Something Wilder Review

51s6IVRFmLLSummary (from the publisher): Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into f,ocus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

In a moment of insane luck, I was fortunate enough back in December to win a personalized signed advance copy of Christina Lauren’s Something Wilder! I typically try to save advance copies closer to release date, but back in March, I was craving a romance read and sunk my teeth right into this adventure romance.

Something Wilder follows Lily Wilder, daughter of notorious treasure hunter Duke Wilder who didn’t leave much for Lily aside from his hand-written maps and cryptic notes before he died years ago. Lily dreams of buying back her father’s beloved ranch, the place where she fell in love with a man named Leo years ago before he left for NYC and never came back, but she’s stuck running adventure tours in the red rock canyons of Utah to make ends meet. Leo comes back into Lily’s life in the form of his annual vacation with his best friends, until a horrible event on the tour forces Lily and Leo to work together & confront their past. 

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What I’ve Been Reading Recently: May 2022 Edition 

It’s mid-May and I’ve read 11 books so far! I’m back in one of those situations where I’ve been reading a ton and haven’t necessarily been writing full reviews, so I figured I would take today to talk about a few of my recent reads. 

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir – All My Rage is for sure a favorite YA book of 2022. Yes, I am still hiding in shame that I still have not picked up An Ember in the Ashes (maybe one day?!), but wow, will I be picking up any more contemporary novels from Sabaa Tahir. All My Rage follows two best friends, Noor and Salahudin, living in Juniper, California, and the way their lives unfold as the two lose someone very close to them. The book explores so many themes, including hope, dreams, loss, the experience of being an Muslim American teen in a not-so diverse place, bullying and intolerance, and so much more. Definitely a gut-punch of a read, but I loved how everything came together in the end. This book is for sure going to be a staple YA contemporary or classic. 

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead – I feel like I’ve seen In My Dreams I Hold a Knife everywhere over the past few months and decided to borrow it from the library on a whim. I love college-set books, and this thriller takes on a college twist, as the book transitions between protagonist Jessica’s college years and life ten years later at her college reunion. Jessica reunites with nearly all of her college friends – one of the friends, Heather, was brutally murdered months before graduation from Duquette (which is apparently based on Duke?). I flew through this thriller, having loved unpacking each friend’s life and the events leading up to Heather’s murder. There were a few twists and I’m glad that the book wasn’t super predictable, as the suspect was not who I imagined it’d be! 

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FAVORITE 2022 READ: Book Lovers Review

Summary (from the publisher):
9780593440872Nora Stephens’ life is books – she’s read them all – and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away – with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again – in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow – what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

Yes, you read that title right, it’s only May and I’m already declaring Book Lovers as my favorite book of 2022. I do admit that there are two upcoming books that could make their way to my #1 spot, but I’m really certain that there is no match for my love for this book. I really think this is the book from now on when a person asks me what my favorite book is, it’s Book Lovers.

I am currently writing this review on my phone with Book Lovers clutched to my chest. I devoured Book Lovers in less than 24 hours and did the thing that I do maybe once a year and starting rereading her other two books (and yes, a Book Lovers reread is definitely in the future). Also PSA that if you have not yet bought a copy of this book, I recommend getting the Target exclusive edition because it comes with the Beach Read meets People We Meet on Vacation epilogue that Emily Henry recently sent out in her newsletter. Another sidenote that I’m slightly disappointed that Book of the Month didn’t offer Book Lovers as a pick, but I LOVE this paperback & its cover – why am I about to go out and buy paperback copies of Beach Read and PWMOV?

This book is everything. Book Lovers follows Nora, a top literary agent, who has always put her youngest sister, Libby, especially since their mother died years ago. Libby is pregnant with her third child and needing a break from life in New York City, convinces Nora to take some time off and rent a cottage in the town based on Nora’s client’s bestselling book. The last person Nora expects to run into in this small North Carolina town is Charlie, the same broody book editor who wasn’t willing to take on Nora’s client’s book two years ago. 

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Heartstopper Book Review

Summary (from the publisher):
heartstopper-book-cropCharlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

My students have been obsessed with the Netflix adaptation of Alice Oseman’s graphic novel (and news flash, I am too!), which encouraged me to finally pick up the book . Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence (contemporary fiction prose, not graphic novel) was one of my FAVORITES back in 2017, so I was excited to jump back into her work. I’m only two episodes into the TV show so far, but I love how true it has stayed to the graphic novel so far — and I like the changes too!

The British set graphic novel series follows high school boys, Charlie and Nick. Charlie is an openly gay student at Truham Grammar School for Boys, and a change in his schedule leads him to meet Nick, a soft-spoken rugby player. As the two spend more time together, Charlie can’t help but feel chemistry between himself and Nick. 

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READ THIS DEBUT: Set on You Review

Summary (from the publisher):
71Mye0qvxXLCurvy fitness influencer Crystal Chen built her career shattering gym stereotypes and mostly ignoring the trolls. After her recent breakup, she has little stamina left for men, instead finding solace in the gym – her place of power and positivity.

Enter firefighter Scott Ritchie, the smug new gym patron who routinely steals her favorite squat rack. Sparks fly as these ultra-competitive foes battle for gym domination. But after a series of escalating jabs, the last thing they expect is to run into each other at their grandparents’ engagement party.

In the lead up to their grandparents’ wedding, Crystal discovers there’s a soft heart under Scott’s muscled exterior. Bonding over family, fitness, and cheesy pick-up lines, she just might have found her swolemate. But when a photo of them goes viral, savage internet trolls put their budding relationship to the ultimate test of strength.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Amy Lea’s upcoming Set on You has been getting so much early praise and so many spots on anticipated books lists. I’m here to report that the hype is very much deserved! 

Set on You follows curvy fitness influencer, Crystal, who has built a mini empire between her personal training sessions and large following on Instagram. Crystal unfortunately gets a ton of negative messages from Internet trolls & her family constantly questions her on her career choice & its sustainability. Crystal has had her last straw when firefighter Scott steals her favorite squat rack at the gym one day. Competition and sparks fly — even when Crystal and Scott realize at an engagement party that their grandparents are getting married. With their grandparents’ nuptials coming up, Crystal and Scott agree to work through their issues…and try to ignore their feelings for another.

Set on You was such a fun & unique read, especially given Crystal’s career and background. As a curvy and Asian influencer, Crystal gets love and even more hate on her Instagram, which ignites a ton of self-doubt about herself and even over her relationship with Scott. Set on You was the type of read that didn’t have the clearest conflict, other than Scott and Crystal trying to work out their feelings for one another, but I loved their banter and relationship development so much (& the book definitely delivers on the steam). I also loved the dynamics with their family, especially given that Crystal’s grandma and Scott’s grandfather are to be married. Crystal’s sister, Tara, is also a book influencer – do I see a companion novel following Tara coming?? 

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Dating Dr.Dil Review

Summary (from the publisher):
57007401Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months. Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.

 

Dr. Prem Verma is dedicated to building a local community health center, but he needs to get donors with deep pockets. The Dr. Dil Show was doing just that, until his argument with Kareena went viral, and he’s left short changed. That’s when Kareena’s meddling aunties presented him with a solution: convince Kareena he’s her soulmate and they’ll fund his clinic.  

Even though they have conflicting views on love-matches and arranged-matches, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he begins to believe she’s the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. But for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.

My Rating:4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Dating Dr.Dil had been all over my bookstagram a few weeks ago, especially since it was a prevision Book of the Month selection. A recommendation from one of my favorite authors and book recommendation sources, Hannah Orenstein, was the final convincing that I needed to pick this one up, & I’m so glad I did! 

Dating Dr.Dil is an enemies-to-lovers romance &  follows the third person perspectives of Kareena, an attorney, and Prem, a cardiologist and medical talk show host. Kareena spends her free time working on her mother’s old BMW and house, but her world gets turned upside down when her father announces that he is selling the house and will only give Kareena the money he has set aside for her when she gets engaged (just like her youngest sister). Kareena thus goes on a hunt for a fiancé so she can get the house…until a fight with Prem on his talk show goes viral and the two can’t get anyone to invest in either one, as Prem is trying to raise money to build a community health center. 

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The Roughest Draft Review

9780593201930Summary (from the publisher): Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten books topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

My Rating: 3/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

I’ve had Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s adult contemporary romance debut, The Roughest Draft, was on my TBR since its January 2022 debut. I kind’ve saved this one until this spring/warmer weather because this book’s cover just screams summer, with the two main characters lounging in the pool and writing – however, I do agree now with some reviews that I saw that this book isn’t as light and fluffy as it cover seems.

The Roughest Draft alternates between the first person perspectives of Nathan and Katrina, a bestselling author duo who haven’t spoken in four years after writing their latest book together. Within those four years, Nathan has gone on to publish a book independently (without much success) and Katrina has retired from writing and moved to LA with her fiancé, who also happens to be her agent. As a PR move for the duo, Nathan and Katrina’s team convinces them to reconvene in the same house in Florida where they wrote their first book to finish out their contract. The duo has to not only figure out how to write with another again, but also confront what led them to split up as a team in the first place.

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GLAM THRILLER: One of Us Is Dead Review 

Summary (from the publisher):

81n8c3ChIrLMeet the women of Buckhead—a place of expensive cars, huge houses, and competitive friendships.

Shannon was once the queen bee of Buckhead. But she’s been unceremoniously dumped by Bryce, her politician husband. When Bryce replaces her with a much younger woman, Shannon sets out to take revenge …

Crystal has stepped into Shannon’s old shoes. A young, innocent Texan girl, she simply has no idea what she’s up against …

Olivia has waited years to take Shannon’s crown as the unofficial queen of Buckhead. Finally, her moment has come. But to take her rightful place, she will need to use every backstabbing, manipulative, underhand trick in the book …

Jenny owns Glow, the most exclusive salon in town. Jenny knows all her clients’ secrets and darkest desires. But will she ever tell?

Who amongst these women will be clever enough to survive Buckhead—and who will wind up dead? They say that friendships can be complex, but no one said it could ever be this deadly.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

If I could categorize my reading outside of my usual romance, it would for sure be thriller/mystery. One of my latest thriller reads that I’ve really adored is Jeneva Rose’s One of Us Is Dead. The book is set in an elite town outside of Atlanta, Georgia, called Buckhead, following the rich queen bees of the town, who convene daily at Jenny’s high-end beauty salon. Olivia, the town’s ruthless alpha, can’t help but give snide comments about everything & everyone, including Shannon, whose recent divorce to a town politician has gotten even more attention, after her ex-husband soon remarried a young twenty something, Crystal. Karen can’t help but feel bad for Shannon, but knows she can’t say anything without Olivia saying about it. Jenny and her best friend & co-worker, Keisha, watch as the drama unravels as the women visit the salon each day & more & more secrets are exposed. The novel begins with a detective interviewing Jenny about a murder involving the women and goes back to the weeks leading up to the murder. 

Reader, I started this book late on a Friday night and had it finished by the following Saturday evening. One of Us Is Dead is the definition of addicting. We get the perspectives of five of the women, Olivia, Karen, Crystal, Shannon, & Jenny. Jenny was definitely the most interesting to read from, between her police interviews and her viewpoint as the salon owner and not an exact friend of the women. I really liked the salon setting, and I think having one main setting (we sometimes go to one of the women’s houses or a bar) made it easier to focus on the plot & mystery. If you love books about the elite, you’ll love all the details involving their designer clothes & bags and seeing Olivia out own hundred dollar bill after hundred dollar bill. 

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FIVE STAR READ: Sadie on a Plate Review

9780593335710Summary (from the publisher):
Sadie is a rising star in the trendy Seattle restaurant scene. Her dream is to create unique, modern, and mouthwatering takes on traditional Jewish recipes. But after a public breakup with her boss, a famous chef, she is sure her career is over–until she lands a coveted spot on the next season of her favorite TV show, Chef Supreme.

On the plane to New York, Sadie has sizzling chemistry with her seatmate, Luke, but tells him that she won’t be able to contact him for the next six weeks. They prolong their night with a spontaneous, magical dinner before parting ways. Or so she thinks. When she turns up to set the next day, she makes a shocking discovery about who Luke is….

If Sadie wants to save her career by winning Chef Supreme, she’s going to have to ignore the simmering heat between her and Luke. But how long can she do that before the pot boils over?

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’m here today to declare that Sadie on a Plate is the best food-inspired book that I’ve read. After going through a semi reading slump, I needed something to get me really wanting to read. I’ve seen so much love & praise for Amanda Elliot’s Sadie on a Plate (it’s the Matzah Book Soup Book Club pick for April), I picked this one up and read 160 pages upon the first sitting & devoured the rest of it the following evening. If there’s one contemporary romance you pick up this season, it’s Sadie on a Plate. Although I do admit it’s lighter on the romance side, it’s Top Chef meets Hell’s Kitchen synopsis makes it a must read! 

Sadie on a Plate follows Sadie, a Seattle-based chef who feels like her culinary dreams are over after a very public break-up with her boss, until she gets the opportunity to complete on the reality TV cooking competition show, Chef Supreme. On the plane ride to NYC to film the show, Sadie falls head-over-heels for a fellow chef, Luke, on the plane ride…until she realizes during the filming of the first episode that Luke is one of the show’s judges. While Luke was so sweet & warm during the first ‘not date,” his cold demeanor towards Sadie as a judge only fuels her fire and she focuses on whatever she must to do to win Chef Supreme and save her career. 

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THE HYPE IS WORTH IT: Lease on Love Review 

Summary (from the publisher):

57974961After getting passed over for an overdue—and much needed—promotion, Sadie Green is in desperate need of three things: a stiff drink, a new place to live, and a one-night-stand. When one drink turns into one too many, Sadie mixes up a long-ignored dating app for a roommate-finding app and finds herself on the doorstep of Jack Thomas’s gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone. Too bad she’s more attracted to his impressive real estate than she is to the man himself.

Jack, still grieving the unexpected death of his parents, has learned to find comfort in video games and movie marathons instead of friends. So while he doesn’t know just what to make of the vivaciously verbose Sadie, he’s willing to offer her his spare bedroom while she gets back on her feet. And with the rent unbeatably low, Sadie can finally pursue her floristry side hustle full-time. The two are polar opposites, but as Sadie’s presence begins to turn the brownstone into a home, they both start to realize they may have just made the deal of a lifetime.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts:

Falon Ballard’s Lease on Love is yet another book that I saw so much hype for & stayed away from, but when I finally picked it up, I kicked myself for not picking it up sooner because it was THAT good!! I’d see a few of my most trusted book recommendation sources pick it up – I first saw it from Mackenzie of Bad Bitch Book Club and another recommendation finally made me pick it up. I picked up Lease on Love one afternoon after work & had it finished by the time I went to bed!

Lease on Love is an opposites-attract contemporary romance set in Brooklyn. Having just been fired from her job, Sadie is desperate to find a cheaper apartment while she job hunts. After a drunken decision, she meets Jack through a roommate marching app and upon their first meeting,  Jack offers Sadie to move into his gorgeous Park Slope brownstone for super cheap. Sadie is an open book and shares her plans to run her floral arrangement side hustle and more importantly, share her best friends Gemma, Harley, & Nick, with Jack. On the other hand,  Jack is very closed off and really does not share too much about his life, partly due to the grief he’s felt since losing both of his parents years ago. 

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