ARC Review: No Judgments by Meg Cabot

Synopsis:

no judgments.jpgWhen a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from William Morrow at BookExpo. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 24, 2019.*

I typically love Meg Cabot’s books. Whether it’s her YA novels or her adult novels, I almost always enjoy them. Which is why I was very disappointed by No Judgments.

It’s been a while since I read a Cabot book, but she was signing at BookExpo and I figured why not. I mean, she’s Meg Cabot. She’s, to put it mildly, a legend and an inspiration. I could not miss out. So I got an ARC of this book, which I didn’t really know much about, and decided to give it a try (after I read the quick novella that precedes it, Bridal Boot Camp). Unfortunately, No Judgments wasn’t really interesting.

The novel follows Bree who lives on Little Bridge Island, a fictional island off the coast of Florida, that she used to visit with her family over the summer. Except Bree is now there to stay because her father is dead, her ex sucks, and her mom didn’t totally believe her when she tried to explain why her ex sucks. The premise of this novel, at least based on the synopsis, is that a hurricane comes through the island and many residents have to leave the island without their pets so Bree decides to rescue them all. With some help from the town hottie Drew, of course.

The issue is that plot point doesn’t come until you’re about halfway through the book. Most of the book is build up to the hurricane. Bree gets calls from pretty much everyone who’s not on the island warning her to leave; she refuses. Meanwhile, everyone on the island is chilling as if a hurricane isn’t heading right towards them. Basically, there were just way too many conversations about this hurricane and not enough actual romance, which is simply because the romance doesn’t really get going until the hurricane arrives.

Thus, I was pretty bored for most of the novel. Once the hurricane hit things got a little more interesting, but because it took so long to build up to the romance it just ended up feeling pretty rushed to me. There wasn’t really any kind of slow burn or instalove with conflict that pulls them apart and then they make their way back to each other. Bree and Drew kind of just fell into each other and then the book was pretty much over.

Therefore, I cannot recommend this Cabot novel. Don’t let this dissuade from reading Cabot’s books entirely if you haven’t yet though. I suggest reading the Mediator series if you love YA and The Boy Next Door series if you like adult romance. But No Judgments? Skip it.

Highlight here (sexual assault/harassment memory) for trigger warnings!

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars:

2 stars

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ARC Review: Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Synopsis:

frankly in loveFrank Li has two names. There’s Frank Li, his American name. Then there’s Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California.

Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl–which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white.

As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he’s forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don’t leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he’s left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all.

In this moving debut novel—featuring striking blue stained edges and beautiful original endpaper art by the author—David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Penguin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 10, 2019.*

I would argue that Frankly in Love by David Yoon is the most highly anticipated YA release of this fall. Besides the fact that Yoon is married to NYT bestselling author Nicola Yoon, the book has been everywhere. And did you see the book trailer? If not, do yourself a favor and watch it here!

My point is, the hype for this book is off the charts and ultimately well deserved.

The premise of the book is one of my favorite tropes in the history of tropes. Frank Li is falling for a white girl, Brit Means, but his Korean parents only want him to date another Korean American person. Thankfully, Frank’s friend Joy Song fits the bill perfectly. Thus, they hatch a plan to pretend to date each other so that Frank can date Brit and Joy can continue to date her Chinese American boyfriend. Of course, nothing could possibly go wrong in this scenario.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, I totally know how this will end, this is so predictable, blah blah blah. Except, you’d be wrong. Because while Frankly in Love is being sold as a rom com, I hate to be the one to inform you that it goes way deeper than that. I’m talking almost-made-me-cry-on-the-train deeper than that. Yoon uses Frank’s love life as an entry point to discuss the nuances and difficulties that come with being the child of immigrants and he does so brilliantly.

Frank has to reconcile with the fact that his parents are racist, but also that they come from a completely different life than the one he lives. Frank struggles with being the kind of son his parents want him to be while also trying to figure out what being Korean American means to him. It’s a constant culture clash for Frank and while he disagrees with his parents on many things, he’s also can’t deny how much they’ve sacrificed for him and his older sister to have the lives they do.

With all that said, I urge you not to go into Frankly in Love expecting a romance novel. That’s not what this is. Yes there is a romance, and it is really great, don’t get me wrong. But this book also deals with heavy topics and it will certainly surprise you, but for me, those surprises worked in the best way. I truly could not put this book down and I loved it from beginning to end. That is why I highly recommend picking up Frankly in Love when it goes on sale.

Highlight this space (parental death, cancer) for trigger warnings!

Borrow or Buy: Buy it, duh!

Stars:

5 stars

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Blog Tour Review: Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker

Synopsis:

say-you-still-love-me-9781501133442_hr.jpgLife is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway.

On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counselors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is still alive and strong, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book via Atria Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on August 6, 2019.*

I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour for K. A. Tucker’s upcoming novel, Say You Still Love Me. Full disclosure, I hadn’t read a novel by Tucker prior to this book but the synopsis sounded so good and I love romance so I figured why not and I was not disappointed.

This novel jumps between the present when our protagonist Piper is dealing with sexism at her father’s office and the past were Piper is a counselor at a summer camp for the first time. At both stages of Piper’s life she runs into Kyle Miller, a man who’s the opposite of who her father would believe is a good match for her. The difference? In the present, Kyle pretends he doesn’t remember Piper and in the past they were each others first love.

Thus, while in the past we see Kyle and Piper fall in love and then fall apart, in the present we see them try to find their way back to each other and man did they pull at my heartstrings. It’s so easy to question how two people who are obviously meant to be together struggle to get together but I felt for both Kyle and Piper. Their issues were real and valid, and trying to untangle the mystery of their past kept me turning page after page. I truly couldn’t put this book down and finished it in a day.

The romance was steamy with a dash of smut, but what Tucker almost effortlessly pulled off was the twist at the end. I was totally unprepared to discover what happened during that summer at camp and the unfortunate outcome of it all. Yes this story is about Kyle and Piper but I like how Tucker made this into a bigger story, encompassing Kyle and Piper’s friends from camp as well.

Overall, this was a great read for me. I’ll definitely be checking out more of Tucker’s books in the future. Make sure to grab your copy when the book goes on sale on August 6 and/or enter to win a copy here!

More About the Author

k. a. tucker.jpg

Photo Credit: Christa Hogan, Storeybook Studios

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge. She is the bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series and the novels He Will Be My RuinUntil It FadesKeep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. She currently resides in a quaint town outside Toronto with her husband and two beautiful girls.

Borrow or Buy: Buy for the cover alone honestly (though the inside is just as wonderful, obviously).

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Review: Maybe This Time by Kasie West

Synopsis:

maybe this time.jpgOne year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book via #booksfortrade on Twitter. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on July 9, 2019.*

I’m a big Kasie West fan and have made it my mission to read every romance novel she writes, which is why I was so happy to snag an ARC of her latest novel.

Maybe This Time follows Sophie, a small town girl who desperately wants to move to the big city (New York). Over the course of the year we follow Sophie as her job working at a flower shop requires her to attend various events. Also attending those events are her best friend, Micah, who works for her dad’s catering company, and the new guy in town, Andrew Hart, who’s celebrity chef dad has taken Micah’s father under his wing.

After Andrew and Sophie have the opposite of a meet-cute, Sophie is totally over him, and Andrew isn’t exactly her biggest fan either. Thus begins one of my favorite tropes: hate-to-love. As the two are forced together again and again, Sophie begins to consider why Andrew gets under her skin. Sophie also has to confront her feelings about her parents and the small town that she loves but also can’t wait to leave.

Sophie is judgmental and headstrong, but she loves her little brother, Gunnar, and Micah fiercely. It was good to see Sophie be called out for her harsh treatment of some of the people in her life, but also recognize that there’s nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself than the life other’s think is right for you.

West did an excellent job of showing how nothing is ever just black and white. Our hopes and dreams are complicated. Love and friendship is complicated. Family is really complicated. And so while I loved the romance of this novel, I get why this was the first West romance cover with just the female protagonist on the cover. This wasn’t just a love story, this was about Sophie finding herself and understanding what she really wanted and then going after it.

I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a cute summer read that you won’t be able to put down. I certainly couldn’t stop reading until the very last page.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Review: Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi

Synopsis:

permanent record.jpgOn paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 3, 2019.*

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a novel that felt like the New York City I know and love. I think a lot of books about NYC are centered around the rich areas and the Upper East Side but the world in which Pablo exists in is the one I know. The New York that makes you forget you live in a big city because you’re running into the same people in your neighborhood all the time. The city where you have to struggle sometimes and shake your head at how expensive everything is but know you’ll never leave.

The city where your homies are and you’re all struggling to make it, doing your side hustle along with your day job. That’s the city I know and Mary H. K. Choi displayed it perfectly. I’d love to listen to the audiobook when it comes out because I could practically hear the conversations in my head as I read. The slang was perfect and not forced. I felt like I was hanging out with my cousins and friends, not reading about fictional characters.

Similarly, Choi did a great of showing Pablo’s vision of the world in stark contrast to Leanna Smart, the pop star he falls for. Choi didn’t write some kind of epic romance between a boy in debt and the pop princess who rescues him with her money. She wrote a story that felt real. Pablo’s disassociation from his problems and growing debt was just as real as Leanna’s feelings about her lack of freedom and being trapped in what was very much a privileged life.

Nothing about this story felt forced or unrealistic, which is why I loved it so much. Choi gave us a love story while also keeping Pablo at the center because ultimately this was his story. This was about his mental health struggles and him carving out a future for himself with the help of his family and friends. Pablo was so relatable and it was great reading a story about a young adult who failed his own expectations for himself. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that looks so closely at the difficulty many students face when weighing attending their “dream school” that they think will determine their future against the actual cost of that dream.

Choi handles so many different topics in this novel, just like she did in Emergency Contact, and she handled them with the same level of care and nuance that made me love her debut. I can’t wait for everyone to read this book because there is so much to talk about. This is definitely one I can see myself rereading and getting something new out of it every time.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

ARC Review: Amelia Westlake Was Never Here by Erin Gough

Synopsis:

amelia westlake was never here.jpgA fiercely funny, queer romantic comedy about two girls who can’t stand each other, but join forces in a grand feminist plan to expose harassment and inequality at their elite private school.

Harriet Price is the perfect student: smart, dutiful, over-achieving. Will Everhart is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo reluctantly team up to expose his misdeeds, pulling provocative pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school–who is Amelia Westlake?–and between Harriet and Will, how long can they keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?

Award-winning author Erin Gough’s Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a funny, smart, and all-too-timely story of girls fighting back against power and privilege–and finding love while they’re at it.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and The Novl. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 21, 2019.*

In Amelia Westlake Was Never Here there is a hate-to-love story and girls teaming up to take down their problematic all-girls private school through pranks I wish I’d come up with when I was in school. This book was so hard to put down, which is why I didn’t. I loved it from start to finish and now I will work to convince you to pick it up because I know you will love it too.

The novel is told in alternating first person POVs of Will and Harriet. Will is the rebel with a lot of causes. She only has one real friend at school, Natasha, and isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes is right…which is partially why she doesn’t have many friends. Harriet, on the other hand, has a group of friends and a girlfriend and is seen as the model student at her school. To Harriet her school is perfect. Sure, it may have some flaws but it’s not as problematic as Will thinks it is.

However, when Harriet tasks herself with making sure Will stays for her full time of detention after their teacher leaves the room, the two end up teaming up to draw a cartoon that calls out their gym teacher for his sexist behavior and thus the pseudonym Amelia Westlake is born. But after Natasha, the editor of the student newspaper, realizes Amelia isn’t real she scrapes Amelia’s cartoons. Thankfully, Will and Harriet aren’t easily deterred and decide to continue revealing the school’s issues through various pranks that are downright brilliant.

Together, the girls light the spark their classmates need to begin calling out the school’s problems, and as their voices get louder real change begins to happen. And the more Will and Harriet work together as Amelia the closer they become. If you love romance and books that are all about fighting the power, Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is perfect you! It’s a fun, quick read that also deals with very real issues. Definitely add this book to your TBR if you haven’t already.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Review: We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra

Synopsis:

WCM_FinalCover.jpgAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets I’ll Give You the Sun in an exhilarating and emotional novel about the growing relationship between two teens boys, told through the letters they write to one another.

Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam “Kurl” Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship…and each other.
This rare and special novel celebrates love and life with engaging characters and stunning language, making it perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nina LaCour, and David Levithan.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and The Novl. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 14, 2019.*

I love epistolary novels and Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, so when I saw We Contain Multitudes comped to AADDTSOTU and that it was told in the form of the letters I was immediately sold. Thankfully, this novel did not disappoint.

My favorite thing about epistolary novels is that they dive pretty straight into the plot, because of course the author has to explain why the novel is being told this way and Sarah Henstra handled it perfectly. We began with Adam “Kurl” Kurlansky called Jonathan Hopkirk Little JO. If you thought JO was short for Jonathan you’d be mistaken. Instead it was short for Jerkoff, because that was how Kurl envisioned all sophomores, which JO was. The reason for their letter writing came through their English teacher, Ms. Khang. She started a project in which the students in her Grade Twelve Applied English class (Kurl) would write letters to the students in her sophomore English class (JO). I loved the concept and Kurl’s opening letter, so I was immediately hooked.

What I loved most about these pair of characters was how incredibly different they were but how they also had a number of similarities. JO was a gay student who was 100 percent out of the closest and wore what his sister’s BFF referred to as “Walt Whitman cosplay.” Unfortunately, this caused JO to be bullied in school by people whe called the “butcherboys” a term he pulled from a Whitman poem. In case it wasn’t clear, JO was a big fan of Whitman.

Differently, Kurl was a football player until he recently walked off the team. He was known around school for getting into fights and having to retake classes. For the most part, Kurl kept to himself and he was a hard person to read. Thankfully, through letters Kurl began to open up to JO and vice versa, sparking a friendship that gradually grew into something more.

However, while the two grew closer they were both still dealing with issues both at home and at school. Henstra did an excellent job of tackling a variety of heavy topics, including domestic abuse, homophobia, bullying, PTSD, and more. They way in which Henstra weaved this story together through Kurl and JO’s retelling of events, sometimes having one start the story and the other finish it, was brilliant.

My only critique, and I’m not sure I’d even say this really is one, is you have to kind of give yourself over to the story and not question it too much. There were moments when I found myself wondering how realistic it was that Kurl or JO would take a moment out of what they were doing to pen a letter to the other, especially when things became very high stakes in the present. However, I was able to push past those questions because the book was just too good for me to care much about the logistics of it all.

Thus, overall, I’d say this is a must-read novel. I absolutely loved it and would personally like to chuck it in the face of everyone I know while I yelled, “Read this book immediately, or else!” In sum, buy this book.

Borrow or Buy: See above.

Stars:

5 stars

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