ARC Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Synopsis:

twice in a blue moon.jpgSam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley. 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 October 22, 2019.*

I went into this novel not really knowing much because at this point if Christina Lauren wrote it I’m going to read it. Period. So I was intrigued to find that we were beginning in the past and that it would not be an alternating past and present type of situation but a lot of past and then a jump to the present. This wasn’t a format I expected but I was into it and it made sense for the plot.

The story is told solely in Tate Jones’ POV. She is the daughter of a big movie star, but when she was a kid her mom left her father and they moved back to her mother’s hometown where they kept Tate’s true identity a secret. Thus, Tate grew up out of the spotlight but she also had to keep this major secret from pretty much everyone in her life.

Enter Sam Brandis. While on vacation in London with her grandmother Tate meets Sam and it’s basically love at first sight. And as one is wont to do when they’re in love (or so I’ve heard) Tate bared her soul to Sam, which included telling him her the truth about her identity. Unfortunately, Sam, along with his grandfather, then left London and Tate’s secret was leaked to the tabloids.

Fast forward to the present and now Tate is a well known actress in her own right. Her relationship with her absentee father is strained at best but Tate is hoping that by working on a movie together that’ll bring them closer. However, what Tate wasn’t expecting was to run into Sam on the set of the film. Now Tate is stuck on location with her father and the guy who sold her secret. What’s a girl to do? Fake it until you make it, amirite?

I really loved this story because it wasn’t black and white. What Sam did to Tate was wrong but it launched her career in a way. Additionally, he of course had his reasons. Whether or not those reasons were valid…well I’ll let you read the book and decide for yourself. The more important question is whether or not Tate is able to forgive him and then trust him.

Obviously, the book dealt a lot with forgiveness and trust, but this wasn’t just through Sam and Tate but also with Tate and her father, which I found really interesting. I also loved learning Sam’s backstory and the movie that Tate was working on was just as interesting as Tate’s own story. The film dealt with racial prejudice and it was really well done. Honestly, I wish it was a real movie. I’d watch it.

But anyway, my point is I enjoyed this book. I wanted a bit more from the ending because it didn’t feel totally resolved to me, but otherwise it was a great read.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. I actually don’t think I’d reread this one, unfortunately.

Stars:

4 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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ARC Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Synopsis:

the bride test.jpgKhai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Berkley Romance via Edelweiss+. 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 7, 2019.*

I loved The Kiss Quotient so when I learned Helen Hoang had another book coming I knew I needed it. Thus, I was incredibly excited when my request for the eARC was accepted and though I didn’t love The Bride Test as much as The Kiss Quotient I still really enjoyed it.

The Bride Test follows Khai, an autistic man who believes he can never fall in love, and Esme, a Vietnamese immigrant who’s come to America to try to woo Khai and convince him to marry her. For Esme, she believes Khai is the key to starting a new and better life for her family in America and she’ll do whatever it takes to make him interested, and it’ll take a lot.

I absolutely loved this concept. Khai’s mother literally told Khai Esme was coming to live with him and by the end of the summer he had to decide to either marry her or send her back to Vietnam. Just like that. Honestly, his mom was hilarious and I loved her. I also thought it was interesting that because autism wasn’t something Esme was familiar with she didn’t fully understand Khai’s “disorder” and didn’t even see it as one. She just thought he was different, but accepted him as he was, which is how it should be.

Their chemistry was amazing and I loved the constant missteps they took with each other until they found their rhythm. They’re vastly different, but also worked so well together and I definitely swooned a number of times while reading. The romance made my heart race and then groan in frustration every time Khai convinced himself it wasn’t real. I think that was my biggest gripe with this novel. Every time Khai denied having feelings for Esme I wanted to throw my book (Kindle) across the room, but I also understood this was a big issue for him.

Besides the romance, I really liked how this book tackled family, immigration, and the different ways people grief. I’m not autistic but like Khai I’ve definitely been accused of not handling someone’s death the right way, and to see how well Khai’s mom and his brother, Quan, helped Khai and others understand Khai’s emotions was really nice to see.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I wanted a little more from the ending because the epilogue seemed a bit rushed to me and I felt like I missed something. Otherwise though, I definitely recommend reading this book and I can’t wait to read whatever Hoang writes next.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

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