Hallotober Tag

With Halloween coming up this weekend, it’s time to really break out the pumpkins and fall decor this week! I don’t have a costume planned for this year, but I am wearing a candy corn face mask for work this week to get into the Halloween spirit. I was tagged by The Book Bratz to do the Hallotober Blog Tag. The Hallotober Tag was created by Jordanne of The Life of a Glasgow Girl.

What’s the worst Halloween candy? 

I am a huge chocolate fan, but I never really liked ‘sugary’ candies, with Laffy Taffy as my least favorite. 

What is your favorite horror novel or short story? 

It’s definitely not considering a straight-up horror book, but I love, love Carmen Maria Machado’s short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties

What was the last halloween costume you wore?

I dressed up as a mermaid last year – if I somehow have to dress up again this year, I’ll probably throw the mermaid scale leggings back on!

What is your favorite fall snack?

I don’t think I change up my eating habits too much in the fall – I definitely reach for pumpkin spice coffee, but I’m not a fan of pumpkin-flavored foods (yes, this includes pumpkin pie). I’m definitely more of an apple fan over pumpkin, so I feel like I do tend to eat more apples in the fall, and I’ve been planning on making an apple pie with coffee crumb topping soon. 

This photo was taken last fall – I actually didn’t make my way to a pumpkin patch this year.

Do you carve pumpkins?

I tend to paint them instead of carve!

Do you prefer horror movies or stories?

You might know that I’m not the biggest horror fan in general,  but I’d rather take horror in book over movie form. 

What is your favorite halloween memory?

I can’t think of a particular moment, but until about seventh grade, I always went trick-or-treating with my two younger sisters. I probably got bratty at times for not being able to go trick-or-treating with my friends, but looking back, I’m so glad we got to have those memories together. We always loved coming home and dumping all of our candy on to the table and dividing it into categories while we ate dinner. There were actually 2 years we didn’t go traditional trick-or-treating because we spent Halloween weekend in Hershey Park!Read More »

HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE: Head Over Heels Review

Summary (from the publisher): The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a
disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

I devoured Head Over Heels in less than a day! It was the perfect amount of contemporary-ness with serious discussions and topics (more on that below), with such a unique setting. The book does light-heartedly call out fans like me, but gymnastics is one of my favorite sports to watch during the Olympics, so it was so fascinating to get an inside look at the sport. I admit that I didn’t really understand some of the moves or gymnastics, but it didn’t really distract me from the plot (and it actually led me to discover gymnastics Tik Tok). I loved Avery as a protagonist, especially since we really get to see her character transform from start to end. I thought the romance was well balanced between everything involving Hallie and getting ready for the Olympic Trials, as well as Avery’s own journey dealing with her past and figuring out her next steps. Read More »

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

 

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

After absolutely loving Playing with Matches this summer and enjoying Love at First Like last year, I was so excited to read her 2020 release, Head Over Heels. I can’t believe I held off until reading this one until October, but I’m so glad I saved it! I was craving a contemporary read last weekend, and thankfully had this one waiting for me on my shelf. All the puns intended, I am head over heels in love with this book! 

If you were a fan of the Netflix documentary, Athlete A, and enjoy contemporary books as much as I do, Head Over Heels is an absolute must read. The book follows Avery Adams, an elite gymnast whose career ended seven years ago after an injury at the Olympic Trials. After breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Avery decides to leave California and move back home to Massachusetts, aka the home of her crushed childhood and teenage dreams. When Avery is asked to coach an Olympic hopeful, she finds herself falling for the fellow coach and more importantly, discovering her purpose and how maybe gymnastics can be part of her life once again. 

I devoured Head Over Heels in less than a day! It was the perfect amount of contemporary-ness with serious discussions and topics (more on that below), with such a unique setting. The book does light-heartedly call out fans like me, but gymnastics is one of my favorite sports to watch during the Olympics, so it was so fascinating to get an inside look at the sport. I admit that I didn’t really understand some of the moves or gymnastics, but it didn’t really distract me from the plot (and it actually led me to discover gymnastics Tik Tok). I loved Avery as a protagonist, especially since we really get to see her character transform from start to end. I thought the romance was well balanced between everything involving Hallie and getting ready for the Olympic Trials, as well as Avery’s own journey dealing with her past and figuring out her next steps. Read More »

Getting Rid of Books on my Goodreads TBR #1

I don’t know why, but one of my favorite types of blog posts to read are ones dedicated to taking books off your to-be-read pile or Goodreads want-to-read shelf. Goodreads is really the only way that I’ve tracked books on my TBR. Yes, I always live in fear of the books on my shelf mysteriously being deleted, but I’ve never been good about keeping track of the books I want to read in another way.

I do not care about how many books are on my Goodreads TBR – I accepted a long time ago that my TBR list will probably never break 80 books (let’s be even more honest, 100) because I’m always adding books on to my list. However, on Sunday morning when I was putting books on hold from the library and using Goodreads to do so, I realized that 95% of the time when I go to check out books from the library, I’m scrolling all the way down to the books I’ve most recently added…and not the books that have been on my TBR for months or even years! While yes, we all know that we tend to get more excited about new releases or books that have recently gotten rave reviews from friends, I am someone who will read books I’ve had on my TBR for quite some time. 

But this Sunday I realized that no matter for how long I’ve convinced myself, there are just some books on my TBR I’m never going to get to. Maybe someday I will, but I want to get rid of the sense of pressure I feel when I see them on my list. For today’s post, I’ll be sharing some of the books I removed from my TBR. I didn’t include all of the books I removed , but I took about 15 off!

The One We Fell in Love With by Paige Toon – Paige Toon’s The One We Fell in Love With had been on my TBR since October 2016. At some point, this book was a Zoella Book Club pick, and I want to say that’s how it ended up on my TBR. However, since Paige Toon is a British author, her books are difficult to find in the US both bookstore and library wise. I’m also not the biggest fan of the ‘two-to-three women find out they’ve been dating or in love with the same guy’ trope. 

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan – If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you’ll know that Rick Riordan’s The Sword of Summer has been on so many of my ‘ I’ll read this eventually lists.’ I always felt pressured to read this one because so many people love Rick Riordan, and I actually have a personalized copy generously gifted from a friend. However, I’ve really begun to realize that I am just not a middle grade fan (if I do pick up a MG, its synopsis absolutely has to grab my interest), and I’ve never been super in love with Rick Riordan’s books. It’s definitely a ‘it’s not the book, it’s me’ thing, being that again I’m not a hue MG reader, not super into mythology, and I wish I had read Percy Jackson for the first time when I was younger vs. checking them out for the first time in high school largely because of BookTube. 

When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen – I added When We Caught Fire on to my TBR originally because I was absolutely obsessed with Anna Godbersen’s Luxe and Bright Young Things series when I was in middle school.  There are definitely other series from my childhood I want to reread more, but I actually want to reread The Luxe series and see how they hold up? This huge sense of nostalgia overtook me when I saw two years ago that she was coming out with a new book, When We Caught Fire. Read More »

Top Five Wednesday: Books That Took Me the Longest to Finish

Today’s Top Five Wednesday post is all about the books that tend to sit in our “currently reading” piles for weeks or months. I really don’t mind DNF’ing books. Although yes, I feel guilty DNF’ing a book that I’ve already read the first 100 pages or so, or have spent quite a bit of time reading, but I’ve learned over the years that I’d much rather read a book I actually like than struggle through one I’m not enjoying too much. However, books for today’s Top Five Wednesday could also be ones that just genuinely took us a long time to read. I usually fall into this category when it comes to audiobooks or longer books. In most cases, I end up reading 2 other books on the side when I’m also reading a lengthier book. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama –  It took me about 7 weeks over this past April and May to listen to Becoming as an audiobook. While the physical book is slightly over 400 pages and I believe the audiobook is about 19 hours long on a regular speed, I blame taking this one slowly on the fact that I was reading Becoming during the height of the pandemic and was rarely driving anywhere. I was then only really listening to Becoming on walks or during the occasional adult coloring book session. You might know that while I love listening to podcasts and have grown to enjoy audiobooks, but I have to be doing something that forces me to focus only on the audio (aka when walking and as something to listen to while driving). 

Supernova (Renegades #3) by Marissa Meyer – I’m probably cheating with this one because Supernova only took me about 2 weeks to finish, but compared to the first two books in the Renegades series, I slugged through it. These books are on the longer side for YA at about 400-600 pages each, but I distinctly remember laying in bed at home during Thanksgiving break and winter break respectively bingeing Renegades and Archenemies.  My mistakes with Supernova were that I read Renegades and Archenemies fairly back to back and then read Supernova two months later, I read it during a super busy time during the spring semester and couldn’t fully dedicate myself to it…and I just didn’t enjoy it as much as the first two books. Read More »

Fangirl News Round Up #6: Book Announcements, Cover Reveals, & Novellas

I said earlier this month I wanted to do another Fangirl News Round Up soon, & here we are 2 weeks later! I’m really trying to cut down my time on social media, mostly because I dread seeing how much time I’ve been on my phone when I could’ve been reading or doing school work (even though I give myself a break when it comes to watching Tik Toks), so when I am on my bookish Instagram or Twitter, I love seeing book related news. 

Novellas

Forever Wild: The Simple Wild novella – While I still haven’t read Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker (I know, I know, if my county library doesn’t get a copy soon, I’m going to buy my own copy), I was excited to see that K.A. Tucker will be coming out with a The Simple Wild novella, Forever Wild, on December 1, 2020. There’s no formal description yet, but this novella does take place after Wild at Heart and will be available as an ebook and paperback. 

Booked for Christmas by Lily Menon – Lily Menon (YA author Sandhya Menon’s pseudonym for her adult romance book) just came out with her first novella, Booked for Christmas. Despite the fact that we all don’t have any conception of time anymore, I’m still saving all of my holiday inspired reads for November and will be picking this one up then! There’s also a preview for Lily Menon’s first adult romance novel, Make Up Break Up included!Read More »

Fall Book Recs Based on My 2019 Reads

I’ve been wanting to do a fall book recommendations post, but I think I held off for a while because it is just finally starting to feel like fall where I live! While I’ve been drinking pumpkin spice coffee since the end of August – I’m proud of myself for making it at home and only having 3 Dunkin’ pumpkin spice iced coffees so far-, it hasn’t really felt like fall until this week. The leaves are changing, Halloween decorations are popping up on lawns, and all I’ve been wanting to do at night is light a good candle and read a good book. I’m still debating if I should order some fall Bath and Body works candles or just wait for the winter holiday scents. 

These fall book recommendations are based on books that I read in 2019. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for fall 2019, but I thought it would be fun to consider what books I read last year align well with the season.  I read most of the books below between September and November, although there are a few that just screamed fall vibes even if I read them during a different season. 

Intercepted by Alexa Martin – Football season is one of the hallmarks of the fall … although I honestly spend more time watching football-inspired shows like Friday Night Lights or documentaries like Last Chance U than a NFL game. This contemporary romance series following women who date professional football players on the fictional Denver Mustangs is one of my all-time favorites. I have much love for book #3, Blitzed, but I definitely recommend reading the first book in the series, Intercepted, first to set the stage (and you’ll seriously want to read every bit of this series).

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw- Winterwood is the perfect book for post-Halloween fall, as November brings night-time sooner & darker colors while also slowly transitioning into winter. Winterwood was such an atmospheric read, following a girl who comes from a family of witches and finds a lost boy in the woods on a snowy night. 

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks – Pumpkinheads is the quintessential fall read in graphic novel form. If you pick this one up and haven’t yet been pumpkin picking,  you’ll want to go ASAP (or at least pick some up from the store and decorate them, given our currently socially distant world).Read More »

A SEQUEL I LOVED: Well Played Review

Summary (from the publisher): Stacey is jolted when two of her two best friends get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Jen DeLuca’s Renaissance Faire inspired contemporary romance, Well Met, is one of my favorite reads of 2020, so I could not wait to get my hands on the sequel companion novel, Well Played. Never have I ever been to a Renaissance Faire, but that hasn’t stopped me from falling in love with these two books! You don’t necessarily need to read Well Played before reading Well Met, but I highly suggest that you do, #1 because Well Met is such a fantastic contemporary romance and features one of my favorite fictional boyfriends, Simon (he gives me MAJOR Ben Wyatt vibes). But more importantly, the sequel does contain spoilers for Well Met, i.e. the relationship progress or status of Emily & Simon. Reading Well Met gives you a more rich and fun understanding of the Ren Faire world, since Emily is new to it herself in the first book, while Well Played’s main protagonist, Stacey, is a seasoned tavern witch. 

Well Played follows Emily’s best friend, Stacey. A longtime tavern witch and Ren Faire volunteer, Stacey looks forward to the faire every year, not just because it’s one of her few favorite parts of still living in the town she grew up in, but also to reunite with her summer fling, Dex. Dex is a member of renaissance band, the Dueling Kilts, managed by Dex’s cousin, Daniel. On a whim after the faire ends for the year, Emily emails Dex to share her thoughts on their ‘relationship,’ and receives a way more tender and emotional email back then she could have ever expected. As Stacey and Dex email throughout the year and form a relationship, it never crosses Stacey’s mind that the person behind the email might not be Dex after all…Read More »

Recent TBR Additions: October 2020

Last week, I officially hit my unofficial goal of reading 100 books in 2020! I’m not sure if I’ll pass my 2019 reading total of 127 books, but regardless, I am so happy about how much I have read this year, given that the world has been a mess and I’ve been going to school throughout all of it.

One of the reasons why I’ve been able to read 100+ books per year for the past 3 years is likely because I’m always adding books to my to-be-read pile. I haven’t done a TBR additions post since May, & today I’ll be sharing some books I’ve added to my TBR over the past few weeks.

Party of Two (The Wedding Date #5) by Jasmine Guillory

As a contemporary romance reader, I feel that it’s time for meto finally dive into a Jasmine Guillory novel. I know Party of Two is the fifth companion book in The Wedding Date series, and I should probably read one of the other books first, but I’m too intrigued by this installment’s political synopsis (a lawyer starts dating a high-profile politician). If you’ve read these books, let me know if I should read the first four companion books firs

Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu 

You likely know that I am more than willing to read ANY book about a wedding, and I am so intrigued by Diksha Basu’s Destination Wedding. The main character and her best friend travel to India for her cousin’s weeklong wedding, with plenty of family drama and relationship drama in store. 

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as Told to Me) Story  by Bess Kalb 

I’ve been doing a mini deep dive into non-fiction and memoirs in 2020, and the next memoir on my list is Bess’ Kalb’s Nobody Will Tell You This But Me. The book follows Bess Kalb’s relationship with her grandmother and four generations of women in their family. The novel is told in her grandmother’s voice. I’ll likely borrow this one as physical copy from the library, but I’m thinking about reading it as an audiobook. Read More »

What I’m Reading & Watching This Weekend

Like myself, I’m sure many of you have been super grateful to coffee and books for getting you through this week! I already feel like October has been the shortest & longest month ever – I can’t believe it’s already October 9th, but this month is so packed for me with school and work commitments. For today’s post, I thought it would be fun to fill you on what I’ve been reading in between work and school this week, while also sharing what books I hope to pick up and what TV shows I hope to sink into this weekend. Although I’ll be digging into school assignments and blogging this weekend, I’m hoping to read at least two of the books below this weekend.

What I Read & Watched This Week 

What I Read 

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett (ARC)- I mentioned in my September Book Haul that the lovely team at Simon & Schuster sent me two YA thrillers, one of which being Those Who Prey, which comes out on November 10. I instantly wanted to pick it up for its college setting, as college freshman Emily is recruited into a religious student group and sent on a mission trip to Italy, where she begins to learn that the Kingdom is not what it seems. I’ve been able to read about fifty pages each night, and I’m hoping I’ll have it finished by tomorrow. 

What I Watched

Below Deck Mediterranean S5 E19 (Bravo) – I really don’t have a ton of time for TV during the week, but Below Deck Mediterranean has been the show this summer & fall I must watch at least 24 hours after it premieres. I know some people feel like this season has been a bit slow, but I’ve been enjoying it so much. The editors actually had to minimize one cast member’s role as much as possible because of their racist & sexist posts on Instagram and then had to focus on or amp up other storylines. I think since so many shows have been delayed from filming because of the pandemic, the editors created more episodes out of the footage – which goes to show how reality TV can manipulate storylines so much through editing, but here I am still watching! This season of Below Deck Mediterranean ends on October 19th, with the new season of Below Deck premiering on November 2. 

Emily in Paris (Netflix) – Like so many other viewers, I was pretty conflicted about how I felt about Emily in Paris. On the one hand, I blew through this ten episode season about a twenty-something who works for a marketing firm in Paris in three days. I loved the setting, Ashley Park’s character, Mindy, and Emily’s neighbor, Gabriel, because he was so, so dreamy. On the other hand… I can’t believe this show is being described as the millenial/Gen Z Sex & the City because it is not it. I know why it’s been described as so, since it was created by Sex & the City creator Darren Star, but Emily in Paris and Carrie Bradshaw can’t even compare. While yes, it was such a fun binge and escapist watch, I thought the storylines were wrapped up way too nicely each episode. I watched the final episode on Monday (hence why it’s in this post), and I didn’t think it was that big of a cliffhanger ending because it was super predictable.  As someone with marketing experience and you know, someone who uses social media, I did not understand Emily’s Instagram fame, and there’s no way she would be able to get away with half of what she did at her job. Also, I am for sure part of the crowd who doesn’t understand how this girl affords a new Chanel outfit or bag each episode…Read More »

2 LOVEABLE ROMANCES & A LITERARY READ: Romance & Adult Fiction Mini Reviews

I mentioned in September that mini reviews were slowly becoming my review style of choice, & the trend is definitely still continuing for me in October. I’m honestly trying to think of creative title ideas for these because I have a feeling I’m going to be posting them more than 2 times a month. This mini review round up includes two contemporary romances, one that I absolutely LOVED and another where the hype made me so happy to finally pick it up, and a literary fiction read. 

Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Kiss My Cupcake was the first book I’ve read by Helena Hunting, and wow, do I want more of them!! After reading some glowing reviews and me being the fan of books set in bakeries that I am, I had Kiss My Cupcake on my library holds list for a while and it came in towards the end of September. I wasn’t super in the mood for a romance, but I was in one of those moods where I knew I wanted to read but did’t know what to read. I decided to pick it up, and it was the best choice! Kiss My Cupcake totally surpassed my expectations and is among of my favorite contemporary romances of 2020. 

Blaire has just opened up her own cupcake meets cocktails shop and is ready to prove to everyone that she has what it takes to be a successful business owner. Who’s getting in her way? Ronan, the plaid wearing ‘bad boy’ next door who owns the neighboring pub. As Blaire and Ronan go head-to-head in a competition to see who has the best restaurant spot in the Pacific Northwest, their chemistry grows more and more with every clash.

Kiss My Cupcake was just so charming and yes, funny. I feel like ‘rom-com’ gets thrown around so many times when describing contemporary romances, but this book truly put the biggest smile on my face (especially every time Ronan ate a cupcake). I loved nearly every confrontation and conversation between Ronan and Blair. Helena Hunting just completely nailed every expectation I had and every single part of the synopsis, from the hate to lovers romance to the setting especially! I could’ve spent all day reading about Blaire’s cupcakes meets cocktails cafe. I thought there was the right amount of time spent on not only Blaire and Ronan’s relationship, but also their businesses, their personal goals, and their family lives. Overall, Kiss My Cupcake is the type of contemporary romance that delivers on all its promises and more. Read More »