BLOG TOUR – People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

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Title: People We Meet on Vacation

Author: Emily Henry

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: May 11th, 2021

384 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Photo credit to Devyn Glista St. Blanc Studios

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Review

People We Meet on Vacation follows Alex and Poppy, best friends from college who traditionally take a trip every summer with each other – except the last two years when something horrible happened, and they haven’t spoken since. Poppy is feeling stagnant in life without Alex, so she wants to restart the trips but isn’t sure if Alex will want to hear from her. Told in alternating time lines, we read past vacations Poppy & Alex took along with how the present day trip goes.

What I really liked about this book was the characters, especially Alex. In terms of trope, this definitely fits the grumpy/sunshine trope for characters, which is a favorite of mine. I liked reading about the start of their friendship in college and how different they were, but how they built the long lasting friendship. Even their families were complete opposites but in a fun way.

However, I had a hard time with the pacing of the book with the alternating timeline. I kept getting disconnected from the story and pulled away from it. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, though I respect why it was chosen to end that way. It just doesn’t fit the mold of a romance book that I prefer, and that’s okay! It’s not a reason not to read this book by any means.

If you read Beach Read, definitely check out this next one from Emily Henry.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Roommate by Rosie Danan

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Title: The Roommate (The Roommate #1)

Author: Rosie Danan

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: September 15th, 2020

325 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

House Rules:
Do your own dishes.
Knock before entering the bathroom.
Never look up your roommate online.

The Wheatons are infamous among the east coast elite for their lack of impulse control, except for their daughter Clara. She’s the consummate socialite: over-achieving, well-mannered, predictable. But every Wheaton has their weakness. When Clara’s childhood crush invites her to move cross-country, the offer is too much to resist. Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true.

After a bait-and-switch, Clara finds herself sharing a lease with a charming stranger. Josh might be a bit too perceptive—not to mention handsome—for comfort, but there’s a good chance he and Clara could have survived sharing a summer sublet if she hadn’t looked him up on the Internet…

Once she learns how Josh has made a name for himself, Clara realizes living with him might make her the Wheaton’s most scandalous story yet. His professional prowess inspires her to take tackling the stigma against female desire into her own hands. They may not agree on much, but Josh and Clara both believe women deserve better sex. What they decide to do about it will change both of their lives, and if they’re lucky, they’ll help everyone else get lucky too.

Review

“Some fears kill us. They drain us our whole lives, and we die filled with regret. But this isn’t one of those fears. Make a plan.”

Rosie Danan, The Roommate

First things first – this book is STEAMY. Be aware of this going in!! Many open door scenes with a lot of description and detail. I say this as I know many people who don’t prefer this in books – but when the main character is a porn star I didn’t expect anything less. Steamy books are my jam, but this one had me fanning my face.

I found the main plot of The Roommate to be vaguely unbelievable just with the huge difference between the two main characters. It seemed unrealistic that Clara goes from being a completely tight laced woman to funding a sexual education venture. That’s just me. I thoroughly enjoyed this book don’t get me wrong, there is just some suspension of belief required to read it in my opinion.

I loved how confident Josh was not only in himself, but also in his profession. I personally am of the opinion that sex work is fine as long as it’s practiced consensually and by individuals who are of age. And I wholeheartedly respect reading about a man who is involved in this line of work and thriving in it unabashedly. I also love his growth throughout the book as he learns there is more to relationships than casual sex and that he is capable of lasting love. To be honest, I loved this book from start to finish and the journey was so worth it.

I truly LOVED Naomi as a side character, and I’m so excited to read her story in The Intimacy Experiment! Just waiting for my library hold to come through!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

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Title: Second First Impressions

Author: Sally Thorne

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication date: April 13th, 2021

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

Review

After reading The Hating Game, I was sold on Sally Thorne for life. Second First Impressions is quite different from her previous books, but still very good. This book is more on the sweet and swoony side, rather than the hot and heavy – which might be a welcome change for some readers!

The romance in this book can definitely be defined as a slow burn that you’re just breathlessly waiting for to be taken to the next level. There are some starts and stutters before roaring to life at the end. I loved Ruthie’s character the most, along with the Biddies and the turtles! The fact that Teddy became best buds with a turtle is just beautiful to me. Ruthie being written as a millennial who is more conservative with her attire and actions is a great change of pace. All women are valid, and I appreciate reading a wide array of personalities and preferences in romance.

I wasn’t the hugest fan of Teddy, to be honest. He really started off on the wrong foot with me based on his first interaction with Ruthie and just never seemed to make up for it. I personally think a better apology should’ve been written – but that’s just me. I couldn’t help holding it against the character throughout the book, even though he truly did redeem himself throughout it.

The ending left much to be desired for me, but I appreciated the growth Ruthie went through to get to that point. I’m very picky with romance novel endings, I only want to have it go one particular way – so I don’t hold it against books that don’t follow my preferred ending in terms of ratings. That would be silly!

I hope you enjoy Sally Thorne’s latest!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

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Title: Twice Shy

Author: Sarah Hogle

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication date: April 6th, 2021

320 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Can you find real love when you’ve always got your head in the clouds?

Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

Review

“I never want anyone to hold me again if they don’t hold me like this.”

Sarah Hogle, Twice Shy

I absolutely loved Sarah’s first book, You Deserve Each Other, so I knew Twice Shy was a book I wanted to read – and it did not disappoint me.

I will say, the beginning to middle is a bit slow, as you get to know Maybell and her life starts to change. The story line didn’t quite go the way I was expecting based on the beginning, but that’s okay! The unexpected is good. The tension between the two was so well written, especially the part where they finally kiss? And what Wesley says??? (You’ll have to read to understand!!!!) My heart *swoon*.

I adored Wesley. Like, talk about a grumpy/sunshine pairing! And the anxiety representation was SO GOOD. It was so fun watching these two start to enjoy each other, especially while they were fixing up Violet’s house and working on it. There is some suspension of belief issues I have – how did they afford to do this? But, it’s a work of fiction! So I don’t hold this against the title at all.

I loved the setting and all of the quirks that the two have. This is one of those books that comes to you at the perfect time and hits you right in the feels – so you give it 5 stars and overlook some of the issues. So, I know not everyone will read this and automatically think “this is a 5 star read”, but again – THAT’S OKAY. This is just my opinion – and I freaking loved it.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Cool For the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Title: Cool For the Summer

Author: Dahlia Adler

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication date: May 11th, 2021

272 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.

Review

Cool for the Summer chronicles Lara’s summer before senior year, and senior year, told in split time lines – bouncing back and forth. Before Lara spent the summer with Jasmine, her mom’s boss’ daughter, Lara was obsessed with Chase, high school quarterback and overall amazing guy. But when Lara and Jasmine start a romance over the summer, Lara questions her identity. Jasmine ends up moving to Lara’s school for senior year, but it seems like she wants nothing to do with Lara – and when Chase finally notices Lara, how can she say no to the guy she’s wanted forever? But, why can’t she get Jasmine out of her head?

I LOVED this book so much. I loved the back and forth timelines, the slow dump of information from the summer and present times, and the journey Lara takes of self discovery. For a book on the shorter side, less than 300 pages, it sure covered a lot of ground and really built a story around Lara’s love story. Cool For the Summer really highlights high school love, and how what you think you want isn’t always what you want the most.

I appreciated the discussion Dahlia Adler wove into the book around biphobia, LGBTQ issues, and diversity. Lara struggles with her attraction to another female after believing she was straight for a long time. I can only imagine how important this story could be for someone feeling similarly and not sure how to handle it. I encourage everyone to read this story, especially if you love diverse YA Contemporary.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Life’s a Beach by Portia MacIntosh

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Title: Life’s A Beach

Author: Portia MacIntosh

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication date: May 5th, 2021

287 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sun, sea and inescapable exes…

Peach is excited to hear that her sister, Di, is getting married. Of course, she would have preferred her little sister to be engaged to someone she’s known longer than a week – and the fact that his name is Charles doesn’t bode well – but who is she to judge?! After all, her own love life is non-existent, and who doesn’t love a destination wedding…?

Whisked away to the gorgeous Italian coast, Peach assumes her role as chief bridesmaid and, despite her reservations about the groom, she tries to ensure everything goes to plan.

But weddings are never straightforward affairs… throw in some unexpected guests in the form of ex-boyfriends and one night stands, and soon enough there is more drama than a reality tv show.

Can Peach keep the show on the road, or might she end up in a whirlwind romance of her own…?

Review

I’m a huge fan of Portia MacIntosh’s book so every time one loads on Netgalley I race to request it and cross my fingers. They are always so delightful and charming, set in the UK without being extra confusing for us foreigners who don’t fully understand the lingo. Life’s a Beach is no different.

Peach is a mystery shopper, paid to review brands by pretending to be customers. She meets Matt at the airport when her sister’s and his friend’s plane gets delayed – so she asks him to join her on her hotel mystery shopper experience that evening on a whim. One thing leads to another, and she wakes up alone in a hotel room – and Matt is gone. When her sister gets engaged after a week long relationship, and plans the wedding for the following week in Italy, Peach will do anything to stop the wedding – including inviting her sister’s ex to the wedding (not on purpose!), only to find out the groom to be is the man she lost her virginity to, and he’s you guessed it, Matt’s best friend.

Confused yet? Don’t be, there are so many entanglements on this wedding holiday which leads to hilarious hijinks, awkward moments, and secrets aplenty. Life’s a Beach is short but charming, and has several different romance stories wrapped into one book. I would personally rethink the ending, I don’t think it fits perfectly well, but that’s the only critical feedback I would provide. Just wasn’t to my taste.

**Thank you to Boldwood Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Vicious Spirits by Kat Cho

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Title: Vicious Spirits (Gumiho #2)

Author: Kat Cho

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication date: August 18th, 2020

429 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

As Vicious Spirits begins, Miyoung and Jihoon are picking up the pieces of their broken lives following the deaths of Miyoung’s mother, Yena, and Jihoon’s grandmother. With the support of their friend Somin, and their frenemy, Junu, they might just have a shot at normalcy. But Miyoung is getting sicker and sicker by the day and her friends don’t know how to save her. With few options remaining, Junu has an idea but it might require the ultimate sacrifice and, let’s be honest, Junu isn’t known for his “generosity.” Meanwhile, the events at the end of Wicked Fox have upended the forces that govern life and death and there are supernatural entities lurking in the background that will stop at nothing to right their world.

Review

“As with any tragedy, it came about because he loved.”

Kat Cho, Vicious Spirits

As a companion novel to Wicked Fox, Vicious Spirits exceeded my expectations. Not a true sequel as it focuses on Somin and Junu’s story instead of an extension of Miyoung and Jihoon’s – but it picks up shortly after Wick Fox ends. Miyoung is dealing with the consequences of not having her fox bead, and the friends are looking for ways to save her as the world starts to get more confusing. Junu may be the only creature who can help Miyoung, and the last person that Miyoung trusts. And Junu will need to give up a lot to help, including the new feelings he has for Somin.

Truly, I enjoyed this follow up more than Wicked Fox. I found Wicked Fox to be good, but not very exciting or gripping. I felt very differently about Vicious Spirits, which could be due to the characters or an improved story line and writing by the author. The pacing and flow of events seemed a lot more seamless and the events that transpired felt necessary. There were plenty of emotional moments, and I loved that it wasn’t a true sequel, but you still got to see a lot of Miyoung and Jihoon – just through the lens of other characters.

I would have loved more from the ending, however it was written very emotionally and I was drawn in – but I felt like something was lacking. Really that would be my only critique. I love this fantasy mixed with magical realism and fantastical creatures and magic blend with real life and the real world. Also, this cover is LIFE.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – It Had To Be You by Georgia Clark

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Title: It Had To Be You

Author: Georgia Clark

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Publication date: May 4th, 2021

384 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The author of the novel The Bucket List returns with a witty and heartfelt romantic comedy featuring a wedding planner, her unexpected business partner, and their coworkers in a series of linked love stories—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Casey McQuiston.

For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love in New York, Brooklyn’s beloved wedding-planning business. When Eliot dies unexpectedly, he even more unexpectedly leaves half of the business to his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah. Liv and Savannah are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.

It Had to Be You cleverly unites Liv, Savannah, and couples as diverse and unique as New York City itself, in a joyous Love-Actually-style braided narrative. The result is a smart, modern love story that truly speaks to our times. Second chances, secret romance, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this sexy, tender, and utterly charming rom-com.

Review

It Had To Be You is the book version of the movie Valentine’s Day and I LOVED it. Going into this book I thought it would be one love story but I was surprised with MANY different love stories! Each character was interconnected with other characters and went through their own unique journey. This book is truly about the journey of life, the friends you meet along the way, and second chance romance.

It starts off with Savannah and Liv, brought together when Liv’s husband dies and leaves half of their wedding planning business to Savannah – his mistress. From these two unlikely business partners, several love stories off shoot with people in their lives (including their own love stories!). There is also a great story arc about a character questioning her sexual identity and discovering who she is.

I really found this book to be charming and dleightful, a breath of fresh air. Romance in similar, yet new forms. I recommend it for the romantics at heart, who love to read love stories of all shapes and sizes. However, many of the stories bring out very serious topics – interracial dating, open relationships, dating after abuse or mistreatment, etc. It hits on so many important, but real, topics.

TW: description of domestic violence, abuse

Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

May TBR – 2021 Edition

Happy May! I get married this month, so I’m not planning to read too many books. If you read my April Wrap Up post, you’ll know that I am working on downsizing my monthly TBR’s and do more mood reading, especially with how busy this month is. So, I’m only going to highlight the ARCs that I need to get to this month, and leave the other books I read up to my mood!

It’s a bit of a scary process, because I often have a hard time picking what books to read if I’m not very strict about the books I read. But, I need to be flexible and my mind is telling me I need to take it easy right now with my mental health. So, we’re trying this new thing this month, and we’ll see how it goes!

So, the ARCs I plan to read are below!

ARCS

  1. The Tower of Fools (Hussite Trilogy #1), Andrzej Sapkowski
  2. These Feathered Flames (These Feathered Flames #1), Alexandra Overy
  3. The House of Always (A Chorus of Dragons #4), Jenn Lyons
  4. The Soulmate Equation, Christina Lauren
  5. People We Meet on Vacation, Emily Henry
  6. Life’s a Beach, Portia MacIntosh
  7. Tools of a Thief, D. Hale Rambo
  8. The Queen Will Betray You (Kingdoms of Sand and Sky #2), Sarah Henning

I will of course read more books than this – I recently took a bunch of books out of the library and I have an overflowing TBR cart of books to read at home. I also have the 12 Reads from 12 Friends challenge to continue on, but you’ll have to see which books those are at the end of the month. These are the only books I’m strongly urging myself to finish this month!

Happy reading, folks!

April Wrap Up – 2021 Edition

April wasn’t the best reading month for me, about halfway through I got very unmotivated to read and didn’t pick up a book for 10 days. So I threw my TBR out the window and just checked a bunch of romance books out of the library to end the month. And honestly, it was the best decision I’ve made reading wise in a long time. Sometimes, you just need to mood read, and I was not in the mood for any of the books I thought I “should” be reading.

To hell with what you “should” read. My new philosophy is to read what I want, at least until my wedding is over and I can focus more on reading. I still plan on reading ARCs and fulfilling my publisher requirements as much as I can, but I’m going to be much more free spirited about it for the next few months.

So below is my full wrap up. Still managed 14 books even though it was a harder reading month for me.

PHYSICAL

  1. Vicious Spirits (Gumiho #2), Kat Cho – 4/5 stars
  2. Crier’s War (Crier’s War #1), Nina Varela – 4/5 stars

EBOOKS

  1. The Ex Talk, Rachel Lynn Solomon – 4.5/5 stars
  2. Twice Shy, Sarah Hogle – 5/5 stars
  3. Second First Impressions, Sally Thorne – 4/5 stars
  4. The Roommate, Rosie Danan – 4/5 stars
  5. Much Ado About You, Samantha Young – 4/5 stars
  6. Ten Rules for Faking It – 4/5 stars

ARCS

  1. Before I Saw You, Emily Houghton – 4/5 stars
  2. Dustborn, Erin Bowman – 3.5/5 stars
  3. Hurricane Summer, Asha Bromfield – 4/5 stars
  4. It Had to Be You, Georgia Clark – 4/5 stars
  5. The Secret Bridesmaid, Katy Birchall – 4/5 stars
  6. Talk Bookish to Me, Katie Bromley – 3/5 stars

Did we read any of the same books? Any on your TBR? Let me know!

Happy reading, folks!