ARC Review: The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

91giDZnnoyL.jpgSynopsis:

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Harper Voyager. 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 was released today.*

Note: There will be spoilers from The City of Brass in this review.

When I first started this novel I wasn’t sure if I was ready to get back into this world. There was a lot going on here. There were different tribes of djinn, the shafit, old histories and secrets, and now three different points of view instead of just the two that were in the first book, not to mention the five year time jump. In sum, I was a bit overwhelmed and I was nervous that all the world building would leave me confused and frustrated. Thankfully, that was not the case.

I don’t know how Chakraborty does it, but even when I had questions I was still deeply enthralled in this novel. I needed to know what would happen next with Nahiri, Ali, and Dara and how their lives would come crashing back together once again. And boy was it a fun ride when they finally did. Can you say messy? But anyway.

At the start of the novel, the three main characters were separated and all dealing with their own issues. Nahiri was now married to Prince Muntadhir and had fully grown into her role as the Banu Nahida, healing many but still under the control of the king, Ghassan. Ali, the banished prince, was able to make a life for himself outside of Daevabad only to be dragged back to the city due to a ploy by his mother’s family. And then there was Dara. Brought back from the dead (again) he found himself working with Nahiri’s presumed dead mother, Manizheh, who planned to overthrow Ghassan and return Daevabad to Nahid rule, no matter the cost.

Each of the main characters were working towards what they believed was the good of Daevabad and it was so interesting to see how they all fell short in some ways and also clashed. There was a lot of animosity between the characters as well as the tribes they belonged to and honestly, I still don’t know if they can all ever really find peace amongst each other.

What I can say is this story didn’t pull back any punches. There were twists! There was murder! There were love connections that I pray come to fruition in the last book! It ended on a magnificent cliff hanger! There was a lot going on, but I was invested and the story and the characters, and more often than not when I did have questions they were answered.

In sum, while the world building can definitely feel like a lot at points, if you pay attention you get it, and once you do you’ll find yourself immersed in a world that you’ll find difficult to pull yourself out of. Trust me, I stayed up until 4 a.m. reading this book. I know.

Buy or Borrow: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

Other Reviews
The Book Smugglers
Metaphors and Moonlight
Vicky Who Reads

ARC Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Synopsis

serious moonlight.jpgMystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Simon and Schuster UK. 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 April 16 in the U.S. and May 16 in the UK.*

I became a fan of Jenn Bennett when I read Alex, Approximately and absolutely fell in love with her writing. The way Bennett writes romance and handles various different issues from mental health to familial conflict with a gentle touch, I can never get sick of her writing and that remained true with Serious Moonlight.

At first I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fall into this book like I had with her other books because I wasn’t connecting with the main character, Birdie, but that changed pretty quickly. The novel begins with Birdie getting ready for her first day—night, actually—of work at a hotel. This is Birdie’s first real job, because her grandmother, who recently passed away, was incredibly strict. Birdie has lived a pretty sheltered life since her mother died when she was 10 and she went to live with her grandparents on an island near Seattle. However, Birdie is ready to put herself out there…kind of.

She may have gotten a little excited the first time she discovered freedom when she was looking for a job a little while before where the novel begins. It was then that she met Daniel Aoki at the Moonlight Diner. Instantly attracted to him and feeling daring, she ended up losing her virginity to him in the back of his car. Naturally, as soon as it was over Birdie freaked out and she ran, determined to never see him again. That was until she realized the guy driving the van during her shift at the hotel was Daniel himself. Awkward.

Though Birdie wanted to do everything but talk about that night or even interact with Daniel at all, Daniel had different plans. Knowing that Birdie was obsessed with mysteries he enlists her to help him solve a mystery at the hotel. Unable to resist, Birdie agreed to be partners with Daniel and sleuthing ensued. Together, they looked for clues about a mysterious guest at the hotel and along the way Birdie was forced to confront her feelings for Daniel and what they did in the back of his car.

Thankfully, Birdie had the help of her Aunt Mona, who wasn’t really her aunt but her mom’s best friend, and her Grandpa to help her figure out the mystery as well as her relationship, or lack thereof, with Daniel. Still, figuring out what she wanted was one thing, but actually doing something about it was something totally different.

Besides the adorable romance in this novel and the mystery, I was fascinated by Birdie’s struggles with undiagnosed narcolepsy. I can’t remember ever reading a book about someone, particularly a teen, struggling with narcolepsy and I thought Bennett handled it perfectly. In addition, Bennett also discussed mental health issues in a way that I would love to see more of. I won’t go into it because spoilers, but I really liked how everything was discussed between the characters.

All in all, this was another win for Bennett in my book. She has yet to disappoint me and at this point I doubt she ever will. Make sure to pick this book up when it’s released.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it, obviously!

Stars:

4 stars

Other Reviews
Literary Dust
shelovestoread

ARC Review: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Synopsis:

if i'm being honestCameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: b*tch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school–she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her brutal honesty. But when she slips up in front of her crush, Andrew, any affection he may have had for her quickly fades. To win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Shakespeare’s infamous shrew, Katherine. If she makes amends with everyone she’s ever wronged, Andrew will have to take notice. Thus, Cameron begins her apology tour with Brendan, the guy whose social life she single-handedly destroyed. At first, Brendan isn’t so quick to forgive, but slowly he warms to her when they connect over a computer game he’s developing. To Cameron’s amazement, she actually enjoys hanging out with Brendan; he appreciates her honesty in a way Andrew never did, and she’s left wondering: maybe you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are for the kind of love you deserve.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

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 April 23, 2019.*

I hadn’t read Always Never Yours before I heard about this book, but you better believe I will now. I already got a copy of it from the library, because I loved these authors writing so much and I’m desperate for more.

If I’m Being Honest is a Taming of the Shrew retelling done right, not that I ever read the William Shakespeare play, nor will I after the vibes I was getting about it in this book. If I’m Being Honest follows Cameron Bright, a high school senior who’s crush, Andrew, just called her a bitch. Ouch! But Cameron’s not the quitting type and she’s going to do what it takes to make Andrew realize she’s not a bitch, she’s just honest. Cameron starts by trying to apologize to Paige, the girl she was brutally honest with in front of Andrew and the cause of this whole mess, at least in Cameron eyes.

There’s just one problem. Paige can see right through Cameron’s nice girl act, which means Cameron has to step up her game and that means befriending Paige’s younger brother, Brendan, or as Cameron called him “Barfy Brendan,” a nickname of her own creation that has been detrimental to his social life for years. However, Brendan’s not at all interested in whatever it is Cameron has to say and it’ll take a lot of work to convince Brendan she’s genuinely trying to help and right her wrongs.

As Cameron works on getting Brendan to let her fix her mistakes, she ends up righting a number of other wrongs she’s made, including helping her one and only ex get back with the girlfriend he cheated on with Cameron. While Cameron begins to adjust her ideas of what’s being honest and what’s being cruel, her determination to not be a bitch becomes less about Andrew and more about being her best self.

This book contained a great romance that made me swoon, a number of laughs, and dealt with some real issues, mainly the verbal abuse Cameron’s father doled out on her and her mother. My only problem with this novel was the resolution between Cameron and her mother. While Cameron’s dad was consistently absent from Cameron’s life physically, her mother was absent mentally, as she was focused more on getting Cameron’s dad attention than having a steady job to pay the bills. I thought the explanation for why she was the way she was didn’t really make sense, but I’m willing to overlook it because overall I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down and stayed up past 4 a.m. to finish it. I highly recommend reading this is if you’re looking for a quick romance filled with heart.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

ARC Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Synopsis:

The_Wicked_King_coverAfter the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from The Novl/Little, Brown 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 January 8, 2019.*

Wow. Just wow.

Just when I thought I knew exactly what Holly Black was going to do she was like, “Lol nope.” This book was a ride, which shouldn’t have been surprising after the doozy that was The Cruel Prince, but I was still shook.

The Wicked King begins five months after the end of The Cruel Prince and Cardan is Jude’s puppet king, though everyone believes she’s simply Cardan’s seneschal. Still, though Jude has the power to command Cardan to do whatever she pleases, it is still difficult for Jude to maintain her control over the new High King. What’s worse is her year and a day of control over Cardan is coming to an end quicker than she can imagine, and Jude struggles to come up with a plan to extend her bargain with Cardan.

On top of everything else, Jude is also still reeling from her sister, Taryn’s, betrayal as well as dealing with the fallout of her own betrayal against her quasi-dad, Madoc. Thus, to say Jude may be a little in over her head is an understatement, but that’s what makes this book so fun. Jude has proved again and again that while she may be a mortal living in the world of Faerie she knows how to play the games of the fae just as well, if not better, than they do.

That said, there are a lot of forces working against Jude and the High King, some she doesn’t even know about. Though the fae can’t lie they can certainly deceive and while Jude may be able to out maneuver the best of them she may not be able to best them all.

At first this novel did start a bit slow for me, but once it picked up I couldn’t put it down. And the ending! I need book three yesterday. It was so good. Everything from Jude being the badass I came to love in book one to the continued sexual tension between her and Cardan had me turning page after to page to find out what would happen next. There were fights, kissing, betrayal, and the TWISTS! I don’t know how Black does it but she needs to teach a master class. This book was brilliant and I need everyone to read it as soon as it comes out because I’m dying to talk about it!

In sum, buy this book, read this book, and then come back here to fangirl with me because I am reeling! That is all.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

Other Reviews
Wayward Reviews
Ramblings of a Bookworm
Sadie B. Writer

Blog Tour + Excerpt: The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Teri Wilson’s new novel, The Accidental Beauty Queen, which is on sale today! Learn more about the novel and read an excerpt below!

Synopsis

the-accidental-beauty-queen-9781501197604_hrIn this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize. 

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.

About the Author

Teri Wilson is the author/creator of the Hallmark Channel Original Movies Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and The Art of Us, as well as a fourth Hallmark movie currently in development. Teri is a double finalist in the prestigious 2018 RWA RITA awards for her novels The Princess Problem and Royally Wed. Teri also writes an offbeat fashion column for the royal blog What Would Kate Do and is a frequent guest contributor for its sister site, Meghan’s Mirror. She’s been a contributor for both HelloGiggles and Teen Vogue, covering books, pop culture, beauty, and everything royal. In 2017, she served as a national judge for the Miss United States pageant in Orlando, Florida, and has since judged in the Miss America system. She has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses, Audrey Hepburn films, and good books. Visit her at TeriWilson.net or on Twitter @TeriWilsonAuthr.

Excerpt

My sister has always been the pretty one. The Jane Bennet to my Elizabeth, the Meg March to my Jo.

It’s been this way for so long that I’ve never questioned it. It’s never even bothered me much. It just is.

Ginny is my sister, and I love her, no matter how different our lives are. And trust me, they’re about as opposite as you can imagine. But the chasm between our worlds has never been quite so glaringly obvious as it is now, because instead of restocking books on their respective shelves, I’m standing in an elevator at the posh Huntington Spa Resort in Orlando, Florida, on the first Monday afternoon of summer.

For starters, at five feet seven, I’m by far the shortest person of the half dozen or so on board. This is a rarity for me. As an elementary school librarian, I’m accustomed to towering over people for the majority of my waking hours. I’m also used to sitting in tiny chairs and using tiny, blunt-edged scissors, but that’s beside the point. Five feet seven isn’t short. . . .

Unless you’re riding an elevator packed with beauty queens.

I don’t know what I expected when I signed on to spend a week cheering for my sister at the Miss American Treasure pageant, but it wasn’t this. The preliminary competition doesn’t start for another two days, so why are they all wearing crowns and sashes already? And what is going on with their shoes?

Beauty pageant contestants wear heels. I know this, obviously. I mean, I’ve seen Miss Congeniality at least twenty times over the years, thanks to Ginny. But these are beyond high heels. Gracie Lou Freebush wouldn’t have lasted a minute in them.

No offense to Sandra Bullock. I’m just saying.

I tighten my grip on the handle of my suitcase, suddenly extremely conscious of the state of my hair. Orlando is one of the most humid places on earth, and the half hour ride on the airport shuttle was not kind. For once, I actually feel sorry for Ginny. It’s one thing to be expected to look perfect onstage, but hotel elevators should be a safe space. I, for one, plan to be roaming the halls in a spa bathrobe and complimentary slippers en route to the vending machine for the majority of my stay.

But to each her own.

Besides, Ginny chose this life, just as surely as I chose mine. She also gets paid more for one sponsored Instagram post than I make in a week, and when I remember this, I keep my sympathy in check.

The elevator comes to a stop on the fifth floor, which has clearly been reserved for the pageant, because we all disembark in a glamorous, glittering herd.

Myself being the exception.

No one seems to notice my presence, though. The Hogwarts T-shirt I’m wearing might as well be an invisibility cloak. Fine. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here for the chance to stay in Ginny’s luxury hotel room for a week, for free, and completely nerd out at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I’m also here for moral support, of course. I plan on being at every single pageant event, cheering like a maniac while inwardly cringing in horror at the very thought of prancing around in only a tiny swimsuit and a crown. But since the competition doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m., that leaves my mornings and afternoons free to hit up the theme park. I’ve emptied my paltry savings account and invested in a five-day unlimited pass. Bring on the butter beer.

But first, I must locate our room amid a sea of glitz and sparkle. According to the text Ginny sent when I landed, we’re in 511. All of my elevator pals are in rooms along the same stretch of corridor. Half the doors on the floor have hangtags on the knobs that read, Do not disturb! This Miss American Treasure contestant needs her beauty sleep!

I roll my eyes mightily.

Dangling from the knob of room 511 is one such tag, but I highly doubt Ginny is actually sleeping because I can hear the television booming through the door. I knock extra hard so she can hear me above the din of whatever reality show she’s probably watching.

Just please God don’t let it be the Kardashians.

An explosion of barks answers my knock. I take a deep breath. I’ve somehow forgotten all about my sister’s French bulldog mix, Buttercup. Ginny adopted her a month ago as part of her “platform.” I’m not sure exactly what that means. She’s a pageant queen, not a politician. But according to approximately five million posts on Ginny’s Instagram, she volunteers regularly at her local shelter in support of her animal rescue policy.

If memory serves, last year her platform was anti-bullying. But so many other contestants on the pageant circuit had already thrown themselves into the anti-bullying movement that she felt pressured to switch to something else. In other words, she got bullied into giving up her anti-bullying platform. Oh, the irony.

The door to the hotel room swings open, and Ginny is standing there in a white spa bathrobe with her hair piled on top of her head in a messy-yet-artful twist. She’s got one of those serum-soaked sheet masks stuck to her face—the kind that make regular people look like something straight out of a bad horror movie.

Except Ginny isn’t a regular person. So instead she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow enjoying a quiet day of self-care.

“Charlotte, you’re here!”

“Yep. My flight was right on time.” Thank God. I’m ready to make the most out of day one on my unlimited pass.

“Come on in.” She holds the door open wider.

The room is a double, with side-by-side queen beds and a balcony overlooking a pool flanked by umbrella-covered lounge chairs, a tiki bar, and two perfectly symmetrical rows of palm trees swaying in the balmy Florida breeze. Any spare moments I have this week that don’t include Harry Potter will be spent right there, with my feet up and a piña colada in hand. It’s been so long since I’ve taken an actual vacation that the mental picture I’ve just conjured nearly makes me weep.

“This is gorgeous. Ginny, thanks again for inviting me.”

“Are you kidding? I’m so glad you’re here. Dad and Susan aren’t coming until the finals.” Her smile falters. Behind the face mask, I can see her full lips tip into a frown.

I know exactly what she’s thinking. “You’ll make the finals. I know you will. You’re a shoo-in for the top twenty.”

Ginny always makes the finals. She’s up onstage every year alongside the winner and the runners-up. She’s just never managed to crack the top five.

“This year will be different,” I assure her.

She nods. “It has to be.”

As much as I hate to see my sister devoting her life to chasing a silly crown, and even though I positively loathe the pageant scene, my heart gives a little tug. Sometimes I forget why she got started in all of this. But every once in a while, when Ginny’s composure slips, I remember that this is her way of feeling connected to the mother we barely knew. The crushing sense of loss that inevitably follows always seems to catch me off guard. It’s in those moments— moments like this one—that I understand her dream.

I paste a smile on my face. “It will. I promise.”

I have no right to make that kind of promise. After all, I’m not judging this thing.

Truly, why would anyone want that job?

But it’s so rare to see my sister like this that I can’t stop myself. She’s always been the poster child for confidence.

Which just goes to show how much this particular pageant means to her. More than all the others combined.

“You’re right.” She nods with renewed vigor. “Of course I’ll make the finals. This is my year.”

“Definitely.” Pep talk over for now, I head toward the bed on the far side of the room—the one that’s still neatly made and not covered in anything bedazzled.

Every item on Ginny’s bed shines like a disco ball, including her official Miss American Treasure tote bag. I’m beginning to understand why she uses one of those sleepmask things like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I might need to invest in one myself.

As I cross the room, Buttercup launches herself at my wheeled suitcase, growling and nipping at it as it drags behind me. By the time I’m within a foot of my bed, she’s fully attached herself to it and I’m hauling both luggage and bulldog.

“Is this normal behavior?” I ask. It can’t be, can it?

Ginny waves a dismissive hand.

I give Buttercup a little nudge with the toe of my Adidas sneaker. She backs away, peering up at me with her bulgy little eyes. They almost seem to point in two different directions. Like plastic googly eyes.

We stare each other down for a second, and then she resumes her attack on my luggage.

“Is she always so”—I pause, struggling for an appropriate adjective—“headstrong?”

Buttercup and I have never been properly introduced. I only know her via Ginny’s Instagram, where she’s usually doing something less destructive and far more adorable.

“Buttercup is shy,” Ginny says by way of explanation.

I look down at the snarling dog. “Sorry, I’m not getting shy here.”

“You’re stressing her out. She’s not used to strangers and new experiences. She’s a rescue dog, remember? The poor thing sat in the shelter for four months before I adopted her.”

Ginny checks the position of her sheet mask in the large mirror over the bathroom counter. It’s a double vanity, theoretically big enough for both of us. But Ginny’s massive amount of toiletries take up the entire space. “Did you know that seven million dogs and cats enter shelters every year, and half of them end up being euthanized?”

I did not know that, and it’s a horrible, horrible statistic. But her canned delivery prevents me from absorbing the news with the proper level of emotion.

She’s slipped into pageant mode. She’s rattling off more devastating facts and figures about homeless pets, all the while posing with her hand pressed to her heart and her head tilted just so.

I glance at Buttercup. Something tells me she’s heard the speech before.

“Maybe less euthanasia talk in front of the rescue dog?” I suggest. No wonder the poor thing is stressed.

“Oh my God.” Ginny blinks. “Do you think she understands?”

“I have no idea, but why take the chance?” Besides, I can’t handle Ginny’s platform-level intensity right now. I’ve been up since 4:00 a.m.

“I suppose you’re right.” Ginny scoops Buttercup into her arms.

I take advantage of the cease-fire, lift my suitcase onto the bed, and remove my things, paltry in comparison to the vast wardrobe Ginny has stuffed into the closet and all but one of the dresser drawers. Fortunately, I travel light.

Clotheswise, anyway. Beneath the layers of jeans and T-shirts, four hardback novels line the bottom of my bag. I remove all four and arrange them in a nice, neat stack atop the nightstand closest to my bed.

When I look up, Ginny’s shaking her head. “Are you sure you brought enough reading material?”

“Don’t judge. I’m on vacation, remember?”

“Exactly. You’re a librarian. Your vacation should be book-free.” Ginny makes a zero sign with one of her perfectly manicured hands.

“How are we even related?” It’s not the first time I’ve asked that question, and I know with every fiber of my being that Ginny wonders the same thing sometimes.

How could she not?

“Before you dive into one of those, can you take Buttercup for a quick walk?” She grabs a Barbie-pink leash from her nightstand. And—surprise!—it’s heavily bedazzled. “Pretty please.”

“What? Why me?” My gaze flits toward Buttercup, who’s now positioned on Ginny’s pillow with her plump rear facing me. “She doesn’t even like me. Stranger danger and all that.”

Ginny rolls her eyes. “Stranger danger? You spend too much time with little kids.”

True. She dragged me to yoga once, and I kept referring to easy pose as crisscross applesauce.

Still, Buttercup doesn’t seem any more thrilled by the idea than I am. Also, I’ve already begun typing the address of the theme park into the Uber app on my phone. I’m supposed to be dodging a fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley right now, not walking a petulant French bulldog.

“I was kind of hoping to head over to Harry Potter World so I could be back in time for us to have an early dinner. Don’t you have pageant stuff today?” I’m pretty sure she has a date with some spray tanner this afternoon. Her skin tone matches mine right now, and I know from experience that Ginny is usually at least four shades closer to orange when there’s a pageant on the horizon.

“Yes, and of course you can head right over there just as soon as you walk Buttercup. She hasn’t been out since early this morning. I can’t do it—I’m not allowed to leave the room without my sash on.”

I blink. “What?”

“Contestants can’t leave their hotel rooms unless they’re pageant-ready. Outside of this room, I have to wear my sash at all times.”

I don’t even know what to say, but suddenly the army of beauty queens from the elevator makes more sense. “That’s crazypants. It’s like you’re some kind of pageant hostage. Put your sash on, and take her out yourself.”

Ginny sighs. “Dramatic much? This isn’t some tiny regional pageant. Miss American Treasure is the big time. She’s a role model. You know that.”

I do. I probably know more about that than any of those chattering elevator girls.

“I can’t go out there like this,” she says.

“Fine.” I take the leash from her hands. She’s clearly in no condition to leave the room, although I would pay money to see an Instagram post of Ginny wearing the sash and her sheet mask at the same time.

“Thank you.” Her slender shoulders sag with relief. “I owe you one. We’ll have a great dinner tonight, I promise. It’ll be just like old times.”

Old times?

I don’t believe her for a minute. When we were kids, our favorite dinners included sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese. I can’t remember the last time I saw a carb cross Ginny’s lips.

“Come on, Buttercup,” I mutter.

The portly little dog growls the entire time I’m attaching her leash to her sparkly pink collar. This should be lovely.

“We’ll be right back.” I cast a glance over my shoulder as I lead Buttercup out the door, and Ginny catches my gaze in the mirror.

She gives me a little wave. I wave back, and for a moment, I go still. Rooted to the spot. Ginny’s sheet mask is gone, and her face is bare. Clean. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her makeup-free. Without the airbrushed foundation, the contouring and highlighting, the carefully lined lips and the double layers of false eyelashes, she looks a lot like me.

She looks exactly like me, actually. Same nose. Same eyes. Same heart-shaped face.

Same DNA.

Because even though my sister has always been the pretty one, the beauty queen—the Jane Bennet to my Elizabeth, the Meg March to my Jo—she’s also my twin.

ARC Review: My Favorite Half-Night Stand

IMG_0132

Synopsis:

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine”and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital 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 December 4, 2018.*

Since I haven’t posted in over a month (!!!) you may not be aware that I’m obsessed with Christina Lauren’s books. I started off this year by finishing Autoboyography and I’ve been reading every book by them I can get my hands on since then. It should be no surprise then that when I heard the ARC of their latest novel, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, was available for request on NetGalley I quickly requested it. Lucky for me I got it the very next day, and as I’m wont to do with a CLo novel, I read it in the span of 24 hours. What can I say? I’m hooked!

This novel is told in the dual perspectives of Millie, a closed off criminology professor, and one of her best friends, Reid, a down to earth, fun loving neurology professor (I think? He studies something with the retinas. Science isn’t my thing!). Any who, the pair hook up one night and because Millie doesn’t know how to deal with feelings, they quickly move on, and they, along with their other three best guy friends, decide to use a dating app to try to find dates for this fancy gala.

Except, while Millie can make the perfect profile for her best friends, hers, to put it mildly, sucks. So, when she tries again she ditches “Millie” altogether and creates “Catherine/Cat.” The only problem is she, or rather “Cat,” matches with Reid, and rather than reveal the truth or not go through with the match, Millie decides to spark a conversation and, well, everything kind of spirals out of control from there.

Here’s what I love about this novel: Millie. Just straight up, I love her. I love how well CLo handles Millie’s emotional detachment. As someone who deals with disassociation and lost a parent at a younger age than Millie, I heavily related to her. Hanging out with friends, making people laugh, doing the fun stuff? That’s easy. Talking about the serious topics or things that make me feel like a “downer”? That’s not only hard, it’s downright terrifying, and CLo captured that perfectly.

There were so many points in this novel where I was just like, “Wow Millie is me,” and then, “God, we are such a hot mess!” It’s funny, it’s real, and it’s heartbreaking. I both found myself laughing out loud and then crying. It was quite the ride.

Now here’s what I like about the novel: the romance. As always, CLo knows exactly how to make me fall in love with characters. When we meet Reid and Millie they’ve been friends for years and that familiarity is there from the start, but what CLo does so well is they show us the spark. They let us into that moment where both Reid and Millie have these lightbulbs go off in their heads that are just like, “Wait is my best friend crazy attractive and perfect for me in all the ways?” It was astounding and funny and heartwarming.

But I wanted more. This book is way less steamy than their other books, with the sex scenes fading to black, which isn’t a bad thing. I don’t think you need sex scenes in romance novels for it to work, but I wanted to see those moments that we got overviews of later. I wanted to see the intimate conversations Reid and Millie had in bed together. I wanted to see more of them actually falling in love in person, not just through their online conversations. And I think that’s why at the end of the novel I felt as happy as I always do with a CLo book, but I also didn’t feel satisfied. I just wanted a pinch more, but at the same time I think this book was really Millie’s story, and I’m very satisfied with her arc and growth, and this will always be a book close to my heart for that.

Thus, overall, this still makes it into my top three CLo books. The mental health issues are handled so well, I love the friend group of Reid, Millie, Chris, Alex, and Ed, and this is definitely a book that I would recommend everyone reads.

Borrow or Buy: BUY!

Stars:

4 stars

Other Reviews
Star-Crossed Book Blog
The Page Turner
Novelgossip

Julie Murphy, David Levithan, & More In The City This Week (YA Book Events NYC 10/15-21)

Happy Monday, book nerds! We’re back with another week of fun events. Make sure to follow YA Book Events NYC on Twitter to get regular updates about all the bookish events happening across the city. Also, ICYMI we’re looking for someone to take over YA Book Events, so please email us at yabookeventsnyc@gmail.com if you’re interested.

Wednesday, October 17

Fiction, Friendship, and Fashion with Kayla Cagan, Amy Spalding, & Julie Murphy at Books of Wonder (6-8 p.m.)

Join authors Kayla Cagan (Art Boss), Amy Spalding (The Summer of Jordi Perez), and Julie Murphy (Puddin’) as they share their coming-of-age stories. Free event.

Thursday, October 18

David Levithan in Conversation with Carolyn Mackler at Barnes & Noble Upper West Side (7 p.m.)

Join NYT bestselling author David Levithan as he discusses his new book, Someday, with Carolyn Mackler (The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I). Free event; seating is limited.

Saturday, October 20

Spooky Middle Grade Reads at Books of Wonder (1-3 p.m.)

Join authors Blue Balliett (Out of the Wild Night), Mary Downing Hahn (The Girl in the Locked Room), Gail Carson Levine (Ogre Enchanted), Leslie Margolis (Ghosted), Katherine Arden (Small Spaces), and William Alexander (A Festival of Ghosts) as they share their latest books for the creepy holiday season. Free event.