Posted in Reviews

Review: The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light
Recommended: not really
for a simple teen fake-dating story, not for much memorable, for vague teenage lessons

Summary

It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone.

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse.

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?

Thoughts

Well it’s been almost six months since I finished this in June, which isn’t great as far as review-writing-memory goes. I’ll keep this one short, because I didn’t take great notes and I don’t remember it well. Honestly though, that to me is usually all the review I need: if I don’t remember anything about it six months later, it probably wasn’t that great.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: American Royals by Katherine Mcgee

American Royals by Katharine McGee

Recommended: not for me, maybe for you
it’s a series starter, the characters are often wishy-washy and fickle, and multiple characters are cheating on another

Summary

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren’t just any royals. They’re American.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded–and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history.

Thoughts

Thoughts:
If I had known this was a series started when I began it, that might have helped. As it was, I was about 70% of the way through and getting frustrated that nothing seemed to be heading towards a resolution, and it gave the impression that the “big conflicts” for each character were unimportant in the end. So FYI: this is a series.

Even knowing that it’s going to be continued, the ending felt really lackluster. The way it ended, while inevitable, was still just… unsatisfying. I feel like wherever it goes next will invalidate a lot of what happened in this first book (in my mind at least) which is frustrating.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Seoulmates by Susan Lee

Seoulmates by Susan Lee

Recommended: sure!
For a sweet k-pop star and regular girl love story, for friends to lovers with a little bit of enemies, for a realistic take on this now-common trope (hesitancy and all), for something that will really just make you smile happily 😊

Summary

Hannah Cho had the next year all planned out—the perfect summer with her boyfriend, Nate, and then a fun senior year with their friends.

But then Nate does what everyone else in Hannah’s life seems to do—he leaves her, claiming they have nothing in common. He and all her friends are newly obsessed with K-pop and K-dramas, and Hannah is not. After years of trying to embrace the American part and shunning the Korean side of her Korean American identity to fit in, Hannah finds that’s exactly what now has her on the outs.

But someone who does know K-dramas—so well that he’s actually starring in one—is Jacob Kim, Hannah’s former best friend, whom she hasn’t seen in years. He’s desperate for a break from the fame, so a family trip back to San Diego might be just what he needs… that is, if he and Hannah can figure out what went wrong when they last parted and navigate the new feelings developing between them.

Thoughts

I think what I loved most about this was how clear I’d Hannah Chow was. She doesn’t just have a K-Pop star show up on her doorstep and then be like oh sure this is fine. She reacts as any regular person would, I think: and that is to be floored and not super comfortable with it. Putting aside their personal histories, it’s not actually that easy to date a super celebrity, I’m sure.

I also loved the shorter chapters we got from Jacob perspective. They added a nice sense of intimacy and prevented him from just looking like a clueless jerk in some scenes, because we saw some of the pressure and guidance that he was receiving on his end.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram

Recommended: sure
if you want a queer pop-celeb story with some really nicely written lines

Summary

Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens.

But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.

Thoughts

I can’t really place why — maybe by the end of this review — but something about this didn’t totally hook me. I feel like I ended up reading it all with a slightly disinterested or maybe disbelieving air. There was some kind of lack in it for me, and let’s see if I can pinpoint why.

Note: I did figure it out, so keep reading. 🙂

What worked for me about this was the humor of each of the main boys in the band. Things that were shockingly accurate and somehow so incisive that they caught me off guard for never thinking of it before, like “One of the hardest things about being on the road is eating healthy, because no city ever has “vegetables” as their can’t-miss local specialty.” Or the lines that were just sweet and funny like “We tried to figure out a show in Antarctica, but it didn’t work out.”

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The XY by Virginia Bergin

The XY by Virginia Bergin

Recommended: eh
for an okay story with WAY too much FONT STYLING!!!, for some nice lines about philosophical things, for some entry level critical gender conversations

Summary

Sixty years ago, a virus wiped out almost all men on Earth. Now women run the world, and men are kept in repopulation facilities, safe from the deadly virus. At least, that’s what everyone has been led to believe…until River discovers a young man on a country road—injured but alive. Mason has been outside for five days since escaping from his facility, and no one can understand how he has survived. Hiding the boy violates the rules of their world, but as the women of the town band together to try to save him, River begins to suspect that the truth behind Mason’s existence is darker than she could have imagined.

Thoughts

Alright look. The story is meh at best and weakly done. BUT: the title begins with an X, and is not erotica. If that’s not why you’re looking at this book then good for you! You’re probably an eager minority. If you ARE looking at this book for the purposes of an x-title-related reading challenge, then yeah it’ll do.

This book wasn’t terrible, but it did feel like something an advanced student would write (and in fact truly does remind me of one student’s entry for NaNoWriMo in 2016). There is soooooo much text styling on the page and it feels aggressive and tiring and over the top. There are bolded words, italicized words, lots of all-caps text, and multiple question marks and exclamation points — often a mix of several of these things are combined. And yo, reading this in a physical copy was exhausting to look at the page with all of that. I actually switched to a digital library copy because I just couldn’t handle it. So this was an unusual case where the actual format and look of the words on the page almost had me wanting to DNF it.

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Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: sure
for a cute reality-show-esque love story, for vengeance satisfactory, for characters who make bad choices often but you can love them anyway

WARNING: you probably will have the T. Swift song stuck in your head every time you pick up this book. Recommend reading in one sitting to minimize earworms. 😅

Summary

It’s been two years since Maya’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya h

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Never Ever Getting Back Together

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales


Recommended: sure
for a cute reality-show-esque love story, for vengeance satisfactory, for characters who make bad choices often but you can love them anyway

WARNING: you probably will have the T. Swift song stuck in your head every time you pick up this book. Recommend reading in one sitting to minimize earworms. 😅

Summary

It’s been two years since Maya’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.

Thoughts

People say it’s not about the journey, but the destination. In the case of this book, the destination is also incredibly satisfying. What I’m saying is I really liked the ending. This story is based on vengeance, and vengeance comes up constantly as it’s the main focus for one of the MCs (at least one!). That comes with all the drama required of sacrifices made to pursue vengeance and questioning what truly matters in life. In this case, I enjoyed the way each character came to their final decisions, and the “results” of it all in terms of the show.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: June, Reimagined by Rebekah Crane

June, Reimagined by Rebekah Crane

Recommended: noooo
Hateable characters, rampant sexism, lust-not-love, conflict would be 100% solved by talking to each other at any point, and a dead brother is used as a convenient but insignificant plot point. Lots of possessive male bullshit in this one. Lots of the female MC thinking “I’m just being oversensitive, too emotional” and that never being resolved into her saying “hey fuck those guys, I’m entitled to my feelings and also they’re being total assholes and trying to control me and my body!”

Summary

June Merriweather is on the run—from her own life. Her brother is dead, her parents are liars, and her college major is a joke. Apart from her best friend, Matt, June is desperate for reinvention. And a one-way ticket out of Cincinnati to the Scottish Highlands is a good place to start.

With a backpack, an urn, and a secret, June begins again. She snags a job at a café and finds lodging at a quaint inn with a quirky cast of housemates. The only problem: the inn’s infuriatingly perceptive (and sexy) owner, Lennox. He’s suspicious of June. After all, no one comes to Scotland in the winter unless they’re running from something. From rocky start to sizzling temptation, June’s new world is exhilarating…and one detour away from disaster.

With her past and her future both vying for attention, June can’t begin to picture where her reimagined life is headed next. And falling in love with the last person she expected is only the beginning.

Thoughts

Here are all the reasons I would have DNFd this book at 20% if it hadn’t been a review copy. Note: lots of swearing follows.

1. I hated all the characters, except Hamish. June is 20 or 21 and this is billed as an adult novel, but BOY does she act like a child. She’s petty and stubborn and reactive and judgmental. I really really did not like her from early on, and honestly I didn’t care for her by the end, either. Lennox doesn’t really have a personality, either. The side character who is a writer conveniently spells out all the events of the book in a sort of meta way, and I found that really dull. The best friend, Matt? He was SO annoying! He seems like a total prat, and at the big climax all I could feel was a mild spite because he was such a douche in my eyes. What a possessive, entitled asshole. And Angus. Angus will get an entire bullet point of his own later on here. 😐

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The Quarter Mage by Angelina J Steffort

The Quarter Mage by Angelina J. Steffort


Recommended: Yes!
For a magical adventure, for a familiar story structure, for some interesting magical creations and rules, for VENGEANCE, and for family

Summary

Perfect for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

WHEN DESTINY FAILS YOU, WHO WILL YOU BECOME?

A forgotten princess. A cruel realm. A Mage who might be her salvation.

Sanja is a princess on the run. And when she flees her father’s court to escape an arranged marriage to a tyrant, the one thing she doesn’t expect, is to be killed for her throne.

But magic that shouldn’t exist in her kingdom saves her, and Sanja is thrust into the daunting fairylands where, as a human, she’s prey…

Fighting to survive, Sanja signs herself into the service of the most powerful Mages in the fairylands, determined to master the magic to save her kingdom—and finds herself stuck with a brooding Mage with a knack for keeping secrets.

As Sanja’s feelings for Tristan turn from dread to attraction, she learns that she isn’t the only thing the fairies are after. And Sanja must risk her life and her heart, or she will lose both him and her kingdom forever.


Dive into Angelina J. Steffort’s latest heart-wrenching upper YA fantasy romance and find out what makes the world of The Quarter Mage so special.

Thoughts

Y’all, we’ve been sleeping on this book. Let me start this review by saying I’m already anticipating the second book which is out early 2023 (but not early enough for me with the ending of this!). It was a good find from BookBub and I’m so pleased with it!


Okay, praise sung, now to acknowledge that as much as I enjoyed this book, it really didn’t blow me away or anything with it’s originality or style. There are a lot of scenes and plot structure points that felt very reminiscent of other books (especially Sarah J Maas’ titles). Part of that is because it’s fairly common fae-and-magic plot lines in general for the genre, and part of it did feel a little more directly inspired by specific books. The thing is, I didn’t really care. Even though I wasn’t stunned at the direction of the plot, I was fully hooked in for the ride and cheering the characters on.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine (11/8/22)

Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine
Expected Release Date: November 8, 2022

Recommended: yup!
For a feel-good story set during the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a look at what it was like for folks in Wuhan where it originated, for absolutely delicious food (complete with recipes!!)

Summary

Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.

Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.

Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home. 

Thoughts

I’ve been reading book about Covid-19 since Covid-19 was still locking everyone at home. For me, it’s cathartic in a way to read about so many other people’s experiences of this one global experience. It’s a connection to basically everyone in the world, which I find quite incredible, though of course it’s not the connection I’d have asked for. Point being, while the topic can be difficult because of the recent and ongoing pain around it, I do still love reading about it, and this book is a prime example of why.

Mei is my tiny hero. I aspire to be more like Mei. Though this is a book about Covid-19 and it’s onset, it’s also a book about perseverance and generosity and just being a really decent person. Mei not only steps up to help those around her, but she encourages others to do so as well. Standing up to anyone can be tough, but especially tough when you’re a young teenage girl and you’re standing up to a scared mob of large adult men. What a powerful moment that was, among so many others.

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