June Wrap Up – 2021 Edition

I’m sorry this wrap up post is so late – but I’ve been dealing with a random bout of Bell’s Palsy on the right side of my face so everything is a lot more difficult than normal. I don’t have much to say for this post to be honest, I wasn’t able to read the last few days of the month and it really derailed my plans. Trying to stay positive and hope that I regain use of my face soon.

PHYSICAL

  1. Spoiler Alert (Spoiler Alert #1), Olivia Dade – 4/5 stars
  2. Iron Heart (Crier’s War #2), Nina Varela – 4/5 stars
  3. Conventionally Yours (True Colors #1), Annabeth Albert – 4/5 stars
  4. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1), Leigh Bardugo – 5/5 stars (REREAD)
  5. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2), Leigh Bardugo – 5/5 stars (REREAD)

EBOOKS

  1. A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses #5), Sarah J. Maas – 5/5 stars (REREAD)
  2. The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate #2), Rosie Danan – 4/5 stars
  3. Circe, Madeline Miller – 3/5 stars
  4. Yes & I Love You (Say Everything #1), Roni Loren – 5/5 stars
  5. Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters #3), Talia Hibbert – 5/5 stars (REREAD)

ARCS

  1. These Feathered Flames (These Feathered Flames #1), Alexandria Overy – 4/5 stars
  2. The House of Always (A Chorus of Dragons #4), Jenn Lyons – 4/5 stars
  3. The Tragedy of Dane Riley, Kat Spears – 3/5 stars
  4. Between You, Me, and the Honeybees, Amelia Diane Coombs – 4/5 stars
  5. Where It All Lands, Jennie Wexler – 4/5 stars
  6. Ace of Spades, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé – 5/5 stars
  7. The Bookshop of Forgotten Dreams, Emily Blaine – 4/5 stars
  8. The Beach Reads Book Club, Kathryn Freeman – 4/5 stars
  9. To Sir, with Love, Lauren Layne – 4/5 stars
  10. Out of Character (True Colors #2), Annabeth Albert – 4/5 stars
  11. What If You & Me (Say Everything #2), Roni Loren – 4.5/5 stars

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren

53439441

Title: Yes & I Love You (Say Everything #1)

Author: Roni Loren

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: March 2nd, 2021

352 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone knows Miz Poppy, the vibrant reviewer whose commentary brightens the New Orleans nightlife. But no one knows Hollyn, the real face behind the media star…or the fear that keeps her isolated. When her boss tells her she needs to add video to her blog or lose her job, she’s forced to rely on an unexpected source to help her face her fears.

When aspiring actor Jasper Deares finds out the shy woman who orders coffee every day is actually Miz Poppy, he realizes he has a golden opportunity to get the media attention his acting career needs. All he has to do is help Hollyn come out of her shell…and through their growing connection, finally find her voice.

A beautifully emotional new contemporary romance from New York Times and USA Today bestseller Roni Loren.

Review

“Fear is there to protect us, but fear is also what gets us stuck.”

Roni Loren, Yes & I Love You

So I just got married, but after this book I may need to be on the lookout for my own Jasper Deares because guuuuurl *fans self* I need him in my life. It’s been a long time since I stayed up late to finish a book (I’m old now friends) but I threw all my cares away and stayed up until 3am to finish this one. I may have somewhat regretted it in the morning when the coffee didn’t help and I had to work, but I had no regrets in the moment.

I gave this book a 5 star rating for many reasons: the representation (our MC has Tourette’s and anxiety and it is handled WELL), the steam level (several open door scenes with descriptions), the dialogue and banter between the characters, and the development of the characters over the story arc. It was all superb. Like I finished the book and all I could think was “Wow”.

This book hit at the right time for me. I am still feeling in a romance mood after getting married, and this one hit me right in the feels. I am super stoked to have an ARC of the companion novel, What If You & Me which comes out in July! Please come back to check my review for that one because I have high hopes! Roni Loren may be an auto-read romance author for me now!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning

43603825. sy475

Title: The Princess Will Save You (Kingdoms of Sand and Sky #1)

Author: Sarah Henning

Publisher: Tor Teen

Publication date: July 7th, 2020

368 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The Princess Will Save You is a YA fantasy adventure inspired by The Princess Bride, in which a princess must rescue her stable boy true love, from the acclaimed author of Sea Witch, Sarah Henning.

When a princess’s commoner true love is kidnapped to coerce her into a political marriage, she doesn’t give in—she goes to rescue him.

When her warrior father, King Sendoa, mysteriously dies, Princess Amarande of Ardenia is given what would hardly be considered a choice: Marry a stranger at sixteen or lose control of her family’s crown.

But Amarande was raised to be a warriornot a sacrifice.

In an attempt to force her choice, a neighboring kingdom kidnaps her true love, stable boy Luca. With her kingdom on the brink of civil war and no one to trust, she’ll need all her skill to save him, her future, and her kingdom.

Review

“True love is the most powerful force on this earth- we just forget it because those with power here deal in fear rather than love.”

Sarah Henning, The Princess Will Save You

The Princess Will Save You is billed as being inspired by the Princess Bride, which should have told me from that jump that this might not be my favorite – because I didn’t like the Princess Bride! But, I’m an optimist at heart & I simply can’t refuse a YA fantasy with a cover like that. I mean come on, it’s gorgeous! Charlie Bowater’s work is amazing and for someone who definitely judges a book by it’s cover, Charlie sure gets the job done.

But continuing on with why it wasn’t my favorite. It’s not bad as a YA fantasy, at all. There is a lot of intrigue, political motivations and backstabbing, adventures with pirates and kidnappers, and all in the pursuit of finding your one true love. The world-building is incredibly interesting and the writing is evocative.

So you may be asking, if all these great characteristics are alive and well in this book, why the average 3 star rating? Why wasn’t it my favorite? Well friends, I introduce you to the main characters – Amarande and Luca. Who both barely have a personality to speak of and don’t even seem to have chemistry, even though they’ve supposedly been in love since they were children. But they never talked about it. But they knew. Really, my main issue with this book is how little time was spent on giving the MC’s any interesting qualities.

However with that being said, there was an interesting reveal at the end and I do intend to read the sequel, The Queen Will Betray You, which publishes July 7th with Tor Teen as they kindly sent me an ARC to review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Beach Reads Book Club by Kathryn Freeman

57900089. sy475

Title: The Beach Reads Book Club

Author: Kathryn Freeman

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: June 30th, 2021

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Welcome to the Beach Reads Book Club…where love is just a page away…

When Lottie Watt is unceremoniously booted out of her uptight book club for not following the rules, she decides to throw the rulebook out the window and start her own club – one where conversation, gin and cake take precedent over actually having read the book!

The Beach Reads Book Club soon finds a home for its meetings at Books by the Bay, a charming bookshop and café owned by gorgeous, brooding Matthew Steele, and as the book club picks heat up, so too does the attraction between Matt and Lottie.

If there’s anything Lottie has learned from the romances she’s been reading, it’s that the greatest loves are the ones hardest earned.

A love letter to chicklit, romance, romcoms, whatever you want to call them!

Review

Set in coastal England, The Beach Reads Books Club follows electrician Lottie while she tries to rediscover her passion for reading by starting her own book club. She also holds this book club at the local bookstore with the very attractive yet very buttoned up Matthew. Both are trying to work through serious relationships that had ended, and all the pain that comes with that, but find solace in each other.

I immediately request everything Kathryn Freeman writes because I have enjoyed all of them. Her style of romance hits right home for me. Also, give me all the grumpy/sunshine books – I will read all of them I swear. What I found really intriguing about this book (outside of the tropes, the plot that involves books and reading, and the romance) is that Lottie is a business owner in a trade field, which you just don’t often see with females. That sounds like a stereotype, but I can’t remember reading a book with a woman in a trade field before. I really enjoyed the representation.

My one critique with this book would be a spoiler, but to keep it vague I will say that the plot lost me about 75% through. It went a direction I wasn’t a fan of, though came back around. And, that’s just a me preference – but you’ll have to read it to see what happens!

Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Out of Character by Annabeth Albert

55479333

Title: Out of Character (True Colors #2)

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: July 6th, 2021

400 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

It’s friends-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers in this LGBTQIA+ Romance for fans of Red, White & Royal Blue and The Pros of Cons who enjoy:

• Ex-best-friends falling in love
• Gaming, conventions, fandom & cosplay
• Nerd culture at its finest
• Learning how to be true to yourself

Jasper Quigley is tired of being everyone’s favorite sidekick. He wants to become the hero of his own life, but that’s not going to happen if he agrees to help out his former best friend turned king of the jocks, Milo Lionetti. High school was miserable enough, thanks, and Jasper has no interest in dredging up painful memories of his old secret crush.

But Milo’s got nowhere else to go. His life is spiraling out of control and he’s looking to turn things back around. Step one? Replace the rare Odyssey cards he lost in an idiotic bet. Step two? Tell his ex-best-friend exactly how he feels—how he’s always felt.

Jasper may be reluctant to reopen old wounds, but he never could resist Milo. There’s a catch, though: if Milo wants his help, he’s going to have to pitch in to make the upcoming children’s hospital charity ball the best ever. But as the two don cosplay for the kids and hunt for rare cards, nostalgia for their lost friendship may turn into something even more lasting…

Review

Out of Character is the companion novel to Conventionally Yours, and is a gay romance with enemies to lovers, a discussion on homophobia, and a nerdy board game. Jasper and Milo are ex best friends from high school, after Milo dropped Jasper because he came out as gay. It’s now college, and Milo finds himself needing Jasper’s help after making a few mistakes. The two rekindle their friendship slowly, and then see if they could be more.

I was really happy to see Jasper get his own book. He didn’t play a huge role in Conventionally Yours, but you got glimpses of his personality and I wanted to see more from him. I’m so glad we did, because Jasper’s character was so kindhearted and selfless, even when it wasn’t deserved. Milo was clearly a character trying to grow and make changes, and he’s the type of character you root for. They are well suited for each other and a joy to read about.

This book may be a bit slower than Conventionally Yours. Without the big road trip, there wasn’t as much to take of page space and it dragged a bit at parts. The steam level is similar to that of Conventionally Yours, though I would say there are more open door scenes comparatively.

Be sure to check out Out of Character, especially during Pride Month!

Thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert

49811667

Title: Conventionally Yours (True Colors #1)

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: June 2nd, 2020

400 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When two “big name fans” go head-to-head at a convention, love isn’t the only thing at stake.

Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all…but in reality, he’s scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control.

Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection…but even he can’t help but feel a little broken inside.

When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way—even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical. 

Review

“But you know… If you want to see if a kiss would cure me, I wouldn’t stop you.”

Annabeth Albert, Conventionally Yours

I have found in recent years that I really enjoy nerdy romance novels, both YA, NA, and Adult – so Conventionally Yours fit the bill perfectly! Add in some queer romance, diverse characters, and a grumpy/sunshine type relationship and I’m hooked. ALSO – only one bed!!!! Like, what more could you want?

Conrad and Alden have a strained relationship, mostly due to miscommunication, secrets, and assuming the worst about each other. When forced together to road trip across country to a convention for their favorite game – they might learn more about each other than they ever dreamed of. But, can they get over their competitive natures and be happy with the results of the tournament, not matter who wins?

Just… yes. I loved this romance so much. There is a fair level of steam, several open door scenes with descriptions. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the Odyssey game they play – it was well detailed and is something I wish I could play in real life. The side characters were also very useful to the story, I loved all the professors around who helped out the students.

I highly recommend this gay romance story, especially during Pride Month!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

55711665

Title: To Sir, with Love

Author: Lauren Layne

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: June 29th, 2021

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

Review

Gracie runs her family’s champagne shop in Manhattan, though her main passion in life is art. She’s trying to find a way to build the shop up again after her father passed away, but the store isn’t doing well. Sebastian Andrews is a businessman for the copy that owns Gracie’s lease and has been bugging her to let them buy her out of the lease. At the same time, Gracie was having an online flirtation with a man nicknamed “Sir” who she was developing feelings for – but when Sebastian ends up being nicer than she expected, Gracie might have a choice to make.

The romance in this book went the way I expected it to go, but the plot was a surprise to me. I didn’t expect it to go where it did, but I prefer the way it went than what I expected. I wasn’t a huge fan of the messages back and forth from Lady and Sir. I generally don’t mind the book being broken up by other types on content, but it didn’t feel like the excerpts did anything to advance the plot line. I also generally feel weird about them referring to each other as Lady and Sir, just hits wonky for me – but that’s definitely a personal preference.

This book is a touch shorter than most romances, but it doesn’t feel like it was cut short or missing anything. There was plenty of time for the plot and even bringing in Gracie’s family and giving them character development as well. To Sir, with Love is a sweet story of modern dating and does not feature much steam.

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

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Bookshop of Forgotten Dreams by Emily Blaine

58254402

Title: The Bookshop of Forgotten Dreams

Author: Emily Blaine

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: June 18th, 2021

352 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sarah and Max should never have met. She’s a shy bookworm who’s barely ever left her little village; he’s a bad boy actor with the world at his feet. But when Max crosses one line too many, he’s faced with community service in Sarah’s bookshop. With an unruly theatre group to run and a gorgeous, tattooed stranger under her roof, Sarah’s about to discover that real life is more complicated than anything she’s ever read in her beloved books.

Review

Max is a famous actor in France, who solves problems with his fists and just assumes his agent will cover him. But when he gets into one fight too many, he gets sentenced to community service in the countryside, at a small bookshop run by Sarah. Sarah is shy and loves her books, but the shop isn’t doing well financially and need repairs. This is where Max comes in. Can the sunshine heroine melt the icy exterior of the grumpy hero?

I will forever swoon over the grumpy/sunshine trope, no shame. Also, I think this is the first book I’ve read set in France, which was a cool change up for me. I loved the characters, the setting, the writing, and the fact that it is dual POV!! It was well done as you see Max fall for Sarah, even as he tries not to.

There isn’t much I can say about this book as a critique, outside of wanting more information about the side characters. They had an important part of Sarah’s life but you didn’t really learn anything about them. Same on Max’s side. So I would have preferred more of that.

Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

55080080. sy475

Title: The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate #2)

Author: Rosie Danan

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: April 6th, 2021

336 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

Review

“But I’m not sure she’d even know how to play it if life gave her a hand she actually wanted.”

Rosie Danan, The Intimacy Experiment

After loving The Roommate I knew I needed to read the companion novel, The Intimacy Experiment, starring Naomi and her love story. Naomi is definitely a harsh and hardened woman who needs a special touch to break down her walls, and the Rabbi Ethan is exactly what she needs. I appreciate the sex positive writing style that Rosie Danan has, and her choices in humanizing sex workers and now religious figures to show that sex has a place for all people (except those on the ace spectrum of course). There is such a stigma, even in romance novels, about sex and these books work to break down those barriers.

I appreciated the level of religiosity expressed in this book, which isn’t something I read often. I loved the juxtapositions of a Rabbi and a lost Jew working together to bring intimacy understanding to a younger generations. Of course, the relationship between Ethan and Naomi was super hot as well! You also get to see some of Clara and Josh’s relationship in the background, but Naomi really takes the spotlight. She goes through a tremendous amount of growth from start to finish, it’s really a beautiful arc.

For those who are less comfortable with steam and spice, there are a few open door scenes that are moderately descriptive. It would be easy enough to skip over, without missing too much (in my opinion).

If you enjoy Sally Thorne and Tessa Bailey, I would recommend Rosie Danan to you!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Between You, Me, and the Honeybees by Amelia Diane Coombs

43278591

Title: Between You, Me, and the Honeybees

Author: Amelia Diane Coombs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Reader’s

Publication date: June 22nd, 2021

368 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Jenn Bennett and Sarah Dessen, this swoon-worthy novel follows a teen girl during her California summer of beekeeping, secrets, and stolen kisses.

Josie Hazeldine has just graduated from high school, and she’s ready for a summer full of sunshine, beekeeping, and…lying to her mom.

Josie’s mom couldn’t be more proud of her daughter going to college, something she never got to do. But Josie wants to stay in her California hometown and take over the family business, Hazeldine Honey. So that college acceptance her mom is thrilled about? Yeah, Josie turned it down. But she’s going to come clean—just not yet.

The neighbor’s artsy, adorable grandson who’s in town for the summer makes Josie’s web of lies even more tangled. He’s into Josie and the feeling is very mutual, but he’s a Blumstein—the sworn enemy of the Hazeldines and their number one competition in the annual Honey Show at the end of July. As their secret fling goes on, Josie knows she’s getting in way too deep to leave him behind when summer’s over.

Can Josie keep the boy she can’t stop thinking about without the secrets she’s juggling crashing down around her?

Review

Between You, Me, and the Honeybees is a sweet, YA contemporary romance about an amateur beekeeper, Josie, who wants nothing more in life than to run her family’s apiary when she graduates high school. She absolutely does not want to go to college, but her mother thinks she is. But that’s not the only secret she’s keeping… She’s also secretly dating the grandson of her family’s fiercest rivals, and her mother hates that family. What’s Josie to do?

I loved learning more about beekeeping in this book! It’s such a unique setting that you don’t think of much but was very interesting to read. The romance portion was very adorable, kind of insta-love but I enjoyed this one whereas I don’t generally like insta-love. The sneaking around and secrets also reminded me of being a teenager and hiding boys from my parents!

I ended up severely disliking one of the side characters by the end, which kept this book from being a 5 star read for me. I just didn’t even like reading about this character by the end, and it cut down on my enjoyment of the book as a whole. But, for fans of Jenn Bennett I definitely suggest giving this one a try!

Thank you to Simon Teen and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!