MUST-READ LOVE STORY: The Idea of You Review

Summary (from the publisher):

When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery 71o-F3HI63Lin Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I feel like The Idea of You is one of those under-the-radar books that although you don’t see it too often, once you come across someone who has read it, they have nothing but LOVE for it! I first heard about The Idea of You through Bad on Paper. I think in an episode in the beginning of quarantine, they had recommended it as a great binge-read to take your mind off real life for a while. The book was also one of their book club picks in 2019, and it always seems to be their go-to book hangover cure/’need something to read’ recommendation.

The best way to describe The Idea of You? Forty-year old mother, Solène, takes her teenage daughter to a boy band concert (alla One Direction), where during a meet and greet, she meets and then begins secretly dating the band’s twenty-year old heartthrob, Hayes. Robinne Lee confirmed in her interview with Bad on Paper that the book was definitely a bit inspired from One Direction, as well as other famous male singers like Ed Sheeran. I may have or may not have told one of my book-loving, One Direction, Harry Styles fan of a best friend to immediately pick The Idea of You up.

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The Idea of You was such a refreshing and unique, aka scandalous, contemporary romance read! There was such a fantastic balance between Solène and Hayes’ relationship and all the drama that came with it. Basically, every central conflict is caused by the age difference between the pair and how that age difference, not to mention that Hayes is the most famous boy band member on the planet, affects a lot going on in Solène’s life. How can she possibly explain to her thirteen year old daughter that she’s in love with her favorite celebrity crush, not to mention one that is half her age?Read More »

The Sullivan Sisters by Kathryn Ormsbee Review

Summary (from the publisher):

image001Time changes things.

That painful fact of life couldn’t be truer for the Sullivan sisters. Once, they used to be close, sharing secrets inside homemade blanket castles. Now, life in the Sullivan house means closed doors and secrets left untold. 

Fourteen-year-old Murphy, an aspiring magician, is shocked by the death of Siegfried, her pet turtle. Seventeen-year-old Claire is bound for better things than her Oregonian hometown—until she receives a crushing rejection from her dream college. And eighteen-year-old Eileen is nursing a growing addiction in the wake of life-altering news.

Then, days before Christmas, a letter arrives, informing the sisters of a dead uncle and an inheritance they knew nothing about. The news forces them to band together in the face of a sinister family mystery…and, possibly, murder.

 

My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’m always on the hunt for books starring sisters, which led me to Kathryn Ormsbee’s latest book, The Sullivan Sisters. I really enjoyed Kathryn Ormsbee’s Tash Hearts Tolstoy back in 2017, so I was excited to pick up another book of her’s. The Sullivan Sisters follows sisters Eileen, Claire, & Murphy. The three had a tight-knit relationship when they were younger – which included setting up a blanket & pillow fort during Christmas while their mom was at work- but family circumstances have led them to fall apart over the years. When the sisters receive a letter about an inheritance from an unknown uncle, the three travel to the house left in their name while discovering some family secrets. 

Although the murder mystery is central to the plot, The Sullivan Sisters is much more of a character driven story than mystery. 

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July Library Book Haul

During quarantine,  checking my county library’s website to see if and when my local library would re-open this summer was a daily routine. Before the library closed back in early March, I managed to checkout 3 books… which I had finished by early April. Fortunately, I’ve had a few review books sent to me and quite a few backlist titles laying on my shelves – and I totally gave into some binge book buying – but I was literally over the moon when my county library system officially reopened for door-side pick-up last week. For anyone who is wondering what door-side pick up looks like, once I receive an automated call saying that my books are in, I go to the library and then call my branch to say that I’m there to pick up my holds. From there, they place my books on a table outside of the main entrance. The checkout period is still 2 weeks and you’re allowed at least 3 renew cycles (so 8 weeks total), but all returned books have to be placed in their outdoor drop box and are then quarantined for 3 days. 

As soon as the website said that the online catalog was open, I ran to my list of must-check-out books (which I had made back in May, oops) and by the end, I had managed to put a casual 17 physical books on hold. I admit that these 17 holds were mostly out of pure excitement, but also out of my fear that the libraries may close again. I picked up 10 of my holds last week, and I’m actually going to be picking up 2 more books later today. Today I’ll be sharing library books I currently have checked out, as well as my current holds. 

Books I Checked Out

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee – The Idea of You is probably the #1 recommended book on Bad on Paper. This romance following a forty year old woman who falls in love with the lead singer of her daughter’s favorite boy band was their go-to quarantine read, and I somehow managed to hold off on until July. I’ll actually be returning this one today, having read it during Fourth of July weekend. I’ll have a review soon, but just know for now that The Idea of You is so worth the hype! 

Playing with Matches by Hannah Orenstein – I wasn’t sure if I would be able to use interlibrary loan (meaning ordering books from other libraries other than my local brands – update, I was) so at first I was putting books on hold that I knew my local branch had on hand, which included Hannah Orenstein’s Playing with Matches. I recently bought her latest release, Head Over Heels, and I enjoyed Love at First Like last summer. Like The Idea of You, I also devoured Playing with Matches this weekend and loved it! 

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – Many of my book blogging friends have loved Talia Hibbert’s recent release, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, so I knew it was time to pick up the first book in this companion series. If I enjoy this one, I’ll definitely put the second book on hold.

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon – If I was going to buy another book before the library reopened, it was most likely going to be Amy Harmon’s From Sand and Ash. I found this historical fiction novel set during WWII through Sarah’s Bookshelves Live (I forget which episode), and it just sounded so unique from most of the WWII historical fiction I’ve read. Read More »

FUNNIEST ROM-COM: You Deserve Each Other Review

44143895._UY2048_SS2048_Summary (from the publisher):

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Sarah Hogle’s You Deserve Each Other is the funniest contemporary romance novel that I’ve ever read.

This debut novel follows fiancés Naomi Westfield and Nicholas Rose, who are anything but ready for marriage. For the past year, Naomi has began to doubt her future with Nicholas, but with so many deposits already placed (including the wedding dress her not-so great mother-in-law basically chose), Naomi knows the only way out of her engagement is to make Nicholas break off the engagement. With plenty of sabotage and pranks in store, Naomi and Nick test each other to see who can break first.. and suddenly start having the most fun they’ve had in their relationship in a while.

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You Deserve Each Other captured my attention for its unique take on the enemies-to-lovers trope, or really, the lovers-turned-enemies-turned-lovers-again trope! I feel like workplace romances are the most common place for the trope – don’t get me wrong, I LOVE them- but it felt so refreshing to have this trope in a setting unlike anything other I’ve read! Naomi and Nicholas are both pretty miserable, but Naomi is truly the mastermind in their break-off plans. Nicholas is ready to play the game as well, but readers soon discover that Nicholas’ true motive isn’t about sabotaging his relationship.Read More »

BOOKS, TV, & MY CURRENT NORMAL: June 2020 Wrap Up

June was another transitional month into my new normal, with plenty of books in tow. I’ve been keeping busy, between starting my remote jobs and grad school. It’s crazy to think I finished my first round of grad school classes, and my second round started this week. I started experiencing some Zoom burnout this month, so reading and taking my eyes away from my laptop screen with books helped things. I actually have to read two YA books for my grad school classes in July, and I’m so excited to be getting to read YA for school – I read two YA books for undergrad, but that was purely because I decided to do my capstone projects on them.

My reading and TV watching were all over the place this month. I read a lot of contemporary and reread a few books, while I still dove into a reality TV this month. I often had trouble really concentrating on TV, movies especially – I had one night where I tried watching three different movies and then ended up rewatching Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and an episode of Queer Eye. 

What is also improving my reading mood even more is that my local library re-opened for door side pick up! I may or may not have put 15 books on hold as soon as the online catalog re-opened. Although there are plenty of good things going on personally right now, there’s definitely still some uncertainty this summer, to say the least. While my state’s covid-19 cases have significantly decreased over the past two months, we’re seeing multiple states have huge increases in cases. Between work and school, I’m typically home Monday through Friday but these increases has made me rethink a few weekend plans and curious to see how my state moves forward with re-opening plans. I went to my first outdoor restaurant and first trip back to Barnes & Noble last week, but my family and friends and I are still being cautious and smart about where we go. 

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Beach Read by Emily Henry | 5/5 Stars

Like me, I’m sure you’ve seen Emily Henry’s Beach Read EVERYWHERE, but I’m here to confirm that the hype is more than worth the read! There’s such depth to this contemporary romance.

Love at First Fight by Sandhya Menon (novella) | 5/5

I’m a firm believer that Sandhya Menon is the queen of novellas, with Love at First Fight as no exception. You don’t have to read it before picking up 10 Things I Hate About Pinky this July, but it was a really fun addition to the Dimpleverse! 

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell 5/5 (reread)

One of my best friends IRL is reading Fangirl, aka honestly my all-time favorite book, which led me to make the decision to reread Rainbow Rowell’s contemporary books this summer. Attachments still reigns as my favorite adult fiction novel of hers. 

Slay by Brittany Morris | 4/5

If you’re looking to read more YA books by black authors, as well as books that reflect some of the conversations we’re currently having about race in the U.S., Slay is definitely worth checking out. Read More »

NEW ADULT REVIEW: Until the Last Star Fades

Summary (from the publisher):

51F6iP08QWLIn her senior year at NYU, Riley Hope appears to be on top of the world. With a loving mother who makes Lorelai Gilmore look like a parenting slacker, ride-or-die friends, and a long-time boyfriend destined for the National Hockey League, she puts on a smile for the world. But behind it, she’s drowning. Racked with fears for the future, she battles to stay afloat amid life in the shadows of a heartbreaking illness.

And then, Ben Fagan comes crashing into her life. Twenty-three-years-old, British, and alone in the Big Apple after a disastrous pilot season in LA, the struggling actor is looking for an escape: booze, mischief, sex—minimum commitment, maximum fun—anything to avoid returning across the pond. 

As they form an unlikely bond, Riley keeps her reality from Ben so that he remains a happy refuge. But how long can she hold back the truth…and is Ben keeping his own secrets, too?but Until the Last Star Fades 

 

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

 Jacquelyn Middleton’s Until the Last Star Fades had been on my TBR since 2018. I read London Belongs to Me back in 2017 and really enjoyed its London setting and emphasis on fandom. Until the Last Star Fades features some cameos from London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait?. I have not yet read this sequel and don’t think you need to read either book to read this book, but you will run into minor spoilers from that series.

 Until the Last Star Fades follows soon-to-be NYU gradating senior Riley and her life after her meet-cute with Ben, a British actor who’s had no luck finding acting jobs in the States. The book follows their evolving relationship against the many setbacks that they are both experiencing. Told in the third person, the book mainly follows Riley’s perspective with a few scattered chapters from Ben.

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 Until the Last Star Fades was a much heavier read than I had anticipated. I admit that I hadn’t really re-acquainted myself with its synopsis before picking it up, but much of the plot revolves around Riley’s mom’s battle with cancer. I really appreciate Jacquelyn’s honest and emotion-filled depiction of Maggie’s illness and the struggles both her and Riley experience, but it may be a triggering reading experience for readers who have been in a similar situation. In between being there for her mom, finishing up college, hanging with friends, and working two jobs, and yes, developing her relationship with Ben, there is also a lot of discussion about Riley’s smiling depression. Jacquelyn Middleton  sheds light on some hard issues and situations.Read More »

Summer Reading Recommendations: The YA Edition

Instead of doing one mega summer reading recommendations post, I wanted to spread the summer reading love around and do recommendations in stages. While last week I shared summer reading recs based on what I read in 2019, today I’ll be talking about all the YA books that are perfect summertime reads. 

When I think of YA summer reads, my mind instantly goes to Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door. My Life Next Door was THE hot book of 2014/2015, especially on BookTube. In honor of this post, I actually reread My Life Next Door during my beach and pool days this week! It wasn’t as amazing as I remembered it to be – it definitely moved down from a 5 star to a 4 star read because it really didn’t provide solutions to the book’s conflicts – it still is a really great atmospheric summer read, as it takes place in a Connecticut beach town. I never read the companion novel, The Boy Most Likely To, so I actually might give it a read this summer! 

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon – Althought it doesn’t come out until July 28th, you better adjust your summer reading plans now to include Rachel Lynn Solomon’s upcoming novel, Today Tonight Tomorrow. Taking place on the last day of senior year, enemies Rowan and Neil must pair together to win their senior class game. This book’s swoony romance and adventure provides for a fun way to fulfill some wanderlust this summer. 

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett – I am a firm believer that all of Jenn Bennett’s YA contemporaries make for perfect summer reads, but Starry Eyes especially does so! The book follows best friends turned enemies Zorie and Lennon’s group camping trip gone wrong. 

Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll – One book that I always wish got more love is Jen Doll’s Unclaimed Baggage – how can its adorable cover NOT grab your attention! I actually read Unclaimed Baggage on vacation two summers ago. It is such a unique summer contemporary, following three teens and unlikely friends working at a lost luggage store for the summer.Read More »

June 2020 Mini Reviews: Books I Should’ve Read A While Ago

Stay-at-home orders forced me to look around all the bookshelves in my house for books that I hadn’t yet read.  I have been buying more books lately and reading more e-books than normal thanks to Netgalley and Libby, but physical books will ALWAYS have my heart. My hunt for books led me to pick up books that I should’ve read a while ago, both in the sense that they’ve been on my TBR for a while and that they are extremely loved and well read.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

9781524763138Although I admit it wasn’t a TBR priority, Michelle Obama’s Becoming was always one of those books that I knew I would read one day. A few of my friends started reading it back in April, so I decided to join in by listening to the audiobook. I’m a sucker for almost any auto-biography or celebrity audiobook that is narrated by the author. Becoming definitely took me a while to listen to – at almost 20 hours in length, it took me over 6 weeks to get through it. This is also because I’m someone who has to be doing something while listening to audiobooks and even podcasts, most commonly when I’m walking or coloring. I also listened to a big chunk of this while unpacking from my college dorm room.

Audiobook listening strategies set aside, Becoming was just as good as everyone says it is! The book really provides Michelle Obama’s backstory before her husband was elected president of the United States. I really enjoyed listening to her time in college and when she first started working (which soon happened to include meeting Barack). It was so fascinating to learn that she never really wanted anything to do with politics and even after she finished serving as First Lady. Throughout, she includes many lessons and conversations surrounding race, education, work, family, and politics. It was interesting hearing about her time in the White House, although it did feel like more of the book dealt with her childhood and pre-First Lady days. I couldn’t help but love anytime she mentioned Lin Manuel-Miranda and her own love for Hamilton.Read More »

NEW ADULT FUN: The Play (Briar U #3) Review  

Summary (from the author): 

413eh7lf2nL._SY346_What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Elle Kennedy is my favorite new adult romance author. Her Off-Campus series stole my heart last summer, so I knew I needed to kick off my June with one of her Briar U books, The Play. Briar U is the spin-off series to Off-Campus. Both series follow romances between the women of the fictional Ivy League school, Briar University, and the college’s hockey players. The Play follows Hunter, who we’ve seen in both series, and a new female lead, Demi. As the newest hockey team captain and after years of being a playboy, Hunter decides to take himself out of the dating world in order to focus on his team. Hunter isn’t expecting anything from his psychology project partner, Demi, until a nasty break-up makes Hunter and Demi closer than they ever expected. 

The Play was everything I look for in my Elle Kennedy books: charming male leads, college life (partying included), hockey, romance, and smart,sarcastic female leads. I’ll admit that Hunter was never really my favorite male lead, especially after The Chase, but he really grew on me in this book. Having his perspective brought out a new side of him. There’s a little bit of talk about his  feelings for Summer, but his romantic focus in this book was really combatting his feelings for Demi while trying to stick with the commitment he made to himself. Demi and Hunter have such great chemistry from the very beginning, and while they had always been flirty with one another, it was fun seeing them move from friends into something more. 

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I don’t think Demi was my favorite Briar U/Off-Campus protagonist, but she grew on me. I believe Demi is the most diverse protagonist in all of the series, having a black father and Cuban mother, but there’s been a lot of discussion in reviews about the authenticity (or lack thereof) of her representation and a few stereotypes associated with her. While I did enjoy Demi’s intelligence and strength, I do agree with reviewers that her representation did need some further development. Read More »

If We Were Having Coffee: June 2020 Edition

If We Were Having Coffee is my favorite way to share current happenings in my life  outside of my usual fangirl and bookish-ness. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of talk about the books, TV, and podcasts I’ve been consuming lately. 

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Although I’m waiting for my  honors cords to come in the mail, my cap and gown did come in, which called for an impromptu photoshoot!

If we were having coffee, I’d probably be having a cup of coffee with milk and cinnamon. I feel like I’m cheating on summer by saying that I haven’t been drinking iced coffee that much lately. 4 out of the 5 people in my house drink at least two cups of coffee everyday, so instead of making single cups using the Keurig, we usually make two or three pots a day using Dunkin Donuts’ Original Blend. My sister and I love blending cinnamon in the grinds before brewing. 

If we were having coffee, I’d probably tell you that my mind feels like its in five different places at once. It’s weird to think that I feel busier being at home vs. being out in the world at school and work. I know I’ve mentioned it in a wrap-up and maybe another post, but since my If We Were Having Coffee about my college graduation, I made the decision to stay at my alma mater to attend their Master of Arts in Teaching program. I had actually been admitted into the program back in March and hadn’t made a decision about when and if I’d join the program when the world went into madness. Since one of my summer jobs went from full-time to part-time remotely, I made the decision to join the program and start taking summer courses. 

Although I’ve still been eating up 3 or 4 books a week (summer time is the best reading season for me), I’ve been doing so much work and reading for school since mid-May. Two of my classes met for two weeks each every day, so now I have a slight lull in my schedule. I have a weekly elective until the end of June when the second round of classes  begins. I am also doing some remote work for the organization I worked at as an undergraduate. It’s definitely a busy schedule, but I am of course grateful to know that I am able to partake in all of these things from home. Read More »