MOST ANTICIPATED ROMANCE OF 2020: Crazy Stupid Bromance Review

Summary (from the publisher): Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts—her best friend, Noah Logan.

Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush. 

Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved “manuals” to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

I hold a few contemporary romance series close to my heart, but Lyssa Kay Adam’s The Bromance Book Club is one of my all-time favorites, if not my favorite. I’m going to wait & see if the fourth book coming out in June 2021 cements it as one of my favorites. I love, loved The Bromance Book Club, and Undercover Bromance was such a strong sequel that embraces the book’s feminist themes. The third book in the series, Crazy Stupid Bromance, picks up Undercover Bromance’s conversation surrounding workplace sexual abuse and harassment. 

I don’t want to be too spoilery, but this third installment follows Noah and Alexis, whose cat-inspired cafe has become a meeting place for sexual and domestic abuse survivors. Noah and Alexis are best friends, and Noah has been there for Alexis throughout her story coming out to the public over the past year and half. As the two and their friends prepare for an upcoming wedding, Alexis finds out that she has a half sister and a whole family she never knew. 

Crazy Stupid Bromance fully embraces the friends-to-lovers trope, and Lyssa Kay Adams completely nailed it. I think what helped us as readers is that we do get to know both Noah and Alexis in book #2, Undercover Bromance. We’ve already established them as characters and friends as they enter this something-more stage. Don’t get me wrong, the two still undergo a ton of character growth in this installment, as Alexis meets her father’s family and has to help them in a way she didn’t expect. Meanwhile, while trying to approach his feelings for Alexis, Noah is grappling with the loss of his dad years ago and how that’s impacted his view of his family and relationships ever since. When it came to Noah and Alexis as a couple, their chemistry is just so instantaneous and natural. Their friendship was the perfect foundation for this new relationship, and there was no sense of them rushing into it. Read More »

End of Year Book Tag: 2020 Edition

Since it’s now time appropriate to do the End of The Year Book Tag, it also means that the 2020 wrap up season is beginning! I usually begin my 2020 wrap up posts in early December, which typically includes the End of Year Book Survey, my 2020 most anticipated releases for YA, contemporary romance, and some adult fiction, 2020 favorite books and TV shows, and likely more wrap ups I’m probably forgetting right now! 

I enjoy doing the End of The Year Book Tag because it provides a tiny glimpse of my year in reading while also serving as a reminder for my reading goals for the rest of the year. I’ve shared the End of The Year Book Tag on the blog in 2017 and 2019. The End of The Year Book Tag was created by Ariel of Ariel Bissett.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

I’m currently not the in the middle of any longer books that may take me the remainder of 2020 to finish up… although I am considering reading Barack Obama’s In a Promised Land and I KNOW that his book is going to take me a few weeks to finish whether I read a physical copy or listen to the audiobook. As always, I *try* to finish my current reads by New Years’ Eve so I can start the new year with a fresh read, but sometimes doesn’t work out depending on my NYE plans and my desire to always being currently reading something! 

Do you have a book or autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I again adapted the question to not necessarily have to be an autumnal read, since fall is well upon us now and colder weather season has officially began where I live. I’ve already starting my holiday reading, but one holiday read I definitely want to pick up is Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory. 

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

As of right now, there’s not! The rest of my most anticipated books for the year seemed to finish coming out last week. One recent release I just picked up from the library is Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch, the third book in the Love & Gelato series. Read More »

2 YA Reads & A Much-Loved Thriller: Recent Mini Reviews

I recently realized that I had a few mini reviews saved from October. At think at one point, I was going to do a thriller mini review round up…but then I never ended up reading that many thrillers over the past two weeks. The following mini reviews include a new YA thriller, an adult thriller from a much loved author, and a YA contemporary series sequel.

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett 

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

As soon as I read the synopsis for Jennifer Moffett’s Those Who Prey, it instantly became the next to-read book on my TBR. Everyone knows I love a YA contemporary taking place in college, but Those Who Prey takes the setting to an extreme, as college freshman Emily finds herself recruited into the Kingdom, a cult thinly veiled as a religious group for students. When Emily is sent on a mission trip to Italy, she begins to unravel The Kingdom’s dark past and purpose.

Those Who Prey had such a strong start. Each part of the book begins with newspaper articles or interviews with people close to Emily or other members of the Kingdom, then transitions into Emily’s first person perspective. It was interesting, yet obviously creepy and sad, to see how Emily was introduced into the Kingdom and how her whole mindset about college changed so quickly. However, the first half of the book was much stronger than the second half, in which Emily is in Italy and with the help of her new counselor, begins to see what the Kingdom isn’t really wasn’t seems to be. The whole mystery and its dark past felt really rushed. I feel like I still don’t have a full grasp on what exactly happened. I wanted more development from the other side characters and in general, just more answers. Given the interview excerpts, I expected a much darker ending. I did appreciate Jennifer Moffett’s author’s note at the end, in which she explains the prevalence of campus cults, especially during the book’s setting of the 90s. I think if you’re someone who likes fictional books about cults – I admit that I’ve only read a handful of books with a similar synopsis and the only one I’ve super enjoyed is Megan MacLean Weir’s The Book of Essie – you still might enjoy this one for its story, although I think the plot and characters needed more development. 

This review is based on an unsolicited advance reviewer copy provided by the publisher. By no means receiving this ARC affect my thoughts & opinions. Read More »

What I Read & Watched This Weekend: November 2020 Edition

This past weekend was a super recharge weekend while also trying to tackle as much school work as possible. To be perfectly honest, November has been really draining for me. I know a lot of people both personally and in general from the blogging world that have felt that same way, especially considering how much the election consumed the first half of November (& continues to do so) and the fact that we’re experiencing a COVID-19 rise practically everywhere in the U.S. My fall semester of grad school will be wrapping in less than 4 weeks (!!!), and I’m coming right around the corner on final assessments in every course. That being said, aside from doing some school work, blog things, going for runs, and going to my sister’s field hockey game, I took this weekend to just let my mind and body relax. I decided to start out this week of blogging by sharing what I read and watched over the weekend. And yes, I am putting the final edits on this blog post after spending most of Sunday working on a final project and other school assignments while sneaking in an episode of Gilmore Girls and a holiday rom-com read. 

What I Read

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd – If I had to describe my reading in this latter half of 2020, it’s been an eclectic mix of romance, YA, non-fiction, and literary fiction, which I’m also starting to feel like is my new reading style in general. I feel like I should be saving some of these thoughts for my 2020 wrap-ups, but I am beginning to realize that I’m really not as big as a fantasy reader as I ever thought I was? 

Anyway, I decided to pick up Sue Monk Kidd’s The Book of Longings to take a mini break in my contemporary romance reading game and because it was actually available in my library! It’s had so many holds since it came out in April. I had been reading this one over the week, and I took an hour or so on Friday night to just finish it. I think I read The Secret Life of Bees at some point in my middle school or high school reading life, but like everyone else, I was intrigued by The Book of Longings because it follows the wife of Jesus (yes, that Jesus), Ana. The book does follow Ana and Jesus’ marriage, but the book is definitely more about this young woman living in Galilee and Nazareth in a time (to say the least) where women weren’t respected and didn’t have many rights. The Book of Longings was such an informative read. I didn’t actually realize that there has been reason and research into the idea that Jesus did indeed have a wife. There’s nothing too scandalous about their relationship, but it was really interesting to think about Jesus having a wife and how this lack of one (or so we know) may have influenced the views on marriage and sex in religion. I admit that I wasn’t too attached to the writing style as other readers were, but there were some beautiful passages about Ana and the other women’s strength. I think having a foundation or small understanding of the Old Testament or Jesus’ story definitely helps immerse yourself in this book, but it is still easy to follow along and be invested in Ana’s story. Overall, I gave this one a 4 out of 5 stars. 

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren – I wasn’t expecting my e-library copy of In a Holidaze to come in from Libby until December, so I was pleasantly surprised over the weekend. And, I am so, SO happy to report that I am LOVING In A Holidaze so far. I was a bit hesitant going in and honestly didn’t go out to buy my own copy because I had heard pretty mixed reviews from readers I super trust. However, I am one of the readers who does in fact LOVE Christina Lauren’s newer releases, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised there! I’m looking forward to finish reading it this read and reviewing it on the blog soon. Read More »

Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews: November 2020 Edition

I’ve read some literary fiction and YA books in between, but the fall has once again been all about contemporary romance for me. Two of the books below are wedding-centric, while the third is a much anticipated sequel in one of my favorite contemporary romance series. 

Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu

My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars 

My currently adult contemporary and contemporary romance mood met my love for books featuring weddings recently with Diksha Basu’s Destination Wedding. Tina’s family and her best friend are spending a week in India for her cousin’s wedding. I wouldn’t say there’s a central conflict or plot to the book, but the novel explores so much about Tina and co.’s relationships with other people and to India. Despite its fascinating and sometimes luxurious setting, Destination Wedding is more of a quiet read, focused on character development and self-discovery. I know this might not be every reader’s cup of tea, but I personally really enjoyed it!

You may know that I’ve been super wary of any Crazy Rich Asians comparisons lately because the past few books that I’ve read with the CRA comparison just haven’t held up. Destination Wedding is by far the first book I would recommend to anyone looking to have those Crazy Rich Asians feels once again. Destination Wedding obviously takes place in a different culture, and I admit that is slightly less glamorous than CRA, but the book provides a look at poverty in India. The writing style between the two were so similar, between the satire and comedy (there were so many funny moments and funny one-lines from Tina’s dad, Mr. Das), and the third person perspective. The sections of each chapter are usually dedicated to one character, but will pull away for a brief paragraph or two about a side character there. 

I don’t think I necessarily had a favorite character, but there were never any chapters that I wanted to rush through because I didn’t like the character of focus. I feel like I did want more from Tina and her romantic’s endeavors, but I loved being able to explore her relationship with her heritage and her parents. I also feel like the novel gave such an inside look at India – the book mostly takes place in New Dehli. There was so much I never knew about the culture and traditions there, and honestly, the poverty and pollution.  If you’re someone who craves character-driven books and doesn’t mind a more literary fiction-type reader, I definitely recommend checking Destination Wedding out.  Read More »

MY NEW FAVORITE V.E. SCHWAB BOOK? : The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Review

Summary (from the publisher):

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

 

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Thanks to V.E. Schwab’s hints on social media over the past few years about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I had been highly anticipating this book for what feels like forever (okay, maybe not to Addie LaRue herself). In short, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is so much more than ‘a girl makes a deal with the devil to live for forever.’ This book absolutely smashed my expectations. It honestly just might be my new favorite V.E. Schwab book – I seriously cannot believe I’m saying this, given my love for Vicious!

After making a deal three hundred years ago in which Addie gets to live forever, in exchange for everyone she ever meets forgetting her, Addie is living in present day New York City. She’s used to being able to being able to sneak away, until upon a second trip to a bookstore, a young man, Henry, remembers her from her first visit. The rules surrounding Addie and memory were  so intricate. It was equally fascinating and frustrating to learn about, since Addie has to overcome so many obstacles to try to live and it can all be taken way from her in any moment. You feel her heart-break at every moment of genuine connection and every time someone forgets who she is.Read More »

Holiday TBR: 2020 Edition

Trust me when I say that Michael Bublé’s Christmas album is most definitely playing on my Spotify right now as I write this holiday TBR. I usually save my holiday reading and watching for November & December anyway, but I think we could all use some early holiday cheer this year, to say the least. 

I haven’t dug too deeply into holiday TV and movies just yet – I did watch the first episode of the current season of Holiday Baking Championship on Food Network and Holidate on Netflix. I’ll probably share more of my thoughts on the latter in my November wrap up, but this movie wasn’t as Christmas-y as I thought it would be (which I guess makes me feel less guilty for watching a Christmas movie already during the first week in November). It was also unfortunately on the ‘stupid comedy’ side of cheesy Christmas movies. At this rate, I should probably do a post on upcoming holiday movies coming out this year, but I’m actually not too excited about this year’s new release lineup? I’m most looking forward to the second season of Sugar Rush Christmas on Netflix, and I will be checking out the second Princess Switch movie and Dash & Lily. Knowing me, I will check out more of Netflix’s Christmas movies and a cable one or two, but I have a feeling I’ll be relying on some old favorites this year. 

Back to the books, I’ll be sharing the holiday-inspired reads I’ll be reading in November and December! 

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren – I am so excited that one of everyone’s favorite contemporary romance authors, Christina Lauren, have come out with their first holiday romance! I’m having trouble tracking down physical copy from my county library, but I do have a e-copy on hold from the Libby that I should be getting access to later in November or early December. 

Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date #4) by Jasmine Guillory – Yes, I will be continuing to read The Wedding Date companion series out or order, but it is 110% worth it because this fourth installment is holiday-inspired! I admit that I haven’t read too much of the synopsis, other than the fact that it takes place in England, but it really  doesn’t matter because I’m just looking forward to checking out Jasmine Guillory’s holiday take on this world. I’ll likely end up reading The Wedding Party (book #3) before I read Royal Holiday, aka the perfect excuse for a series binge-read!Read More »

A 2020 YA FAVORITE: Chasing Lucky Review

Summary (from the publisher): 

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

If there was only one book I was going to fall head-over-heels in love with in 2020, it was Jenn Bennett’s Chasing Lucky. How could I not fall in love with a book by one of my all-time favorite authors that takes place in the summer on the East Coast AND whose main character’s family owns a bookstore AND develops feelings for her ex-best friend? I was fortunate enough to have read an early copy of Chasing Lucky back in February, with the book originally being slated to come out in May, but its release date was pushed to November during the height of the pandemic. I’m so happy that everyone can read the book that stole my heart earlier in this year now – I’m already planning to dive into my finished copy!

There is SO much to explore about Chasing Lucky, but let’s start with the one element guaranteed to please all readers: THE BOOKSTORE! Chasing Lucky begins with Josie and her mom’s move back to their New England hometown in Rhode Island to run the family bookstore, Siren’s Book Nook. Since the town, Beauty, is set right on the water, Siren’s Book Nook’s takes on a nautical theme, but is just as cozy as you would expect from a Jenn Bennett book. I’m also ready to be best friends with Josie’s cousin, Evie, who spends her breaks at the bookstore reading paperback romances. Josie is also a photographer at heart, and the bookstore’s backroom doubles as her dark room. While the plot doesn’t directly involve the bookstore, I really loved having this setting and atmosphere. 

Speaking of atmosphere, the overall setting of Chasing Lucky that is Beauty makes me want to take a trip up to New England ASAP! Told over Josie’s summer, Chasing Lucky transports readers to the best season of the year to this small, coastal town. I loved Josie’s trips to the town’s nautical-themed coffee ship and the days spent near on the water. 

Read More »

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea & Tomorrow Review & Inspired Recipe

Summary (from the publisher): For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

After having absolutely loved Laura Taylor Namey’s debut, The Library of Lost Things, in 2019, I could not wait to get my hands on her sophomore YA novel, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. Everyone knows that a love a book about books & bookstores, which were both at the heart of The Library of Lost Things, and everyone also knows that I love books that have anything to do with baking, which is at the heart of A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow! Suffering from the loss of her grandmother, not to mention being dumped by her longtime boyfriend and having a falling out with her best friend, Lila needs a breathe from life in Miami and helping run her family’s Cuban American bakery… at least that’s what Lila’s family believes. Much to Lila’s dismay, Lila’s family sends her to England for the summer to live with her aunt and family and try to regroup after losing so much. At first, Lila wants nothing to do with Winchester, but with the help of a tea-delivering, charming friend, she begins to find herself – or a new version of a herself- once again. 

I read A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow in less than 24 hours with the biggest smile on my face. I knew I was likely to swoon over this book, but I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with it! Before I jump into the book itself, I have to take a moment to swoon over the cover! I love the pink and green color scheme so, so much, and the illustrated characters are just how I would imagine Lila and Orion! I also love how Lila’s red flip flops, Orion’s gray cardigan, and some Cuban inspired treats make there way on to the cover as well. I honestly just want to transport myself into this scene! 

Lila is one of my favorite YA protagonists of 2020. Her character and storyline just feel so authentic. While a few of us would jump at the chance to spend the summer in England, Lila really wants nothing to do with the trip and would do anything to go back home to Miami and run the family bakery with her best friend & sister, Pilar. It does take the first few chapters for Lila to begin to embrace life in England, thanks to Orion and being able to lend a hand in her aunt’s inn by helping out with the daily baking. Orion and Lila’s friendship is a huge part of the book, and their development was done so well. Although they have chemistry from the start, I really loved that friendship was the basis of their relationship and how they helped each other out along the way. I also just genuinely loved the side characters both in Miami and Winchester. Read More »

A POTENTIAL FAVORITE ROMANCE AUTHOR?: Party of Two Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist–it is chocolate cake, after all.

Party of Two follows Olivia, a lawyer who’s just relocated from NYC to LA to run her own law firm with her best friend, and Max, a California senator who spends his time between LA and DC. When Olivia first meets Max, she has no idea that he’s a politician, let alone one of the most eligible and attractive bachelors in DC. Olivia soon figures out who Max is and has to think about if she wants to date a politician, while Max considers what it would be like to finally have a partner. As Olivia and Max spend more time together, both have to consider what it means to put their relationship in the spotlight. I know, I know, some readers might want nothing to do with politics in their reads at that moment, but Party of Two doesn’t have political conversations every other second and it doesn’t feature an election, which was really refreshing because I feel like any contemporary book I read involving politics tends to take place during an election year. Read More »

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble–not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max’s high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

2020 has been the year of contemporary romance for me, which means that I finally had to pick up a Jasmine Guillory book! I went with Party of Two, the fifth book in The Wedding Date companion series. It was so unlike me to pick up a latter installment in a companion series, but I was really intrigued by the synopsis and heard rave reviews from other bloggers. I’m so glad I went with Party of Two because it is now one of my favorite contemporary romances of the year. My weeks are busy between internship, grad classes, and job duties but I still managed to read this one under 3 days. Okay, some homework and TV watching may have been set aside but it was SO worth it! 

Party of Two follows Olivia, a lawyer who’s just relocated from NYC to LA to run her own law firm with her best friend, and Max, a California senator who spends his time between LA and DC. When Olivia first meets Max, she has no idea that he’s a politician, let alone one of the most eligible and attractive bachelors in DC. Olivia soon figures out who Max is and has to think about if she wants to date a politician, while Max considers what it would be like to finally have a partner. As Olivia and Max spend more time together, both have to consider what it means to put their relationship in the spotlight. I know, I know, some readers might want nothing to do with politics in their reads at that moment, but Party of Two doesn’t have political conversations every other second and it doesn’t feature an election, which was really refreshing because I feel like any contemporary book I read involving politics tends to take place during an election year. Read More »