Adult Romance & Contemporary Love: March 2020 Mini Reviews

I’ve actually done a pretty good job of writing full reviews for most of the books I’ve read so far in 2020. I’ll have more reviews coming in the next few weeks as more spring releases coming out, but today I’ll be sharing reviews that fall into slightly different adult fiction categories and are both well-read and much-loved: Christina Lauren’s Roomies and Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana.

Roomies by Christina Lauren

81Knrobp2wLMy Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I’ve made it my recent mission to eat up as many Christina Lauren books as possible, which led me to Roomies. I feel like anyone and everyone was reading Roomies back when it came out in 2017, and I felt like it was finally time for me to pick it up! Plus, how could I not further delay a contemporary romance with an Irish male protagonist??

Roomies follows Holland Baker, an aspiring writer who makes too many excuses to stop at the subway station near her apartment to listen to her street-musician crush, Calvin. When Holland’s musical director of an uncle is in desperate need of a lead musician for his hit Broadway show, Holland gets Calvin an audition. The problem? Calvin is in the US illegally, since his student visa expired years ago. The solution? Holland marries the Irishman.

Roomies was such a light-hearted, rom-com journey for Holland and Calvin. While Holland is absolutely head-over-heels for Calvin from the get-go, this book is really about them finding their passion and love for one another. You better believe that the Irish girl that I am absolutely squealed out loud when Calvin gives Holland a gold claddaugh ring. The symbol- love, loyalty, and friendship- sums up their relationship! I also loved the little reminders that Calvin is Irish and has an accent,like  pronouncing “things” like “tings.” The book does take a while to really set the stage (no musical-puns intended) and get the plot going, but I really liked getting to know Holland her life. Yes, the marriage and romance (and yes, the romance scenes towards the end were so good!) are at its heart, but I loved Holland’s uncles and how they act as her support system. Many contemporary romance and Broadway lovers will especially enjoy Roomies’ settings, as it takes place in the NYC theater world. Holland, Calvin, and her uncle, Robert, have such a genuine love for music, and I loved seeing Holland embrace its place in her life even though she isn’t a musician. After finishing Roomies, I basically added all the Christina Lauren books I haven’t yet read to my TBR!Read More »

YA DEBUT & MORE CONTEMPORARY READS: January Mini Reviews

It’s no surprise that contemporary marked the ending of my 2019 reading and the start of my 2020 reading!

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

44281034Phil Stamper’s YA debut novel, The Gravity of Us, was the first 2020 release and first completed book in my new reading year. The book’s unique premise really caught my attention back at Book Expo 2019. The Gravity of Us is narrated by Cal, a Brooklyn-based social media star whose life is upended when his dad is chosen for NASA’s mission to Mars. Cal’s family moves to Texas and lives with this other astronauts’ families, which includes the quiet and attractive Leon. Cal deals with a reality TV show about the space mission, his future living under his dad’s dream, and his mutual attraction to Leon.

The premise of The Gravity of Us really delivered. The whole NASA/Mars mission was very well-done and as somewhat unexpected, the setting was very different than other YA contemporary books. I really liked when Phil Stamper delved into some NASA or space history facts, as Cal’s neighborhood in Texas is a replica of the 1960s and 70s astro-family communities. Much of this has to do with StarWatch, a reality TV show tracking the mission and the lives of the astronauts and their families. I’m still not sure how I feel about the reality TV element. On the one hand, it added another layer of tension, as Cal sees right through the reality show, but on the other hand, it added a lot of unnecessary tension. While I loved reading about the NASA narrative, there was a lot in the StarWatch vs. NASA battle that was hard to follow. The other main element that I unfortunately was not the biggest fan of was Leon and Cal’s chemistry. Cal admires Leon from afar in the beginning, it’s hinted by Leon’s sister that Leon finds Cal attractive too, and all of a sudden, they’re flirting and then they’re somewhat dating??

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Overall, I enjoyed the premise of The Gravity of Us and its space-centric plot that actually had a lot of family development, as Cal and his parents contend with their different dreams and aspirations for their family. Yet, I was not a fan of the book’s writing style and romantic relationship development.

The Gravity of Us comes out on February 4, 2020.

This review is based on an advance uncorrected proof. By no means did receiving this review copy affect my thoughts or opinions.

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

megjoIn honor of the new Little Women film, I dove back into the world of one of my favorite classics with Virginia Kantra’s Meg & Jo. Meg & Jo is a modern retelling of the classic, following Jo’s life living as a struggling professional writer and successful food blogger in New York City and Meg’s life being married and raising two children while feeling like she must take care of anything and everything. When the March sisters’ mother becomes ill over the holidays, the four March girls return home for the holidays. Having read this book in December, I loved Meg and Jo’s holiday spirit. This is the perfect kind of holiday reads for readers who may not be looking for books that scream Christmas, but still involve a festive atmospheric or stories where the backdrop is Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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ROMANCE  & CONTEMPORARY LOVE: Fall Mini Reviews

Monthly mini reviews are hit or miss for me, depending on the amount of books I read and if I have enough thoughts & feels to dedicate entire reviews for them. I read the following three books- a new adult romance from my favorite NA author, an adult romance from a much loved writing duo, and a debut contemporary- in October and November 2019.

The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Ever since I read the last book in the Off-Campus series back in May, I have been highly looking forward to starting Elle Kennedy’s spin-off series, Briar U. The series follows new and old characters involved in new relationships in the (hot) hockey playing world that is the fictional Briar University. The Chase follows Summer, the sister of Dean (the male lead in The Score), as she transfers to Briar U after being kicked out of her Ivy league school after a freaky sorority party accident. When she’s not welcome into Briar U’s chapter, Summer finds herself living with three of the Briar U hockey players, including the tattoo-covered, quiet, artistic and video-game designer Colin, otherwise known as Fitz.

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I was so excited when I found out The Chase’s male lead was Fitz because he was one of my favorite secondary characters in Off-Campus. Summer and Fitz definitely have a slow burn romance, as the two spend the majority of the book not being together. I wish their relationship had progressed sooner, in that nothing really happens in the book until their relationship really begins to bloom. However, I loved getting to follow the characters and their everyday. Much of Summer’s everyday follows her life as a fashion major, dealing with a creepy professor, and the struggles that come with her learning disability. Elle Kennedy incorporates a lot of mature themes with #MeToo vibes. Set in his senior year, Fitz finds himself competing for a full time position at a big video game company.

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CONTEMPORARY HEARTS: May Mini Reviews

Book reviews are among my favorite blog posts to write. However, I sometimes struggle articulating reviews for books that I might’ve really enjoyed, but don’t know what exactly to say about them. I’ve read the following books in April and May, and they include: a book by a much beloved contemporary author, a 2018 release that hasn’t received too much attention, a vey much hyped and loved book, and a VERY current read.

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First & Then by Emma Mills

Rating: 4/5 Stars

After really enjoying This Adventure Ends, I decided to go back and read Emma Mills books in publication order. Not only was I just genuinely excited to pick up her first book, First & Then, but its Friday Night Lights meets Pride and Prejudice premise had me sold at the get-go. You’ll know from my wrap-ups that Friday Night Lights is one of my most recent all-time favorite TV shows that has transformed into a more recent obsession with football documentary series. While I wouldn’t call it Friday Night Lights, I enjoyed First & Then’s football aspect. I thought it was really accessible to readers who may or may not be familiar with the sport.

First & Then is not really a plot-driven story, but rather focuses on relationship growth. Devon is figuring out relationships with many people in her life: her cousin, Foster, who has just moved in with her family; Cas, her best friend, who she’s always had feelings for; Ezra, the star running back, who unexpectedly chooses Devon as his gym class partner. Devon also must do some self-exploration, trying to figure out if she even wants to go to college. I didn’t mind that First & Then is quiet and on the shorter side, but I felt that the plot needed more. Although this book is very much about character and relationship growth, nothing much really eventful happens aside from the formation of Devon’s one relationship. I recommend this book for readers looking for quiet YA or a quick read on a beach or pool day this summer.

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IMG_6321Tell Me No Lies by Adele Griffin

Rating: 4/5 Stars

 I had wanted to read a book by Adele Griffin for a long time. I decided on Tell Me No Lies mostly for its late 1980s backdrop, and yes, its gorgeous cover. Its mixed reviews on Goodreads made me put it off reading it for a little longer than I should have, but I am trying to somewhat prioritize books on my physical/owned TBR. Ultimately, I ended up really enjoying Tell Me No Lies! I really liked Adele Griffin’s writing style, especially for the book’s atmosphere. Our protagonist, Lizzy, rebels from her suburban and over-achiever life during her senior year and explores night life and the art scene in Philadelphia with the new girl in school.

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