BLOG TOUR Book Review – In the Neighborhood of True

Title: In the Neighborhood of True

Author: Susan Kaplan Carlton

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: April 9th, 2019

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

Review

TW: racism, anti-Semitism, bombing

Set in Atlanta in the 1950’s, In the Neighborhood of True tackles anti-Semitism and racism through the eyes of 16 year old Ruth Robb. Ruth just moved to Atlanta and want to participate in being a debutante, but has to hide her Jewish faith as she wouldn’t be allowed to participate if people knew. She meets new friends, gets a boyfriend, and thinks all is swell until her temple is bombed by by someone with the KKK. The bomber took issues with her temple and rabbi assisting black churches in the efforts of integration and the equality of Black people in the South. Ruth must make a choice – honor her heritage or her newfound friends.

This story has a lot of timeliness, as there is much going on right now in America that frankly doesn’t feel much different than is portrayed in this book. The millennium may change, but people and hate have stayed consistent. It was interesting to read in the dialect and slang of the South at the time, and see just how different life was. Ruth’s story was eye opening in many ways.

The story felt slow in the beginning and the middle, I wasn’t quite sure where it was going. But by the last 100 pages, it really picked up and showed the true struggle that Ruth was going through. Because what 16 year old doesn’t want to fit in? But is it worth changing who you are, just to please others? I felt it was well done by the author to show Ruth not only learning to accept herself as Jewish, but see Black people as equal and deserving. Ruth messed up often in the book, but was open to correction, and sometimes that’s all we can do.

I highly recommend reading this if you have an interest in social justice and the current events happening now.

Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

June Wrap Up!

I was very unmotivated to read this month. This month really was hard emotionally as I’m trying to work on my mental health (unsuccessfully). I didn’t at all read near the amount of books I planned, but honestly it’s okay. I’m up to date on my publisher and ARC reviews – and that’s really what matters. Next month I’m hoping to pick my reading up again because I do miss it, but I want to make sure I have the time and mental capacity for it – so we’ll see!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3), Kerri Maniscalco – 4/5 stars
  2. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Sarah J Maas – 4/5 stars
  3. The Guest List, Lucy Foley – 3/5 stars
  4. The Bone Houses, Emily Lloyd-Jones – 4.5/5 stars
  5. The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1), Helen Hoang – 5/5 stars

LIBRARY EBOOKS

  1. Mirage (Mirage #1), Somaiya Daud – 4/5 stars
  2. If I Never Met You, Mhairi MacFarlane – 4/5 stars
  3. Redwall (Redwall #1), Brian Jacques – 5/5 stars

NETGALLEY EARCS

  1. Ever Cursed, Corey Ann Haydu – 4.5/5 stars
  2. These Vengeful Hearts, Katherine Laurin – 4.5/5 stars
  3. Court of Lions (Mirage #2), Somaiya Daud – 4/5 stars
  4. Faking It, Rebecca Smith – 3/5 stars
  5. Chosen Ones (The Chosen One’s #1), Veronica Roth – 3.5/5 stars
  6. Just Saying, Sophie Ranald – 4/5 stars

What did you read this month?

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Chosen Ones

Title: Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones #1)

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: HMH

Publication date: April 7th, 2020

432 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons—and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Review

Thank you to HMH and Netgalley for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review

Chosen Ones flips the fantasy script and focuses on the aftermath of what happens when you’re Chosen to save the world. 10 years after they vanquished the Dark One, the gang gets pulled into another dimension/universe to slay another villain. Told exclusively from Sloane’s POV, Chosen Ones strikes a balance between being Chosen and being human. Characters are dealing with alcoholism, PTSD, drug addiction recovery, and racism is even touched on briefly. As readers, you don’t really get to see what happens AFTER the big battle – and especially not 10 years later.

The characters in this book all have problems, like serious problems. If you’re looking for redeemable characters that leap off the page with their airy lightness and happiness, keep it moving. Sloane is seriously dealing with PTSD and trying to hold it together. She is dating Matt, but when he proposes she freaks out and burns the relationship to the ground. Matt honestly isn’t much better, but it helps to show that they all aren’t quite back. I happen to like them even more that they aren’t redeemable, but I do feel like some conflict could have been avoided by having simple conversations.

I truly feel like Albie and Ines got shafted in this book. They have SO LITTLE page time, so I really wonder what the purpose was. The beginning to this book (where they existed) was fairly slow going and some scenes seemed unnecessary. However, the book really picks up when they are pulled into the other dimension. This is when the book really starts to get good and I got invested in the story.

THE ENDING. Without spoilers, the ending is a wild ride. I definitely did not see parts of it coming, especially not the big reveal. Along the way I picked up on some clues, but I was still fooled. The ending is fairly clear, there really isn’t a cliffhanger even though I believe there is a sequel. However, I found the writing in the ending to be very confusing and hard to follow. This could potentially be cleared up in edits, as this is an ARC.

Overall, I would give this a 3.5/5 (rounded up to 4 for Goodreads). I will read the next book, however there were some significant enough issues for me that I couldn’t give it a whole 4 stars.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Up Close and Personal

Title: Up Close & Personal

Author: Kathryn Freeman

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: June 12th, 2020

??? pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sizzling chemistry, a page-turning will they/won’t they romance and the hottest twist on one of your favourite movies…

British actor Zac Edwards is the latest heartthrob to hit the red carpets. Hot, talented and rich, he sends women wild…all except one.

Close protection officer Kat Parker hasn’t got time to play celebrity games. She has one job: to protect Zac from the stalker that seems to be dogging his every move.

Zac might get her hot under her very starched collar, but Kat’s a professional – and sleeping with Zac is no way part of her remit…

Review

**Thank you to One More Chapter, Netgalley, and Kathryn Freeman for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Up Close and Personal follows Zac Edwards, new movie star being stalked and harassed by a female fan, and Kat Parker, his new bodyguard hired by the production company of the film he is shooting. The problem? Zac and Kat are hopelessly attracted to each other and have giant personal secrets that they won’t share with the other. It’s a story full of push and pull in this relationship, made more complicated by someone trying to kill Zac…

I really enjoyed this book, which didn’t surprise me because I also really enjoyed Kathryn’s most recent book as well. The characters had a great rapport and dialogue from the beginning, and I enjoy a forbidden romance. Both Kat and Zac have their demons that affect them but also have a lot to do with their character development and in their future relationship development. The plot was intense and incorporated a realistic kind of villain.

In some parts of the book the relationship super dragged. I get why because it was forbidden, but I think it could have been more interesting if more happened when it was still forbidden. Also, there was a sub plot that really wasn’t followed up on, and I have questions about it.

Up Close and Personal was a cute, easy to read, romance that included forbidden love, emotional baggage, and a crazy stalker. It is also mostly clean for those who aren’t interested in a lot of smut in their romance books.

Happy reading, folks!

Novella Review – Quarantined by Love

Title: Quarantined by Love

Author: Hilari T. Cohen

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication date: April 27th, 2020

82 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Tim has no time for anything other than his work as an ER doctor, especially during the all-consuming global pandemic that has leveled his city. But when he sees a beautiful stranger dancing on the rooftop of her building he immediately knows that he must somehow meet her, so he devises a crazy plan…


Lola’s first major role on a Broadway stage is stalled due to a deadly virus that has forced the world indoors, but she can’t sit still. She sneaks outside to dance and is surprised to have a drone with a phone number land at her feet. Who is this mysterious sender? And was her broken heart ready to take another chance?

Can two strangers find virtual love in a time of social distancing? Will Tim and Lola be Quarantined By Love? There’s only one way to find out…

This is a novella with no cliffhanger and a happy ending!

Review

**Thank you to Hilari T. Cohen for sending me a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

In a novelle length book, Cohen writes of the current global pandemic and how it changed the way you date & meet people. Tim is a doctor on the front lines fighting the pandemic. One night, he looks out the window to see a woman dancing on her rooftop and he is immediately interested. He wants to get to know her, but how? He grabs his drone and sends her a note with his phone number. Lola receives the note & humors him – even though she is still dealing with the demise of her previous relationship.

This story is short, cute, and romantic. I think if I were single during this pandemic, this is how I would want to meet someone. It’s the modern “their eyes locked from across the bar”! Seriously though, the dating was cute and for a short story, you get a decent amount of character background for Tim and Lola.

The romance trope is insta-love, obviously because it’s a novella and barely longer than 80 pages. If this is the trope for you, maybe this won’t be the novella for you. But the few days of dates and getting to know each other are super cute & it’s clear how deeply Tim and Lola connect.

Overall, I think this was a sweet read that was worth it.

Happy reading, folks!

June TBR!

Happy (or frankly, not so happy as the protests continue) June! I am filled with hope for this month. I hope for freedoms to be given and change to be in the air. I hope for lives to be spared and differences to be made for POC across the world. In less serious terms, I also hope I read another ridiculously large stack of books.

For this month, I have planned 22 books to be read. This is indeed fewer than I read last month for those of you who are playing along at home. However, I feel like last month was largely a fluke and won’t be replicated for another hundred years. So, I will continue to prioritize my Netgalley list and continue working on getting those numbers down. I’m currently at ~87% ratio, and have many books planned for this month!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3), Kerri Maniscalco
  2. Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4), Kerri Maniscalco
  3. The Bone Houses, Emily Lloyd-Jones
  4. Beyond a Darkened Shore, Jessica Leake
  5. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Sarah J. Maas
  6. The Beholder (The Beholder #1), Anna Bright
  7. The Boundless (The Beholder #2), Anna Bright
  8. DEVIATE (LIFELIKE #2), Jay Kristoff

LIBRARY EBOOKS

  1. Mirage (Mirage #1), Somaiya Daud
  2. Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3), Robin LaFevers
  3. Courting Darkness (Courting Darkness #1), Robin LaFevers
  4. Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist #1), Renee Ahdieh
  5. Ninth House (Alex Stern #1), Leigh Bardugo
  6. If I Never Met You, Mhairi MacFarlane
  7. The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1), Jenn Lyons
  8. The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons #2), Jenn Lyons

NETGALLEY EARCS

  1. Just Saying, Sophie Ranald
  2. Court of Lions (Mirage #2), Somaiya Daud
  3. Ever Cursed, Corey Ann Haydu
  4. These Vengeful Hearts, Katherine Laurin
  5. The Memory of Souls (A Chorus of Dragons #3), Jenn Lyons
  6. Igniting Darkness (Courting Darkness #2), Robin LaFevers – sampler

What books are you planning to read this month?

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Bromance Book Club

“That’s why fiction resonates with people. It speaks to universal truths.”

Title: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1)

Author: Lyssy Kay Adams

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: November 5th, 2019

352 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

Review

“Book club isn’t just about books.”

Lyssy Kay Adams, The Bromance Book Club

The Bromance Book Club stars baseball hotshot Gavin Scott and his wife Thea. Currently, they are separated after having a huge fight revolving around faked orgasms and lying. Gavin moves out and Thea asks for a divorce. In comes Gavin’s good friend and teammate Del who introduces him to a book club run by some of Nashville’s biggest male sports star or celebrities. They read romance novels in secret in order to fix their love lives and relationships. Gavin has to do whatever it takes to fix things with Thea or he will lose her forever.

I have many thoughts about this book. First off I loved the idea of a “bromance book club”. What lady doesn’t like the idea of her man (or woman) doing research on the best way to communicate and love her? I’d personally be very happy if my fiance chose to do this, but alas it would never happen. Moving right along, like I said – love this unique concept in a romance novel.

However. Gavin and Thea are not great characters. Even Liz, a side character, is decidedly terrible (which is likely the point). These characters have a long way to go to be likable, and let’s be real Braden Mack seriously stole the whole book. I just don’t think a side character with only a few lines should be the best character in the whole book. Also, I just generally tend to like romance books featuring a new relationship compared to fixing a broken one. But that’s just me!

The Bromance Book Club is very easy to read, and outside of what I mentioned above it is well written and quite good. I had a hard time rating it, because in the initial aftermath of finishing the book I enjoyed it a lot more than when I sat down and thought about it and wrote this review.

Check back soon as I will be posting my review for the sequel, Undercover Bromance where my fave Braden will get his story!

Happy reading, folks!