2021 FAVE SEQUEL: Isn’t It Bromantic? Review

Summary (from the publisher):

55470802With his passion for romance novels, it was only a matter of time before Vlad wrote one.

Elena Konnikovas has lived her entire adult life in the shadows. As the daughter of a Russian journalist who mysteriously disappeared, she escaped danger the only way she knew how: She married her childhood friend, Vladimir, and moved to the United States, where he is a professional hockey player in Nashville.

Vlad, aka the Russian, thought he could be content with his marriage of convenience. But it’s become too difficult to continue in a one-sided relationship. He joined the Bromance Book Club to learn how to make his wife love him, but all he’s learned is that he deserves more. He’s ready to create his own sweeping romance—both on and off the page.

The bros are unwilling to let Vlad forgo true love—and this time they’re not operating solo. They join forces with Vlad’s neighbors, a group of meddling widows who call themselves the Loners. But just when things finally look promising, Elena’s past life intrudes and their happily ever after is cast into doubt.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Is it really that much of a surprise that this book was a full 5 star read for me? Ever since I read The Bromance Book Club, I had been hoping for an installment following The Russian, or Vlad as we get to know him in Isn’t It Bromantic?. Lyssa Kay Adams announced around the publication of book #2, Undercover Bromance, that the fourth book in this companion series would focus on the funny and super lovable hockey star.

 Isn’t It Bromantic? is similar to The Bromance Book Club (the first book) in the sense that the book follows two marriages on the breaking point. However, what is super unique about Vlad and Elena’s marriage compared to Gavin and Thea’s marriage is that Vlad and Elena have a marriage of convenience and have spent little to no time with one another since they were married six years ago. As soon as they married, Elena fled to Chicago to get her journalism degree and crack the story her father was working on before he disappeared years ago, while Vlad became the best defenseman on Nashville’s pro hockey team. When Vlad suffers from an injury in a playoff game, Elena returns to Nashville to help take care of him and the two begin to heal their relationship.

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INDIE YA ROMANCE: 21 Questions Review

21_questionsSummary (from the publisher):

In Laguna Beach, California, sixteen-year-old Kendra Dimes is preparing for the 2010 USA Surfing Prime West. She’ll be competing this year in honor of her brother, who was a surfer too, but who died from a drug overdose. Kendra has suffered anxiety attacks ever since her brother’s death, and surfing is what’s been helping her heal.

Brock Parker is the new bad boy at school; he deals drugs to the high school clientele for his parents, who work for a Mexican drug lord. Though Brock and Kendra come from two different worlds, sparks fly when they meet at the homecoming dance—their attraction is magnetic. When they start a game of 21 Questions one night, they begin to learn more about each other—and, surprisingly, about themselves too. But some questions aren’t answered with the whole truth; after all, Brock can’t tell Kendra what his parents do for a living.

As Kendra and Brock experience all of life’s most exciting firsts, they prove that even when life throws you the perfect storm, you can make it through and come out stronger than before. 21 Questions is a coming-of-age journey packed with passion and heartbreak, risk and romance.

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’m always up for a YA romance, which led me to Alexandria Rose Rizik’s YA debut, 21 Questions. This indie read takes on the forbidden romance & opposites attract tropes, as rising surfing star, good girl Kendra finds herself entangled with school bad boy, Brock, who is known under-the-radar for being one of the school’s biggest drug dealers.

I binge-read 21 Questions while floating around the pool in one day! You definitely have to suspend your belief going into this book – maybe call me naive, but I couldn’t get over how drug use seems so common in Brock and even Kendra’ social circles, and there is an entire storyline involving Brock and his family working for one of the biggest’s drug dealers on the West Coast. Kendra is VERY much your classic good girl – doesn’t curse or drink – but Brock gets in the way of her athletic goals. I was kind’ve hoping the book didn’t go in this direction, but at the same time, I appreciated that it wasn’t a complete happy-ever-after. The storyline is fast-paced and admittedly pretty predictable, but the ending (pre-epilogue) actually wasn’t what I was expecting. I think my favorite part of the book comes from the title’s inspiration, as Brock and Kendra often play 21 questions (where they ask each other random questions about their lives) to get to know each other more.

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20+ Book Reading Month: July 2021 Wrap Up

Another solid summer vacation month filled with so many books. I’m not even reading for quantity, I have just been genuinely been enjoying reading this summer and it’s the best feeling. 

I normally share my monthly wrap up during the week with my regular content, but I decided to save this wrap up for the last day in July because I’ve been reading more than I ever have before & wanted to make sure I have all the books I read this month included. At the time of publishing this post (I may or may not finish my current read today), I’ve read 98 books so far in 2021, and I’m 2 books away from my goal of reading at least 100 books this year. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to surpass the amount I read in 2020 (133 books) because I’m beginning my first full time teaching position in September (let’s be honest, part of the reason why this post is getting published today is because I accepted said job offer this week and have been getting prepared), but I do still have more summer vacation so I can see myself reading so much more than usual this year. 

I feel I’ve been repeating myself each month, but I read the most amount of books in July than I ever had with 21 books and one-novella. As always, I’ve listed each book with a star rating & I’ve either shared full or mini reviews already or have reviews coming for the books below. My favorites of the month were The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand and Isn’t It Bromantic? by Lyssa Kay Adams. 

Indestructible Object by Mary McCoy | 4/5 Stars 

Beth & Amy by Virgina Kantra | 3.5/5

Heart & Seoul by Jen Frederick | 4/5

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand | 4/5

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane | 4.5/5

The Sixth Wedding (28 Summers sequel novella) by Elin Hilderbrand | 4/5 

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ADDICTING SUSPENSE READ: Just One Look Review

81cBkrG5wXLSummary (from the publisher): Cassie Woodson is adrift. After suffering an epic tumble down the corporate ladder, Cassie finds the only way she can pay her bills is to take a thankless temp job reviewing correspondence for a large-scale fraud suit. The daily drudgery amplifies all that her life is lacking–love, friends, stability–and leaves her with too much time on her hands, which she spends fixating on the mistakes that brought her to this point.

While sorting through a relentless deluge of emails, something catches her eye: the tender (and totally private) exchanges between a partner at the firm, Forest Watts, and his enchanting wife, Annabelle. Cassie knows she shouldn’t read them. But it’s just one look. And once that door opens, she finds she can’t look away.

Every day, twenty floors below Forest’s corner office, Cassie dissects their emails from her dingy workstation. A few clicks of her mouse and she can see every adoring word they write to each other. By peeking into their apparently perfect life, Cassie finds renewed purpose and happiness, reveling in their penchant for vintage wines, morning juice presses, and lavish dinner parties thrown in their stately Westchester home. There are no secrets from her. Or so she thinks.

Her admiration quickly escalates into all-out mimicry, because she wants this life more than anything. Maybe if she plays make-believe long enough, it will become real for her. But when Cassie orchestrates a “chance” meeting with Forest in the real world and sees something that throws the state of his marriage into question, the fantasy she’s been carefully cultivating shatters. Suddenly, she doesn’t simply admire Annabelle–she wants to take her place. And she’s armed with the tools to make that happen

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

I love reading a thriller or two to break up my lighter-feeling, aka all the contemporary & romance, books that I tend to read in the summer. I recently read Lindsay Cameron’s Just One Look and highly recommend checking this one out if you’re in need of a suspense read that will hook you from the first page to the very end. The book follows Cassie’s transition into a temp law job, after losing her prestigious law job after a freak accident that made news headlines. While reading through company emails as part of her temp work, Cassie comes across emails between one of the firm’s partner and his wife, Forest and Annabel. What starts off as just one look at their email turns into a full-blown obsession as Cassie plans to meet Forest and replicate his marriage. 

Although I haven’t yet read Caroline Kepnes’ You (I know, this was one of the very rare instances where I’ve watched the TV show without reading the book), I am obsessed with the Netflix adaptation and Just One Look gave me reverse You vibes. Cassie dives deep into Forest and Annabelle’s emails, buying the same celebratory wine as them, going to Forest’s juice bar in the morning, and even visiting their home. 

I really liked that Cassie was almost an unreliable narrator, in that we spend so much of the book trying to figure out what went wrong at her old job and how that has influenced her perception of relationships. The book was so fact-paced, and is it bad to say that I loved the progression of Cassie’s hunting (aka stalking) and her relationship with Forest? While yes, a part of me does enjoy guessing the twists or ending of a good thriller, I really liked that I didn’t know what to expect from Just One Look’s climax and ending. I do admit that I was lost with some of the law lingo, especially in the beginning when Cassie begins the temp job, but it was so worth powering through to get to the main plot. 

Overall, Just One Look was an addicting suspense read. I recommend checking this one out when you’re in the mood for a binge-read with psychological thriller vibes. 

This review is based on a finished copy provided by the publisher. By no means did receiving this book affect my thoughts & opinions. 

Is Just One Look on your TBR? What are some of your favorite suspense or thriller books? Share in the comments! 

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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