Any Way the Wind Blows Review

Summary (from the publisher): In Carry On, Simon Snow and his friends realized that everything they thought they understood about the world might be wrong. And in Wayward Son, they wondered whether everything they understood about themselves might be wrong.81q-qNwhu6L

In Any Way the Wind Blows, Simon and Baz and Penelope and Agatha have to decide how to move forward.

For Simon, that means deciding whether he still wants to be part of the World of Mages — and if he doesn’t, what does that mean for his relationship with Baz? Meanwhile Baz is bouncing between two family crises and not finding any time to talk to anyone about his newfound vampire knowledge. Penelope would love to help, but she’s smuggled an American Normal into London, and now she isn’t sure what to do with him. And Agatha? Well, Agatha Wellbelove has had enough.

Any Way the Wind Blows takes the gang back to England, back to Watford, and back to their families for their longest and most emotionally wrenching adventure yet.

This book is a finale. It tells secrets and answers questions and lays ghosts to rest.

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OFF-CAMPUS & ALEXIS DARIA SEQUELS: Romance Mini Reviews 

Starting off this Wednesday by sharing 2 recent romance reads of mine! I usually try to wait & share my mini reviews until I have at least 3 books to share, but I want to be a little bit more proactive about making my mini reviews, you know, recent by sharing them somewhat close to when I’ve read them. I unexpectedly took a week long break from blogging last week (I  shared some thoughts about burnout 2 weeks), mostly because I worked all throughout last weekend and had a really busy week that left no time for blog writing at night, but I feel more rejuvenated coming into blogging this week. Today, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on two popular romance sequels: A Lot Like Adiòs and The Legacy.

A Lot Like Adiòs by Alexis Daria

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I really liked Alexis Daria’s 2020 releases, You Had Me at Hola, so I looked forward to continuing the Primas of Power companion series with A Lot Like Adiòs. This best friends-to-lovers contemporary romance follows Jasmine’s cousin, Michelle, and her (former) best friend, Gabe, who is back in the Bronx for the first time in nearly ten years to oversee the expansion of his gym. Gabe’s partner hired Michelle, a freelance graphic designed, to help them work on the project without Gabe’s knowledge and the two are forced to reconcile the past & their feelings for one another. 

I think I actually liked A Lot Like Adiòs a little bit more than You Had Me at Hola, mostly because we definitely don’t have as many best friends-to-lovers romances as we do like other popular tropes such as fake dating & enemies-to-lovers (which don’t get me wrong, are two of my favorite tropes). A Lot Like Adiòs was a really refreshing read and things get steamy pretty early on the book.. meaning that we don’t wait for Gabe & Michelle to jump back into their feelings for one another. Just like You Had Me at Hola, the book also tackles family issues, mental health, and career aspirations. Overall, I recommend reading this one if you want more friends-to-lovers reads and want to revisit the world of You Had Me at Hola. Looking forward to seeing what the third prima’s, Ava, will be about! 

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2021 FAVORITE ROMANCE: The Love Hypothesis Review

9780593336823Summary (from the publisher): As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope. 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Rating:

Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis has been EVERYWHERE (& as you’ll find out in this review, VERY deservedly so) in the second half of 2021. I’ve had a very busy start to the fall with back-to-school season, so I admittedly have been sleeping on some new anticipated releases and have been just putting them on hold from my county library. And with publishing and printing delays, new books have been taking even longer to come in. The Love Hypothesis had been especially hard to find with the supply chain shortage & Ali Hazelwood even shared on Instagram that the book was way more popular than her publisher could have imagined, which meant they need to print more copies ASAP. That all being said, between having a quiet weekend and my local Barnes & Noble finally getting The Love Hypothesis back in stock, I decided to get my hands-on the most popular & BEST contemporary romance this fall. 

I knew I was likely going to enjoy The Love Hypothesis just for its fake dating meets academia synopsis, which I had shared in my Fall 2021 Anticipated Releases post, but I recently discovered before reading that the book is loosely based on Kylo Ren & Rey from Star Wars…which made even more sense considering the male lead, Dr. Adam Carlsen, looks a lot like Adam Driver on the cover & in the book… and is also named Adam. Anyways, The Love Hypothesis follows biology Ph.D. candidate, Olive, who in hopes of convincing her best friend that she’s really over her ex so said best friend will just go for it & date him, kisses the closest guy in sight…whom happens to be young hotshot professor who’s known for d making grad students cry, Dr. Adam Carlsen. Olive is not only shocked by Carlsen going with the kiss, but even more so when the two decide to fake date to help Olive out & convince Stanford that Carlsen has no plans of leaving the university so he can keep his research funding.

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September 2021 Wrap Up

A quick wrap-up to celebrate this Friday & the start of October! I read 11 books in the month of September – about 9-10 books less than my summer reading average, but I’m still really happy with this amount, & I liked everything I read this month.  

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie | 4/5 Stars

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand | 4/5 

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman | 5/5

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall | 4.5/5

The Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand | 4/5

Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey Stein | 4.5/5 

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BEACH READS & CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE: September 2021 Mini Reviews

So many books, so many mini reviews! My September reading as been mostly all contemporary (as always these days) with an emphasis on getting in some more beach/summer reads – fitting for my weekend September pool days! – and some contemporary romances of course.

Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey Stein – Rock the Boat immediately grabbed my attention because it was a summertime beach read set in New Jersey!! Everyone knows that I LOVE a good beach read (see all the Elin Hilderbrand books I’ve read so far this year), but most of them tend to take place in the South or on Nantucket, so I was beyond excited to finally get a beach read in my home state. Rock the Boat is split between three different perspectives and high school friends, Kate, Ziggy, & Miles. After a devastating break-up, Kate quits her PR job and moves from NYC to her sleep Jersey beach town, Sea Point. Ziggy never really left Sea Point and is now trying to put back together the family plumbing business after his father unexpectedly passed away, with his best friend Miles back to help him and also prove to his mom that he deserves to be an executive in their family business. I loved the beach town setting so much, and this book is the PERFECT summer read for it. Rock the Boat is really about transitioning into adulthood… and the next phase in adulthood after everything seems to go wrong. The book had a really fun & light tone while also dealing with relationships and grief. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman – Why did I not read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill sooner?? If I had to answer, it’s probably because I got a bit scared of the hype because so many book lovers have (rightfully) adored this book following bookstore employee Nina as she just discovers the her birth father has passed away and has included her in his will & gets to meet the family she never knew. I absolutely loved the book’s plot, humor, and tone. It was so refreshing to have a protagonist who is definitely an introvert (Nina also has anxiety), but she’s still social and embraces dating and having fun with friends. My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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BACHELOR MEETS CINDERELLA: If The Shoe Fits Review

41F6zhX3qLLSummary (from the publisher): After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.

Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Fairytale & princess retellings are always being done in the contemporary book world, so I admit that I’ve become somewhat wary of them… but one fairytale retelling that’s totally stolen by heart? Julie Murphy’s If the Shoe Fits! If the Shoe Fits is the first book in a fairytale retelling series, Meant to Be. I’ve loved Julie Murphy’s YA books, Dumplin’ and Puddin’ , so I’m really excited to have her first book in the adult contemporary world as a new favorite. 

If The Shoe Fits is a Cinderella modern day retelling, following recent fashion school grad Cindy who agrees to be on her step-mother’s reality dating show & stars as the show’s first plus size contestant. Cindy has to hide the fact that her step-mom, Erica, is Before Midnight’s show runner and that her two step-sisters are also contestants on the show…. not to mention the fact that she had a total meet-cute with the male lead on her flight from NYC to LA just days ago.

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Currently Reading, Blogging Thoughts, & More: September 2021 Edition

First day of school snapshot

Happy Friday! I wrote this post just last night. I knew I wanted to share a post on Friday & I 110% admit that I didn’t have any posts prepared. I debated on forcing myself to catch up on mini reviews, but instead just found myself wanting to talk about life lately & what I’ve been reading this week.

 I have been reading a lot more than I have been blogging or writing reviews. You might know from wrap-ups and other posts that I am an English teacher in my first full-year/full-time position and I am LOVING teaching. However, blogging has been taking a back seat to work, life things, and honestly self-care type things like reading, exercising, catching up with friends, and resting. If I have a free afternoon, you’ll most likely find me curling up with a good book or going for a walk over writing blog posts. I’ve been blogging since February 2017 – aka through nearly four years of undergrad, my master’s program, part-time jobs & internships, a pandemic, and other life happenings – and aside from maybe a handful of weeks, pretty much consistently sticking to 3 blog posts a week (throwback to my I 2018 self where I shared 4 blog posts a week during the summer). 

You probably know that I am a huge Bad on Paper Podcast fan & I also really enjoy reading co-host Grace Atwood’s blog, The Stripe. Sidenote that I love going for walks just to listen to BOP’s latest episode! Grace recently wrote a blog post about having a lack of stamina in many aspects of her life and found myself relating to her thoughts on productivity when it comes to book blogging. 

Don’t get wrong, I LOVE blogging and by no means am I really taking a break. What I’ve been doing is trying not to mentally beat myself up for not posting 3 times a week (honestly the past 2 weeks I have had so much work & life stuff going on that I forgot I didn’t post one day until two days later). I’m also a believer in positing quality content over quantity. Ultimately, what all this means is that there will be some weeks where I am my usual Fangirl Fury self, and other weeks when you hear from me one or two times. I think not pressuring myself to write will also allow me to write when I genuinely want to write & share vs. feeling obligated to. 

And today, I felt like sharing what I’ve been reading, watching TV wise, and listening to lately!

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THEATRE MEETS ENEMIES TO LOVERS: As If on Cue Review

Summary (from the publisher):Lifelong rivals Natalie and Reid have never been on the same team. So when their school’s art budget faces cutbacks, of course Natalie finds herself up against her nemesis once more. She’s fighting to direct the school’s first ever student-written play, but for her small production to get funding, the school’s award-winning band will have to lose it. Reid’s band. And he’s got no intention of letting the show go on.

But when their rivalry turns into an all-out prank war that goes too far, Natalie and Reid have to face the music, resulting in the worst compromise: writing and directing a musical. Together. At least if they deliver a sold-out show, the school board will reconsider next year’s band and theater budget. Everyone could win.

Except Natalie and Reid.

Because after spending their entire lives in competition, they have absolutely no idea how to be co-anything. And they certainly don’t know how to deal with the feelings that are inexplicably, weirdly, definitely developing between them…

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

After falling head over heels from Marisa Kanter’s debut in 2020, What I Like About You (featuring a book blogger & bookish baker), I had to get my hands on her upcoming sophomore novel, As If on Cue.

This YA novel takes on one of my all-time favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers, set against a high school musical that needs to go well in order to save Natalie’s drama club and Reid’s school band. Natalie and Reid have been rivals since their middle school days, competing for clarinet first chair and Natalie’s music instructor of a dad’s attention. After a prank gone wrong in middle school, Natalie and Reid’s high school rivalry escalates even further when their high schools’ arts budget is cut, with Natalie losing the drama club… but more than enough funds still allocated for Reid’s award-winning band, led by Natalie’s dad. When a prank goes too far once again, Natalie and Reid are forced to convert Natalie’s play into a musical and create a production that will convince the school board to bring back money for the arts. 

As If on Cue was a fun enemies-to-lovers that felt really unique for its musical premise. I love a good enemies-to-lovers featuring school rivals (hello Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Today Tonight Tomorrow) and As If on Cue reminded me why I love this trope so much through Marisa Kanter’s storytelling. The book transitions between Reid and Natalie’s current prank war and being forced to run the school musical together, while going back to their middle school years and the prank that cemented their rivalry for good. I love revisiting their past while seeing them working through their issues and coming together in the present (with a few bumps down the road of course).

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End of Summer Recap Book Tag: 2021 Edition

It’s no secret that one of the many reasons that I love summer is that I accomplish most of my reading for the year between June, July, & August. That was again definitely the case when it came to come summer 2021, having read the most amount of books I’ve ever read in the summer, let alone 3 months, at 65 books. At this point in the month this summer, I’d be at about 14-15 books already read while I’m ‘only’ at six books so far for September since I’ve been back to teaching full-time. I did the End of Summer Recap Book Tag for the first time in 2020 & I enjoyed doing this tag so much that I decided to bring it back this year (and yes, more books mean more difficult choices about some of the books below!). 

The End of Summer Recap Book Tag was created by Faith of You Are What You Read

What book can you not stop thinking about?

I absolutely loved one of my last reads of the summer, Suleika Jaouad’s memoir, Between Two Kingdoms. I totally believe that I read this memoir following Suleika’s cancer diagnosis & treatment beginning in her earlier twenties and the road trip she takes to meet the many people she met & who wrote to her while she was receiving treatment at just the right time. Her writing style was so impactful & addicting, and I want more & more people to keep picking the book up. 

What genre did you read the most?

Contemporary, specifically with a fair mix of contemporary romances, beach/Elin Hilderbrand reads, and a few YA contemporaries. 

I read 5 non-fiction books, meeting my reading goal of reading 1-2 nonfiction books a month, and a whooping 2 fantasy books with my rereads of Carry On & Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. 

Which book surprised you the most?

You know those books that you don’t realize how much you love until after you’re done reading it? I definitely had this feeling with Elle Cosimano’s comedy meets mystery, Finlay Donovan is Killing It. I am SO looking forward to the sequel in 2022!

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ENEMIES YA CONTEMPORARY : It All Comes Back to You Review  

Summary (from the publisher):

56304328After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close. Then out of the blue, Amira announces that she’s dating someone and might move cross-country with him. Kiran is thrown.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend, even if it’s getting serious quickly. Maybe now their parents’ focus will shift off Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect son.

When Deen and Kiran come fact to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago–before Amira and Faisal met–Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen ghosted Kiran with no explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother’s relationship, to keep her from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

You might know that I haven’t been reaching for YA as frequently this year as I have in the past, BUT the YA books I have read this year have been super fantastic reads, including Farah Naz Rishi’s It All Comes Back to You. This is one of the strongest YA books I’ve read in 2021, following former couple Deen and Kiran as they watch their brother and sister respectively get engaged to one another. Deen has never explained why he ghosted Kiran three years ago around the time Kiran’s mother was diagnosed with ALS and his family unexpectedly moved from Philadelphia to New Jersey. Three years later, Kiran’s sister, Amira, and Deen’s brother, Faisal, are now engaged and Kiran is willing to do nearly anything to break the couple apart by figuring out Faisal’s hidden past, much to Deen’s dismay. My reading pace has definitely developed over the past two years, but I binged It All Comes Back to You in about two sittings because I couldn’t put it down! 

It All Comes Back to You is split between Kiran and Deen’s present day perspectives, their texts from their relationship three years before, and their chats from an online game they both play together (unbeknownst to them due to their nicknames/usernames). I think it’s easy to put It All Comes Back to You in the enemies-to-lovers category (or lovers-to-enemies-back-to-something-else category) because Deen and Kiran still have chemistry years later, but this book doesn’t scream romance and I mean that in the best way possible because I loved the direction of the story! Without being too spoilery, I loved the ending of the book for not focusing on the romance. Kiran and Deen’s progression throughout the book felt right – I do think the reveal about Faisal’s past was a tad predictable, but the conclusion made up for it. Throughout, Kiran is really about trying to figure out what went wrong with her & Deen years ago (and yes, maybe getting some revenge through figuring out the secret him & Faisal are hiding from her sister), while Deen wants to earn back Kiran’s trust while protecting his brother.

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