WORTH THE READ? Things We Never Got Over Review

71dDj1W87kLSummary (from the publisher):Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order.

Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.

There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.

At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Things We Never Got Over has been over everyone’s bookish feeds this year. It finally took a trip to my local bookstore and seeing so many copies stacked on the romance table that made me put this on hold from the library – sidenote that it’s been so cool seeing more indie books in bookstores this year!

Things We Never Got Over is a small town romance following Naomi, a young woman who runs away from her wedding to help her identical twin sister…only for said rebellious sister to steal Naomi’s car and money and leave her with her twelve year old daughter in her small Virginia town. Enter Knox, who butts heads with Naomi as soon as she gets into town due to her sister’s bad reputation, but also can’t seem but help Naomi adjust to small town life and raising her niece. 

Don’t be fooled by Things We Never Got Over’s 500+ page length – you will not be able to put down this book until the end! I devoured the first 300 pages last Sunday and made it my post-work plan the next two days to read it until the end. Things We Never Got Over is the perfect read when you want a simple & addicting romance. I admit that I’m not the biggest indie romance reader – does Elle Kennedy or Colleen Hoover even count anymore?? – but the book reminded me of some under the radar romance books I read when I was first getting into contemporary romance/romance.

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The Final Gambit Review

58658940Summary (from the publisher): To inherit billions, all Avery Kylie Grambs has to do is survive a few more weeks living in Hawthorne House. The paparazzi are dogging her every step. Financial pressures are building. Danger is a fact of life. And the only thing getting Avery through it all is the Hawthorne brothers. Her life is intertwined with theirs. She knows their secrets, and they know her.

But as the clock ticks down to the moment when Avery will become the richest teenager on the planet, trouble arrives in the form of a visitor who needs her help—and whose presence in Hawthorne House could change everything. It soon becomes clear that there is one last puzzle to solve, and Avery and the Hawthorne brothers are drawn into a dangerous game against an unknown and powerful player.

Secrets upon secrets. Riddles upon riddles. In this game, there are hearts and lives at stake—and there is nothing more Hawthorne than winning

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

One of the most popular YA series of the past three years, The Inheritance Games, recently wrapped up with its third novel, The Final Gambit. I read books #1 and 2, The Inheritance Games and The Hawthorne Legacy, last fall and since finishing the sequel, I couldn’t wait for the third book to come out late this summer. The Final Gambit was also so hard to get me hands on an actual copy – it was sold out it so many bookstores and took a few weeks for it to come off my library holds list.

As the third book in a series, I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers, but The Final Gambit begins shortly before Avery is set to finally inherit the billions left to her by Tobias Hawthorne. Of course, a person connected to the Hawthorne family’s past – and misdoing – arrives, throwing another complication and another game in the way of Avery getting to finally start her new life. The book of course includes the classic trademarks of the series, including but not limited to the four Hawthorne brothers’ antics & competitiveness, Avery’s feelings for Jameson and complicated relationship with Grayson, and new secrets and games revealed throughout. 

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2022 MUST READ: Thank You for Listening Review

81uefPNGYYLSummary (from the publisher): For Sewanee Chester, being an audiobook narrator is a long way from her old dreams, but the days of being a star on film sets are long behind her. She’s found success and satisfaction from the inside of a sound booth and it allows her to care for her beloved, ailing grandmother. When she arrives in Las Vegas last-minute for a book convention, Sewanee unexpectedly spends a whirlwind night with a charming stranger.

 

On her return home, Sewanee discovers one of the world’s most beloved romance novelists wanted her to perform her last book—with Brock McNight, the industry’s hottest, most secretive voice. Sewanee doesn’t buy what romance novels are selling—not after her own dreams were tragically cut short—and she stopped narrating them years ago. But her admiration of the late author, and the opportunity to get her grandmother more help, makes her decision for her.

As Sewanee begins work on the book, resurrecting her old romance pseudonym, she and Brock forge a real connection, hidden behind the comfort of anonymity. Soon, she is dreaming again, but secrets are revealed, and the realities of life come crashing down around her once more.

If she can learn to risk everything for desires she has long buried, she will discover a world of intimacy and acceptance she never believed would be hers.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’m just going to start off this review by sharing exactly what you need to know: Julia Whelan’s sophomore contemporary romance, Thank You for Listening, is an absolute must read book for 2022 and beyond!! 

I read Julia Whelan’s debut, My Oxford Year, last year, loosely inspired on her own experience at Oxford. I liked that the book had contemporary romance tropes and an ending that didn’t exactly follow those tropes. I’m happy that Thank You for Listening takes a similar route, taking so many tropes from a contemporary romance and spinning them on their heads, also in part to the book’s synopsis. 

Sewanee is a very successful audiobook narrator, having had her start in romance books…even though she doesn’t really believe in happily-ever-afters, as she shares at a Las Vegas book convention & with the one-night stand she meets there. When she returns home from the trip,  after a beloved romance author passes away, one of the author’s final requests was that Sewanee partner with a male audiobook narrator to narrate one of her final works. Sewanne goes back to her pseudonym and works with one of the leading  male romance narrators in the audiobook game, Brock McKnight, and as the two collaborate with each other via email and text messages, they soon discover they have a lot more in common than they might’ve thought…. 

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FIVE STAR READ: Killers of a Certain Age Review

60149532._SY475_Summary (from the publisher): Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills.

When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death.

Now to get out alive they have to turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman–and a killer–of a certain age.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Deanna Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age was one of my most anticipated books for fall 2022. It’s been getting so much (well-deserved) attention in my reading recommendations sphere, especially since it was chosen as the Bad on Paper Podcast Book Club pick for September and I try to participate every month. 

I DEVOURED Killers of a Certain Age this weekend and I hope SO many readers keep picking up this mystery meets comedy (think Finlay Donovan is Killing It) about four retired assassins who discover on a cruise commemorating their retirement that someone on the ship is out to get them. Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie were trained together as an all female assassin group, led by one of the founders of an assassin network, the Museum. After successful careers, the book begins on their vacation as the four figure out someone from the Museum is out to get them. Led by Billie, the four must use their expertise as they get the job done: find out who set them as targets, why, and get them. 

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Drunk on Love Review

51SIbaX9OALSummary (from the publisher): Margot Noble needs some relief from the stress of running the family winery with her brother. Enter Luke: sexy, charming, and best of all in the too-small world of Napa, a stranger. The chemistry between them is undeniable, and Margot is delighted that she lucked into the perfect one-night stand she’ll never have to see again. That is, until the winery’s newest hire, Luke, walks in the next morning. Margot is determined to keep things purely professional, but when their every interaction reminds her of the attraction still bubbling between them, it proves to be much more challenging than she expects.

Luke Williams had it all, but when he quits his high-salary tech job in Silicon Valley in a blaze of burnout and moves back to Napa to help a friend, he realizes he doesn’t want to tell the world–or his mom–why he’s now working at a winery. His mom loves bragging about her successful son–how can he admit that the job she’s so proud of broke him? Luke has no idea what is next for him, but one thing is certain: he wants more from the incredibly smart and sexy woman he hooked up with–even after he learns she’s his new boss. But even if they can find a way to be together that wouldn’t be an ethical nightmare, would such a successful woman really want a tech-world dropout?

Set against a lush backdrop of Napa Valley wine country, nothing goes to your head as fast as a taste of love–even if it means changing all your plans.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

Jasmine Guillory is a contemporary romance staple. Her debut novel, The Wedding Date, is on so many ‘new-to-romance’ reading lists and I’ve personally loved the companion novels in the series, Party of Two and While We Were Dating. I also really enjoyed her installment in the Meant to Be series, By the Book, based on Beauty and the Beast. That being said, I was excited for her to venture into a new storytelling, as Drunk on Love is its own standalone novel (although I could foresee spin-offs featuring Margot’s brother, Elliot, and her best friend, Sydney??).

Drunk on Love is set in the Napa Valley and is told from the perspectives of Margot, a co-owner of a winery, and Luke, an ex-software engineer who has a one night stand with Margot…and then realizes that Margot is his boss when he starts working at the winery the next day, much to Margot’s shock. Margot is set on convincing her brother that she is as serious about the winery as he is and is trying to convince him to have a huge party to draw in new customers, so Luke doesn’t exactly help her cause. The two decide to hide their prior meeting from everyone, but their chemistry just can’t seem to keep the two away from one another. 

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FAVORITE TJR BOOK: Carrie Soto is Back Review

UnknownSummary (from the publisher): Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I love Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, but as I’ve shared in my reviews and in my TJR book ranking, I have controversially felt medium on Daisy Jones and the Six (I do have a library hold on the audiobook) and although I flew through and really enjoyed Malibu Rising, I wasn’t screaming my love off the rooftops (or on the blog). However, I had seen such rave reviews for Carrie Soto is back over its first two weeks. With a free weekend ahead and some impatience for it to come in from the library , I bought my own copy. Reader, is it surprised that I finished the book in less than 24 hours?

Carrie Soto is Back follows the title character as she comes out of retirement when the current #1 player, Nicki Chan, threatens to break her record for the most amount of Slam titles. The book begins with Carrie’s decision to come out of retirement, with her father once again as her coach, but then goes from her days as a child to her early career to her most successful stages and then transitions back to the present day and quest to keep her title as the greatest of all time.

I know the title makes it easy to use the following pun, but my love for TJR’s books is back because Carrie Soto is Back is for sure one of my favorite reads of the year! 

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VERY ANTICIPATED READ: Love on the Brain Review

59571699._SY475_Summary (from the publisher): Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project–a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia–Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

 

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school–archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas…devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis was one of my top two books of 2021, right alongside Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation, and like nearly every contemporary romance reader, I’ve been anticipating her second full length book ever since finishing her debut! 

Love on the Brain follows Marie Curie superfan, popular women in STEM Twitter account runner, & neuroscientist, Bee, who takes her research assistant and heads off to NASA to work on a neuroengineering project. While Bee is ecstatic about this project, she is not looking forward to working with her enemy from grad school, Levi, who is the head engineer on the project. Bee could never figure out why Levi was so standoffish towards her, even once refusing to work on a research project with their advisor together, and still seems to feel that Levi is trying to sabotage her work at NASA. 

Love on the Brain reminded me why I love Ali Hazelwood’s writing style so much. I love the humor and sarcasm from all of the characters, and especially the side characters, like The Love Hypothesis. Bee is a very unique character based on her personality and interests whom I think will become very memorable to readers. I was very mixed on her novella series this year, so this book was a reassurance in my enjoyment for her writing. I 100% admit that I didn’t always understand the science part of Levi and Bee’s project, but it had some twists that I did not see coming. 

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Dream On by Angie Hockman Review

Summary (from the publisher):

 

59366218What would you do if your dream man turned out to be real?

When law student Cass Walker wakes up after surviving a car accident, she is flooded with memories of her boyfriend, Devin. The only problem? Devin doesn’t exist. But everything she remembers about him feels so real, like the precise shade of his coffee-brown eyes; the texture of his favorite hand-me-down scarf; even the slightly crooked angle of his pinkie, broken after falling off a trampoline in third grade. She knows he’s a figment of her imagination—friends, family, and doctors confirm it—but she still can’t seem to get him out of her head.

So when she runs into the real Devin a year later in a Cleveland flower shop, she’s completely shocked. Even more surprising is that Devin actually believes her story, and soon they embark on a real-life romance. With her dream man by her side and an upcoming summer job at a prestigious law firm, Cass’s future seems perfect. But fate might have other plans…

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed Angie Hockman’s debut last year, Shipped, an enemies-to-lovers set in the Galápagos Islands, so I was interested in checking out her latest release, Dream On. The book follows Cass, a law student who wakes up from a coma after getting into a car accident and keeps asking for her boyfriend Devin…only for her best friend and mother to break the news to her that Devin is not real. A year later, Cass feels like her life is getting back on track: she’s gotten a job as a summer associate at her dream law firm, she is living with her best friend, Brie, and her memory has made some improvements. 

Imagine Cass’s surprise when she walks into a flower shop and while talking to the owner, Perry, his brother is the man of Cass’s dreams, Devin. After the initial shock on both sides, Cass and Devin get to know another, but throughout the story, Cass must determine if Devin and even her job if the life of her true dreams. 

Dream On was a fun and unique contemporary romance. The premise was different from what I’ve seen done in YA before, and Angie Hockman executed the story and all the other plot & character elements really well. I enjoyed that the story is more than Devin and Cass’s relationship, as Cass works as a summer law associate and isn’t sure if it’s everything she thought it would be. Devin’s brother, Perry, is also a big part of the story than the book’s official synopsis hints at. Perry isn’t too keen on Cass and Devin’s relationship, based on Cass’s near unimaginable backstory involving Devin and Devin’s own romantic past. I really liked Perry as a character and his role in the story, including his encouragement of Cass’s artwork. 

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What I’ve Been Recently Reading: August 2022 Edition

I took a little blog break last week, but I of course have been reading offline. Today I’ll be updating you on some of my recent reads, including some summer reads and an especially popular memoir. 

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy – I had seen Jennette McCurdy’s memoir on a few anticipated books of summer lists, but I finally hit ‘must read’ on my TBR when so, so many rave reviews started flying in. It’s become near impossible to get your hands on a physical copy both online and in-stores, but I was able to grab a digital copy through Libby. I devoured this memoir following Jennette McCurdy’s childhood through her acting career and now – that’s not to suggest though by saying that I ‘flew’ through this book that it was an easy read, as there are warnings for eating disorders, alcohol abuse, relationship abuse. You know that I almost always share star ratings but I won’t be for this book given how personal it is and Jennette McCurdy’s braveness for sharing her story.

The Wedding Season by Katy Birchall – I wish I saw more hype for Katy Birchall’s books because her books are SO worth the hype. I read The Secret Bridesmaid last summer and adored it, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Wedding Season. This British contemporary follows Freya, whose fiancé cancels their wedding the day before. Heartbroken and with a full summer of friends and family members’ weddings ahead of her, Freya’s friends challenge her with new tasks for each event to get her out of her comfort zone and have some fun again. The Wedding Season was so perfectly charming and funny. I loved the cast so much, as Freya’s friends and family really surround her to help her embrace her new phase of life. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a light read! My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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5 STAR YA: See You Yesterday Review

Summary (from the publisher):

 

59365594Barrett Bloom is hoping college will be a fresh start after a messy high school experience. But when school begins on September 21st, everything goes wrong. She’s humiliated by the know-it-all in her physics class, she botches her interview for the college paper, and at a party that night, she accidentally sets a frat on fire. She panics and flees, and when she realizes her roommate locked her out of their dorm, she falls asleep in the common room.

The next morning, Barrett’s perplexed to find herself back in her dorm room bed, no longer smelling of ashes and crushed dreams. It’s September 21st. Again. And after a confrontation with Miles, the guy from Physics 101, she learns she’s not alone—he’s been trapped for months.

When her attempts to fix her timeline fail, she agrees to work with Miles to find a way out. Soon they’re exploring the mysterious underbelly of the university and going on wild, romantic adventures. As they start falling for each other, they face the universe’s biggest unanswered question yet: what happens to their relationship if they finally make it to tomorrow?

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Rachel Lynn Solomon is one of those authors for me whose books, both contemporary romance and young adult, I know I am going to love. That being said, as a huge fan of her work, it takes a lot for each book to top the next one. I love, LOVE Today Tonight Tomorrow (her enemies-to-lovers YA contemporary following a scavenger hunt-esque day around Seattle) and I really enjoyed her last YA release, We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This. I wanted something that gave me Today Tonight Tomorrow feels, which was totally delivered by See You Yesterday

I haven’t been reaching for YA as much as I used to, really only reading the genre now when one of my FAVORITE authors publishes a new romance or a new YA book gets a ton of buzz..but if you tell me a YA book is college-set, I’m already there. See You Yesterday follows freshman Barrett Bloom, who is trying to create a fresh start for herself after an overall awful high school experience (tw for sexual harassment), on her first day of college…which you could say ultimately is pretty disastrous, between a know-it-all in her physics class, her high school ex-best friend becoming her roommate, not doing the required reading, a bad interview with the college newspaper editor, and maybe even a fire. Barrett doesn’t know how she is going to make it through her second day…until she wakes up the next morning re-living her first day. Barrett soon discovers that her physics classmate, Miles, is also experiencing the same phenomenon and the two set out to figure out how to make it to tomorrow. 

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