2 LOVEABLE ROMANCES & A LITERARY READ: Romance & Adult Fiction Mini Reviews

I mentioned in September that mini reviews were slowly becoming my review style of choice, & the trend is definitely still continuing for me in October. I’m honestly trying to think of creative title ideas for these because I have a feeling I’m going to be posting them more than 2 times a month. This mini review round up includes two contemporary romances, one that I absolutely LOVED and another where the hype made me so happy to finally pick it up, and a literary fiction read. 

Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Kiss My Cupcake was the first book I’ve read by Helena Hunting, and wow, do I want more of them!! After reading some glowing reviews and me being the fan of books set in bakeries that I am, I had Kiss My Cupcake on my library holds list for a while and it came in towards the end of September. I wasn’t super in the mood for a romance, but I was in one of those moods where I knew I wanted to read but did’t know what to read. I decided to pick it up, and it was the best choice! Kiss My Cupcake totally surpassed my expectations and is among of my favorite contemporary romances of 2020. 

Blaire has just opened up her own cupcake meets cocktails shop and is ready to prove to everyone that she has what it takes to be a successful business owner. Who’s getting in her way? Ronan, the plaid wearing ‘bad boy’ next door who owns the neighboring pub. As Blaire and Ronan go head-to-head in a competition to see who has the best restaurant spot in the Pacific Northwest, their chemistry grows more and more with every clash.

Kiss My Cupcake was just so charming and yes, funny. I feel like ‘rom-com’ gets thrown around so many times when describing contemporary romances, but this book truly put the biggest smile on my face (especially every time Ronan ate a cupcake). I loved nearly every confrontation and conversation between Ronan and Blair. Helena Hunting just completely nailed every expectation I had and every single part of the synopsis, from the hate to lovers romance to the setting especially! I could’ve spent all day reading about Blaire’s cupcakes meets cocktails cafe. I thought there was the right amount of time spent on not only Blaire and Ronan’s relationship, but also their businesses, their personal goals, and their family lives. Overall, Kiss My Cupcake is the type of contemporary romance that delivers on all its promises and more. Read More »

Fangirl News Round Up #5: Reveals, Reveals, Reveals

Throughout 2020, it’s been safe to say that we’re always in need of some good news. I can’t believe I haven’t done a Fangirl News Round Up since May. Back in the spring, I really enjoyed talking about  book news and miscellaneous happenings about TV, movies, music, and other random fandoms because we all needed some exciting things to cling  to especially then. Today, I’ll mostly be covering bookish news and cover reveals.

If you’re need for something non-bookish, my latest Netflix obsession is Emily in Paris, if you haven’t already binged it on Netflix like I did this weekend! Although I watched it when it premiered on cable this year, I also plan on rewatching Season 6 of Schitt’s Creek.It’s once again among the top 10 most popular shows on Netflix, I think largely because it absolutely SWEPT the Emmys and the final season finally hit Netflix. 

Bookish News & Reveals

I usually categorize book related news by new announcements, release dates, and cover reveals, but so much news from this September and October so far overlap in those categories

Any Way the Wind Blows Release Date 

Rainbow Rowell announced on her social media last Thursday that Any Way the Wind Blows will be coming out on July 6, 2021. She also has more news coming out this Wednesday, so keep an eye on her social – I’m thinking it’s either going to be the Any Way the Wind Blows cover or an update on the Eleanor & Park film adaptation. 

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A Court of Silver Flames Cover Reveal & Release Date 

Sarah J. Maas announced via Instagram in September that A Court of Silver Flames will be released on February 16, 2021, pushed back from its original January 2020 release due to printer restrictions. A Court of Silver Flames is the fourth book and the first spinoff book starring Nesta and Cassian in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I know some people are feeling pretty meh about the cover, but I don’t have any particular feelings about it as of right now? I don’t plan on buying the redesigned ACOTAR covers, but I do appreciate that this is part of the publisher’s effort to make it known that the new ACOTAR books are adult and not YA. I think they’re trying to do the same with the first ACOTAR trilogy. I’m hoping the February 2021 release means that we could potentially have Crescent City #2 in Fall 2021, or at least early 2022. Read More »

FEMINISM, HISTORICAL FICTION, & POLITICS: October YA Mini Reviews

This mini review roundup focused on three YA books I’ve picked up over the last few weeks hopefully has something for everyone: a contemporary read about a girl ready to start a feminist revolution in her medieval-themed workplace, a historical fiction read about an aftermath we rarely see in YA, and an all too timely read featuring politics and the environment. 

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly is such a fantastic 2020 young adult release! If you love Jen DeLuca’s contemporary romance, Well Met, and want some ren-inspired YA, this book is for you! Kit works as a waitress, or serving wench, at a medieval-themed dinner-and-show restaurant (think Medieval Times), but longs to become one of the Castle’s Knights, like her older brother. The Knights perform every night, but due to the corporate policy, only men can be Knights. When Kit not-so secretly takes her brother’s place one night, the video of her performance goes viral and Kit and her fellow employees team up to shake things up at the Castle.

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly’s setting alone makes it such a unique read. Jamie Pacton really nailed the setting and its atmosphere. From the performances to Kit’s wench uniform, this story was so detailed and makes readers feel like they are at the Castle themselves. The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly has such fantastic commentary about gender and gender roles, as Kit trys to otherthrow her company’s sexist policies. There was a lot of diverse gender and sexuality representation, and it didn’t feel forced at all. The book also features Kit’s budding romance with her best friend and fellow co-worker, Jett, and her family’s struggle to pay bills and afford college. I find that college, or books with seniors who are about to go to college, feels unrealistic at times in YA books, but I think the author had an honest depiction surrounding Kit being or not being able to afford to go to a four-year school right away. WhileThe Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly is overall a fun and really enjoyable read, it had such great & mature discussions surrounding gender, feminism, and growing pains, romance and college planning included. 

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Monica Hesse is one of my favorite historical fiction authors. Her latest release, They Went Left, was instantly added to my TBR as soon as I learned about it this past spring. I admit that while I still really enjoy historical fiction and now really think about it can be incorporated into the classroom, I am more critical about the genre now after finishing my major in English and minor in Holocaust Studies.

Set in 1945 Germany, They Went Left follows eighteen year old Zofia Lederman, who has recently been liberated from the Gross-Rosen concentration camp and heads home to reunite with her younger brother, Abek. Zofia knows that no other member of her family has survived the war, and she is on a quest to find her brother. After coming home to discover that there’s nothing left and Abek has not returned, she goes to a displaced person camp to find her brother. Through her book, Monica Hesse gets at the really important fact that Holocaust survivors’ struggle didn’t end as soon as the war ended and when camps were liberated. In her author’s note at the end, she acknowledges that Zofia’s story was based on the many stories of victims and survivors and their time living in displaced person camps after the war. Zofia is extremely focused on finding her brother, but she also has to think about how and where she is to reclaim her life after having lost everything. What I thought was especially interesting about the book is that Zofia’s memory is understandably very unreliable after her experience, so she struggles to distinguish between what really happened and what hasn’t – which makes it even hard to remember what her last memory of Abek actually was. Like other readers, I wanted more mystery and honestly a more complicated story, but I thought its ending somewhat made-up for its mystery. The book definitely nailed its purpose, but perhaps not its full potential. Nevertheless, like Monica Hesse’s other books, They Went Left is an equally heart-breaking and important read. 

Running by Natalia Sylvester 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I feel like YA contemporary books featuring a parent in a political campaign or who works in politics is such a niche genre but it definitely exists. If you’re like me and you enjoy this sub-genre, I highly recommend The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne, and even My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. These recommendations now include Running by Natalia Sylvester.

I forget how Natalia Sylvester’s Running made its way on to my TBR, but I’m so glad it did. As we get closer and closer to the election next month, I’m thinking we’ll see this book find its way on to more YA contemporary book recommendation lists. Running follows Mari, a Cuban American teen, whose father is a Florida senator and is running to be the democratic candidate for the presidential election. As the election and environmental issues creep more into Mari’s life at school, Mari finds herself actually learning about what her father’s campaign stands for – and figuring out her own beliefs.  

Regardless if the election was this year or not, Running felt like a super timely novel. Mari and her friends are really concerned about how their environment is changing. They live in the Miami area in Florida, which in the book is experiencing flooding and a contaminated water crisis (that I believe was based on real events in 2018). I really enjoyed Running because it focuses on Mari and her relationship with her parents and her friendships – i.e. there’s no romance. Everyone knows I love romance in YA, but it felt so refreshing to not have in there and honestly, I think it would’ve felt forced if it was! I think it would’ve been super interesting if Mari’s dad was the Democratic candidate, but his campaign is just about getting the Democratic nomination. Nevertheless, this book is really about Mari finding her voice and realizing she can be an advocate for change, regardless of who her family is and what they stand for in politics. 

What YA books have you read lately? Have you read any of the ones I reviewed? Share in the comments!

September 2020 Wrap Up

Is it me, or did September seriously fly by? I feel like it was just this weekend I was sitting on the beach for Labor Day- but more accurately, this weekend I was doing grad school work in between procrastinating, reading, and a few Netflix binges. September was another one of the months where while I’m happy I’m somewhat in a routine again between work, my clinical internship, and grad school classes, I just feel drained by the end of the day. Aside from blogging, I’m trying to avoid being on my laptop or screens, which is pretty difficult considering that my classes are online and 95% of my remote work and school work require me to be on my laptop.

Everyone knows that reading is my go-to way to relax, but I’ve been especially grateful for it lately because it’s such a great way to escape and also for me personally, doesn’t require a screen (sorry Kindle, but I’ll be sticking back to my physical books for a while).

I’m not only really content with the fact that I was able to read 9 books in September, but also because I enjoyed them all. While some of them weren’t exactly standouts, they were all pretty enjoyable reads, and I finally got to some books I’ve been meaning to read all year. I have reviews already published or coming for all of the books below. 

The Marriage Game by Sarah Desai | Stars

They Went Left by Monica Hesse | 4/5

All This Time by Mikki Daughty & Rachel Lippincott 

American Royals by Katharine McGee (reread) | 5/5 

Majesty (American Royals #2) by Katharine McGee | 4.5/5

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September 2020 Book Haul

One of the best ways to welcome in a new season is hauling ALL the books. I was very fortunate to receive a bunch of exciting releases this month from publishers & blog tours, I bought one of my most anticipated 2020 releases, and as per usual, borrowed a book or five from the library. 

Sent to Me/Provided by the Publisher 

Simon & Schuster sent me a package this month with four YA sci-fi and fantasy books that are & have come out this fall. The Nemesis by S.J. Kincaid is the last book in the Diabolic series, which has received great reviews from some of my book blogging friends. They also sent me book #2 in the Shatter the Sky series, Storm the Earth. I think I’m most excited to read Night Shine by Tessa Gratton because it’s been described as a romantic fantasy! It’s been a while since I’ve read a historical fantasy, so I’m excited to check out Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell in October. 

While I tend to reach for a fantasy or two in October and November, I also especially love thrillers this time of year. Just this weekend, Simon & Schuster also sent me two upcoming YA thrillers, Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett and Lies Like Poison by Chelsea Pitcher. I’m honestly about to switch up my TBR plans and pick up Those Who Prey immediately because of its college setting – a college freshman gets seduced to join a cult.  Lies Like Poison also sounds like such a unique and mysterious thriller read.

All this Time by Mikki Daughtry and Rachel Lippincott (ARC) – I participated in a blog tour for Mikki Daughtry and Rachel Lippincott’s All this Time earlier this month. I thought this was a deep YA read that is perfect for binge-reading and I could see myself picking up their debut, Six Feet Apart, some time in the future. 

Recommended For You by Laura Silverman – I received a finished copy of Laura Silverman’s Recommended For You, and I’m SO excited to add this one to my collection because it’s my new favorite YA holiday read. I participated in a blog tour for Recommended For You in the beginning of September. 

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A ROYAL SEQUEL: Majesty Review

I highly recommend reading Katharine McGee’s American Royals before reading this review because EVERYONE needs this YA royal contemporary read in their lives and while I will not be including spoilers for Majesty, I will be getting into spoilers for American Royals. Majesty is the second book in the American Royals series. 

Summary (from the publisher): 

Power is intoxicating. Like first love, it can leave you breathless. Princess Beatrice was born with it. Princess Samantha was born with less. Some, like Nina Gonzalez, are pulled into it. And a few will claw their way in. Ahem, we’re looking at you Daphne Deighton.

As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.

A new reign has begun….

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Majesty was among my MOST anticipated reads of 2020 – honestly, it might’ve been my most anticipated YA release! – especially because book #1, American Royals, was among my top 3 favorite books of 2019. American Royals spoke to the lifelong Princess Diaries fan that I am, as the book takes place in a present day America that is a monarchy instead of a democracy. Majesty takes place a few weeks after the ending of American Royals, with the Washingtons back in D.C.

I really didn’t know what to expect from Majesty, given American Royals’ slight cliffhanger. Beatrice was my favorite lead in book #1 and she remained so in this sequel. There’s just so, so much to explore about Beatrice, between her love triangle and her future as the first queen of America. Katharine McGee has created my favorite kind of, but most tormenting love triangle, aka the type where I adore both love interests and don’t know who I should be rooting for! Beatrice’s storyline was well-balanced between her love interests and determination to be the best leader she can be, while grieving over arguably the most significant person in her life and trying to sustain a better relationship with Samantha. I wish we saw more interaction between Beatrice and Jeff, but at the same time, Beatrice and Samantha’s sibling dynamic is my favorite. We really get to see Beatrice coming into her role as queen while also getting to see more of her personality shine, partially because of her growing bond with a certain someone and also because she just seems to be growing more and more into her confidence. I loved the messages surrounding female leadership. 

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A FEW MORE FAVORITES: September 2020 Mini Reviews

My September mini reviews might just be among my favorite mini review round-ups because I enjoyed these 3 books so, so much! 

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

I’ve been wanting to read One to Watch since it was a Book of the Month pick in May or June, but I decided to wait for my physical library copy to come in. Thanks to my college friends, I’ve finally gotten into The Bachelor franchise in 2020, so I loved One to Watch’s Bachelorette inspired synopsis. The book follows fashion blogger, Bea, who after drunkenly publishing a blog post about a reality dating show’s lack of diversity, is asked to be the show’s first plus size female lead. Bea agrees to the gig, promising to herself and her producer that she won’t fall in love.

One to Watch is officially one of my favorite books of 2020. It definitely falls into the contemporary romance category, but I actually loved that there wasn’t a ton of steam. The book is really about Bea (and her journey to finding love, as Chris Harrison might say). I really loved the novel’s format, as Bea’s story is told through blog posts, news articles, tweets, and her own perspective. Each chapter features some sort of multimedia format, while focusing on one episode of Bea’s season. I love how much liberty Kate Stayman-London took with Main Squeeze – it was an even more thinly version of The Bachelor than I was expecting. Swap roses with kisses and you basically have the same show! Much of Bea’s struggle with dating on the show has to do with the fact that so many of the 25 guys see her for her weight, not her self. Kate Stayman-London’s take on diversity, including the plus-sized community, on reality TV felt so real and timely! There was such a great balance between these conversations and the reality show premise and romance. As soon as I finished reading it, I immediately texted my friends in our Bachelor group chat and told them to pick it up. Read More »

End of Summer Recap Book Tag ft. My Favorite Summer Reads

Summer is my favorite reading season of the year. I tend to read the most during summer between the time off from school and reading alongside my favorite summertime activities, aka going to the beach & hanging by the pool. I also really dive into contemporaries I’ve been holding off from reading to save as the perfect summertime reads! With the exception of a few summer-like days, fall weather has arrived where I live. My friends and I are planning a weekend to go apple or pumpkin picking! I made the most delicious apple pie with coffee crumb topping from apples I picked last year, and I cannot wait to recreate it. 

With fall officially starting  tomorrow, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my summer reading with the End of Summer Book Tag. I saw this tag on Kristin Kraves Book, and I thought it was the perfect way to wrap up my summer reading without listing all the books I read or choosing 20 favorites (see the end of this post for some favorites though). While my summer definitely starts in May and does wrap up in September, today’s books are from the summer months, June, July, & August. During Summer 2020, I read 44 books! 

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

What book can you not stop thinking about?

If there’s one book that I can’t stop thinking about because I’m trying to get all my friends IRL to read it, it’s none other than Kate Stayman-London’s One to Watch. If you’ve been on the blog this year, you’ll know that for better or worse, I got into The Bachelor franchise. I loved this book’s Bachelor vibes – picture Bachelor meets Love Island with a female lead who’s a blogger & plus-sized. One to Watch felt so relevant to the conversations and issues surrounding diversity on Bachelor. As soon as I finished One to Watch, I immediately texted my friends in our Bachelor group chat and told them to pick it up. Otherwise, I’m thinking this might be everyone’s holiday gift in December? 

Which book would you rather not have read?

I thought I was going to LOVE Tessa Bailey’s Fix Her Up because so many people I know have adored this one, but I really wish I had actually DNF’ed it. Never have I ever disliked a male romance protagonist so much…. until I picked up the sequel companion, Love Her or Lose Her, and disliked that lead even more… 

What genre did you read the most?

Contemporary as usual! I haven’t tracked my reading stats in a spreadsheet (yet), but after doing a quick tally, I did read more adult & new adult contemporary than YA this summer. 

Which book surprised you the most?

Maybe it’s because its election season and let’s face it, an extremely heated political time in the U.S. right now, but I can’t stop thinking about Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld. I wasn’t necessarily surprised that I loved it, but I’m still in awe of how this book felt so real and was based on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life, but at the same was fictional and had so, so many what-if moments.Read More »

ROMANTIC YA CONTEMPORARY: All This Time Review

Summary (from the publisher):

From the team behind #1 New York Times bestseller Five Feet Apart comes a gripping new romance that asks: Can you find true love after losing everything?

Kyle and Kimberly have been the perfect couple all through high school, but when Kimberly breaks up with him on the night of their graduation party, Kyle’s entire world upends—literally. Their car crashes and when he awakes, he has a brain injury. Kimberly is dead. And no one in his life could possibly understand.

Until Marley. Marley is suffering from her own loss, a loss she thinks was her fault. And when their paths cross, Kyle sees in her all the unspoken things he’s feeling.

As Kyle and Marley work to heal each other’s wounds, their feelings for each other grow stronger. But Kyle can’t shake the sense that he’s headed for another crashing moment that will blow up his life as soon as he’s started to put it back together.

And he’s right.

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, AudibleB&N Exclisive Edition, iBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

I’ve been making my way BACK to my one true love, YA contemporary, in August & September, which led me to pick up Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott’s upcoming release, All This Time. I haven’t yet read their absolute hit, Five Feet Apart, but maybe I will soon because I so easily fell into their second book! All This Time follows Kyle’s worst nightmare turned true. As high school sweethearts Kyle and Kimberley break up on the night of their graduation, they get into a car accident. When Kyle wakes up from his brain injury, he finds out Kimberley died in the accident. Kyle struggles with his pain and grief, feeling like no one can possibly understand what he’s going through, except for Marley, a girl who’s suffering from a loss of her own. Despite that Kyle works through his grief with Marley by his side, he can’t help but feel that everything can’t be as right as it seems. 

All This Time reminded me of why I fell in love with YA contemporary & romances. This book would’ve been one of my favorite reads back in high school because it just speaks so much to first love and heartbreak. Kyle’s story of course takes on very tragic and somber tone, but Mikki Daughty and Rachel Lippincott’s writing style was very easy to fall into. I read the book in 2 or 3 sittings, but I definitely recommend breezing through this one on a cozy night in this fall. It’s also had been a while since I read a YA with a male protagonist or narrated by the lead male character, but I think Kyle’s storytelling was very relatable to anyone who’s suffered from loss or going through first love. 

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Top Five Wednesday: Romance Books I Should Read 

Today’s Top Five Wednesday topic is called “Reader Canon,” where we are prompted to talked about books that everyone in our bookish community has read. We can take this topic in any direction we’d like, whether that’’s by talking about five books we consider to be must reads, books we want to read, or books we just haven’t read. I’m going to take the second direction and talk about some contemporary romances I want to pick up.. eventually! I always tend to have books in the back of my mind or on my TBR that I know I should read. When I’m in the mood for that said genre or book, I usually just go to the library and pick it up that day! 

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – I feel guilty calling myself a contemporary romance reader when I haven’t read one of the most popular contemporary romance reads, The Kiss Quotient. This is a case of the hype keeping me away, but I know I’ll likely pick it up one day at the library. 

The Happily Ever After (The Friend Zone #2) by Abby Jimenez – The Happily Ever After completely took over my Instagram and blog feeds this spring. I know The Happily Ever After is the companion novel/second book to The Friend Zone, and while I believe there’s spoilers for the first book, so many people have said that you don’t need to read the first book to absolutely fall in love with this one. Read More »