eARC Review – No, We Can't Be Friends

Title: No, We Can’t Be Friends

Author: Sophie Ranald

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: January 10th, 2020

295 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone knows a girl like Sloane. She was always The Single One. She never brought a plus-one to weddings. She was the woman you’d set up with your single cousin. She joined ballroom dancing classes to meet men and was the queen of online dating. 

But then she met Myles. Perfect Myles, with denim-blue eyes and a dazzling smile that melted her insides. She’d finally found The One. 

Except she didn’t imagine that Myles’s idea of Happy Ever After would include Sloane battling an overflowing laundry basket, buying birthday cards for his family, and ironing his Calvin Klein underpants. 

Then Sloane finds out that Myles has a secret. 

The fairy tale is well and truly over. Her heart is blown to smithereens. Eating her weight in Ben & Jerry’s and large Meat Feast pizzas can only get Sloane so far before she has to make a decision… Can she learn to love herself more than she loved the love of her life? 

Review

**Thank you to Bookouture, Netgalley, and Sophie Ranald for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sophie and Myles are married and Sophie has everything she thought she wanted in life. She has a great job that she absolutely loves, and adoring husband, and is getting ready to try for a baby. One small problem? Myles is cheating and her whole world view flips upside down. It takes her some time to figure out how to handle the situation, while drawing strength and inspiration from her friends and clients at work. She becomes homeless, but over the course of the book everything works out for her, helped along by carefully placed moments that change her thought process and decisions. Myles is scum, but she learns she is more than her marriage – and it’s important to love yourself, not just your husband.

I really didn’t think I was going to finish this book, the first part has a lot of issues due to the crumbling relationship of Sophie and Myles. Myles is clearly cheating, and Sophie just needs to have her “aha” moment and leave him. However, when she finally confronts him, he gaslights her so bad she starts to second guess herself. I really wasn’t sure where the author was going with it, but gaslighting is my hands down least favorite part of any book that features it. It’s such a tired cliche and I was worried the book would just follow in that vein and annoy the crap out of me. BUT! Sophie really has a transformative journey and I’m glad I stuck with it. I really loved the characters (especially the side characters) and the side stories were fun and interesting.

I am so glad the author moved past the gaslighting plot line and Myles got called out the way he deserved (if you read this, you’ll know the part I’m talking about!). It was really great to see Sophie grow as a person into her life, even though she takes several hard knocks.

Y’all should read this if you have a terrible ex, because you could definitely relate. No, We Can’t Be Friends is a solid, quick chick lit read for those who gravitate to this genre. It’s also set in Britain, so the British slang was fun to read for an American like me.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – The Map From Here to There

Title: The Map From Here to There (The Start of Me and You #2)

Author: Emery Lord

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

368 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions. 

Review

**Thank you to Bloomsbury YA, Netgalley, and Emery Lord for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

In the second installment of Paige’s story, you get to see how her senior year of high school goes after everything that happened with Max. Paige is going through the age old struggle of trying to balance school, her future career, and a boyfriend. No matter what she does, one starts to fall and she can’t bear to see it be her boyfriend. Mix in mental health issues causing severe anxiety to flare up – it’s a roller coaster ride of a year. Of course, she’s got her friends, but for how long? Who knows where everyone will end up at the end of the year and she is terrified of making the wrong choice.

I was super into the first book, The Start of Me and You. Watching Max and Paige’s friendship and relationship blossom was beautiful, and so reminiscent of high school. I was less invested in the second book, because I don’t feel like it really WENT anywhere. Things happened for sure – ups and downs, twists and turns. Paige puts herself out there in ways she didn’t in the first book and grew up a ton. But it also came with some sacrifice and sadness as well.

I was not a fan of the ending. I almost felt like I read that whole book for… nothing? The ending doesn’t really explain what happens or what Paige chooses – which is a pet peeve of mine for books. If you love a cliffhanger ending that leaves it up to you to decide what happens – I highly recommend. That just isn’t my favorite writing style and I wanted oh so much more from my fave guy and and gal.

This duo is so beautifully written though. I love how LGBTQIA and mental health themes were added into the second book, because it’s important to remember that these issues will affect teenagers. It also provided some good character definition for the characters who were affected.

Overall, a good ending to Paige’s story, but I wish it didn’t have to end. I’d read a play by play of Paige and Max’s relationship for the next ten years if I could.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – A Love Hate Thing

Title: A Love Hate Thing

Author: Whitney D. Grandison

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

448 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Whitney D. Grandison for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Tyson Trice recently underwent a terrible family tragedy, which has left him broken and confused living with the family of a childhood friend he hasn’t seen in 10 years. He is from Lindenwood, a notoriously dangerous area of town, and is now living in Pacific Hills – the rich area. He sticks out like a sore thumb, and he knows it. Nandy is not happy her parents decided to take Tyson in after 10 years, she has perfected her Pacific Hills Queen image and wants nothing that will tarnish that. Also, Tyson is not the 7 year old boy she remembers, this Tyson is hard and scary – and she wants none of that in her life.

Tyson and Nandy go through a whole lot in this novel, and it really is a tale of learning to look past prejudice and bias while recovering from personal loss. This story is not simple or easy, but it’s theirs. It is important to see how far Tyson is able to come back from the brink, and what Nandy can do to grow past her misconceptions. Both learn from each other throughout the novel, even if they aren’t on good terms.

A Love Hate Thing reminded me of the movie The Blind Side. Rich family takes in an underprivileged boy from a rough background. It’s not exactly a 1:1 comparison because there’s no sports involved and the family knew Tyson before he was taken in – but the gist of it was similar. Similar acceptance themes in the affluent community is seen, and I almost think the side character’s interactions with Tyson were more important that Nandy’s. It’s easy to assume Nandy will come around and break barriers (because she’s a MC) but to have the side character’s also noticeably learn from the experience was fun.

This book is LONG. Almost 500 pages focused on Tyson and Nandy’s summer before senior year of high school. There were times that I felt the book continued on past what it needed to, or parts of it could be cut out. It just felt like too much. The story is told in alternating chapters between Tyson and Nandy’s POV – so you get different side characters depending on who’s POV you’re reading at the time – but they do all overlap. I love contemporaries that have a romance component, and especially love when part of it is told from the male (or alternate) partner’s perspective. I feel like it rounds out the book to get both sides.

Go check out A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison, her debut novel!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – We Used To Be Friends

Title: We Used To Be Friends

Author: Amy Spalding

Publisher: ABRAMS Kids (Amulet Books)

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

384 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Review

**Thank you to ABRAMS Kids (Amulet Books), Netgalley, and Amy Spalding for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

We Used To Be Friends follows BFF’s Kat and James through their senior year of high school, right up to when they leave for college. The twist is that Kat’s version is told from beginning to end, and James’ version is from end to beginning – and it’s the story of a best friend break-up. Kat and James slowly grew apart over time during their senior year as they got ready to embark on new adventures. Both had a lot of big, personal events happen this year and it was just too hard to stay close.

Honestly, this book hit me in my feelings. I needed to take a day to gather my thoughts before writing this review. It was really good, don’t get me wrong, but brought up some past issues within my own life that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. But, I actually love when books seem real enough to affect you – whether positive or negative – which I think is a huge pro to WUTBF. While there was boy/girlfriend drama within the book, it was really focused on the friend relationship between Kat and James, which is rarely the main focus of a YA book, no matter the genre. I appreciated the author’s ability to keep romantic relationships out of the forefront.

The reverse timelines was confusing as times. I started off strong with being able to keep it straight, but then got confused in the middle. By the end I was back on track, but I felt like I needed to write stuff down to keep dates in order. This may be due to reading it ebook style, I’m not sure how the print book will look. I do think the reverse timelines helped tell the story because you could see how events overlapped and were perceived differently between two drastically different viewpoints.

There was no happy ending. I think this was what killed me the most. I wanted a happy ending, some epilogue to remind me that these breakups can be a happy ending. I didn’t get that, but it almost made the read more poignant because it’s REAL. Not everything has a happy ending and that is okay. Sometimes relationships just fail over time and are replaced by others. It doesn’t take away from the importance of the relationship.

Well done, Amy Spalding. Thank you for telling a story that will evoke powerful emotions in anyone who grew apart from a close friend during this time of life – when people grow up, change, and move away.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

2020 Reading Goals!

Happy New Year my bookish friends!! I’m so excited for 2020, and I have a bunch of goals I want to keep in mind while reading this year! Not to be confused with a typical resolution list, the below are some goals I want to reach toward to improve my reading habits, bookstagram, and blogging! I started my blog in 2019 as a method of getting my thoughts and feelings about my books down, and I’ve really loved it. At the end of 2019 I got into a slump and wasn’t really posting, so I want to work on that this year!

READING GOAL

I plan on reading at least 150 books this year. This is my Goodreads goal, and since I read over 160 this year I feel I can make it happen. I also want to complete the Popsugar Reading Challenge. I came as close as ever to completing it in 2019, so I’d like to be able to say I completed it in 2020.

BE MORE CONSCIOUS OF WHAT I’M READING

I know this can mean anything, so let me explain. I have a million TBR books, but I seem to be reading only new released and not backlist. So this year I can break this goal down to a few smaller goals

  1. Read 2 subscription box books a month until I am caught up
  2. Read a backlist book each month
  3. Binge series’ together

NETGALLEY READING/POSTING

This one is short and simple. I want to get my Netgalley percentage up to 80% and keep it there. I am currently at 75%, so I feel I can make this happen over the next year. On top of this, I’d like to be mindful about posting my promotional photos when I say I will, by actually using my planner like I said I would.

BLOGGING

I’d like to do a few things in this category. First, I’d like to review every book I read, and post them to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This one may not happen, but I figure I can at least review *most* of the books I read. I also would like to participate in Top Ten Tuesday, which I feel will help my blog be more diverse and interesting.

BOOKSTAGRAM

I would like to be more engaged in my bookstagram. I am incredibly shy and super awkward, so I don’t often interact with my fellow bookstagrammers. I want to reach out to at least a few a month to talk about books, and hopefully begin some friendships. I also want to continue talking to my Baltimore Bookstagram friends in our group chat. On top of this, I’d like to try and post daily, along with being more active in stories and highlights.

I think this about covers my plans for 2020. I thrive when I have a semblance of organization (the actual organization is unnecessary, so I already feel better with having this list written down for future reference.

Talk with me in the comments about your goals! Do we share any?

Happy 2020 reading, folks!!

eARC Review – Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Couple leaning on brick wall

Title: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Author: Jacqueline Firkins

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: December 17th, 2019

384 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.

Review

**Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers, Jacqueline Firkins, and Netgalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things follows upcoming high school senior Edie in her adventures as a foster child who has just been taken in by her wildly rich aunt in an effort to show off for her wildly rich friends and use her as a charity case. She will be going to the all girls prep school nearby with her spoiled cousins. She used to spend a lot of time at that house before her grandparent’s died, so she also gets to catch up with her childhood crush, who has gotten very attractive over the years… until she finds out he has a girlfriend. Then, a new boy, Henry, comes onto the scene and she’s confused. Henry is a stone cold player, but he seems legitimately into her. Which boy is right for her?

Edie has a lot going on. She ruined her friendship with her best friend from home by making out with her boyfriend and getting caught. She has no job or money for college, and is constantly put down for being poor by just about everyone in the book. She’s got it rough, but man I was not a fan of her character, or most of the characters actually.

I have real mixed feelings about this book. I liked it through most of the book, but the ending really lot me. The characters are not redeemable and not to spoil anything, but I did not agree with which boy Edie ends up with. I feel like it was so obviously the wrong choice and I’m still bitter about it.

This book didn’t end up being my favorite. It was not bad, by any means, just not as much my cup of tea. I enjoyed several pieces of it, especially Edie’s special lexicon blog where she posts fun definitions of words that relate to what’s going on in her life. There were redeemable parts to this book, and I do enjoy contemporaries, which is why I still rated this fairly highly.

If you like books with irredeemable characters and contemporaries, this will be the book for you.

happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Temptress

Title: Temptress (Manhattan Ten #2)

Author: Lola Dodge

Publisher: Ink Monster, LLC

Publication date: November 12th, 2019

126 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A seductress. A super brain.

She’s an indie operative who only works alone, stealing other super heroes’ powers with a kiss and bringing down the bad guys. Those stolen powers add up to a crazy arsenal, but Temptress isn’t built for super strength and shooting laser beams. Her body is falling apart and a teensy mission slip-up gets her tangled with the Manhattan Ten.

He’s the M10’s leader. The man, the myth, the Mensa-conquering legend. Nothing escapes Thinktank’s calculations… Until a run-in with Temptress leaves him powerless. Superpowers stolen with a kiss can only be returned with a kiss. 

Natural enemies can only get closer. And closer. And closer…

It’s love at first fight in the second volume of the Manhattan Ten Series.

Review

**Thank you to Ink Monster, Netgalley, and Lola Dodge for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Temptress is tasked with capturing Steel, a member of the Manhattan Ten accused of sexual assault by the LVPD. With her power she is able to suck other super’s powers out of their body with just a kiss, so she is used often when the police are dealing with a super. She also works at casino’s helping to monitor security situations. She is also able to USE all the others powers – but not without a price. In comes Thinktank, the leader of the Manhattan Ten. She isn’t supposed to steal his powers, but he gets in her way – what choice does she have? Problem is she can’t figure out how to return his powers, the usual quick kiss isn’t working. Guess they’ll have to keep trying…

In the second book of the Manhattan Ten short story series, a new superhero emerges to catch Thinktank’s eye. Temptress, or Jenny for her friends. I loved Ivory, so I knew I needed to get Temptress to continue on in the series – and continue reading the companion stories of the Manhattan Ten. Temptress’ character was so awesome – she was completely bad-ass and totally nonchalant about it. She just walks into a fight without a care. I also like getting to know Tank’s character more than what we got to see in Ivory.

As with the first one, this is an adult short story, so there is sexual content – but I would say less than there was in Ivory. The focus of this story was more about figuring out Temptress’ backstory and eventually saving her from her past. With her ability to steal other super’s powers – she really is a force to be reckoned with and I’m happy she got her ending.

Check this out if you want a super quick, fantasy novel with fun characters and interesting super powers.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂