eARC Review – What I Like About Me

Title: What I Like About Me

Author: Jenna Guillame

Publisher: Peachtree Publishing

Publication date: April 1st, 2020 (originally February 26th, 2019 in the UK)

304 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES? This vacation is probably not going to be that.

The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she’d be doing over vacation is entering a beauty pageant. Not when she’s spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone. Not when her Dad is AWOL and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie’s already shaky confidence. And especially not when her best friend starts flirting with the boy she’s always loved. But Maisie’s got something to prove.

As she writes down all the ways this vacation is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn’t let anything, or anyone, hold her back.

Jenna Guillame’s American debut features a plus-size protagonist with a compelling, funny, and authentic narrative voice. This relatable and charming novel about friendship, confidence, and self-love will draw readers in as Maisie’s realistic emotional journey unveils the importance of embracing one’s body and celebrating one’s self.

Review

**Thank you to Peachtree Publishing, Netgalley, and Jenna Guillame for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Trigger warning for: body shaming, body image issues, negative self talk

What I Like About Me is a thoughtful and insightful, yet entertaining and fun all in one. Set in Australia, the book follows Maisie, a 16 year old girl on her family trip for the summer. She’s brought Anna, her best friend, and desperately wants to make a move on Sebastian, her long time crush. When Anna and Sebastian hit if off, Maisie is left with Beamer, the irritating boy child who loves to mess with Maisie. You get a look into her romantic life, but the book is so much more than just her relationship status.

The overarching theme of What I Like About Me is body image positivity and learning to love yourself. The author explores how family and friends can impact your self esteem and the struggles of a young girl growing up overweight, or “less than” as society views it. It is heartfelt and was emotional at times. Maisie has low self esteem and the book really explores what it is like to go about a normal day in the life of someone without confidence.

One thing I would have loved to have seen was more on the romance side. I love the secret love trope but I wanted more. You don’t get to hear the backstory of how he fell in love with Maisie or what it is about her that draws him to her. This is a shorter book, so I feel the romance could have been expanded upon without it taking away from the theme of Maisie finding her love for herself, and coming to terms with her family.

I liked that there wasn’t a huge happily ever after. The ending was very realistic and didn’t end in the normal tropes. I appreciate that the author was authentic with the ending, because there was one easy way to make is unrealistic and she didn’t go for that.

Told through journal entrees, What I Like About Me offers a diverse contemporary on the topic of body weight and self confidence. Please read with caution if you struggle with negative self talk, low self confidence, and body image.

Happy reading, folks!

ARC Review – Tigers, Not Daughters

Title: Tigers, Not Daughters

Author: Samantha Mabry

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.
 
In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

Review

**Thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

TW: death, domestic violence, neglect, emotional abuse

Tigers, Not Daughters is a haunting ghost story with themes of sisterhood and perseverance, and also a hyena. No joke, there’s a hyena on the loose during this story. The Torres sisters have been through a lot. Their mom is dead, their dad is neglectful and abusive, and their oldest sister died tragically a year ago. Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa couldn’t be more different, but the one thing they have in common is missing Ana desperately – and wanting to run away forever.

This book is told from each sister’s POV over the course of a several days. Each sister has a lot going on, and are very different. The book tackles some serious issues for each sister, while also being a ghost story – which is just super fun. The ghost story part was probably my favorite, along with the group of boys who live across the street and lightly stalk the sisters.

The writing is phenomenal, where information is provided in tiny morsels over the chapters instead all at once. It created a captivating atmosphere where you needed and wanted to keep reading to get answers to your questions.

I really didn’t like the domestic violence aspect. It’s mostly just due to personal reasons, I’m sure there was a reason for including that plot line, but it was still hard to read. So please, before reading this understand that there are potentially triggering scenes.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Honey Don't List

Title: The Honey Don’t List

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

320 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

Review

**Thank you to Edelweiss, Gallery Books, and Christina Lauren for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Friends! I was SO STOKED to have the chance to read and review this title early and it did not disappoint! Christina Lauren has done it again with an amazing romance novel that will have you swooning well after you’ve closed the book.

The Honey Don’t List follows Carey, the assistant to Melly Tripp a home design wizard with her husband Rusty, who does the remodeling and renovations. She has worked for them for 10 years and is very devoted to the couple, even though they are not as perfect as social media would have it seem. James McCann is running from a bad experience at his last job, and took this gig with the Tripp’s as an opportunity to be an engineer, but instead got stuck being Rusty’s assistant. He is not happy with this development to say the least. Carey and James must keep their bosses’ marriage together while doing press for their new book and Netflix TV show, which turns out to be harder than anticipated…

As usual Christina Lauren creates a book with many layers, which they are so adept at revealing at the perfect time. Carey and James start off as enemies but soon become teammates on the journey of keeping their bosses’ image intact, as it benefits both of them. During this time, they get closer and their bond gets deeper – they learn each other’s secrets. James helps Carey with the pieces of her life she isn’t ready to face yet. They are so sweet together and I just can’t get over it.

The Tripp’s are crazy town and it makes this book so very entertaining. Their marriage is a complete disaster and I love the irony of them releasing a marriage advice book while theirs is in shambles. I really disliked both of the characters honestly, they both are tragically messed up and even worse together.

I loved everything about this book, and it had all the elements of a perfect adult contemporary romance book. I also love the nod to mental health and work, because work really can have a negative effect on your wellbeing and it’s nice to see that story told in a book. If you love Christina Lauren books, go preorder your copy because it is worth the hype!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The New Guy

Title: The New Guy

Author: Kathryn Freeman

Publisher: One More Chapter

Publication date: March 13th, 2020

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Sam Huxton doesn’t do one-night stands, especially not with men she’s just met! But the hot guy at the bar was hard to resist and one night is all they share – no names, no numbers, just some much needed fun…

Until the same guy walks into Sam’s life the next day as her new employee.  Sam never mixes business with pleasure and makes it clear an office fling with Ryan is off-limits.  But after-hours…one thing can lead to another. Can Sam trust her heart and her business with the new guy?

Review

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

The New Guy follows Sam, the CEO of a tech company and Ryan, her newest employee – which she didn’t realize when she took him home from the bar the past weekend. Sam must now navigate being the boss of someone she is wildly attracted to, while her company is being threatened and Ryan may be the only person who can save it.

THIS BOOK WAS ADORABLE. I really enjoyed the interactions between Sam and Ryan, and I feel like they both brought so much baggage with them that but were able to work through it together the right way. The character development was great from start to finish, and they helped each other to become better mentally and as people. I flew through this book in just a few hours because the banter and sexual tension between the characters was just captivating!

I do feel like a few plot points weren’t followed through to the end with the same attention that others were given, which caused it to fall just a bit flat. All the ends weren’t tied up, so I feel like I docked a star from The New Guy for this reason. Even if it’s small, I like when all plot points or question marks are closed up or answered. But overall, a cute read and well worth the time.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

“She enjoyed people—she really did—she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure.” 

Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Author: Abbi Waxman

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: July 9th, 2019

351 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. 

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page. 

Review

Being with you is as good as being alone.

abbi waxman, the bookish life of nina hill

Nina works in a bookstore. She has her routine and her planners, and doesn’t accept the unplanned or unpredictable. She loves her friends and trivia night, but isn’t great with exercise or eating normal meals. Her whole life is turned upside down when her unknown father ends up dead but she is listed in the will. She finds herself with several siblings, nieces/nephews, cousins, grandnieces and nephews, etc. It’s very overwhelming for her. Also, her bookstore can’t pay the rent and she may be falling in love with her trivia rival. Basically her life is crumbling into the unpredictable, and what is a rigid and routine loving girl to do?!

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is delightfully funny and sweet. Abbi Waxman has a way of writing that invokes deep emotion while being laugh out loud funny. Her writing style felt real and genuine, and the personality she gave the characters was second to none. There were times when you got the POV of both within the same character through thoughts they were both having about what was transpiring and it was so well done. I love when romance novels have more than one POV because I also want to read about the man falling in love with the woman.

I love how the story line with her long lost family played out, and how she went through this journey mostly by herself, mostly successfully. Her life flipped around a lot during the story but she was able to learn from the experience and be more open to life than she had been. She also has a remarkable number of friends for someone who says she doesn’t like people. She seems to make friends with everyone she meets.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. Abbi Waxman was able to create a story that was gripping and very funny. Go check it out!

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Idiot

“My new mantra was trust God, clean house, help others.” 

Title: Idiot

Author: Laura Clery

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: September 24th, 2019

256 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

From YouTube star and Facebook Video sensation Laura Clery comes a collection of comedic essays in the vein of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby and You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein.

Laura Clery makes a living by sharing inappropriate comedy sketches with millions of strangers on the Internet. She writes songs about her anatomy, talks trash about her one-eyed rescue pug, and sexually harasses her husband, Stephen. And it pays the bills!

Now, in her first-ever book, Laura recounts how she went from being a dangerously impulsive, broke, unemployable, suicidal, cocaine-addicted narcissist, crippled by fear and hopping from one toxic romance to the next…to a more-happy-than-not, somewhat rational, meditating, vegan yogi with good credit, a great marriage, a fantastic career, and four unfortunate-looking rescue animals. Still, above all, Laura remains an amazingly talented, adorable, and vulnerable, self-described…Idiot.

With her signature brand of offbeat, no-holds-barred humor, Idiot introduces you to a wildly original—and undeniably relatable—new voice.

Review

Brave. I didn’t feel brave at all. I felt scared out of my mind. But I suppose bravery is not being unafraid, it’s being shit-your-pants-scared-out-of-your-mind and doing the damn thing anyway.

laura clery, idiot

So, I recently started watching Laura’s videos on YouTube and I find her and Stephen to be so funny and witty. One specific video told the story of how she met Stephen and she re-enacted it. At that point, I realized she was sober and and addict, and so was Stephen. At the end of the video, she never even finished the story but instead said to go read the book. So I did! Kudos to Laura for that level of advertisement.

I don’t often read memoirs, so when I do I need them to be interesting enough to hold my attention and well written enough to make it worth it. And folks? Idiot brought both of those things. Laura’s stories were well written, easy to understand, and a breeze to read through. Her writing is very straightforward and no nonsense, albeit the events she is writing about are shocking and scary at times. Her story and path to recovery is harrowing and terrifying, but also sadly common. She speaks often of her support system to get her to her relationship with Stephen, and even the ups and downs of that relationship as they both relapse and put each other through hell.

I wasn’t sure how well Laura’s on screen persona and humor would translate into written words, but it WORKED. I wouldn’t say it was laugh out loud funny, but more of just humorous enough to keep the storyline going. The humor of Laura’s story is more a dark and twisty humor, where you nervously laugh at something decidedly not funny that is told in a funny way – if that makes sense.

I respect the hell out of Laura for putting her past and present on blast like this. It can’t be easy to write down all your demons and past terrible decisions for the world to see. It’s not something I would be able to do myself, and it was an honor to read about Laura’s life.

If you enjoy memoirs, I highly suggest picking this up. TW for addiction, drug/alcohol abuse/possible sexual assault.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Meet Cute

“Sometimes the darkest tragedies bring us the brightest lights” 

Title: Meet Cute

Author: Helena Hunting

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: April 9th, 2019

384 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran—quite literally—into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either…

Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can’t help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn’s new celebrity client, there’s even more at stake than Dax’s custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she’ll be promoted to partner.

The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?

Review

I think it’s interesting that you have a thing for the teenage version of me but you’re not all that fond of the real, adult version.

Helena Hunting, Meet Cute

Meet Cute starts off with a, well, meet cute on a college campus. Kailyn runs into Daxton Hughes, the star of her favorite childhood show. She literally runs into him while walking to a law school class. Their exchange is adorable, but not much really comes from it. Fast forward several years, and they are both lawyers but don’t communicate with each other. Kailyn is pissed at Dax – but when his parents die and he becomes the guardian of his 13 year old sister, Kailyn gets involved in handling Emme’s trust.

I thought Meet Cute was deep and heartfelt with some serious themes and intense plot lines. It is not a boiler plate rom com novel, there’s death and legal battles. I liked the marriage of lighthearted and serious and I feel like it was done really well. Kailyn and Dax also have an interesting relationship, and their history together is funny and endearing. However, Emme completely steals the show and I adored her character.

The concept was very good and different, but I couldn’t help being mad at one of the characters (no spoilers). But really, there was a whole situation that was very frustrating (by design) and drove a lot of the drama in the book.

One aspect I really loved was Kailyn’s relationship with Emme. She went above and beyond for that little girl after a tragedy left her without parents, and she did NOT have to. All she had to do legally was make sure Emme’s trust was being handled properly, and she was out buying Emme her first set of period essentials and having the period and sex talk with her. It was amazing how far Kailyn was willing to go to help that little girl.

Basically, if you are a fan of adult contemporary romance, you should check out Meet Cute.

Happy reading, folks!