My May was filled with so many books and life happenings! I feel like I mentioned it somewhere in a blog post earlier this month, but I officially graduated with my Master of Arts in Teaching and started my first full-time job soon after! My schedule as per usual has still been packed, but I read the most amount of what I’ve read in a month so far in 2021 with 15 books!! Since I have reviews for all of these books already shared or coming, I won’t be going into too much detail here. 

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | 4.5/5 Stars

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand | 4.5/5

Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher | 2.5/5

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Herron | 4/5 

Anna K: Away by Jenny Lee 4.5/5

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney | 3.5/5 

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto | 4/5 

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Most Anticipated Summer 2021 Releases

Memorial Day Weekend means that it’s time to break out the beach chair…and our TBRs filled with all the new books coming out this summer! Many of the releases on this list come out in June, but there are of course also a few books coming out this July & August. I may just have to share another updated list in a few weeks, because we all know I’ll be adding more new releases on my TBR this summer. June 1st is a really big release date this year with some titles from some of the biggest authors in the publishing game! 

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid | RD: June 1 

Is any contemporary fan not going to read Malibu Rising this summer? I admit that I’m not dedicating all my anticipated books feels to Malibu Rising – I did enjoy Daisy Jones and the Six , but wasn’t wasn’t in LOVE as so many other readers. I’m hoping I’ll be pleasantly surprised and get some backlist TJR feels – I don’t mean for this to turn into a TJR session but I’m finding that I like her old titles more than her new release (which I do enjoy, just not LOVE). Add it on Goodreads 

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand | RD: June 1

I plan on having an Elin Hilderbrand summer (okay, maybe I won’t literally be going to Nantucket) by diving into her backlist and her June release, Golden Girl. I’m pretty new to Elin Hilderbrand’s work, but this book sounds super unique: a mother of three passes away in a hit-and-run accident but she’s able to watch her kids from “beyond” for one last summer and influence some of the decisions they make. Add it on Goodreads 

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston | RD: June 1 

As I’m sure you’re not surprised to remember or realize, I LOVEEDDD Casey McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue. I’m going to try and not compare it to One Last Stop, since this sounds like a completely new story. Add it on Goodreads 

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott | RD: June 1 

I was fortunate enough to read a review copy of The Lucky List (I shared my review on the blog on Wednesday) and this summer contemporary is a must read to have on your summer TBR. Emily takes on her mom’s summer bucket list with the help of her family friend, Blake. As Emily begins to feel more & more like her old self over the course of the summer, Emily and Blake’s friendship begins to develop into something more. Add it on Goodreads

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SUMMER TIME READ: The Lucky List Review

81lEotkcWQLSummary (From the publisher): Emily and her mom were always lucky. Every month they’d take her lucky quarter, select lucky card 505, and dominate the heatedly competitive bingo night in their small, quirky town of Huckabee. But Emily’s mom’s luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right for Emily since.

Now, the summer before her senior year, things are getting worse. Not only has Emily wrecked things with her boyfriend Matt, who her mom adored, but her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mom’s belongings away. Soon, she’ll have no connections left to Mom but that lucky quarter. And with her best friend away for the summer and her other friends taking her ex’s side, the only person she has to talk to about it is her dad’s best friend’s daughter, Blake, a girl she barely knows.

But that’s when Emily finds the list—her mom’s senior year summer bucket list—buried in a box in the back of her closet. When Blake suggests that Emily take it on as a challenge, the two set off on a journey to tick each box and help Emily face her fears before everything changes As they go further down the list, Emily finally begins to feel closer to mom again, but her bond with Blake starts to deepen, too, into something she wasn’t expecting. Suddenly Emily must face another fear: accepting the secret part of herself she never got a chance to share with the person who knew her best.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Back in September, I read Rachael Lippincott & Mikki Daughtry’s All This Time, making me want to check out more books by both authors, including Rachael Lippincott’s first solo book, The Lucky List. Taking place over my favorite season, SUMMER, the book follows upcoming high school senior, Emily, whose summer is looking a little bleak: she’s just broken up with her on-and-off again boyfriend, Matt, again & maybe this time for good; because of the break-up, she’s on the outs with her friend group; her best friend, Kiera, is away at summer camp; and her dad is finally read to move out of Emily’s childhood home and start cleaning out her mom’s belongings, who died from cancer 3 years before. Emily hasn’t felt like herself over those 3 years, but discovers a new connection to her mom when she finds her mom’s summer bucket list from her own senior year. When her dad’s best friend and his daughter, Blake, move back to town, Emily & Blake team up together to complete the bucket list. Emily begins to feel like the old her, including unopened feelings about her sexuality and more-than-friends feels she is developing for Blake.

The Lucky List was a really cute summer YA contemporary while also diving into deeper themes surrounding Emily’s loss and coming out. Throughout, Emily is grieving over her mom’s death and how she just hasn’t felt like herself since. Through the bucket list, Blake helps Emily work through her emotions. The story felt really full circle near the end, as the book does connect back to the moment when Emily’s mom was diagnosed with cancer and Emily recognizing her sexuality. I always make sure to note this when a book does indeed bring on the tears because yes I do read a lot of emotional books that make me sad but so few make me cry. However, I had tons of tears rolling down my face near the end of the book involving a scene with Emily and her dad and her mom’s clothes, which led me to cry over the follow-up scenes.

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Current Library Holds: May 2021 Edition

You probably know that I am an avid library user. Although I have been buying books a bit more & have been fortunate enough to receive books for review from publishers over the years, I’d still estimate that at least 50% of my books each year come from the library. Around this time of year, as school winds down and I have time off from work for the summer, I’m usually in my local county library branch 2-3 times a week stocking up on reads for the pool & beach. 

Since the pandemic has still slowed down the rate of new books coming in (my library is still also quarantining books for three days after they’ve been returned) & my local branch is on the smaller side, it’s been taking longer than usual for me to get copies of some new releases. That being said, I’ve been putting upcoming releases on hold extra early and making sure to get popular books on hold even sooner lately…which has led to my 10+ book holds list. I know the obvious answer would be to just buy the books myself but I do try to hold myself to a somewhat book budget, aka not buy every new shiny release on my TBR. 

Today I’ll sharing all the books on my library holds list as of this Monday morning – here’s to a few of these coming in this week.. & yes I am fearful that all of these will come in at the same time because I’ll likely only be able to have them out for 2 weeks since many of these are must-reads for the summer. I’m not going to go into too much detail on a few of a titles, since I’ll be sharing & repeating a few in my most anticipated books for Summer 2021 post on Friday and I’ve already mentioned a few of these in anticipated posts. 

Published Books

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave – I put The Last Thing He Told Me on my TBR during the week of pub, when all the hype definitely pulled me in. I wanted to get it & read n time for Bad on Paper Podcast’s Book Club episode, but I unfortunately think I’m going to have to wait to listen to the episode until after its released this week. 

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson – I totally admit that I thought about buying Take Me Home Tonight so I could read it sooner because I love Morgan Matson’s books so much, but I have heard some mixed reviews about this one & I only own one of her books, Save the Date. I’d probably be more tempted to buy it if I had personal copies of her other books.

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren My library either gets new books as soon as they come in and have them ready on pub date or it takes a few weeks for them to come in, and the pandemic and delayed shipping seems to only lengthened the process (obviously am very grateful to have my library of course & that they even order all of these new books!). One of my summer reading goals is to read all of Christina Lauren’s standalone titles so I can finally make my rankings list, so I may try to read books like Autoboyography and My Favorite Half Night Stand in the meantime. 

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ADD THESE SUMMER READS: May 2021 Mini Reviews

I’ve been in such a great reading mood lately! I’ve been able to read 1-2 books during the week & then another book or two on the weekends. We’ve been having a few sunny Saturdays and Sundays, which means spending the day outside reading in my backyard. If you’re already preparing your summer TBR like I am, make sure you check out these 4 contemporary books below.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


Two weekends ago on a sunny Saturday, I was craving a book that I could binge-read while sitting outside all day, which meant it was time to pick up another Elin Hilderbrand book! After loving 28 Summers back in March, I decided to pick up another one of her more recent releases, Summer of ’69. Set in, you guessed it, the summer of 1969, the book follows three daughters and their mother’s summer on Nantucket and Martha Vineyard while their brother & son has been recently deployed to Vietnam. 

I love books that place over the summer and follow the daily happenings of the main characters. Summer of ’69 exactly fits that premise, with a few secrets and minor scandals along the way. I totally admit that I was a little hesitant going into the 1960s setting, but it was so interesting getting transported to the days of the space race and the Vietnam War. There’s also commentary on women’s roles and race, between Blair’s husband’s desire for Blair to stay home & raise their family and Kirby’s relationship with a young black man. I really like Elin Hilderbrand’s books because she’s able to handle so many plot lines and conflicts while also keeping the writing style quick and easy to fly through -aka the perfect beach read. I definitely liked reading from the daughters, Blair, Kirby, and Jessie’s perspectives, more than their mother, who was a bit on the melodramatic side, but I overall loved this book!

I am SO going to read more Elin Hilderbrand books this summer – I think she’s going to be one of my go-tos when I want a book-in-a-day beach or pool read. I immediately put Elin Hilderbrand’s June release, Golden Girl, on hold after I finished reading Summer of ’69

Anna K: Away (Anna K #2) by Jenny Lee 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 


Let it be know already that I love anything having to do with Anna K because I absolutely  LOVED Anna K: Away. The sequel to Jenny Lee’s 2020 release, Anna K, the book picks up during the summer after the events of book #1, in which Anna K & co. are grieving over the loss of Anna K’s beloved (trying to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve read Anna Karenina, you can probably figure out who I’m talking about). Anna K is whisked off to Korea, Dustin, Steve, and Lolly are dealing with their own relationship troubles in NYC, and Bea is off to California for a change of pace of her own.

I just love everything about Anna K: Away so much, from Jenny Lee’s writing style to the glamour and drama of these teens’ world. Yes, it is super extravagant and probably unrealistic, but this book is the absolute perfect kind of escape. I loved all of the settings, from California to the Hamptons to South Korea. I think Anna K’s storyline was particularly my favorite because I loved the K-pop and paparazzi storyline while Anna K deals with loss and figuring out her next steps. I really like Bea as a character so it was fun following her storyline, and Lolly and Steve’s relationship always made for some fun drama. I read Anna K: Away nearly a year after reading book #1 and don’t think you necessarily need a reread to get invested in this sequel. You definitely need to read book #1 before book #2 — and should just read this series regardless because it is such a refreshing and mature take on Gossip Girl-esque YA contemporary. 

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GILMORE GIRLS MEETS GAP YEAR: The Marvelous Mirza Girls Review 

Summary (from the publisher):

91DHMxk5y5LTo cure her post–senior year slump, made worse by the loss of her aunt Sonia, Noreen is ready to follow her mom on a gap year trip to New Delhi, hoping India can lessen her grief and bring her voice back.

In the world’s most polluted city, Noreen soon meets kind, handsome Kabir, who introduces her to the wonders of this magical, complicated place. With Kabir’s help—plus Bollywood celebrities, fourteenth-century ruins, karaoke parties, and Sufi saints—Noreen begins to rediscover her joyful voice.

But when a family scandal erupts, Noreen and Kabir must face complicated questions in their own relationship: What does it mean to truly stand by someone—and what are the boundaries of love? 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

In a world where we are traveling less than we used to, I’ve been really attracted to books taking place in other countries than the US, which helped lead me to Sheba Karim’s The Marvelous Mirza Girls. A year after the loss of her aunt Sonia, Noreen decides to take a gap year in between high school and college and join her mother on a work trip to New Dehli for a few months. There, Noreen meets Kabir, who shows her various sites around New Dehli to help Noreen confront her grief and learn more about her culture. 

The Marvelous Mirza Girls has so many great elements that were all really well-balanced. Noreen is a writer and dreams of writing a TV show one day, but has struggled to write since the unexpected death of her aunt Sonia. The book starts off a year after Sonia’s death, and Noreen remains in deep grief. Her mother, Ruby, hopes that a change in location to New Delhi will help lift both their spirits and get Noreen back to writing. I’m usually hesitant about comparing books to TV shows, but The Marvelous Mirza Girls completely deserves the Gilmore Girls comparisons. Ruby and Noreen have such a relaxed, yet strong mother-daughter dynamic. They both easily agree to spending some of Noreen’s gap year in New Dehli together, they talk about dating and relationships with ease, and like Lorelai and Rory, they have a penchant for junk food. I also thought Noreen’s grief and emotions surrounding her aunt’s death were well developed. With each site Kabir takes Noreen to, she works through her grief and feels a closer connection to her aunt. The book also somewhat delves into Noreen’s relationship with her estranged father, making Noreen all the more grateful for her relationship with her mother. I loved the emphasis and inclusion of positive female relationships, especially between a mother and daughter. 

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Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry Review 

Summary (from the publisher):

8100TK7bG4LQuinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud” and all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing . . .

Then an anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

If you’re looking for YA contemporary that mixes adorable YA romance with real themes, look no further than Joya Goffney’s Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. The book follows high school senior, Quinn, a girl who just kept seem to tell the truth unless in it’s in her notebook. Quinn keeps lists about everything, from things she’d never admit out loud to everything that annoys her about one of her classmates, Carter. When someone gets a hold of the notebook and threatens to blackmail Quinn, like exposing her fake college acceptance and her help vandalizing a fellow classmate’s artwork, she has to team up with Carter to figure out who has the notebook. 


I liked Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry’s balance between cute YA and serious themes surrounding race. The book has slight To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before vibes, between Quinn’s notebook/notes being stolen and having to team up with a guy she never would’ve imagined spending time with, let alone developing feelings for. Quinn identities as Black, and much of the book revolves around a really horrible incident with two friends involving racial stereotypes and the Quinn’s feeling that she isn’t “Black” enough based on the things people say about her. Quinn has tough conversations with her parents, new friends, and ex-friends about race, and the book provides a ton of perspective on prejudice and micro-aggressions. 

While I appreciated the book’s themes and I especially loved Quinn and Olivia’s friendship, I had trouble really getting into Quinn’s mindset. I think there was too much going with plot, between her relationship with her parents, their own relationship problems, her grandmother’s health, Carter, her crush on Matt, college, and friendships. It was almost hard to understand why she lied so much about what was going on in her life & her feelings. Although I liked having a glimpse into all of these elements of Quinn’s life, it was often difficult to keep track of characters and some of these factors felt surface-level, despite the book’s conversation surrounding race. 

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My 5 May Must-Reads TBR 

My May has been going super well so far & I have some really exciting things going on this week – I finished my clinical internship last week for my masters program, I just started a full-time job this week (!!), & have my graduation ceremonies for my masters and undergrad degree from 2020 on Friday. With all the new changes and celebrations happening this month, my reading life has been put a little on hold, but I’m hoping to dedicate some serious time to reading on weekends. As always, while I plan on reading more than the books outlined here, I wanted to share my top 5 must-read books for May, including 3 review copies on my to-review list for June. I won’t go into too many details on a few of the books below, since I’ve mentioned at least two of them in some recent blog posts

Anna K: Away (Anna K #2) by Jenny Lee – Anna K: Away is one of my current reads. I’ve been not-so patiently waiting for this sequel since last summer when I read Anna K. The sequel picks up during the summer of book #1’s conclusion, with Anna starting off in South Korea to hide away while her friends & fellow socialites pick up the pieces of their owns scandals & drama. If you love escapist reads, I cannot recommend this series enough. 

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry – If we get some nice sunny weather this weekend, I am committing to sitting outside & devouring Emily Henry’s People We Meet On Vacation. I’ve had my Book of the Month copy of this contemporary romance following two best friends, Poppy & Alex, whose relationship has been rocky for the past 2 years until Poppy convinces Alex to go on one last vacation with each other. Like Beach Read, this one screams perfect beach or poolside read. 

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CUTE & COZY READ: Twice Shy Review

tsSummary (from the publisher):

Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

My Rating: 4.5/Stars

My Thoughts:

Sarah Hogle’s You Deserve Each Other was one of funniest & best books I read in 2020, so I could not wait to pick up her 2021 release, Twice Shy. This contemporary romance follows Maybell, an events coordinator at a resort in Tennessee who hasn’t had the best luck in life when it comes to a family, romance, and even work – any of the events Maybell tries to plan at the hotel always gets shut down. One day at work, Maybell finds out that she has inherited her great aunt’s estate..only to arrive at the house to see its dismal conditions and to find out her aunt’s grumpy groundskeeper, Wesley, is the co-owner. 

Everyone knows that I love a cozy contemporary and Twice Shy completely fits that category. As suggested by the title of the book, both Maybell and Wesley are really shy people and often struggle to connect with others. Maybell is especially ‘stepped on’ by her mom and one of her co-workers, so she is need of a fresh start and has fond memories of the one summer she spent at the aunt’s estate. Wesley’s story is harder to crack open, but as Maybell and him grow closer repairing the house with another, the story surrounding his anxiety comes out more & more. Maybell is also often lost to her day-dreams or alternate reality, where she replays interactions inside a fictional coffee shop – the whole AU storyline was really unique & something I hadn’t read in a book before. Read More »

May 2021 Release Round Up

I usually share an annual anticipated releases post & anticipated releases posts for YA and adult books each publishing season. I shared my most anticipated books for Spring 2021 YA and contemporary romance releases back in February, but there is such an amazing line-up of books from some of my favorite authors this month that I had to re-share some of my anticipated titles, as well as some new books that have popped up on my TBR over the past 2 months. I’m gearing up for summer reading & so many of these titles are on my library holds list already! 

Some of these books have just come out this week on May 4th (May the 4th be with you), so if you’re headed to the library or bookstore this weekend, definitely check them out. 

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter | Release Date: May 4 

I fortunately read a review copy of Better Than the Movies earlier this spring & it soon became one of my favorite YA books of the year! If you love classic movie rom-coms and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, this is the book for you, as the main character teams up with her enemy to score her dream prom date. Add it on Goodreads

It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark | RD: May 4 

Georgia Clark’s It Had to Be You has blown up across my bookstagram over the past few week, especially from my fave author & IG follow, Hannah Orenstein. This book has been described as the perfect read for Love Actually fans. The book follows wedding planner Liv, whose just lost her husband…only to soon discover that he has left half of their business to his girlfriend. Add it on Goodreads

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson | RD: May 4

A new book from one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. Morgan Matson comes out with a new book every 2-3 years, so I’m always even more eager to pick up her latest release. Take Me Home Tonight takes on an entirely new setting for her books, NYC, as best friends Kat and Stevie spend 24 hours in the city. Add it on Goodreads

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