Monday, May 17, 2021

Books I Read in March and April

A bit late, but here are my thoughts on all of the books I read in March and April! I was really surprised by how many books I read, but I think the Elle Kennedy series helped by being so good and so easy to read.
Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
As someone from Massachusetts I have to be annoying for one moment: There's a part in this novel where Juniper says that she's driven through Boston on her way to Springfield from New York. Incorrect. If you're driving to Springfield from New York and you end up in Boston, you missed a turn. 
Moving on, I loved this book. It was fun to read about high schoolers exploring colleges for the first time because it's such an exciting time. I didn't do a full college tour road trip like Fitz and Juniper, but I remember touring campuses and trying to picture myself sitting in the classrooms and making friends in the dorms. It's also a little scary. It's a big change, which is definitely something Fitz and Juniper learn along the way. Fitz learns that being away from home doesn't mean abandoning the people there and Juniper learns that she doesn't need to be too far away to get the space and freedom she craves. The road trip also impacts the personal relationships of the characters. Fitz discovers that his brother isn't as self-centered as he originally thought and has in fact made sacrifices for their mother, just like Fitz is trying to do. On the other side of that spectrum, Juniper and Matt realize that their relationship wasn't meant to last past high school, and in fact staying together would hold both of them back. And of course, Fitz and Juniper grow closer and closer as their interest align and they get to know each other.  
The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
I had no idea going into this that it was a one bed situation. Typically, I like the one bed trope, when it happens to an enemies to lovers at a hotel or a fake dating couple at a wedding, but the idea of renting a room knowing that you're sharing a bed with your roommate is so bizarre to me. And sure, they weren't in the bed at the same time, but it was still so odd, and it took me a long to time to get past that. Also, it took me a minute to get used to how Leon's mind worked and his chapters were written. Once I did get past those things I did enjoy the novel. The communication via notes was cute as anything and the two of them were such a good couple. Watching them get to know each other through their stuff and then through notes and then finally in person was unlike anything I've really read before and it was interesting to see how their perceptive of each other changed as time went on,
The Lake by Natasha Preston
Esme knows something is up from the very beginning of this novel, and I love it. She's immediately on guard and once bad things start happening she's not surprised. However, because this is a Natasha Preston YA Thriller, being prepared means nothing. All of the counselors have secrets that they're not willing to part with which means it takes them longer to figure out all of the connections between everyone and what exactly is going on. Not going to lie, I thought Kayla was kinda annoying. She was so scared of the truth getting out, but it was an accident that happened years before. It just seemed like they would have gotten through whatever repercussions came from telling the truth. And if they came clean, they would have been able to give more information to Andy. The final scene was really sad, and I wasn't expecting so much death, but there was one thing that made me a little more hopeful than most Preston Novels. Esme is left sitting with a bunch of dead teenagers and the gun that killed them, but she never actually touched the gun, so I think the police will believe that she didn't do anything.
Elle Kennedy
TikTok made me buy it! These Elle Kennedy books were all over my TikTok so I decided to buy The Off-Campus Series and then I quickly bought the Briar U Series. They're considered two different series, but they don't really need to be. They all follow Briar U hockey players (except Jake, who plays for Harvard) as they fall in love. Instead of giving overviews on all of them, I'm just going to share my favorite aspects of each one.

I quickly became obsessed with these books. I love new adult romances because the characters are typically in college so they're a bit more mature than those in YA, but they also tend to have more freedoms and responsibilities because they're living on a college campus, which can lead to more serious drama.  

All of these books cover serious topics including insecurities, sexual assault, strained family relationships, drugs, pregnancy, and death. However they do so while also being absolutely hysterical. The conversations they have are so realistic and ridiculous that I couldn't help but laugh to myself as I read.  
The Off-Campus Series
This series follows the four boys who live in the off-campus apartment. 
The Deal  
Garrett and Hannah: the couple that started it all. The hands-off law is great for a number of reasons. 1) It's hilarious that everyone took it so seriously. 2) I loved that Garrett did it not because he was being possessive, but because he knew there was something Hannah wasn't telling him. He was willing to give her space and time to come clean, but he wasn't willing to give up on their relationship.
The Mistake 
Logan is scared to go after what he wants because of his father. He doesn't pursue the NHL because he knows he has to work at his dad's auto body shop, so there's no point. He expects Grace will break up with him because when his dad falls down the stairs drunk Logan is the one who has to help pick him up. However, Grace knows that Logan is up for a challenge and isn't willing to give up that easily, which results in an amazing declaration of love that proves that just because you love someone doesn't mean you always like them. 
The Score 
Everyone told Dean and Allie not to get involved, but Dean isn't going to say no when Allie wants rebound sex and somehow it snowballed from there. The comfort scene is the best moment in this book. Dean's sole focus is on making Allie feel better, but it's combatted with his "I'll deal with you two later" attitude towards a shocked Garrett and Hannah. This book also has a terribly sad and unexpected death in it that turns Dean's whole world upside down, but sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to decide what's important.
The Goal 
A lot of people don't like this book (at least compared with the others) because it involves a pregnancy trope. However, the only issue I have with it is whether or not it was realistic. The way they got pregnant seemed like such a long shot, but obviously still possible. And then I just don't know if Sabrina would have been able to handle the Harvard Law workload and a newborn. I feel like she would have needed to defer for a year, but she made it work which was awesome to see. Other than that though I didn't mind the pregnancy trope. Especially because Tucker and Sabrina already had feelings for each other before they found out about the pregnancy. In fact they held back their feelings after that because they were afraid the other would think they were saying it for the sake of the baby. I think John Tucker is a stand up guy and Sabrina is a GirlBoss we should all be afraid of.
Briar U Series
This series include Fitz and Hunter, who took over the off-campus apartment lease, and also Jake and Conor who don't live there. The only complaint I have about this series is that there should have been a bonus Mike Hollis novella because he's nuts in the best possible way. Then again, maybe we wouldn't be able to handle getting a look inside his, or Rupi's minds.
The Chase
Fitz tried so hard not to like Summer. It was adorable to watch, but we all knew that they belonged together. And for a couple who tries to keep their relationship under wraps they get walked in on quite a few times. The greatest part was at the end when Dean finds out. 
The Risk
Jake and Brenna, the star-crossed lovers. One is the Briar coach's daughter. The other is a player for the rival team. Sounds dramatic, right? That's because it is, and people do not take kindly to the revelation. Thankfully, they eventually get over it and no one dies unnecessarily.  Also the good luck bracelet is the cutest thing.
The Play
I didn't love that Demi basically forced Hunter to have sex with her. Don't get me wrong, I like them as a couple, and I didn't mind that Demi and Conor were flirting to make him jealous, but I wish Hunter saw that as more of a joke than a real threat. It felt like their first time was more of something Hunter felt like he had to do than how he really wanted to do it. Obviously they were both interested in each other and it was only a matter of time until they got together, but how it happened wasn't great. 
The Dare 
It killed me that Taylor broke up with Conor for the same reason she got mad at him for breaking up with her. And she knows it! She calls herself out on it, but she rationalizes that his secret was about something in his past that could easily be fixed, while her's could effect her entire future. Which was true, but it still came down to miscommunication - typical!   



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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Books I read in January & February

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab 
This was a Book of the Month pick for me, but it was also all over my instagram feed. People were in love with it and I couldn't wait to read it, although I was a little skeptical because whenever books get the amount of hype that this one got, I tend to feel like the only person who doesn't understand. I understood it for this book. However, I did think it was a little slow. The writing and story was amazing, but it wasn't until Henry's revelation that I felt like I couldn't put it down. 

This novel goes back and forth in time, but I've also read Dr. Faustus a few times, so whenever it was a young Addie chapter, even though I already knew she makes the deal, I couldn't help warning her against it. Devils are like genies, there's always a catch and it's never good. I did respect that Addie caught on to this after her first mistake and was able to make sure her wording was more precise the second time she made a deal.

This story was heartbreaking from the very beginning, but there were plenty of times where it was lingering on the back burner so that Addie and Henry were able to have their time together and focus on each other. Sometimes you were able to forget that while one of them had all the time in the world, the other was trying to savor every minute. 

Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan
I've been anxious - we all have - but I'd never go as far as to say that I have anxiety. Sure parking in new locations can make me panic like nothing else, but that's become more of a funny understanding between my friends and me. What I'm trying to say is that I am no expert, and I don't know how much my opinion matter on this subject, but this novel has a main character with anxiety and I really liked how it was handled. 

I felt like I could really relate to Evelyn's anxiety, just on a lesser scale. And I loved how the people who care about her understood her anxiety, but also knew when to push her to try things out of her comfort zone. Chris, of course, was amazing with her, especially as a new comer in her life. He was quick to recognize when she needed someone to talk to or someone to just be around. 

Of course, the whole premise of the novel gets Evelyn out of her comfort zone as she's dating strangers bachelorette style for the radio show she produces. Take that cheating ex. Except, she does face the small problem that the person she wants to date isn't a contestant, but her boss who's hiding the fact that his dad owns the studio and is planning on closing it and firing everyone. So it's complicated, but eventually they're able to figure something out.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
I was excited for this one. Stalking Jack the Ripper is one of my favorite series, so I was PUMPED to read Maniscalco's newest book. Again, deals with devils. 

The world of witches and devils and creatures from hell is confusing to say the least and Emilia just wants answers about her sister's death. But when she starts to get them she learns that she's getting responses to questions she didn't even ask. She's learning that some of things she knew as truths are wrong or more complicated than she could have ever imagined. The rug has been pulled out from under her and the only person she can rely on is a devil that she doesn't want to trust.

I will say that the ending made me wish I didn't read this book until the second one was released so that I could keep going immediately. I have a ton of questions, but mostly I have high hopes for Emilia and Wrath, and while I think that will work itself out in the end, a lot needs to happen before that and I'm impatient to see what that will be. 

Marrying Mr. Wrong by Claire Kingsley
I love a Vegas wedding trope. They're just so fun to me because they're so unbelievable, but always seem so easy in novels. The characters are so surprised when their relationship falls apart, as if they were starting on such a strong foundation.

Camden Cox and Sophia aren't complete strangers, though, which is new for this trope. They actually lived on the same street for some time when they were little, but that was years ago. Now Cox is a multi-millionaire and Sophia is a klutzy assistant to her best friend's husband.  When they wake up married, Cox sees it as a PR dream come true to give himself a wholesome marriage image, and all it's going to cost is a new house for Sophia's father. Easy.

As they get closer, Cox and Sophia both find that there's little they wouldn't do for the other. However, when they realize they don't really know each other and questions of character imply mistrust, they have to decide if doing everything backwards was really the best option.

Hold Me Tight by Kate J. Blake*
Kate J Blake books are fun because they're quick. They take about an hour to read and everything happens so fast that it gives you whiplash. Because of this, they're perfect for getting out of a reading slump because you don't have chapters of characters being apart because of a fight.

Hold me Tight has Tyler and Emily, who were both crushing on each other before Emily moved for her mom's work. On the day she comes home, Tyler decides to make a move, but it doesn't go as planned. In fact, it actually sets them back a little bit and Emily decides to go on a date with someone else. Tyler, unable to accept this, decides to try again. 

It's cute and it's quick.

by Mist@ke by Signal Ehrlich*
Anna and Liam are both doing completely fine in life. Goal oriented and hard working, they both assume they'll settle down when life calms down. However, it seems fate has other ideas when Liam, who has completely written off serious relationships for the time being while his career falls into place, accidentally sends Anna an email meant for a friend and the two start getting to know each other. Intentions are made clear from the very beginning, but when feelings don't want to play by the rules both of them need to rethink their priorities.

I really liked Anna and Liam's characters. I thought their dedication to their careers was relatable. They both had goals before they met each other and they struggled to find the balance between work and a personal life. 

The one "negative" thing I will say about this book is that I couldn't figure out where it took place. I think it was in America, maybe the Pacific Northwest, but they said a few British things, like A4 paper, which confused me.
*This book was gifted. Opinions are my own

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Monday, January 4, 2021

Books I read in November & December

The Christmas Thief by Kate J Blake
Kate J Blake books move fast to say the least. The entirety of this one takes place over about three days. It is a quick, enjoyable romance about a woman named Crystal who lies on her application to get a better job within her company. Her boss, Jack, quickly figures out the lie and tries to call her on it by giving her a chance at the job. The first test he throws her way is making her work with him over Christmas. She ends up agreeing and then proving that she can do the job.

There were a few things about this book that didn't sit well with me. (SPOILER ALERT) 
One was that they both had teenage children, but acted like they didn't. They constantly talked about how much they loved their kids, but they just left town on Christmas Eve. It was explained that the kids didn't seem to mind, but it was so confusing to me. They also never meet each other's kids. They're engaged by the end of the week, but they don't even think of trying to blend the families beforehand. 

There is also no need to travel for work on Chritsmas. Even if Jack made her work on Christmas day they wouldn't be going to meetings. It didn't make sense that they had to do that.  

The speed of this novel is also ridiculous. It makes no sense that so much can happen in a few days. Sure they could have hooked up and gotten in a fight, but the engagement at the end really threw it over the edge for me. 

Finally, on her resume Crystal didn't put her full name because she didn't think she'd be considered if Jack knew she was a woman straightaway, which she tells him. Then, later in the book he says that he avoided working with women because he didn't want to get his heart broken. Which means Crystal isn't special in the slightest. Jack potentially could have fallen in love with any woman he hired. As a boss, that's not a good look.
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Edie is starting over, although it's not completely by choice. Her aunt and uncle decided that a family feud wasn't a good enough excuse to keep their niece in the foster care system, especially when taking her out made the neighbors see how generous they could be. But there are a few perks to moving in with her cousins in a huge house in Mansfield. The neighbor is just as cute as she remembered, and while she harbors a huge crush for him, his girlfriend's brother is willing to drop the asshole act for her. 

I found myself really liking Henry's character. His decision to fake date Edie to keep his sister at bay, even though he made it clear he'd be more than happy to do more than fake makeout, was kind, which totally went against his normal womanizing attitude. And it worked out for him, so that was great. When he and Edie do break up, I found myself conflicted. I wanted her to end up with Sebastian because they both clearly liked each other in a way that could last longer than the summer, but I didn't want Henry to get hurt. Thankfully, he took it like a champ and refused to be someone a girl settles for because her first choice was unavailable. He made it clear that he was sad, but he didn't become vindictive or angry. 

Edie herself was also a fascinating character. She spent the novel keeping her cousins from bickering, crushing on her neighbor, caring for her boyfriend, saving for college, and trying to rebuild a friendship she left behind. It was a lot, but she was able to take everything and learn a lot about herself. I loved how she was able to look at her friendship with Sebastian and understand why Clare was jealous. Clare was mean, but Edie understood her position, which led to her forcing herself to temporarily distance herself from Sebastian even though she didn't want to. The tricky part was that Edie and Sebastian were constantly drawn to each other, so even when she tried to stay away, she couldn't. She knew to do this because it's what she should have done when her best friend's boyfriend kissed her. No, she wasn't responsible for the kiss, but she didn't push him away, and she ignored a few signs that might have kept her from the situation in the first place. When Edie stops using excuses as crutches (no matter how valid they may be), she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

The Twin by Natasha Preston
This was not my first Natasha Preston novel, so I started it knowing that there was a high probability that the ending would be...frustrating. What I wasn’t prepared for was the entire book making me want to rip my hair out. Don’t get me wrong, the book is great, and I think I reacted just how Preston wanted me to. 

One person. That’s all I wanted—one person to trust Ivy. I had high hopes for the boyfriend, but he let me down. Then I thought of the therapist, but nope—another disappointment. My Hail Mary was a recording device at the very end, a hopeful cliffhanger. Nothing. Everyone was the worst. The swim coach really ticked me off because she knew Ivy didn’t want her sister on the team, and she let her on anyway. It’s not like she was good. 

It also baffled me that Ivy was like, “I don’t want to be around my sister in school,” and everyone was like, “That’s not an option.” What?! No matter what you think of Ivy, she clearly started having issues once her sister arrived, so give her some space and see what happens. It seemed like a simple solution to me. 

Poor Ivy loses her mother, and then her twin sister turns her entire life upside down, and nobody is there for her. Everyone writes it off as grief, and even when Ivy tries to tell people what’s wrong, they refuse to believe her but have no issue listening to the twin sister that just appeared out of nowhere. Like I said, rip your hair out frustrating. 

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens 
Timing is key. That’s the theme of this novel. Minnie and Quinn’s lives are constantly intersecting on New Year’s Eve, and they have no idea. Starting the day they were born: Quinn becomes the baby new year, and Minnie is just a minute too late.  

When they finally meet on their thirteenth birthday, it begins a year of random encounters and growing affections. But it also brings a year of change for both characters as they finally sit down with themselves and decide what kind of life they each want to lead and who they want in it. 

I liked this book a lot. It was an easy read that made me laugh and wonder if there was anyone I had unknowingly crossed paths with more than once. The entire time I read Taylor Swift’s song, “invisible string” seemed to play in the background. 

Atomic Love by Jennie Fields
I loved this one! Rosalind is awesome. I want to be her. I'm terrible at science, but she makes it sound awesome. Except for the fact that she lost her job after the war because the men came back and she had to start working in a jewelry store. But that's what happened after WWII and it's annoying.

I loved her relationship with Szydlo. Especially at the beginning when it was clear they got along well and liked being in each other's company, but it wasn't totally clear whether or not anything would happen between them. And then when things do progress, but she's still kind of dating Weaver to get information out of him, which was Szydlo's idea and quickly became a regret. 

I didn't want Weaver to stick around, but I wasn't expecting the way he left either, or the last few chapters of the novel. They truly showed how dangerous Rosalind's task was of finding out about what Weaver told the Russians.

The characters and story of this novel were so well written. I would definitely recommend adding this one to your TBR pile.

Well Played by Jen DeLuca
The sequel to Well Met this novel follows fellow tavern wrench Stacey as she begins an online relationship with someone the faire hires every year. The only catch is she thinks she's talking to the lead singer, Dex, whom she's slept with for the past two summers, when in reality she's talking to his cousin and band manager, Daniel.

Their emails and texts let them get to know each other in a very intimate way, which is why Stacey is so shocked when she finds out that the person she's talking to isn't the person she's imagining. However, she shakes it off quickly and realizes that Dex would never be able to write as well as Daniel. 

I found Stacey extremely relatable. She's happy but also just kinda going through the motions of life. My favorite scene is at the end when she's in the bar and Mitch is calling her out on how easy it would be for her to live on the road. She wants to and is willing to change, but there always seems to be something holding her back. Mainly, her fear about her mother's health, which made her pass up on her dreams years before.

I loved Daniel too. I felt bad that he always feels like he come sin second to his performer cousins. I thought it was sweet when Stacey realized she would have to be the one to make a grand gesture because Daniel thinks his chances with her are over.

I love this world that Jen DeLuca has created and I can't wait for the third novel this fall!

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Friday, January 1, 2021

Plans for 2021


It doesn't seem like many people are sad to be saying goodbye to 2020. And while I agree that the pandemic really messed with a lot of my plans, there was still a lot of things that happened in 2020 that were exciting and fun. 

The biggest thing from this year was that I got my Master's Degree in Creative Writing! Between the strikes and the pandemic I wasn't in class a lot of the time, but I still completed plenty of assignments and I met amazing people. I became a published writer when our anthology was released. Most importantly, I got to do all of it in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was beautiful and so fun to explore.

When I got home from Scotland in June I was reunited with my family and childhood friends. We spent plenty of time together and shared a ton of laughs.

Now for 2021 goals...

BOOKS
I always set a Goodreads challenge. In 2020 I started with a goal of 50 but dropped it to 40. I completed the 40 books, but this year I'm going to try for the 50. I still have my Book of the Month subscription, which I love and motivates me to try new genres every once in a while. 
I am hoping to get more into classic novels this year. I started collecting the Chiltern Publishing editions and now I have to read them! 

TRAVEL
So many of my friends moved out of state after college and now I want to visit them all! I at least want to see all of them in person at least once this year, whether I go to them or they come to me. There are also the friends I made in Scotland that I would like to keep in contact with. I don't know what travel is going to look like this year, but I'm going to do as much as I can. 

LIFE
My biggest life goal for 2021 is to get a full-time job. I've been doing a ton of tutoring, which has been great, but hopefully, the kids are back in school next fall, so at the end of this school year I would like to have something lined up for myself. I still want to work in publishing somehow, and I'm trying to make connections in the field, but the pandemic has been making it challenging.

ETC.
This year I also want to make better habits for myself. Specifically, I want to create better writing and exercising routines for myself. 

What are your goals for 2021?

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