Jenna Takes The Fall by A.R. Taylor Review

Summary (from the publisher):

Twenty-four years old and newly employed in Manhattan, Jenna McCann agrees to place herself under the dead body of a wealthy, prominent New Yorker―her boss―to hide the identity of his real lover. But why?

Because she is half in love with him herself; because her only friend at Hull Industries asked her to; because she feared everyone around her; because she had no idea how this would spin out into her own, undeveloped life; because she had nothing and no one?

Or just because?

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

The first line of the synopsis for A.R. Taylor’s Jenna Takes The Fall instantly caught my attention. The novel begins with twenty-four year old, NYC newbie Jenna falsely owning up as her billionaire boss’ mistress when he suddenly dies to hide the identity of his true lover. 

Jenna Takes The Fall was really different from most books that I normally read. It was this interesting cross between thriller and contemporary fiction, especially because the book begins with Jenna’s role in her boss’ death. The book is split between her life working at a newspaper conglomerate as an executive assistant of sorts to her new life after being bought out by the company’s law team. The reader definitely needs to suspend their sense of disbelief that Jenna is so willing to cover up the identity of a fellow co-worker in what would’ve been a huge cheating scandal without knowing really why she must do so. 

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TWO GREAT READS, ONE MISS: Recent Contemporary Reads Mini Reviews

I’ve been reading so much this summer, and mini reviews have been my new favorite way to share my thoughts on my recent reads. Today’s mini reviews are books that I would describe as mixes between women’s fiction and literary fiction, which include: Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, Emma Straub’s All Adults Here, and Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

51nyHHSxOLLSuch a Fun Age by Kiley Reid had been on my TBR since December. So many of my friends have been reading this one since its January debut, but it recently made it way back on to my bookish social media feed between the controversy surrounding The Reading Rush (in short, it was their book club choice and the hosts did not finish reading the book in time for their live show) and that it is a 2020 Booker Prize Longlist Nominee. The book follows the events after an African American babysitter, Emira, is accused by a shopper and security guard at a grocery store for kidnapping the white child she babysits for. Emira develops a romantic relationship with a white man that recorded the altercation, Kelley, while Emira’s boss and blogger, Alix, tries to best handle the situation and develop a relationship with Emira.

Such a Fun Age is a very complicated and multilayered read, alternating between Emira and Alix’s third person perspectives. This book really makes the reader think about the characters and their motivations, especially when it comes to Alix. I didn’t mind the writing style, but it didn’t necessarily grab me. It was easy to read, but again, it leaves the reader thinking about both main characters’ thoughts and actions. In short, Alix is someone who is so out of touch with reality and is ultimately really selfish. She doesn’t understand Emira’s experience and her own husband has recently made some controversial comments on his news cast that ultimately leads to Emira being accosted by the security guard. I will say that I wish there was more development surrounding Alix, especially her past with Kelley, but I think Kiley Reid leaves Alix’s ending unopened in the sense that the reader hopes or assumes that Alix will think more deeply about her actions. Read More »

LIVE LOVE ROMANCE: Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews

Everyone knows that my reading life each month is never complete without a romance book or five. This summer, I’ve done a mini dive back into Colleen Hoover’s books with Verity and Regretting You, while also reading a book by another beloved romance author, Talia Hibbert.

Verity by Colleen Hoover

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

A few of you might now that I took a break from reading Collen Hoover’s books back verin 2018. I was getting tired of seeing the same tropes and honestly, some of the toxic masculinity. Thanks to my mega-romance mood lately, I decided to give one of her books another shot, Verity. I chose Verity because it had been described to me more as a psychological thriller than romance (although there are MANY steamy scenes in this one), and so many people said that its ended has haunted them days after finishing it.  Verity follows Lowen, a struggling writer who receives the opportunity to finish a best-selling series after its author, Verity, gets into an accident that leaves her unable to write. Verity’s husband, Jeremy, offers Lowen to come stay with their family so Lowen can collect Verity’s writing notes and outlines. While searching through Verity’s office, Lowen finds a manuscript of Verity’s autobiography that reveals Verity’s perspective on the various tragedies her and her husband have faced, with plenty of bone-chilling confessions from Verity.

To say the least, Verity was one of the most unique romances I’ve ever read. I’ve read a few thrillers that feature romance or relationship development, but this book was truly romance meets psychological thriller. The book is definitely disturbing at times, as Verity’s confessions in her autobiography reveal her twisted feelings about her husband and children. The book is more about Lowen uncovering Verity and Jeremy’s past than writing the books, but the mystery had me so intrigued. While Verity is pretty much bed-ridden due to her accident, Lowen feels that she’s being watched by Verity at all times, especially as Lowen and Jeremy grow closer. I didn’t really mind Lowen and Jeremy’s relationship because I think it was just a given development in the story. I will say that I had no idea what to expect about Jeremy, and I think Colleen Hoover does a great job leaving her readers guessing throughout.  I don’t think I was as creeped out by the end  as most readers were (I’m not sure what that says about me..), but nevertheless, I did not see the ending coming and I loved how it left me thinking.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

After really enjoying Verity, I decided to pick up Colleen Hoover’s Regretting You. Many 9781542016421_p0_v2_s550x406of my blogging friends loved this one, since it reads a little bit like a young adult book. Regretting You is told from the perspectives of Morgan and Clara, a mother and daughter who are grieving over two tragic losses in their family. After having Clara at seventeen years old, Morgan is still trying to figure out what else she can be defined as in life aside from a loving mother and wife. Clara has starting to push her parent’s limits, between her crush on a guy her father disapproves and her dream to go to school for acting. At least her dad and Morgan’s husband, Chris, can be the peacemaker between the mother and daughter, until tragedy strikes.

Regretting You reads a lot like many of Colleen Hoover’s new adult reads, but it doesn’t have nearly as many or that steamy of romance scenes.  I would classify it more as a women’s fiction read with a touch of YA, since we get Clara’s perspective as a sixteen-year old high school student. We also get flashbacks to Morgan’s past when she was seventeen, mainly revolving around her finding out about her pregnancy and combatting her feelings for both Chris and Jonah. If you’ve been following the books I’ve been picking up this summer, you’ll know that I’ve been on an adult fiction kick lately, which may explain why I liked Morgan’s perspective more than Clara’s. I think there was a lot more to explore within Morgan’s storyline, between her feelings for Chris and Jonah, her desire to be something more than a housewife, and her struggle to relate to and support Clara. I liked how Colleen Hoover gets at the idea that adults often feel lost themselves or don’t have any idea what they’re doing even if it looks like it.

While I think Regretting You does have a unique premise which definitely intrigued me enough to pick up the book, I don’t think it brought anything necessarily new to the table. I was surprised by the revelation concerning Chris and Morgan’s sister, Jenny, and their relationship, but I sort’ve knew how it would be handled once it’s revealed to Jonah and Morgan. Regretting You  is a pretty fast-paced read, but it feel like I was just waiting for these plot points to reveal themselves. Additionally, Morgan and Clara didn’t really grieve over their losses. I know that grief looks different in everyone, but Morgan and Clara’s concern and feelings for Jonah and Miller respectively overshadowing their grief. While Morgan says repeatedly that she did love her husband, I wish we got to dive into their relationship more.

Overall, I did enjoy Regretting You, but it didn’t have as much depth as I was expecting, both in regards to its romantic relationships and even Clara and Morgan’s mother-daughter dynamic.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Get a Life, Chloe Brown has been floating around the romance blogosphere since its 43884209November 2019 debut so much that I knew it was finally time for me to pick it up. Talia Hibbert is often recommended to me as a staple contemporary romance author. The first book in The Brown Sisters companion series, Get a Life, Chloe Brown is a British contemporary romance following the oldest Brown sister, Chloe. Chloe has  fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that causes her pain daily. Chloe has felt discouraged to socialize and do a lot of things, so she looks to her apartment building’s ‘bad boy’ of a handy-man, Red, to help her with her ‘get-a-life’ list.

There were so many elements that I appreciated in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, but I never really felt too engaged in the story. It took me a while to settle into the writing style and the feeling that the book was much more character-driven than I had expected. The book alternates between Chloe and Redford’s third-person perspectives, and much of the plot grows out of their dialogue. However, there aren’t too many events or major plot happenings. Additionally,  Chloe and Redford are somewhat set in the enemies-to-lovers trope, but I never really sensed anything but attraction between them. Red also doesn’t really read as a bad boy whatsoever! I really enjoyed Get a Life, Chloe Brown’s representation, as I’ve never seen a Black female protagonist with a disability as the main character.

Overall, although I appreciated certain features in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, it ultimately wasn’t a super memorable or enjoyable romance read for me. I think I one day will pick up the next book in the companion series, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, because so many romance readers that I follow have nothing but amazing things to say about it.

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Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you have any recommendations for me? What other Colleen Hoover or Talia Hibbert books should I read? Share in the comments! 

FAVORITE ROYAL READS: The Royal We & The Heir Affair Review 

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Heir Affair was honestly my most anticipated book of summer. I had read the first book, The Royal We , in this William and Kate-inspired fictional duology back in 2015 and couldn’t be more than excited when I found out earlier this year that there would be a sequel. I don’t consider myself to be the biggest British royals fan (although Kate’s dress is definitely on my dream wedding mood board), but I can’t help but love a royals-inspired contemporary. Since it had been nearly 5 years in between me reading The Royal We and The Heir Affair, I decided to reread and review The Royal We before diving into the sequel. 

The Royal We 

Summary (from the publisher): American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at heather-cocks-jessica-morgan-theroyalweOxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I had originally rated The Royal We 4.5/5 stars when I read it back in 2015, but I now have granted it a full 5 out of 5 stars, purely because I forgot how great it was and also that I ignored so much homework while rereading this 450+ page book in 2 days.

As mentioned above, The Royal We was inspired by Prince William and Kate, but now sort’ve reads as a fiction mix of William & Kate and Meghan & Harry. American college student Bex meets Prince Nicholas, the third in line for the throne, during a study abroad year at Oxford. The book covers their relationship from their college years through their relationship in adulthood (and as you are probably able to tell, their wedding). While Bex and Nicholas are at the heart of the story, there are so many other character & relationship dynamics, aka drama and scandals, at play. Bex has such great support from her and Nicholas’ Oxford friends and her family.Read More »

NEW ADULT FAKE DATING: The Dare (Briar U #4) Review

Summary (from the author):

52918684._SY475_College was supposed to be my chance to get over my ugly-duckling complex and spread my wings. Instead, I wound up in a sorority full of mean girls. I already have a hard time fitting in, so when my Kappa Chi sisters issue the challenge, I can’t say no.

The dare: seduce the hottest new hockey player in the junior class.

Conor Edwards is a regular at Greek Row parties…and in Greek Row sorority beds. He’s the one you fall for before you learn that guys like him don’t give girls like me a second glance. Except Mr. Popular throws me for a loop—rather than laughing in my face, he does me a solid by letting me take him upstairs to pretend we’re getting busy.

Even crazier, now he wants to keep pretending. Turns out Conor loves games, and he thinks it’s fun to pull the wool over my frenemies’ eyes.

But resisting his easy charm and surfer-boy hotness is darn near impossible. Though I’m realizing there’s much more to Conor’s story than his fan club can see.

And the longer this silly ruse goes on, the greater the danger of it all blowing up in my face.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

I was beyond excited when Elle Kennedy announced back in April that there would be a fourth installment in the Briar U series. This spin-off series to the Off-Campus series follow a new set of hockey players and college students at the fictional Ivy League school, Briar University – but don’t worry, there’s plenty of cameos from the Off-Campus series! The Dare follows college junior & aspiring teacher, Taylor, who’s had enough of the mean girls in her sorority and California surfer & heartthrob of the Briar U hockey team, Conor. When Taylor and Conor begin to fake date after a dare, the two realize that could potentially be a couple even without being dared to. 

The Dare was a fun take on the fake dating trope. I really liked how Conor and Taylor are friends before moving on to anything really romance-related. Most of the relationships in the Briar U world start with romance before relationship statuses are set, so it was a refreshing take. I’ll admit that sometimes the boys of Off-Campus & Briar U blend together, but I feel like Conor wasn’t as much as a bad boy & player as some of the other guys. I also really liked Taylor as a protagonist, having enjoyed her relationships with her mom and her best friend, Sasha. It was also fun reading about her field experience as a student teacher. 

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Books I Loved & Not So Loved: YA Mini Reviews

I’ve read so many YA books this spring & summer that I can’t help but fangirl all over about (although I have had a few misses here or there). Today I’ll be sharing two books I LOVED and one I unfortunately didn’t love as much as I wish I had.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

If there’s at least one 2019 YA release that you need to catch up on, it’s Elizabeth downloadAcevedo’s With the Fire on High! With the Fire on High has received so much hype & praise from my bookish friends & fellow bloggers that I knew it was time to finally pick it up. The book follows Emoni, a high school senior living in Philadelphia who dreams of running her own kitchen. When her high school offers a culinary arts class that includes a week-long trip to Spain, Emoni is willing to do anything she can to make sure she gets into that class and go on the trip. But life has never been easy for Emoni, especially now as she raises her two year old daughter and tries to balance her life as a high school student and mother, with her abuela there to support.

Elizabeth Acevedo is so well known for her beautifully written verse. Although With the Fire on High isn’t written in verse, her writing style shines through and was so descriptive! The chapters are between 2-5 pages each, with each chapter title’s alluding to its main theme. I always feel like I blow through books with shorter chapters faster for some reason, which only added to how I could not put With the Fire on High down. Emoni was a really complex character. I think what is likely the most intriguing part of her story is that Emoni has a daughter, having had her when she was a freshman in high school.  Emoni directly disputes a lot of the stereotypes associated with her as a mother. Emoni has to make some tough decisions as a student and as a mother, but she fortunately has her grandmother and her best friend to help support her and her daughter, Emma. Growing up in a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood in Philadelphia there are also somer really great discussions surrounding race, as Emoni identifies as Afro-Puerto Rican.Read More »

All The Right Mistakes by Laura Jamison Review

Summary (from the publisher):

alrFive college friends have arrived at forty in very different circumstances, but with at least one thing in common: they are among the more privileged in society. Elizabeth and Sara are lawyers, Martha is a doctor, Carmen is a wealthy and well-educated homemaker, and Heather, the most successful, is a famous tech executive―and after more than two decades of friendship, they know one another better than anyone.

Then Heather writes a women’s advice book detailing the key life “mistakes” of her four friends―opting out, ramping off, giving half effort, and forgetting your fertility―that becomes wildly popular, and Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, and Carmen all feel the sting of Heather’s cruel words. Despite their status, these women face everyday obstacles, including work problems, parenting challenges, secondary infertility, racism, sexism, financial stress, and marital woes―and as they weather their fortieth year, each one can’t help but wonder if their life might have been different if they had followed Heather’s advice.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Laura Jamison’s debut, All the Right Mistakes, was the first book I read while floating around the pool this summer – and it was the perfect choice! I’m always ready for any book about female friends from college, especially having been obsessed with Elizabeth Ames’ The Other’s Gold last summer. 

Ever since their first move-in day at Dartmouth, Elizabeth, Sara, Martha, Carmen, and Heather have been best friends. Instead of bonding over sorority rushes and homework like they used to, the women are now more likely to talk about their struggles with work-life balance and motherhood over anything else, despite having found success in their own ways. But when Heather, a famous tech executive, publishes an advice book based on her friends’ ‘mistakes,’ the other four begin to question each other’s friendship and all the choices that they’ve made since. 

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BEST YA SUMMER CAMP READ: Have a Little Faith in Me Review

Summary (from the publisher): 

417JivBqhwLWhen CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan—God’s or CeCe’s—goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.

Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul—is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:
I think almost every YA contemporary fan craves a book set at camp during the summer. Sonia Hartl’s puts such a unique spin on the YA summer camp setting with Have a Little Faith in Me. In Have a Little Faith in Me, when her born-again boyfriend breaks up with her after they have sex, CeCe decides to follow him to Christian summer camp to win him back. Problem? CeCe knows nothing about Jesus or Christianity, making her best friend Paul go along with her. When CeCe gets to camp, she discovers that there’s a lot more for her untangle about her relationship with Ethan than she thought. She also soon finds out that her fellow female campers and cabin mates could use some advice when it comes to relationships and sexuality.

Although there is seriousness surrounding sex and faith, Have a Little Faith in Me was such a funny read. A lot of its humor came from CeCe and Paul. Their friendship screamed instant chemistry from the get-go. I loved all of their ‘that would make for a great band name’ jokes and stories. Everyone knows that I love a well-executed fake-dating trope, and Paul and CeCe’s fake relationship totally sold in Have a Little Faith in Me. I also loved how their fake relationship and budding feelings for one another didn’t take the entirety of the novel.Read More »

FAVORITE YA ROM-COM: Today Tonight Tomorrow Review

Summary (From the publisher):
Today Tonight TomorrowToday, she hates him.

It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.

Tonight, she puts up with him.

When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.

As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.

Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

I usually save the following statements until the end of the review but here it goes: Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon is one of my new favorite YA books!

Today Tonight Tomorrow follows high school rivals Rowan and Neil. Rowan cannot stand Neil whatsoever, and after Neil is named class valedictorian, Rowan only has one thing left to win: Howl, a senior class game that takes the graduates around Seattle in a competition to win a big cash prize. Rowan’s dream of winning the money to put the money towards college, where she’ll hopefully be able to keep working on her secret romance novel, is put on hold when she’s forced to partner up with Neil for the game. As they play, Rowan and Neil learn a lot about each other and try to figure out why they were always rivals and maybe not something more… 


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LOVE & MATCHMAKING:Playing with Matches Review 

Summary (from the publisher): Sasha Goldberg has a lot going for her: a recent 51HNhvj2d4Ljournalism degree from NYU, an apartment with her best friend Caroline, and a relationship that would be amazing if her finance-bro boyfriend Jonathan would ever look up from his BlackBerry. But when her dream career falls through, she uses her family’s darkest secret to land a job as a matchmaker for New York City’s elite at the dating service Bliss. 

Despite her inexperience, Sasha throws herself into her new career, trolling for catches on Tinder, coaching her clients through rejection, and dishing out dating advice to people twice her age. She sets up a TV exec who wanted kids five years ago, a forty-year-old baseball-loving virgin, and a consultant with a rigorous five-page checklist for her ideal match.

 Sasha hopes to find her clients The One, like she did. But when Jonathan betrays her, she spirals out of control—and right into the arms of a writer with a charming Southern drawl, who she had previously set up with one of her clients. He’s strictly off-limits, but with her relationship on the rocks, all bets are off.

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Contemporary romance or adult contemporary has been the name of my reading game over the past few weeks, so I’ve been on the hunt for any fun & flirty books in those genres. Between enjoying Hannah Orenstein’s Love at First Like last summer (it wasn’t my all-time favoriteeee read, but I thought the premise was executed well!) and my excitement to pick up her recent release, Head Over Heels, I decided to read her debut, Playing with Matches. While I do still have to read and have high expectations for Head Over Heels, I can say for now that Playing with Matches is my favorite book by Hannah Orenstein because I am absolutely obsessed with it!!If you were just as obsessed as I was with Indian Matchmaking on Netflix this weekend, this book is a must-read! 

I also just want to take a little moment to say that Hannah Orenstein has some of the BEST covers for her books! She recently did a Q&A on her Instagram story talking about how her publishing team makes sure that her book covers, colors & illustrations included, all compliment each other and really match the feel of each story.

Playing with Matches follows aspiring writer and recent NYU grad, Sasha, who finds herself working as a matchmaker in her first full-time, post-college job. I know that there are a few books out there with characters as matchmakers, and I have read a few books where the characters are set up, but this was my first time reading a book with a main character as a matchmaker. Playing with Matches felt like such a current take on this job role, as Sasha uses all kinds of real dating apps to help her clients find potential partners. The book also takes place in NYC, so it was really fun to experience Sasha hoping all over the city to help her clients and made for the perfect setting for this kind of story. It added to the book’s sense of charm and adventures in dating. 

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