Facts About Me: 2021 Edition

I love finding ways to bring in slight lifestyle like posts to book and fandom blogging.  I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve done a non book review/TBR/book tag type book. The 25 Bookish Facts About Me post was big across the book blog community and BookTube a few years ago. I loved this post so much that I actually did it 3 times over the first two years of blogging, and I’m happy to bring it back to the blog for the fourth time during my fourth year of blogging. I slightly adapted the post during my third and this time around to be fangirl facts about me to include some things about myself outside of books. Below you’ll find out more about my reading habits, feelings towards one of my favorite fantasy series being adapted, TV/movies, & more.

1.I am a firm believer that the best kinds of books for beach reading are paperbacks (preferably of the contemporary/contemporary romance genre). 

2. I’ve only won 1 Goodreads giveaway, which was a mass market paperback copy of Red Rising by Pierce Brown. 

3.I no longer own said copy of Red Rising, after trading it through #booksfortrade on Twitter for an ARC of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere – This was pre Little Fires Everywhere being published & the Hulu TV adaptation, so I always wonder if the person I traded with regrets making the trade given how popular Little Fires Everywhere is now. 

4. I’m more of a TV show than movie person. 

5. The most amount of books I read in 1 year was 133 books in 2020. It’s not necessarily my #1 reading-related goal, but I’d love to surpass that amount one day.

6. Instagram is my primary book social media platform. I love finding book recommendations especially on IG stories, from authors like Hannah Orenstein and Emily Henry, but I have been trying to spend more time on the feed… including posting more on my own…

7. My current favorite Taylor Swift album is folklore, with “august” as my favorite song. 

8. I’m a recent Star Wars fan. I had seen bits & pieces of the films growing up, but I fully watched Episodes 4-6 with my mom during Christmas 2019 and was hooked. I soon got into The Mandalorian (still crying over the season 2 finale), and watched the other 2 trilogies during the first half of 2020. 

9. My bed is my go-to reading spot, but I think my absolute fave reading spot is tied between reading while floating around the pool or on the beach. 

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Best Books I’ve Read So Far: January – March 2021 Edition 

Aside from reading all the amazing books, one of my other favorite things to do is talk about all the great books I’ve read. Today, I’ll be sharing my favorite books of 2021 so far, aka favorites from the books I read in January, February and March. I read a total of 30 books over the first 3 months of 2021! I’m beyond content with that amount, given my hectic IRL schedule, but I’ve really prioritized reading over anything else (sorry TV) when I do have free time. While quantity can feel rewarding, I also just genuinely enjoyed most of the books I’ve read, as there’s only been maybe a handful that I’ve felt mixed about. This amount also sets me up quite nicely for my my reading goal of at least 100 books in 2021. 

I thought about sharing a post with just my favorite books of January and February, and then saving my March faves for my spring best books… but I honestly read so many of my favorite books so far in March & I didn’t want to wait any longer to share. I’ll likely end up doing another best books post in June to discuss the best books I read in spring/April & May. 

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop – As you go through my favorites, you may start to notice that books set abroad from my native US is a theme with some of my favorite books, including Andrea Dunlop’s We Came Here to Forget. The book switches between Katie’s past as an Olympic skier and her present as a tour guide in Buenos Aires, putting together the pieces of her sister’s mysterious behavior and the downfall of her skiing career. I loved both settings and this book’s plot & mystery was really unique. 

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli – I feel like I’m cheating a tiny bit here because Kate in Waiting doesn’t come out on April 20th, but I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of Becky Albertalli’s upcoming release. This book reminded me so much of my favorite Becky Albertalli book, The Upside of Unrequited. I loved the focus on friendship & personal growth. 

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes –  Evvie Drake Starts Over screams quiet contemporary read. There was a perfect blend between light and warmness, as Evvie rents out her spare bedroom to an ex-major league baseball player hiding away from the spotlight, while dealing with heavier themes surrounding loss and grief. This book also made me want to rent a house in Maine ASAP. 

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman – If you want a fun read that screams wanderlust, look no further than The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany. Emilia accompanies her estranged aunt on a trip to Italy to help reunite her with the love of their life, while trying to override a curse placed on second-born daughters in their family. I was little hesitant going into this one because of that ‘curse,’ but the book really had nothing to do with ‘magic.’ Instead, Emilia learns how to break out her shell and the expectations set by her family…while maybe she’s not cursed to never fall in love after all… 

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas – This is likely one of the least surprising favorites on here, if you know me as the huge SJM fan that I am. Nesta and Cassian were my two favorite characters from ACOTAR even before they got their own installment, so I loved both of their journeys and relationship development in this one. ACOSF made me so much more intrigued about what SJM will be doing in the rest of the series! 

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ADORABLE YA READ: Kisses and Croissants Review

71vmkJOAG2LSummary (from the publisher):

As sweet as a macaron from Laduree, with writing as crisp as a freshly baked baguette, this romantic novel set in Paris about an American ballerina and a charming French boy is parfait for fans of American Royals and Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Seventeen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.

In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love. 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

If you’re craving a sweet YA contemporary this spring, look no further than Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau’s Kisses and Croissants. This book is the perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss and Disney+’s On Pointe documentary series, as rising high school senior, Mia, spends six weeks at an elite ballet program in Paris. Mia dreams of being a professional ballet dancer, and she spends her summer working towards an audition for one of the top ballet companies in the world, trying to figure out a family mystery involving a famous painter, and not-so resisting the temptation of a cute French boy. 

I spent one of the first warm & sunny Sundays this spring devouring Kisses and Croissants in just a few hours. Make sure you have a croissant or pastry near by as you read because this book will seriously leave you craving some French pastries and cheese. Mia’s adventures around Paris instantly transported me to the country from the first chapter. Soon after I finished reading, I found myself diving into Paris vlogs from my travel vloggers, Kara and Nate, and planning my trip there in my head. The setting was so well-described,  and I loved the book’s details surrounding art and museum culture in Paris, as Mia researches if one of the ballet dancers in a famous painter’s work was indeed one of her great grandmothers. 

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The Ex Talk Review & My Favorite Podcasts

Summary (from the publisher):

exShay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I knew Rachel Lynn Solomon’s first adult contemporary romance, The Ex Talk, would likely become my favorite books of 2021, & I was absolutely correct with my prediction! As one of my favorite YA authors, I was so excited for Rachel Lynn Solomon to break out into my other favorite genre, contemporary romance. Set in a Seattle public radio station, workplace enemies Shay and Dominic are tasked to take their dislike for one another and pretend to be exes on a new dating show in hopes of boosting the station’s ratings. 

The Ex Talk was an absolute perfect contemporary romance because it balanced one of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers, a unique premise, and other elements surrounding relationship development and personal growth. I guess The Ex Talk could technically also fall into the fake dating trope, since Shay and Dominic pretend to have dated, so they can act as exes hosting a radio show about dating, but I still say it’s an enemies-to-lovers because they are so annoyed with another at the beginning. Shay can’t stand how Dominic mentions his grad degree in journalism at any given moment (as a recent post undergrad & current grad student, I’m so used to this.. and probably done it a little bit myself…) and seems to have taken over the station despite working there for such a short time, while Dominic can’t stand how Shay is so stuck in her ways at the station. Their sarcasm and humor always had me laughing or smiling from the start. While I loved their dialogue throughout, I especially loved the transcripts of their radio show episodes. It really made me want someone to make The Ex Talk into a fictional podcast! 

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