For Butter or Worse Review

71qHgvkRepLSummary (from the publisher): All chef Nina Lyon wants is to make a name for herself in the culinary world and inspire young women everywhere to do the same. For too long, she’s been held back and underestimated by the male-dominated sphere of professional kitchens, and she’s had enough. Now, as co-host of the competitive reality TV series The Next Cooking Champ!, she finally has a real shot at being top tier in the foodie scene.Too bad her co-host happens to be Hollywood’s smarmiest jerk.

Restaurateur Leo O’Donnell never means to get under Nina’s skin. It just seems to happen, especially when the cameras are rolling. It’s part of the anxiety and stress he has come to know all too well in this line of work. So nothing prepares him for the fallout after he takes one joke a smidge too far and Nina up and quits—on live TV.

To make matters worse, the two are caught in what looks like a compromising situation by the paparazzi…and fans of the show go absolutely nuts. Turns out, a “secret romance” between Nina and Leo may just be what their careers need most.

Now all they have to do is play along, without killing each other…and without catching feelings. Easy as artisanal shepherd’s pie. Right?

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

If you love any rom-com with foodie talk or perfect descriptions of food, then Erin La Rosa’s new release, For Butter or Worse is the book for you.

For Butter or Worse is an enemies-to-lovers meets fake dating romance following restaurant owners and co-hosts of a cooking competition show, Nina and Leo. When Nina quits their TV show on-air after Leo makes a not-so nice comment, the two face a PR disaster that means less customers in Nina’s LA restaurant and Leo’s family owned Italian restaurant chain. In order to save their reputations and businesses, and after a revealing paparazzi photo of the two together, Nina’s publicist suggests that Nina & Leo fake date to save their careers… but why do their fake dates and fake feelings for one another start to feel a bit too real? 

For Butter or Worse is perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory’s Wedding Date series, based on the LA setting and food talk & descriptions alone. Nina is a chef, and Leo runs the business side of his family’s Italian restaurant chain, aka meaning that the food talk was descriptive and perfectly endless in this book. I loved seeing the restaurant owner side of things, even though both Leo and Nina’s restaurants are facing financial struggles throughout the story. And throughout, this book made me crave chocolate, donuts, and pizza…just to name a few things. If you’re also a fall fan, the book is set during the transition from summer well into autumn, aka there are a few fall-set and Halloween date scenes. 

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The Beach Trap by Ali Brady Review

Summary (from the publisher):
9780593440155When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half-sisters. Confused and betrayed, their friendship instantly crumbles.

Fifteen years later when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are instantly at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to keep the place where she had so many happy childhood memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision, and each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past, and learning how to become sisters.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

You know those books whose cover and synopsis that just scream summer? One of those books is hands-down writing duo Ali Brady’s debut release, The Beach Trap.

With some inspiration from The Parent Trap, The Beach Trap begins at summer camp when twelve year olds Blake and Kat become best friends, until they discover through a loss that they are half sisters, sharing the same father. Flash-forward fifteen years later with no communication between them, Kat and Blake’s father passes away, leaving them the family vacation home. As a nanny who is need of money to take care of her ailing grandfather, Blake wants to sell the house, while rising social media influencer Kat will do anything to keep the house in the family, even with her own’s family’s financial situation looking not so great. As the sisters duel over much needed renovations and find themselves each in a summer romance, they need to figure out their past and what it means to be a sister. 

The Beach Trap was the perfectly addicting summer read I needed while floating around the pool one afternoon. I devoured this book based on its setting alone, Destin, Florida, and as always, it made my beach house envy grow even more.And yes, there is an adorable dog throughout the book, too. It took me a  little while to settle into the dual POV. Kat and Blake’s personalities and voices were distinct,  but I felt a little pulled out of the story flipping back and forth at times, mainly because Kat has a very hard time nearly until the end of the book seeing things from Blake’s point of view. 

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Meant to Be Mine Review

meant-to-be-mine-9781982175276_hrSummary (from the publisher): What if you knew exactly when you’d meet the love of your life? Edie Meyer knows. When her Grandma Gloria was a young woman, she had a vision of the exact day she would meet her soul mate—and then Grandpa Ray showed up.

Since then, Gloria has accurately predicted the day every single member of the family has met their match. Edie’s day arrives on June 24, 2022, when she’s twenty-nine years old. She has been waiting for it half her life. That morning, she boards an airplane to her twin sister’s surprise engagement, and when a handsome musician sits beside her, she knows it’s meant to be.

But fate comes with more complications than Edie expected and she can’t fight the nagging suspicion that her perfect guy doesn’t have perfect timing. After a tragedy and a shocking revelation rock Edie’s carefully constructed world, she’s forced to consider whether love chooses us, as simple as destiny, or if we choose it ourselves.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Hannah Orenstein has become of my favorite contemporary romance authors and book recommendation sources on Instagram. I loved her last published book, Head Over Heels, and was really excited to jump into her 2022 release, Meant to Be Mine.

Meant to Be Mine follows NYC stylist, Edie, whose grandmother has successfully predicted the day their family members will meet the love of their life, including Edie’s recently engaged twin sister. Edie meets Theo, an upcoming musician, on a plane on the day she is supposed to meet the one and sparks fly in the air. However, as her and Theo’s relationship develops, she can’t help but wonder if Theo is really the man she is supposed to end up with.

Meant to Be Mine is a love letter to NYC. The city is also the main setting of Hannah Orenstein’s Playing with Matches and Love at First Like, but it felt extra special and atmospheric in this book. I’ve listened to a few podcasts with Hannah Orenstein about the book – I recommend listening to Get Lit with Lianna’s episode AFTER you’ve read, as there are spoilers – and she wrote the book during the early stages of the pandemic when she dreamed of travel and going around the city as normal.

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Love, Lists, & Fancy Ships Review

81BU1UV7USLSummary (from the publisher):For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by thirty years) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until a family tragedy turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.

When she summons the courage to complete item number five–kiss a stranger–and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo’s inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Sarah Grunder Ruiz’s Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships had been sitting on my owned TBR for a few months, but I wanted to save it for the summer, and I ended up reading it outside & on the beach during a holiday weekend! 

I definitely think you’ll enjoy the yacht parts of this book if you’re a Below Deck fan or familiar with the super yachting world, but Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is a book tackling deep themes, including loss, grief, family, and romance. The book follows twenty-nine going on thirty-year old yacht stewardess, Jo. Jo has hopeful, grand plans of finishing her 30 by 30 bucket list, including going to Europe over charter season break…until her nieces, Mia and Kitty, show up unexpectedly at Jo’s doorstep for the summer. Mia and Kitty lost their brother in a car accident, and the girls, & Jo herself, have been struggling since. In an effort to help give them a great summer, Jo enlists the girls in helping her tackle the bucket list, including kissing a stranger that ultimately is rereleased as Jo’s new co-worker on the yacht, Alex. 

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Tomorrow, & Tomorrow, & Tomorrow Review

Summary (from the publisher):
9780593321201On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Gabrielle Zevin is one of those authors that I knew I would read at some point – I borrowed her adult novels The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Young Jane Young from the library when I returned Tomorrow, & Tomorrow, & Tomorrow and I cannot believe I still have not read her YA novel, Elsewhere – and I’m so glad I started with Tomorrow, & Tomorrow, & Tomorrow. This novel is for sure a favorite book of 2022…and potentially one of my favorite books ever. 

Tomorrow, & Tomorrow, & Tomorrow is one of those books that define the feeling of “I couldn’t put this book down.” When I tell you I devoured this book, I devoured this book. I didn’t know what to expect going in, other than the basic of premise of two childhood friends coming together again in college to create a video game, and I highly, highly recommend going into this one as little as possible. There is much more to that basic premise, as Sadie and Sam’s game, also produced by their friend, Marx, skyrockets and leads the team into mass popularity. The books tackles so many themes, including but not limited to friendship, family, romance, living with a disability, success and fame, failure, and relationship abuse. The book is adult fiction, but starts with Sam & Sadie as teenagers and transitions from their first time hanging out to college and then into their company and games. It has the perfect cross-over appeal while having some of the best writing I’ve EVER read. 

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Flying Solo Review 

9780525619277Summary (from the publisher):Smarting from her recently cancelled wedding and about to turn forty, Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot, a spirited adventurer who lived to be ninety. Along with boxes of Polaroids and pottery, a mysterious wooden duck shows up at the bottom of a cedar chest. Laurie’s curiosity is piqued, especially after she finds a love letter to the never-married Dot that ends with the line, “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.”

Laurie is told that the duck has no financial value. But after it disappears under suspicious circumstances, she feels compelled to figure out why anyone would steal a wooden duck–and why Dot kept it hidden away in the first place. Suddenly Laurie finds herself swept up in a righteous caper that has her negotiating with antiques dealers and con artists, going on after-hours dates at the local library, and reconnecting with her oldest friend and first love. Desperate to uncover her great-aunt’s secrets, Laurie must reckon with her past, her future, and ultimately embrace her own vision of flying solo.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

Linda Holmes’ Evvie Drake Starts Over is a beloved contemporary fiction read, and I was thus really looking forward to her latest release, Flying Solo. If you are ever in the mood for a quiet & cozy read, then Flying Solo is the absolute book for you.

Flying Solo follows nature writer, Laurie, who returns to her coastal Maine hometown after her beloved great aunt Dot passes away, and Laurie volunteers to handle the estate of the adventurer. Dot’s home was always a refuge to Laurie growing up, having been the only girl in a family with four brothers and constantly desiring a chaos-free space like Dot’s. Laurie finds a duck decoy amongst Dot’s things – Dot was known for her global adventures and quietness surrounding her relationships – and Laurie can’t help but figure out why Dot has this duck and enlists the help of her best friend and high school boyfriend to help her out. The three soon find themselves dealing with antiques dealers, a potential con dealer, and some of Dot’s old flames in order to solve the mystery…and figure out why Laurie is so drawn to this decoy. 

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Rivals by Katharine McGee Review

59447047._SY475_Summary (from the publisher): The third book in the New York Times bestselling American Royals series is here, and a meeting of monarchs will test everyone’s loyalty to the crown…and their own hearts.

Beatrice is queen, and for the American royal family, everything is about to change.

Relationships will be tested.
Princess Samantha is in love with Lord Marshall Davis—but the more serious they get, the more complicated things become. Is Sam destined to repeat her string of broken relationships…and this time will the broken heart be her own?

Strangers will become friends.
Beatrice is representing America at the greatest convocation of kings and queens in the world. When she meets a glamorous foreign princess, she gets drawn into the inner circle…but at what cost?

And rivals will become allies.
Nina and Daphne have spent years competing for Prince Jefferson. Now they have something in common: they both want to take down manipulative Lady Gabriella Madison. Can these enemies join forces, or will old rivalries stand in the way?

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I don’t’ read too many series nowadays, but if there’s one YA series that I MUST pick up as soon as the next book comes out, it’s Katharine McGee’s American Royals series. Picture Princess Diaries meets YA contemporary goodness in this series following the Washington family, aka the monarchs of America. While I’d say that book #2, Majesty, leaves in a characters in a fairly good place, Rivals, the third installment, heightens the tension and drama as Beatrice leads an international conference in Orange, the home territory of her sister, Samantha’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, Nina and Daphne unexpectedly join forces as a common rival threatens to ruin their futures. Warning that there will be spoilers in this review for American Royals & Majesty, but not Rivals

I have much love for book #1 in this series for introducing me to their world & setting the stage, but Rivals might have stolen my heart as my favorite book in the series so far. While anticipating it, I thought that Rivals was going to be the final book in this series, but found out via Instagram that there will be a book #4 before jumping into Rivals. Sidenote that I also loved the challenge at the very end of the book to try to find book #4’s title within certain chapters of Rivals – I do admit that I was lazy and instead following readers’ predictions via the hashtag. That being said, I was so happy to feel that Rivals didn’t fall into ‘middle book syndrome’ – yes, there is a cliffhanger or two that of course makes me want book #4 NOW, but I still felt very satisfied by the plot and character development in Rivals.

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2022 Edition

I typically y share the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag in June, but decided to wait another week to be able to fully reflect on what I read during the first six months of the year (!!). If you want a taste of my reading (& how it’s changed) over my blogging years, check out my mid-year freak out tags for 2021, 2020, 2019, & 2017. And yes, get ready for me to have multiple answers to some of questions. 

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2022: Book Lovers by Emily Henry 

Honorable Favorites: Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon, One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle, & The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far: House of Sky & Breath (Crescent City #2) by Sarah J. Maas and Rivals (American Royals #3) by Katharine McGee

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5 STAR READ: The Dead Romantics Review

Summary (from the publisher):

image001Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

I am typically not a paranormal romance or ghost book person. Frankly, even with its ghostly inspiration and synopsis, I wouldn’t even necessarily call The Dead Romantics a paranormal romance. Although it definitely borrows from contemporary romance themes (and yes, at the end of the day, could be called a contemporary romance), The Dead Romantics was a perfect contemporary novel. And yes, there is some romance, but it was so cleverly done & I LOVED how it connected back to the title. I’ve read Ashley Poston’s YA series, Once Upon a Con, (sidenote that there is a nod to The Princess & the Fangirl in The Dead Romantics), and I want so much more from her in the contemporary/contemporary romance space. I’m so happy that this book is getting even more deserved attention as Good Morning America’s Book Club pick for July! 

Honestly, I did not know much going into this one other than knowing it had a ghostwriter as a protagonist and I recommend going into this one knowing as little as possible. It made it even so much more interesting not knowing what to expect from the plot — I found myself guessing & anticipating if there would really be a real romance arc to the story. If you’re unlike me and need to know the basic premise of a book before jumping in, The Dead Romantics follows the ghostwriter of acclaimed romance writer Ann Nichols, Florence, who is struggling to write the romantic ending of Ann’s upcoming book after experiencing her own devastating heartbreak. Her new (immensely attractive) editor refuses to give her an extended deadline and Florence’s writing block continues when she experiences a devastating personal loss and must return home to her small South Carolina town, where her family runs a funeral home. This same town sent Florence running to NYC after graduation, after being bullied as a teen for being able to see ghosts… 

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IT’S SUMMER: June 2022 Wrap Up 

It’s officially summer and I am reading absolutely everything! I’m going to keep this intro short for the sake of getting into what I read, but just know after completing my first full year of teaching (!!), I am so looking forward to this season of reading and summer days! 

I read a total of 13 books this month and 2 novellas. 2 books were rereads, my audiobook of One Italian Summer (please read this month ASAP in general, but better yet, listen to the audiobook with Lauren Graham as the narrator!!) and Majesty before reading Rivals, the latest American Royals books. 

My FAVORITES of the month – it was hard to determine because the majority of the books I read in June were so good – include Every Summer After (not a total 5 star read for me, but I ate this one up on a beach day and def see the hype), I Kissed Shara Wheeler, The Hotel Nantucket, Rivals, and The Dead Romantics

I also really enjoyed Fake, By the Book, & Counterfeit, and after some reflection, felt medium on The No Show (it took almost three weeks to fully read this one, but the ending did surprise me – I’m finding that Beth O’Leary’s later books take a twist on the premise), Stuck with You (I’m going to read the third novella when it comes out as an ebook, but unfortunately haven’t really been loving this novella series), and True Biz (I still enjoyed and loved the ASL representation, but it didn’t wow me as much as expected from the hype).

By the Book (Meant to Be Mine #2) by Jasmine Guillory  | 4/5 Stars

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