ARCS & BOOK BUYING: July 2021 Book Haul

Is it summer without a few book hauls to accompany my days spent reading? I’ve been very fortunate to have received review copies from publishers & of course went on few book buying hauls this month (& again, of course, borrow books from my country library). 

Advance Reader’s Copies (ARCs)

As If On Cue by Marisa Kanter – I was extremely fortunate to receive a review copy of Marisa Kanter’s fall YA release, As If On Cue! Her debut, What I Like About You, was one of my FAVORITE books of 2020. I’m so excited to jump into this enemies-to-lovers, as rivals Natalie and Reid are forced to write and direct the school musical together to save the school and and theater budget. As If On Cue comes out on September 21st, 2021. 

Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron –  If you love You (Netflix show or book series by Caroline Kepnes, you have to check out Lindsay Cameron’s Just One Look. This mystery follows Cass, a lawyer who after an epic disaster at her old firm, is currently working as a temp reading through emails for a fraud case and comes across an email for a higher up and his wife and just can’t help but look at their private exchanges. I’m currently reading this one as I write this post, but I am really enjoying it and plan on reading the final 50 pages as soon as I’m done writing!  Just One Look comes out on July 27th, 2021. 

The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith – I haven’t read a ton of fantasy this year, but I absolutely loved the synopsis of Sasha Peyton Smith’s historical fantasy, The Witch Haven. The book is set in 1911 NYC, following a seventeen year old girl who is sent to a sanitarium only to soon discover it’s a school for witches. The Witch Haven comes out on August 31st, 2021. 

Read More »

Anticipated Releases Book Tag: 2021 Edition

I love the Anticipated Releases Book Tag because it lets me spotlight some of the books I’m the most excited for during the fall & let’s be honest, helps me somewhat selfishly get more organized for my most anticipated Fall 2021 books posts that I usually share in the second half of August.

If you love going back in time & revisiting some highly anticipated books in the past, I’ve also done the Anticipated Releases Book Tag in 2020 & 2019. The Anticipated Releases Book Tag was created by Ellyn of Allonsythornraxx.

Most Anticipated Release 

I am beyond excited for Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn. Erin Hahn, one of my favorite YA authors & author of You’d Be Mine & More Than Maybe, has been sharing so much about the book on Instagram each week. The book is quite personal and deals with questioning religion and faith. The book’s main protagonist, Meg, was raised by conservative parents & after finding out a shocking family secret, takes a gap year to meet the family she’s never known existed and meet the son of a pastor, Micah. Never Saw You Coming comes out on September 7th. 

Most Underhyped Release

I’m really looking forward to It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi. This YA romance follows Muslim American teens Kiran & Deen, who once dated in secret and then broke up when Deen ghosted Kiran & are now forced to help plan their older siblings’ wedding. It All Comes Back to You comes on September 14th, 2021. 

A Book You’ve Been Waiting On Forever 

I wasn’t necessarily waiting on it forever because it was recently announced, but I have been wishing for quite a while for an Off Campus sequel. That being said, I’m really looking forward to Elle Kennedy’s novella collection, The Legacy, which will contain novella/where are they now? stories for each couple in the Off Campus series. The Legacy comes out on September 21st. 

Read More »

Current Library Holds: July 2021 Edition

It wouldn’t be summer without me making at least 2-3 trips to my local library each week. My local county branch has unfortunately been closed for the past few weeks due to electrical issues, so I’ve been going to my second-closest branch and have enjoyed checking out what books they have on their shelves compared to my usual branch. I wish my library system could tell me where I was in line for my books on hold, but I am of course super grateful I have access to a county wide library and can borrow nearly every book I could want to read possible. Between the pandemic & shipping delays and library branch closures, my current holds list is definitely on the longer side then usual (although I 100% admit I have been putting new & upcoming releases on hold non-stop), so here’s to hoping a bunch of these books come in soon. 

It’s Kind of a Cheesy Love Story by Lauren Morrill – I haven’t been reading YA as frequently as I used to this year, but the YA books I have LOVED almost all of the YA contemporaries I have picked up this year & I’m so genuinely excited to read Lauren Morrill’s It’s Kind of a Cheesy Love Story. The book follows a teen who was born in a pizza parlor and thus gets a guaranteed job there when she turns sixteen. 

The Dating Plan by Sara Desai – Sara Desai’s The Marriage Game was an unexpected contemporary romance fave of mine last year, so I’m really looking forward to jumping into the second companion book, The Dating Plan. I haven’t read a book that takes on the marriage of convenience trope in a while, as this book follows software engineer Daisy and her brother’s best friend Liam as they agree to fake date/get engaged to appease their families. 

Between You, Me, & the Honeybees by Amelia Diane Coombs – I’m ALL about YA contemporary books with unique synopses, with Between You, Me, & the Honeybees at the top of the list. Josie’s mom thinks her daughter is all set to go to college and leave the family honey business behind…even though Josie declined her acceptance and wants to stay home and run the business. Another secret Josie is keeping? Her summer fling with the grandson of her family’s biggest competition. 

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory – I LOVED Party of Two in Jasmine Guillory’s Wedding Date series, so I have high expectations for the latest book in the companions series, While We Were Dating. This is a Hollywood/celebrity romance when an advertiser & actress turn their fling into a Hollywood/fake dating situation for the spotlight. 

Read More »

COZY SUMMER READ: The Kindred Spirits Supper Club Review

Summary (from the publisher): Jobless and forced home to Wisconsin, journalist Sabrina Monroe can kstolerate reunions with frenemies and kisses from old boyfriends, but not the literal ghosts that greet her in this heartwarming tale of the power of love and connection from acclaimed author Amy E. Reichert.

For Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Wisconsin Dells–the self-described Waterpark Capital of the World–means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina’s always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who’s much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina’s side all through her lonely childhood.

Her personal life starts looking up when Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He’s charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn’t have time for romance–she needs to focus on finding a job. Except the longer she’s in the Dells, the harder it is to resist her feelings for Ray. Who can turn down a cute guy with a fondness for rescue dogs and an obsession with perfecting his fried cheese curds recipe?

When the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time and with Ray in her corner, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I recently had been reading many ‘beachy’ books (aka Elin Hilderbrand) and fantasy with my Carry On reread and found myself craving a contemporary romance, leading me to Amy E. Reichert’s 2021 release, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club. I know I’m going to have to dive into her backlist now because I absolutely loved this one!

The book follows Sabrina, whose recently moved back to her Wisconsin Dells hometown after losing her journalist job & is basically forced to work for the mean girl from high school while she figures out her next step. Sabrina was always bullied growing up for her rumored ability to see ghosts… which is actually true as Sabrina and her mom help the recently deceased with their final wishes. Enter Ray, a new local restaurateur of an up-&-coming supper club who has fallen head over heels for Sabrina and convinces her to help him plan an event he needs to go perfectly in order to keep the restaurant. 

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is perfect for fans of Sarah Hogle and Colleen Oakley (especially if you just read & loved The Invisible Husband of Frick Island). The book has this quietness and charm that reminded me so much of those authors’ books, as The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is both character and relationship driven. The book alternates between Sabrina and Ray’s third person POVs, and I couldn’t help but love both of their storylines. Both are all about trying to figure out their next steps career wise, but can’t help but feel called to stay in the small town…and with each other. Sabrina is on the shy & quiet side, again as being bullied for her ability to see ghosts growing up, but Ray brings out a more open side of her while respecting her quieter side. I loved seeing their relationship grow and how the ghost subplot(s) intertwined.

Read More »

SUMMER READS & ANTICIPATED BOOKS: July 2021 Recent TBR Additions

If I have strong enough Internet connection near the pool, you can likely find me adding books to my Goodreads TBR when taking a reading break. I haven’t shared a recent TBR additions post since late spring, but I’ve been pretty busy with review books & library books this summer, but I of course have quiet a few to share today – if you’ve read some of my recent posts, you might know I’ve gone a slight Elin Hilderbrand kick and won’t be sharing all of her books that I want to read here. I’ve organized this post by upcoming/anticipated books and recently released or backlist titles. 

The Layover by Lacie Waldon – I love reading any kind of beach/vacation kind of book during the summer, with Lacie Waldon’s recent release, The Layover, absolutely screaming that kind of read with its cover alone. The book follows flight attendant, Ava, who gets stuck in Belize for a weekend layover with her nemesis and airplane pilot, Jack. 

When It All Lands by Jennie Wexler – Jennie Wexler’s recently released When It All Lands has gotten so much love from a few of my book blogging friends. This YA contemporary is a what-if, love triangle type contemporary, in which best friends Shane and Drew flip a coin to see who gets to ask out the new girl in school, Stevie, and the book is told in a dual timeline following what would’ve happened if the coin landed heads or tails. I recently read this kind of timeline in Taylor Jenkin Reid’s Maybe In Another Life and I enjoyed it a lot. 

One Great Lie by Deb Caletti – I read a few of Deb Caletti’s books during my early/middle school YA reading days and I loved A Heart in a Body in the World a few years ago. I absolutely loved the sound of her recent release, One Great Lie. The main character gets invited to a writing workshop in Venice by a prestigious author, but the story seems to have a darker tone as her male writing instructor takes on an unnerving behavior and she unravels a family mystery about a famed poet. 

Read More »

My First WWW Wednesday 

I’ve been blogging for almost four and a half years (!!!) and it’s so crazy to believe that this is my first WWW Wednesday. I think this meme feels especially appropriate this week because I feel like my reading has been all over the place (in the best way possible because I have been reading SO much in the past month). My reading is falling into primarily 3-4 categories right now: review books/ARCs for this summer & fall, library books, rereading, and Elin Hilderbrand – regarding that last one, you probably know I spend a ton of time in the pool & at the beach during the summer, so her books feel especially right for those settings. 

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam of Taking on a World of Words. The Three Ws are: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next? Shoutout to Danielle of Life of a Literary Nerd because I love checking out her WWW posts each week

Currently Reading: 

From Scratch by Tembi Locke and Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell 

I’ve been doing well with my reading goal of reading at least 1 non-fiction book every 1-2 months in 2021. My current non-fiction read, From Scratch by Tembi Locke, is helping fulfill my wanderlust/travel wish to go to Italy, following Tembi Locke’s love story with her husband, Saro,  and the struggles they faced as a couple (Saro’s Sicilian family disproved of him marrying a Black American woman), Saro’s struggles with cancer, and Tembi’s return to Sicily with her daughter after Saro’s death. I’m also currently (re)reading Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell, since Any Way the Wind Blows just came out last week and I really needed a series refresh before diving into book #3. I wasn’t super in love with Wayward Son when I first read it in 2019, so I’m hoping I enjoy it and understand it more now especially since I just re-read Carry On.

Read More »

MUST-READ YA FT. KOREA & ROMANCE: XOXO Review

Summary (from the publisher):

81Kz+Kr3LRLCello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.

Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.

When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

Nearly any book that I read cover to cover while floating around my pool IN one afternoon is a fantastic book for me – and if this scenario seems oddly specific, the book I am talking about is Axie Oh’s YA contemporary, XOXO! This YA contemporary following Jenny’s semester abroad at a performing arts school in Seoul, South Korea, and yes, falling in love a K pop star along the way, completely grabbed my attention as I floated around the pool on a hot afternoon. I would not go inside until I had this book completed – if you’re looking for a cute read to read in less than four hours, this is the book for you. 

The book is narrated by Jenny, a rising cellist who spends an unforgettable night with a cute guy, Jaewoo, in her hometown of LA….only to never hear from him again. Three months later, Jenny and her mom move temporarily to South Korea to help take care of her grandmother, and Jenny enrolls in a prestigious performing arts high school there.. only to discover on the first day that not only is Jaewoo one of her classmates, but he’s also one of the members of a rising K-pop group. While improving her cello playing skills, forming friendships, and falling in love with a new city, Jenny and Jaewoo begin to develop a relationship while trying to avoid the spotlight and the strict expectations he must follow as part of the K-pop group.  

Something (aka everything) about XOXO grabbed me from the get-go. The book was so well-balanced between Jenny’s family life, her friendships, discovering Seoul, her dream to study music and keep performing in college, and of course, her romance with Jaewoo. I admit that I was a bit hesitant going into this one because of the slight K-pop premise since I’m not a K-pop fan, but you totally don’t need to know too much about K-pop to enjoy this one (even though you’ll probably catch some inspired references that I likely missed). 

XOXO doesn’t immediately jump into South Korea, but I though the transition from Jenny & Jaewoo’s first night together & Jenny’s life in LA to Seoul was really well done and added to Jenny’s character growth. I loved all the friendships she made there, along with the growth in her relationships with her mother & grandmother. The book reminded me of Abigail Hing Wen’s Loveboat, Taipei and even Jenny Lee’s Anna K:Away, likely because of the setting and performing arts school. 

Overall, XOXO is a YA contemporary release not to miss this summer! If you love books set in other countries and a cute romance that well balances so many other elements, check this one out!

XOXO comes out on July 13th, 2021. 

This review is based on an advance reader’s edition provided by the publisher. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts & opinions.

Is XOXO on your TBR? What YA books have you been loving lately? Have you read any books by Axie Oh? Share in the comments! 

Beach Reads + Contemporary Romance: July Review Roundup #1 

You likely know that summer is my biggest reading season, in part that if I’m spending the day in the pool or on the beach, I have a book (or two) with me, & that I am fortunate enough to enjoy some extra time off in the summer as a teacher. I’m definitely doing the most amount of reading than I have ever done before in the summer, averaging anywhere between 4-6 books a week. I mentioned in my 10+ book mini review round up back in June that because I’m reading so much, I haven’t been necessarily writing full reviews for every single book I read & I’ve been enjoying the shorter length mini review format where I maybe don’t write as much in my traditional mini review posts and share more books that I’ve read. I have a few full length reviews planned for the next few weeks, but I definitely have a feeling I’ll be sharing another similar round-up in July! Today I’ll be sharing mini reviews forYA and adult contemporary books (including some romances of course) & a few beach reads from Elin Hilderbrand. 

The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall – I LOVED The Secret Bridesmaid. This British contemporary following a woman whose hired by brides to be a bridesmaid/undercover wedding planner and is recommended to serve in a royal wedding for a diva of a bride was SO good. It was the perfect blend of self-growth, relationship development (including friendship & romance), and having such a fun story. If you’re a fan of books with some sort of wedding storyline, check this one out! My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane – My local county library branch is closed for at least the first half of July, so I’ve been visiting another local branch and I’ve loved getting to find books that my local library doesn’t have, including so many books from Mhairi McFarlane! She’s a go-to British contemporary romance author from some of my most trusted book rec sources, so I started with what feels like her most recommended book, If I Never Met You. The book uses the fake dating trope, as lawyer Laurie agrees to fake date her co-worker after her long-time boyfriend and also fellow colleague breaks up with her. I liked that the book begins with Laurie’s relationship with her ex and we see the break-up happen and unravel instead of jumping right into the fake-dating. This was overall a fun read and I’m looking forward to checking out more of her books. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Heart & Seoul by Jen Federick – I was running on the reading rush that was Axie Oh’s upcoming XOXO (review coming to the blog on Monday!) That made me want to read another book set in South Korea, leading me to Jen Frederick’s Heart & Seoul. This contemporary romance (although I think it does read more as a women’s fiction/contemporary drama) follows Hara, a Korean adoptee who decides to go to Seoul for the first time to learn more about her birth parents. I liked that the book balanced so many elements and wasn’t all about the romance or Hara’s adoption/birth story. The book puts way more focus on family than the romance, although I did like the relationship. I’ve read a few books with Korea as the setting, but this book gave such an interesting perspective on the lifestyle and customs there. I was kind’ve mixed on the ending, in the sense that I thought it would’ve been a unique ending for a contemporary romance while also wanting MORE and I was happy to find out that there will be a book #2, Soulmates, in January 2022. My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand – I’m on a slight & unexpected mission to read as many Elin Hilderbrand book as possible this year. Elin was recently interviewed on Bad on Paper Podcast, and Silver Girl came up in their conversation. I was a bit hesitant going into this one because I wasn’t super intrigued by the synopsis, as the book follows Meredith’s downfall due to her husband’s Ponzi scheme and hiding from the media with her former best friend in Nantucket for the summer. However, I became so much more addicted to this story than expected, having actually loved the focus on friendship and how the story intertwined the past & present. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

Read More »

FAMILY & LOVE YA: Indestructible Object Review

Summary (from the publisher):

81CxOVihawLFor the past two years, Lee has been laser-focused on two things: her job as a sound tech at a local coffee shop and her podcast “Artists in Love,” which she cohosts with her boyfriend Vincent.

Until he breaks up with her on the air right after graduation.

When their unexpected split, the loss of her job, and her parent’s announcement that they’re separating coincide, Lee’s plans, her art, and her life are thrown into turmoil. Searching for a new purpose, Lee recruits her old friend Max and new friend Risa to produce a podcast called “Objects of Destruction,” where they investigate whether love actually exists at all.

But the deeper they get into the love stories around them, the more Lee realizes that she’s the one who’s been holding love at arm’s length. And when she starts to fall for Risa, she finds she’ll have to be more honest with herself and the people in her life to create a new love story of her own.

Funny, romantic, and heartfelt, this is a story about secrets, lies, friendship, found family, an expired passport, a hidden VHS tape, fried pickles, the weird and wild city of Memphis, and, most of all, love.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

As much as I love my YA contemporary books where romance is the focus, I really enjoy YA contemporaries that are much more about character growth and family,  including Mary McCoy’s recent release, Indestructible Object. Also, important sidetone that I am obsessed with this book’s cover, especially the color scheme. The book takes place in Memphis, and I love all the nods on the cover to places in the story. 

Of course, Indestructible Object does have something to do with love and romance. Just having graduated from high school, Lee’s life feels like it’s falling apart- her parents are finally separating (and despite having relationship problems for quite some time, they actually seem to be leaving each other this time..) and to top it all off, Lee’s boyfriend has just broken up with her on their podcast about art & love. After snooping through some of her parents’ things, Lee teams up with a family friend, Max, and a new friend, Risa, to figure out what happened with her parent’s relationship to cause their split and unravels so much about Lee’s own life that she wasn’t expecting. 

Read More »

LIVE LOVE CLO: The Soulmate Equation Review

the-soulmate-equation-9781982123963_hrSummary (from the publisher):Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

I’ve mentioned it before, but I am part of the “newer Christina Lauren releases” fan club, including their May 2021 release, The Soulmate Equation. The book features all the classic CLo hallmarks, but it is definitely a standout for its DNA matchmaking premise and for what I believe is their first standalone CLo book with a single mom as the main protagonist. Jess is roped in by her romance author of a best friend, Fizzy, to partake in a DNA-based matchmaking company in hopes of finding a great date. However, Jess is ultimately matched with one of the lead, broody scientists, River. Since Jess and River have the highest compatibility rate the company has ever seen, they pay Jess to give her and River’s attraction a trial run, which of course leads to something more….

The Soulmate Equation was another solid CLo installment! They have really become one of my most trusted authors, knowing that I’ll either really enjoy or love any of their books, no matter the premise. I really liked Jess as a main protagonist for her personality & career. It was cool to have female STEM representation, as Jess is a freelance mathematician/data analyst. I do admit that I fell a tiny bit more in love with the book’s ‘secondary’ characters, like Jess’ best friend, Fizzy, and her seven year old daughter, Juno. Fizzy is a romance book author whose writing may or may not take inspiration from Jess’ data (mis)adventures and she had so many great one liners- maybe we’ll get some sort of Fizzy inspired spin-off? I really liked the family aspect in The Soulmate Equation, as Jess is super close with her daughter and her grandparents. 

Read More »