Mini Review: Together Apart Anthology

Together Apart
Author: Erin A. Craig, Auriane Desombre, Erin Hahn, Bill Konigsberg, Rachael Lippincott, Brittney Morris, Sajni Patel, Natasha Preston, Jennifer Yen
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A collection of original contemporary love stories set during life in lockdown by some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Erin Craig “delivers” on a story about a new girl in town and the cute pizza delivery boy, Auriane Desombre captures our hearts with teens communicating through window signs, and Bill Konigsberg takes us along on daily walks with every step bringing us closer to love. There’s flirting and romance from Rachael Lippincott, a tale of a determined girl with a mask-making business from Erin Hahn, and a music-inspired love connection from Sajni Patel. Brittney Morris turns enemies to lovers with the help of a balcony herb garden, Jennifer Yen writes an unconventional romance that starts outside a hospital, and Natasha Preston’s teens discover each other–and their love story–in a storybook oak tree.

Romantic, realistic, sweet and uplifting, TOGETHER, APART is a collection of finding love in unexpected places during an unprecedented time . . . each with the one thing we all want: a guaranteed happy ending.


I don’t know that I was necessarily ready to read anything set in the age of COVID-19 yet, but these meet cute novellas were more fun than I was expecting. They were short but sweet stories of high schoolers meeting during this strange time. Like I said, they’re meet cutes, so not really an entire romance. I liked them all, but Erin Hahn’s Masked was my favorite. I’ve become a fan of Erin Hahn’s writing this year and I adored this meet cute. I would have loved to read an entire book about Gray and Jude.

Review: Varsity Rulebreaker (Ginger Scott)

Varsity Rulebreaker
Series: Varsity, #3
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date: October 8, 2020
Genre: Mature Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC provided by WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Hollis Taylor is allowed to break the rules. She’s coach’s little girl. And she’s good. If that means she gets to bump one of the guys for the starting catcher’s job on the Public High baseball team, then the others on the squad better suck it up and deal.

But breaking rules has taken Cannon Jennings far in life. One of the nation’s top pitching prospects, he came here to throw to his cousin and show college recruiters everything he could do on the mound. Taking his signs from a girl was not part of his blueprint, especially one that screwed over his favorite relative and best friend.

Too bad he broke the biggest rule of all before he knew exactly who she was.

It was just a New Year’s kiss. Totally forgettable. Especially under the circumstances.

So why can’t he stop thinking about it?


Varsity Rulebreaker was a home run. It was everything that Ginger Scott excels at in her novels. Here’s what I loved about it:

  • The writing was addictive with just the right amount of teen angst.
  • Hollis and Cannon were a good match. I loved the feelings of not just romance but friendship developing between them.
  • I also loved the friendships they had with previous series characters. These characters didn’t take over, but were there for support.
  • The issues Hollis and Cannon faced in life were socially relevant to today’s teens and packed a punch in the special way Ginger Scott has. This book spotlighted some very important topics without feeling preachy.
  • There was also a TON of actual sports related situations. This sports romance was heavier in that area than most.

Varsity Rulebreaker was a great sports romance that was big on baseball and love. It’s my new favorite in this series. I would highly recommend it. I think it could be read with or without having read the previous books.

 
 
Vote for Varsity Rulebreaker on the October 2020 Most-Anticipated Reads list: https://bit.ly/2GY4CFX
EXCERPT:

“Well?” I lift a brow.

His stare is decisive. No more blinking lashes to lull me into submission. I’m being dissected solely by the dominant glow of his swimming-pool blue eyes. His nose is pink from being out in today’s sun and reflective clouds. His wet hair is drying right before my eyes into touchable waves that I imagine in my fingers. I’m thankful my arms are crossed to hide them because I can feel them twitch.

“Fine.”

I flinch at his sudden answer, most of me prepared for him to bail on this little wager. By the way he rounds the table and motions with his hand for me to step back, I start to tremble at the knees. Cue ball palmed in his left hand, stick grasped in his right, he steps into the space between me and the table and comes close enough that I can feel the warmth of the breath he exhales from his nose.

“Pardon,” he says, and I step back several feet to lean against a pub table.

Cannon positions the ball a little off-center then dabs one more dusting of chalk on the end of his cue, blowing the dust away while he looks at me, his eyes focusing away from the tip of the stick and onto my gaze. His mouth quirks on one side, and it’s in that small look that I know I’m done. I’m so fucking screwed.

He lunges over the table in a smooth pivot, bringing the stick back slowly and getting the feel of the slide before letting it rip, knocking the balls in all directions and quickly sinking one of each—a solid and a stripe. His eyes on the center of the table, he rounds it, his tongue sticking out the way Michael Jordan’s always did when he was deciding whether to put the game away with a dunk or a little fadeaway from the top of the key.

“You got a preference?” he asks.

“I…well…” I stumble on my words, his sudden confidence really nailing me to the floor.

He chuckles then bends down, lining up a shot at a solid.

“It’s alright,” he says, quickly leaning his head to one side to glance up at me and wink. “It won’t matter.”

And it doesn’t. He proceeds to sink his initial target, and then every other solid ball on the table, sometimes two at a time. I’m half expecting him to drain the eight-ball without even looking. He has to work at it a little, though, what with so many of my balls still on the table and in his way. He calls the side pocket and when the ball falls in easily, I breathe out heavily enough to flap my lips, then I drop my stick.

“Two out of three?” I scrunch my lips up with my pathetic attempt to regain my edge.

“You think it will matter?” He lays his stick on the table and saunters toward me.

My nervous knee begins to twitch, and I find myself rocking where I stand to try to keep my legs busy and my blood flowing. Cannon stops about a foot away from me, and he looks down at the floor as he slips his hands into the pockets of his jeans. I draw in his scent, letting it numb my nerves like the venom of a scorpion. I got sloppy, arrogant even. And that trust I felt so sure of is waning a little now that he’s calling in his bet. I gave him a free pass to surprise me, to ask something of me or dare me or…that’s the thing. It’s the unknown. I did that. I did that!

My hands balled into fists at my sides, I roll my shoulders back and lift my chin, determined not to let my worry shine through.

“Bet’s a bet,” I say, shaking my head with tight lips. I had no idea I was going up against a pool shark.

“That it is,” he says, glancing up while keeping his head low. The way he peers at me through the strands of his hair that now shadow his eyes is both ominous and so freaking enticing.

“Five a.m. Saint Peters Gulch. Tomorrow.” He leans in and for a moment I think he’s going to kiss me, but instead he pauses while forward on his toes. “I’ll let you know what you owe there and then.”

I swallow and he sees it, his eyes darting to that place on my neck that betrays my bravado.

“Fine,” I gurgle out.

He laughs lightly and falls back to give me some space.

“Relax, Hollis. I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it.” With one last wink, he brings his hands from his pockets and claps them a few times to remove any leftover chalk. I force myself not to look over my shoulder as he leaves, and I keep that promise to myself, spending the next twenty minutes playing out the rest of the balls on our table and realizing I never even had a chance.

 
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Review: Midnight Sun (Stephenie Meyer)

Midnight Sun
Series: Twilight Saga, #5
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?


I truly enjoyed being back in the Twilight Saga world. It was like hanging out with an old friend. No, scratch that. It was like hanging out with an old friend’s significant other and hearing about how they fell in love from his/her perspective. Pretty much what you knew, but with new insight. It wasn’t a completely fresh take, but it makes you love Bella and Edward’s love story that much more.

Edward isn’t my favorite Twilight Saga character. I would probably be in the “Team Jacob” camp. Midnight Sun had me appreciating Edward in a new way. I was surprised by how much I ended up liking him. He wasn’t the most pleasant at times, and that was kind of refreshing. His opinions of Bella throughout the book delighted me. I also loved the deeper look it gave me into the rest of the Cullens as well.

Had I read Midnight Sun around the same time as I read the rest of the Twilight Saga, I probably would have rated this book even higher. What kept me from doing so was that so much of the content felt recycled. Yes, I loved seeing things through Edward’s eyes. I just wish more of it would have not be a rehash of events that took place. It was like Meyer combined his new thoughts with everything that went down in the original. That made for a LONG book. 662 pages was too many in my opinion. Maybe I just feel that way because I read the hardback, and it was freaking HEAVY.

I read somewhere that Meyer may or may not keep writing the series from Edward’s POV. I’m down for that. I would read them. I had fun being back in this world again. I would actually love if Meyer wrote New Moon from Jacob’s POV. I also wouldn’t mind a book about Alice. Twilight Saga fans don’t ask for much, do they? 😉

Review: Varsity Tiebreaker (Ginger Scott)

Varsity Tiebreaker
Series: Varsity, #2
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date: July 23, 2020
Publisher: Little Miss Write, LLC
Genre: Mature Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC provided by WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Abby Cortez is a girl with goals, on the verge of turning eighteen and on the brink of stardom. Falling in love isn’t just something she doesn’t have time for, it’s something she doesn’t really believe in. Her rule? Date but never, ever fall.

Tory “Salvatore” D’Angelo loves falling in love…just not for real. The star basketball player at Allensville Public High gives his heart away one girl at a time then takes it back when he’s ready to move on. No serious feelings, no serious pain.

They’re both good plans until Abby’s jaded heart gets all tangled up with Tory’s hopeless one. A friendly rivalry grows into friendship, and long talks start to blur the lines.
Just one problem—Abby’s current boyfriend is Tory’s twin brother, Hayden.


Not going to lie… I was both excited and scared going into this one. I am not a fan of love triangles, and one involving twin brothers made me nervous. The only reasons I read it were I loved Tory in Varsity Heartbreaker and it was Ginger Scott’s book. Ginger Scott never does me wrong.

Varsity Tiebreaker was exactly what I needed it to be. Yes, there’s the whole Hayden – Abby – Tory thing, but it was done well. I never felt like I wasn’t sure who Abby was going to end up with. It was an emotional roller coaster for sure, but not in a bad way. It was a very good way.

I, of course, adored Tory. That kid was a good kid. He might have been a little bit of a player in the past, but he had good intentions and morals. Tory tried to do right by his brother, Abby, and his family. His character is one I would be okay with my daughter dating when she gets older, and that’s saying a lot because the kid isn’t allowed to date until she’s thirty. 😉

Abby was a little more surprise to me than Tory. I liked her as June’s sidekick, but I loved her even more on her own. Her struggles were all over the place, and it was fun to experience her working everything out in her head. I liked the choices she made. I also loved her relationship with her mom.

Abby and Tory worked well together, and I loved the connection they had. Even if it took them a while to get everything figured out. That time gave me just the right amount of angst for this mature YA romance.

As for Hayden… I feel like I got enough of his story here to not necessarily need a book dedicated book for him. That doesn’t mean I don’t want one! I would really love for him to get his own happy ending. He and Tory went through so much, that it would be nice to see how thing really worked out for him. So, maybe a book 4? Please?

Overall, I adored Varsity Tiebreaker. It was a fun, slightly angsty YA sports romance that made me swoon. I enjoyed every minute of it. I also loved the preview for Varsity Rulebreaker. I am dying having to wait for October for that book!

 
Varsity Tiebreaker (The Varsity Series Book 2) by Ginger Scott
Cover Designer: Ginger Scott
 
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Varsity Heartbreaker
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About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

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Review: Again Again (E. Lockhart)

Again Again
Author: E. Lockhart
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★

Synopsis:

In this novel full of surprises from the New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart ups the ante with an inventive and romantic story about human connection, forgiveness, self-discovery, and possibility.

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times—while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.

A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.


I’m a fan of E. Lockhart’s earlier releases, and have been eagerly awaiting the chance to read Again Again. It was one of my most anticipated YA books of this spring, and I had high hopes for it. Usually I love the way Lockhart switches up her writing style with every book, but it didn’t work for me here.

I’m sad to say hated the structure of this book. Again Again was trying to do too much. It was this odd blend of a “normal” writing style, prose, texts, and another dimension in bold letters. The prose felt out of place, even though Adelaide is into poetry. I found myself wanting to skip over the broken sentences. The bold dimensional stuff felt redundant, even though I knew what it was trying to accomplish after a bit. I liked the texts, but added in with everything else it just felt like just another thing added to make the story different. All of that made it hard to focus on what was actually going on with the story.

I am frustrated about that. There is a great story about Adelaide and her brother Toby somewhere within all this other extra stuff. It’s a story about addiction and family. Even the romance of the story felt like it took away from time I would have rather spent with Adelaide and Toby’s relationship than everything else going on here.

Hopefully, the frustration with Again Again is just a me thing. I hope other readers enjoy what this book has to offer more than I did.

Review: Varsity Heartbreaker (Ginger Scott)

Varsity Heartbreaker
Series: Varsity, #1
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date: May 28, 2020
Genre: Mature Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC from WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Lucas Fuller is a lot of things.
He’s the boy next door.
He’s the first crush I ever had.
He was my first kiss.
He’s also the only person who has ever broken my heart.

For two years, I’ve wondered what happened to the us I used to know.
We were best friends, and then suddenly…we weren’t.
I tried to run away from it. I even changed schools just to make the hurt disappear.
But no matter how hard I tried to not think about Lucas, I just couldn’t stay away from the high school quarterback with perfect blue eyes and so many secrets.

I’m back. We’re seniors now. We’ve grown—all of us. And Lucas Fuller might be different, but I’m different too. This is my time to take risks, to experience life and to fall in love for real.

I want Lucas Fuller to be a part of my story, but I know for that to happen, I need to know the truth about our past.


One of the things I have always loved about Ginger Scott’s writing is that she evolves with each book. It’s like she’s five different writers in one body. To me, that proves how talented a writer she is. I feel like each new release has gotten edgier and spotlighted something different but just as important as the last. While I love that, I have to admit that I have missed her mature YA/NA contemporary sports romances. There’s just something so pure and fun about them. Needless to say, I was SUPER excited when I learned she was returning to that type of romance novel with Varsity Heartbreaker.

Varsity Heartbreaker was exactly what I needed during this crazy time. It got me out of a major book funk. I loved the whole vibe it had going on. It was slightly angsty, but not overly so. June dreads going back to her old high school where her ex childhood best friend and next door neighbor, Lucas, reigns. Her new best friend Abby pushes her to broaden her horizons, which puts her in the same orbit as Lucas. The plot was messy in the best way with a slight mysterious feel wrapped around what went down to make Lucas abandon his friendship with June.

I loved June. Her teenage embarrassment, frustration, and crush were spot on. I usually like my romance novels to have dual points of view, but this one was perfect with just her. I loved being in her mind and experiencing her figuring things out.

Lucas was frustrating to say the least. For much of the book I just wanted to shout at him to give it up and admit to what was going on with him. I’m not complaining about that, though. The secrecy around his character was fabulous for the storyline and June.

With everything going on with June and her feelings toward Lucas, I was surprised that there was actually something (I dare say) even better than their romance going on in this book. I think I might have loved the friendships even more. June and Abby’s was fun. Lucas and Tory’s seemed like a great bromance. The one that really got me, though, was June and Tory’s friendship. That one made me smile so hard and laugh quite a bit. If I was SUPER excited about Varsity Heartbreaker, I don’t even know how to describe how excited I am for Tory’s book. Thank goodness it’s coming up next!

As you can tell, I loved Varsity Heartbreaker. I would bet on the fact that it’s going to be a hit with fans of Wild Reckless, Waiting on the Sidelines, and This is Falling. Or with anyone who loves a mature YA sports romance. It was a great read, one I didn’t want to be over. If I was a cheerleader, I would do some sort of cheer here for Ginger Scott and what a winner she and this book are.

Purchase Varsity Heartbreaker
 
 
 
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About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

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Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

Review: Say Yes Summer (Lindsey Roth Culli)

Say Yes Summer
Author: Lindsey Roth Culli
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Netflix/Hallmark Channel rom-coms, this is the story of a girl who decides to give in to the universe and just say yes to everything, bringing her friendship, new experiences, and, if she lets her guard down, true love.

The perfect book to kick off summer! For as long as Rachel Brooks can remember, she’s had capital-G Goals: straight As, academic scholarship, college of her dreams. And it’s all paid off–after years of following the rules and acing every exam, Rachel is graduating at the top of her class and ready to celebrate by . . . doing absolutely nothing. Because Rachel Brooks has spent most of high school saying no. No to dances, no to parties, and most especially, no to boys.

Now, for the first time in her life, there’s nothing stopping Rachel from having a little fun–nothing, that is, except herself. So when she stumbles on a beat up old self-help book–A SEASON OF YES!–a crazy idea pops into her head: What if she just said yes to . . . everything?

And so begins a summer of yes. Yes to new experiences and big mistakes, yes to rekindled friendships and unexpected romances, yes to seeing the world in a whole new way. This book is a fresh and fun take on the coming-of-age novel that explores the quintessential themes of growing up: taking risks, making mistakes, and, of course, love. And who knows? Lindsey Roth Culli’s hilarious and heartwarming debut may just inspire your own SAY YES SUMMER.


Not going to lie. It was the “Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Netflix/Hallmark Channel rom-coms…” that got me wanting to read Say Yes Summer. I was excited to for a great YA summer read. I probably should have read the reviews first. If I had, I would have known this book wasn’t for me.

Say Yes Summer has something I hate in romances: the dreaded love triangle. Love triangles frustrate me. I don’t like people in real life dating two people at once, so I am not a fan of it in books either. It makes a book an uncomfortable read for me. So, even while I was enjoying other parts of this story, I couldn’t completely let go and enjoy the majority of it.

I also had a problem with the way Rachel’s family responded to her making small changes. They were really judgemental. I didn’t see what the big deal was. They acted like she completely changed when she hadn’t.

What did I like about this book? Well, I liked that Rachel was at a crossroads in life and was using it to try new things. I loved that she was reconnecting with a friend who had disappeared from her life earlier. I liked Rachel in general. That was pretty much it.

So, yeah. I think this was more of this book not being for me and not a reflection of how well it was written or anything. The author did a nice job with the writing.

Mini Reviews: Parental Guidance, Throw Like a Girl, You’d Be Mine, & Pike

Hi, friends. Today, I’m sharing with you four quick reviews.

Parental Guidance
Series: Ice Knights, #1
Author: Avery Flynn
Publication Date: May 31, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC (Amara)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

All I want is to play hockey on the Ice Knights, instead, I’m in a viral video for all the wrong reasons and my mom—yes, my mom—has taken over my dating apps. Then, when I think it can’t get any worse, the fates deliver Zara Ambrose, a five-feet-nothing redhead with more freckles than inches and who’d rather be anywhere other than on a date with me.

Now a bet with her friends and my PR nightmare have us both stuck in this go-on-five-dates-with-the-same-person hell situation. But if we band together, we can get the whole thing over with and go on with our lives. It’s perfect! No feelings. No future. No fuc— *ahem* fun. No naked fun.

What could go wrong? Nothing—as long as I remember the rules. Don’t notice the way she looks in a dress. Don’t react when she does that little shivery sigh thing whenever we touch. Don’t think about the fact that she’s never had a toe-curling orgasm that wasn’t self-delivered and just how badly I want to change that.

Five dates—that’s it—and then we go our separate ways. At least, that was the plan..

My thoughts:

A while back I read Awk-Weird, the second book in this series, and absolutely adored it. I was excited to go back and read the first book in the series. I didn’t fall in love with Parental Guidance the way I did Awk-Weird. It took me longer to get into the story. It wasn’t until Zara and Caleb met (a bit into the story) that I started to love it. Parental Guidance ended up being a cute read with characters I loved. It’s worth the read, so power through the build up to Zara and Caleb meeting to get to the good stuff — all those hilarious dates.

Throw Like a Girl
Author: Sarah Henning
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Friday Night Lights  meets Morgan Matson’s  The Unexpected Everything  in this contemporary debut where  swoon-worthy  romance meets underdog sports story.

When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she’ll have to convince their coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched… Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he’ll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the Spring. But it will take more than the perfect spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland’s halls, and behind that charming smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.

With well-drawn characters and a charming quarterback love interest who’s got brains as well as brawn, Throw Like a Girl will have readers swooning from the very first page.

My thoughts:

I’ve wanted to read Throw Like a Girl since I first saw the cover and title. It was just so fierce and cute at the same time. The story was pretty much the same. Liv was a star softball player who made a huge mistake that ended with her at a new school playing football after being recruited by Grey, the quarterback. I loved that Liv was tough, but also had a softer side. I like that she stood up for herself even when she was embarrassed or hurt. I also loved how she was the one with the athletic prowess. Liv was able to transition quickly between sports and I thought that it was great because you see that with guys in books but rarely girls. This book was one that was over before I was prepared to part ways with the characters.

You’d Be Mine
Author: Erin Hahn
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

My thoughts:

This is another book I wanted to read when it came out, but never got to. It wasn’t until I read (and LOVED) an ARC of her upcoming book that I rushed back to buy You’d Be Mine. I couldn’t wait to read more from Hahn. I knew I loved her writing, but I was even more impressed knowing this was her debut novel. It was perfection. I loved everything about it. Annie and Clay were such amazing characters and their story warmed my heart. I hate that I have to wait to read another book from Hahn. I love her writing so much!

Pike
Series: The Pawn Duet, #1
Author: T.M. Frazier
Publication Date: March 24, 2030
Publisher: Frazier Publishing
Genre: Dark Romance, Contemporary, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

**A King Series Spin-Off**

Born into chaos. Baptized in the gutter.
I was raised by the violent laws of the streets, spilling blood without the hindrance of useless emotions or connections.
Unfeeling. Unloved. Alone.

My life was perfect.

Until her.

While on a manhunt for a mysterious enemy, one hellbent on taking both my business and my life, I find Mickey. She’s covered in mud, rambling nonsense, and clearly out of her mind.

She’s also a distraction I don’t need.

That is until I discover a connection between the girl and my enemy.
Mickey isn’t a distraction anymore.
She’s the perfect weapon.
One I’ll use to exact my revenge.

The plan is an easy one, but there’s something about Mickey that’s making it more and more difficult.
A familiarity I can’t place. A need I can’t explain.
A want I have to deny.

After all, she’s not mine to keep. She’s a tool. My pawn.
My sacrifice.

My thoughts:

I don’t know… I’m not sure what’s not sitting right with me about Pike. Maybe it was the speed of the story. Everything moved so fast — I even was a little confused at one point. Or maybe it was that I didn’t 100% buy the level of attraction between Pike and Mickey at times because of the situation at hand. Then, there was the frustration I felt not knowing what Mickey was hiding… It might have been all three of these books combined. The only time I felt like I could truly enjoy things was when Preppy made himself useful. Pike totally needed his levity. So, yeah. This one wasn’t my favorite in the series, but I’m still looking forward to finding out what happens next. Maybe I’ll fall more in love with Pike and Mickey as things go on.

Review: I’ll Be the One (Lyla Lee)

I’ll Be the One
Series: I’ll Be the One, #1
Author: Lyla Lee
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.


The first thing that drew me to I’ll Be the One is the fabulous cover. The colors and the model just pop off it. There’s such joy in the model’s face, that I couldn’t help be drawn to this book. I wanted to feel her joy and know what she was so happy about. The second thing that caught my attention was blurb. I loved that there was going to be a message about body positivity. Third, I know very little about K-pop and I wanted to learn more.

Skye Shin was a character who couldn’t help but shine. She was upbeat and positive when she could have been sullen and feeling sorry for herself. I loved that she didn’t let her weight define her or hold her back from her dreams. That’s a super important thing for teens who are reading this book to takeaway from it — adults, too.

The relationship between Sky and her mom fascinated me. I got where Skye was coming from, but I could also see where her mom was too. (Not that I agreed with how she conveyed her opinions most of the time.) It really made me think about how I talk to my own preteen daughter about weight or really anything. I liked how their issues were examined and how things ended up at the end.

Henry… I loved his character. He was slightly mysterious and very sweet. Skye’s friendship/relationship with him was exactly what she needed and I loved how it had drama, but wasn’t crazy over the top. The way the competition fueled their interactions was really cool. Plus, Snowball. That dog was awesome.

Skye also had some amazing friends in this book. They all lifted Skye up and kept her going when parents, competitors, judges, and people in general judged her. I especially loved Lana.

Earlier I said something about wanting to learn more about K-pop. I don’t know that I really learned a lot about it in this book. Most of the plot was based around the competition TV show and not K-pop specifically. I did like the competition. It reminded me of a combination of So You Think You Can Dance and The Voice. What did I end up learning more about was Korean culture. I loved that.

I could go on and on about how fabulous I’ll Be the One was. I adored every minute of the time I got to spend with Skye and her friends. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Review: You Don’t Live Here (Robyn Schneider)

You Don’t Live Here
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Robyn Schneider, author of The Beginning of Everything, delivers a witty and heartbreaking tale of first love, second beginnings, and last chances in this timely and authentic bisexual coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera.

In Southern California, no one lives more than thirty miles from the nearest fault line. Sasha Bloom is standing right on top of one when her world literally crumbles around her. With her mother now dead and father out of the picture, Sasha moves in with her estranged grandparents.

Living in her mom’s old bedroom, Sasha has no idea who she is anymore. Luckily, her grandparents are certain they know who she should be: A lawyer in the making. Ten pounds skinnier. In a socially advantageous relationship with a boy from a good family—a boy like Cole Edwards.

And Cole has ideas for who Sasha should be, too. His plus one at lunch. His girlfriend. His.

Sasha tries to make everything work, but that means folding away her love of photography, her grief for her mother, and he growing interest in the magnificently clever Lily Chen. Sasha wants to follow Lily off the beaten path, to discover hidden beaches, secret menus, and the truth about dinosaur pee.

But being friends with Lily might lead somewhere new. Is Sasha willing to stop being the girl everyone expects and let the girl beneath the surface breath through?


You Don’t Live Here was just… sad. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s about a high school junior whose mother dies and she has to go live with her rich grandparents. Sasha is afraid to admit who she is and wants to be and what she likes. She doesn’t want to let her grandparents down. So, basically, it’s about grief and self-discovery. It was well written and a good story, but it just made me sad.