June 2020 Wrap Up

For full reviews of the books I mention in this post, be sure to check out my Recent Reads posts!

 

All of the books I mention in this video can be found and purchased on my storefront here.

 

June Stats

Total Books: 28
Audiobooks: 21
EBooks: 2
Physical Books: 5
Fiction: 25
Nonfiction: 4
5 Stars: 12
4 Stars: 9
3 Stars: 4
2 Stars: 1
1 Star: 0
DNF: 0

June Standouts

Least Favorite: Twilight Graphic Novel
Favorite: Take a Hint Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Most surprising: Becoming by Michelle Obama
Biggest Disappointment: On the Rocks by Kandi Steiner
June Rankings 
These are all the books I read in June listed and ranked from least favorite to favorite.
*=Author of Color, BIPOC Authors

Unrated

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White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

 

2 Stars

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 (Twilight: The Graphic Novel, #1)
Twilight Graphic Novel Vol. 1 by Stephanie Meyer

 

3 Stars

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On the Rocks by Kandi Steiner

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* Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon

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My Favorite Souvenir by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland

4 Stars

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*Once More Upon a Time by Rostand Choski
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Hard as It Gets (Hard Ink, #1)
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5 Stars

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ARC Review: Not Like the Movies (Waiting for Tom Hanks #2) by Kerry Winfrey⁣

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Not Like the Movies
Author: Kerry Winfrey⁣
Series: Waiting for Tom Hanks #2
Format: ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: 7/7/20

Synopsis:
What happens when your life is a rom-com…but you don’t even believe in true love?

Chloe Sanderson is an optimist, and not because her life is easy. As the sole caregiver for her father, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, she’s pretty much responsible for everything. She has no time—or interest—in getting swept up in some dazzling romance. Not like her best friend Annie, who literally wrote a rom-com that’s about to premiere in theaters across America…and happens to be inspired by Chloe and Nick Velez, Chloe’s cute but no-nonsense boss.

As the buzz for the movie grows, Chloe reads one too many listicles about why Nick is the perfect man, and now she can’t see him as anything but Reason #2: The Scruffy-Bearded Hunk Who’s Always There When You Need Him. But unlike the romance Annie has written for them, Chloe isn’t so sure her own story will end in a Happily Ever After.

GOODREADS

Review

⁣⁣Finally, an illustrated cover that matches the story!⁣

This book is just as adorable as the cover. It’s a hilarious romcom about a barista named Chloe who is dealing with a lot: her best friend wrote a screenplay that is becoming a popular movie about the romance between her and her boss… except, her and her boss aren’t even in a relationship, which makes things awkward, but is also a bit forshadowing.⁣

There was so much to love in this adorable novel. Chloe doesn’t have it easy, her mother and brother have abandoned her to take care of her father with Alzheimer’s completely on her own, she’s trying to get through business school, and she’s working full time. However, she somehow holds onto her constant optimism by a thread even though the hits keep coming.⁣

The banter between Chloe and her boss, Nick, is so on point. I laughed out loud and highlighted so many lines while reading this one.⁣

Chloe and Annie’s friendship is total friendship goals and I absolutely MUST read Annie’s story, if only to get more of these two characters.⁣

The only downside about this book is that Chloe’s character became a little frustrating toward the end. Her reasons for refusing to be in a relationship with Nick just didn’t make sense to me, but Nick’s character alone was enough to make up for that. He’s the quiet, seemingly grumpy, but secretly sweet hero that I absolutely love.⁣


Butterfly Rating: 2 Stars

2-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Maybe

I might check out the audiobook after I read Waiting for Tom Hanks!


Bookshelf Placement: Yes!

This cover is gorgeous!


Book Boyfriend Rating: 3 stars

3-stars

 

 

 

Recent Reads: June 14-27

I read a total of 14 books between June 14 & June 27 and there were so many great ones!

All of the books I mention in this video can be found and purchased on my storefront here.

 

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4 stars
This is a graphic novel that is basically a series of scenarios that will be very relatable to true introverts. I am much more of an extroverted introvert, so there were some things that I didn’t fully relate to, but I totally understood. The illustrations were adorable and I read this book within an hour. I think this book would make a great gift for your introvert friends who don’t get enough love in this noisy world.
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4 Stars
I saw that a friend of mine on bookstagram was reading a couple of Whitney G novels and this was one of them. It definitely inspired me to pick it up since it was my birthday and her novels tend to be short and sweet – like a little treat on a day of relaxation.
This book had so many great romance tropes happening in it. First of all, the heroine, not unlike Whitney G, is a successful author of short, self-published, steamy romance novels. She joins this sort of pen pal ish service that is supposed to be strictly platonic and starts talking to this guy. At first he’s a douche, but then they work things out. Turns out he is her dad’s good friend. So there is a forbidden and age gap scenario.
I have to be honest, I didn’t love this at first. I really didn’t like the way the hero was talking to our heroine at all and I worried he wouldn’t redeem himself.
He did and I ended up really enjoying this. Whitney G does what few authors can when it comes to steamy novellas: she builds chemistry quickly and crafts a believable romance in otherwise outlandish settings. Her and Katee Robert are my two very favorite short, steamy, romance writers for that reason.
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5 Stars
I finally did it! I read a Tessa Dare novel and everyone was right. I freaking loved it.
This book is about a woman who is incredibly introverted and to avoid having to do the typical coming out in society thing, she makes up a pretend boyfriend. A Scottish soldier who, it turns out, actually exists.
He has been receiving her letters and learns all about her from them, so when he shows up unexpectedly at the house she inherited because of her fake engagement to him, she’s obviously surprised.
For those who don’t normally like historical romances, I think Tessa Dare is the perfect place to ease your way into the genre. Her heroines aren’t annoyingly innocent and naive. Her books feel modern even though they are not.
This had so many elements of a great romance: fake dating, a little bit of enemies-to-lovers, and an adorable meetcute.
I can’t wait to read more Tessa Dare!
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5 Stars
This is a coming-of-age memoir about a mixed-race gay teen who eventually finds himself when he discovers drag, written in verse. Obviously I can’t personally speak for the rep in this novel, but I can tell you that it was beautifully written.
I’m a big fan of modern poetry and though I connected a little more with the poetry in The Poet X a little more, I still really liked this one. While I loved the audiobook, I have seen a few pages of the book and I wish I had it as I was reading as well.
I feel like this book is so important for young people to read, to help them see outside of their boxes – or to help them find themselves on page. To help them not feel so alone.
Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! 1
4 stars
My very first official manga was gifted to me by my sweet friend, @genkireader, for my birthday. There was definitely a learning curve when it came to reading this. I was messaging her on Instagram with questions like, “Wait, this book is backwards, where do I start? Do I read right to left or left to right?” It was surprisingly more difficult than I expected, but I REALLY enjoyed this book. So much so that I ended up buying a few more of her favorites.
This book was quirky and cute. It’s about a guy who has developed the power to read people’s mind through touch and he thinks it is because he’s a 30yo virgin. He ends up reading the mind of a charasmatic, good-looking guy in his office and discovers that he is attracted to him. So many adorable moments ensue, a ton of over-thinking and awkwardness, but also super sweet, swoony moments, too. I feel like this will speak to any of us who overthink every little thing when we are falling for someone. Especially when it is unexpected.
Thank you, De’Siree for this gift, it was like you gifted me a piece of yourself because I know how much you love these stories. Lovelovelovelovelove.
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3 Stars
This is a cute romance between a buff, tattooed nanny who begins working for a savant young surgeon and mother of two girls.
This book was fine, though I didn’t see anything special about it. Maybe I gave in a little to the hype surrounding it and that was the issue, but mostly the romance was just ok. I felt like it was a little rushed, I wished there was more pining and more of a forbidden aspect to this, but it seemed like they both gave in pretty quickly.
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5 stars
This was a super angsty, emotional story about a girl and a guy who are both dealing with terrible tragedy and find solace in each other. The first night they meet is filled with unbelievable chemistry, it’s almost too good to be true.
And it turns out to be. Because it turns out he is her high school teacher.
The heroine was held back in school because of a medical condition, so she is 19 years old and a senior. He is a young teacher, in his early twenties, so the age gap isn’t really a thing, but it doesn’t make it any less forbidden.
When they realize the situation, it’s heartbreaking because of how intense their first meeting was. A series of super angsty things happen and it’s all very intense, but in the best epic love kind of way.
I was rooting for this couple the entire time, but not only that, I loved the heroine’s relationship with her step siblings even with all that drama.
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5 Stars
This is a super relevant fictional story that is somewhat reminiscent of The Hate You Give.
This is about a boy in the ROTC in high school who is falsely accused of stealing by a racist, hateful police officer who ends up beating him until he is unconscious which stirs protests in his town that is sick of this constantly happening.
Sound familiar?
What’s interesting about this story is how it follows the perspective both of the victim and a white boy that goes to his school who is linked to the police officer.
I was completely invested in this story, while also cautious. I was super curious about how this book would end. Would it be far too optimistic or would it be realistic?
When I finally came to the end, I very much appreciated it. It was hopeful without being naive. It left questions that we still need answers to, but it didn’t feel too unresolved that it leaves you unsettled. I almost took it as… let’s let current events tell us how this story is going to end.
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5 Stars
I read this sweet, heartwarming graphic novel with my girls. They adored it from the very first night we read it before bed.
This story is about a prince who likes to wear dresses and hires, in secret, a dressmaker to make him custom dresses.
I didn’t tell them what it was about, I wanted them to discover it on their own and ask questions as they came up.
Books are an essential parenting tool for me.
The girls begged me every night to keep going. They loved the characters in this book and they were excited to see what was going to happen.
This entire book, but especially the ending was so adorable. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read more from this author. Especially if I can share the experience with my girls.
5 stars and 4 stars
A lot of my friends have read and loved this series, between that and the premise, I’ve been super excited to read it.
This is about a woman who is a sex addict and her best friend she’s in a fake relationship with who is an alcoholic.
This is a super angsty, dark, gritty series so far with such a strong romance. These are extremely troubled characters who are using their relationship and each other to hide their addictions.
I found this book, ironically enough, addicting to read and I can’t wait to read on in the series.
The second book did seem to drag on a bit, I feel like it could’ve been half as long as it was, but I know it was necessary.
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5 Stars
I am absolutely LOVING these Brown sisters books! Chloe’s book was fantastic, but I think this one might be my favorite so far.⁣
Dani is a smart, independent savvy woman who is not interested in a long term relationship. Zaf is basically the complete opposite.⁣
The two of them have not had much more than a nice rapport – he’s the security guard at the school she teaches at, until Dani gets trapped in an elevator and Zaf rescues her. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the entire rescue didn’t get caught on film and go viral.⁣
The “going viral” thing seems to be really popular lately and it’s not normally something I would gravitate towed. Honestly, I tend to prefer if romance novels just pretend that social media didn’t exist. I think it’s tricky including anything involving technology in contemporary romance novels only because things change so rapidly, it’s easy to become outdated.⁣
However, I didn’t care what this book was about, I knew I was going to read it and fully expected to love it … and I was right.⁣
As always, Talia’s steamy scenes are SO on point, but more than anything, she writes sweet heroes SO well. I adored Zaf with everything I am. I can’t handle how much I love his side job and that despite being a big guy, he’s a big softie. ⁣
And, of course, I adored Dani. I love how badass and confident and independent she is, even if it does complicate her relationships.⁣
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5 Stars
I borrowed this on a whim from my library. I’ve been reading a few nonfiction books lately and have enjoyed all that I’ve picked up.⁣
I have to admit, though, I loved this one the most.⁣
I didn’t realize Michelle’s father had MS. As soon as she mentioned his symptoms, my stomach dropped and I just KNEW it. It’s always hard for me to read about people who have Multiple Sclerosis, especially nonfiction because I’m always wondering if that will be me and when.⁣⁣
As a romance reader, I adored Michelle and Obama’s romance. I officially ship them SO hard. Watching their relationship unfold was so satisfying and adorable.⁣
I’m not a big crier while reading, but I got choked up so many times. When she talked about visiting the VA, when she talked about Sandy Hook… it wasn’t overly dramatic, but it was enough to have me covering my mouth with my hand trying not to cry.⁣
I’ve always admired this woman, but even more now than I did before learning more about her. ⁣

 

Pick My Kindle Unlimited & Audible Escape TBR

Vote on what I should read in July!⁣

Head over to my YouTube channel and check out my latest video where I’m asking you to pick one book from my Kindle Unlimited TBR and one book from my Audible Escape TBR.⁣

OR comment below with your vote!

All of the books I mention in this video can be found and purchased on my storefront here.

*=Author of Color, BIPOC Authors

Kindle Unlimited TBR

 

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1. Meet Cute Club by Jack Harbon
M/M romance between a guy who loves reading sci-fi romances and the bookstore clerk who makes fun of him, but also has a club called The Meet Cute Club that he invites him to.

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2. *Will You Be Mine by Rilzy Adams
Contemporary fake dating friends-to-lovers romance where the friends fake date at a wedding.

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3. Saint by EM Snow
A new adult high school bully romance recommended to me by Lisa from Remarkably Lisa.

Audible Escape

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1. The Vixen and The Vet by Katy Regnery
This is a contemporary reimagining of Beauty and the Beast.

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2. *A Hundred Thousand Words by Nyrae Dawn
This is a best friend’s older brother m/m romance between Tobias, who grew up in a town where he was the only gay person. His dream guy is his best friend’s jerk of an older brother. Fast forward a few years later and he’s grown up quite a bit and moved to San Francisco. His best friend’s brother has changed quite a bit as well.

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3. *Sin and Ink by Naima Simone
This is a contemporary forbidden romance between an ex MMA fighter and his dead brother’s widow.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell {Review by Kayla|

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis:
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

GOODREADS

Review

I have been reading such good books lately and this one definitely is one of them!

Where do I even start with this book?? First of all, I want to talk about how real this was and I could totally see this as being someone’s actual life which was really interesting to see. Then there are the characters in this book which I absolutely loved. The main character, Cath, is so relatable especially to me since she is a writer and I think almost all writers out there will easily relate to her on many levels. With the minor characters, I really enjoyed that I either completely loved or completely hated them (in a good way) based on their relationship with Cath and just the overall role played in her life. Towards the end when I finished the book, I felt like I wanted more of the story. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the way it ended but part of me I wanted more of an in depth description. Overall, what really pushed this book to a five star was the book boyfriend (of course) because he was basically perfect. See for yourself!


Butterfly Rating: 4 Stars

4-stars


Book Boyfriend Rating: 5 stars

5-stars


Age recommendation: 14+

 

 

 

Free eBooks, Kindle Unlimited, & Birthday eBook Haul – June 2020

book-haul
*=Author of Color, BIPOC Authors
Impossible
Free
In this hate-to-love contemporary, a woman saves a man’s life at the risk of her own and she holds a grudge against him because of it.
Made For You
KU
This is a sapphic friends-to-lovers romance between Aubrey, one of Atlant’s wealthiest Black women as the president and CEO of the Atlanta Redbirds, and London who dreams of starting her own clothing company.
Fading (The Fading Series Book 1)
Free
This is a small town YA contemporary romance about a girl who recently lost her father and her only solace are these recurring dreams she has about this boy she never met until one day a new boy arrives in town – the boy she’s been dreaming about.
Protecting the Heiress (The Heiress Duet #1)
Free
This is a contemporary romance between a man who is going under cover as a Manny and the baby’s mother.
Remembering a Witch
Free
This is a fated-mates type of story between Fenella and Graham who are both reincarnations of a centuries-old match.
Rush (Palm South University, #1)
KU
This is a New Adult College romance with a lot of angst, steam, and drama. I believe Jessica is doing a readalong for this entire series next month. I’ll put the information down below if that’s true.
Big Gray: A Romantic Comedy (In The Dark Series Book 1)
Free
This is a new adult college sports romance. Grayson has acquired the label “player” and now he is desperate to clean up his act and find a girlfriend. He decides to start a secret group called Parties Anonymous which is a party that is held in a pitch dark room so him and his friends can meet people without them knowing who they are.
Darkest Hour (My Darker Side Series Book 1)
Free
This is a forbidden bodyguard romance between the president of the US’s daughter and her bodyguard.
Broken Magic (The Sanctuary Chronicles, #1)
KU
This is a paranormal forbidden enemies-to-lovers romance between a witch and werewolf. Valeria is a witch who has had a strict upbringing and suddenly loses control of her magic and kills a bunch of people. Asher is seeking revenge on Valeria and her family when he discovers a secret about her.
The Call (Building the Circle, #1)
This is a paranormal romantic comedy about a family who has psychic and empathic abilities. There is disability rep in this book, the main character is disabled. She’s a self-imployed strategist. The hero is described as a foul-mouthed Prince Charming. They meet when Matilda, the heroine, shows up late for a sales meeting with Jake, the hero, dripping wet and partially frozen.
The Two Week Arrangement (Penthouse Affair, #1)
Free
This is an adult contemporary hate-to-lover workplace romance between an intern (the heroine) and the CeO of the company (the hero) who is a single dad of twin toddlers.
Playing to Win (Gridiron, #1)
Free
This is a contemporary new adult college sports romance between Blake – who is projected to be a 1st round draft pick – and an all around good guy and Kately who is a chem geek.
Lost Girl (The Neverwood Chronicles, #1)
Free
This is a Peter Pan reimagining.
Will You Be Mine? (Falling Like A Johnson #2)
KU
This is an adult contemporary friends-to-lovers romance that sounds like there is all kinds of pining because the hero, JT, has been in love with his best friend forever, however she has no idea. There is also fake dating – she asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend for a friend’s wedding. I beleive JEss from PeaceLoveBooks rec’d this in her recent Fake Dating Rec video.
Resolutions
KU
This is another contemporary friends-to-lovers romcom, but this time the heroine is the one who has been in love with her bearded best friend. Apparently the hero, Mike, has a girlfriend, but the description says there is no cheating.
Meet Cute Club (Sweet Rose #1)
KU
This is an m/m contemporary romance between Jordan – who loves to read steamy supernatural romance novels and the new employee at his favorite bookstore, Rex, who makes fun of the books he reads. Little does Jordan know that Rex has a club called The Meet Cute Club that he invites Jordan to.
Stay Gold
Gifted from Misty at Mistysbookspace
This is a coming-of-age YA romance between a transgender boy and a cisgender girl.
Beast Master, Vol. 1 (Beast Master, #1)
Purchased
This is a romance manga that takes place in high school. Leo is the outcast because he “looks like a crazy animal with wild eyes” who has a special connection to animals. This intrigues the heroine instead of scaring her away.
Boys Over Flowers: Hana Yori Dango, Vol. 1 (Boys Over Flowers, #1)
Purchased
This is another romance manga that ta
I’m kes place in high school. In this one, the heroine is accepted to a prestigious Academy. It sounds like this is an enemies-to-lovers because her friend falls on the leader of this group of rich kids at her school and he refuses to forgive her. He then “tags” her to be bullied by the school, but she stands up to them.
Real Kind of Love (Books & Brews, #1)
Free
This is a adult contemporary romance with fake dating between an audiobook narrator and an ownder of a brewpub.
Crime Lord's Captive (Crime Lord, #1)
Free
This is a dark mafia romance about a woman who has run away from the ruthless man who rules the criminal underworld until he finds her again.
Ivan (Her Russian Protector, #1)
Free
This is an adult contemporary romance between Erin and the man she is hoping can help her find her missing sister.
Queen Move
Gifted from Lacey at Laceybooklovers
This is a contemporary romance between a woman and a man who come from families who used to be very close until something tore them apart. They grew up together and he used to be awkward in adolesence, but is now the complete opposite
Toxic Desire (Planet of Desire #1)
Gifted from Averie at AverieLovesBooks
This is an alien romance between a golden skinned alien who destroyed the heroine’s ship. She should hate him, but everything on his skin is an aphrodisiac.
Wrecking Ball (Hard to Love, #1)
Free
This is an adult contemporary sports romance between a woman who has lost everything and a jerky pro quarterback.
Sexy: Day and night I dream only of you. (Soulmates - Sexiness and Secrets Book 1)
Free
This is a contemporary romance between neighbors. A sexy italian guy moves into the apartment down the hall from our heroine. He’s described as “quiet, reserved, and disciplined with a thunderous passion.”
Taken by Lies (Truth or Lies #1)
Free
This is a dark romance about a woman who has been kidnapped by a man who she trusted and sold as if she were property.
Damaged Goods (Ravenswood, #1.5)
Free
This is a small town contemporary second-chance romance between a woman who is in an awful marriage and her kind high school sweetheart.
Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America
Free
This is an anthology of stories about being young in Black Americ with authors such as Ibi Zoboi, Dhonielle Clayton, Nic Stone, Renee Watson, and more.
The Problem with Pugs (Love & Pets, #1)
KU
This is a romcom between a woman whose pug “attacks” the hero and she ends up having to pay his medical bills.
Interviewing For Her Lover (Six Nights Of Sin, #1)
Free
This is a dark, taboo romance that takes place around a BDSM club.
Dark Romance Collection
KU
This is a collection of Dark Romance short stories with authors such as CD Reiss, Skye Warren and Laurelin Paige.
Praying for Rain (The Rain Trilogy, #1)
Free
This is a romance that happens right before an apocalypse takes place.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I think this is more of a BookTube thing, but I thought I would post my answers here as well!

All of the books I mention here can be found and purchased on my storefront.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020.
I don’t think I can pick just one, so I’m going to pick two (which was also difficult.)
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Brooklynnaire by Sarina Bowen took me completely by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to become obsessed with this book, but here we are. It is part of the Brooklyn Bruisers series, but it can be read as a standalone. Our heroine is the former assistant to a socially awkward, but brilliant owner of a tech company (think Apple) and hockey team. They had a very close working relationship until he moved her to Brooklyn to manage the hockey team. I loved this so much because the hero is adorably awkward, but also super smart and the heroine has absolutely no idea that he has been in love with her this entire time. Like, she can’t even fathom it. It was just so swoony and there were so many moments that gave me so many butterflies. This is how I love to feel while I read a romance.
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Fall Back Skyward by Autumn Grey is another one that surprised me. I read this because my daughter picked it out for me and it’s a book that I got at Shameless Book Con from Autumn last year. I immediately fell in love with this book and the way this story was told, both in present day and in flashbacks. It’s an emotional contemporary second-chance romance between a girl who moves in next door to these two brothers who both end up caring deeply about her. The hero is deaf and his brother is much more of your typical good-looking, talented, charismatic, nice guy, but she is much more drawn to his brother who is a bit darker and quieter. This had the epic love story that contemporary romances rarely have.
2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020.
This is actually really easy.
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Undercover Bromance (The Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kaye Adams. I loved The Bromance Book Club so much, but this one is my favorite so far. Mostly because it was so freaking funny and swoony. I adore Mack, the hero, so much, but I’ll talk more about that later. A lot of people didn’t like Liv, the heroine, but I loved her snark and attitude! This continues the story about The Bromance Book Club, a book club that Mack started because he relys heavily on romance novels to give him relationship advice. He’s very popular with women, however, he hasn’t been able to find a long-term relationship despite following all the romance novel rules.
3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.
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I flipped out when I saw that this book was a thing because Jo and Laurie from Little Women is a ship I will so go down with. I’ve loved them together since I first watched the movie that came out in 1949 as a kid. This is basically fanfiction retelling the story, but with Jo and Laurie ending up together.
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.
I did this tag on my channel before Mariana Zapata announced her latest book, but I had said whatever book she comes out with this year is my most anticipated. Well, we have a title and a cover now!
*Hands Down by Mariana Zapata
This is about one of my favorite characters from The Wall of Winnipeg and me, Zac!!
5. Biggest disappointment.
Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)
I honestly don’t really have one that stands out, but if I had to choose it’d be: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin. I was expecting an epic romance, but it was just ok. It certainly wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t epic as I would expect a forbidden romance in a YA fantasy would be.
6. Biggest surprise.
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I’ve mentioned two books that surprised me this year already, but for this specific question, I’m going to go with *Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.6) by Alyssa Cole.
I really didn’t have any expectations going into this one. I thought it would be a cute, quick read, but I didn’t love the first book in this series because I don’t love the royalty trope. This book had nothing to do with royalty, despite mentioning some of the characters from the other books briefly, and it had everything to do with a smart, geeky couple falling in love and having the best meetcute ever.
7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
*Autumn Grey
Like I said earlier, my daughter picked her book Fall Back Skyward for me to read and I fell in love. Since then I’ve read Desolate and really enjoyed that as well. She doesn’t have a huge backlist yet, so I’m pacing myself reading her books, but I already know she’s going to be a favorite. Her writing is beautiful, I love her story-telling, she creates such swoony and realistic relationships with tons of chemistry, and she’s an awesome human on top of it all.
8. Newest fictional crush.
There are a lot of heroes I’ve been loving this year, but I think Mack wins because he’s such a conundrum. He’s super successful, seemingly alpha guy, but he’s also self-depricating and a big softy. He loves reading romance novels and he is a feminist.
9. Newest favourite character.
Regina is such a badass. She’s hardworking and super smart and geeky. She runs a very successful website pretty much on her own. This is one of those situations where, though I loved the hero as well, the heroine was my favorite.
10. Book that made you cry.
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I legit got teared up a few times reading *Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda because, though it was written back in 2016, reading it now and how relevant it is – how filled with hope it is – just really hit home for me.
11. Book that made you happy.
The House in the Cerulean Sea
OMG, so many! I rarely read books that make me feel any other way. But I had a big smile on my face while I read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. It’s so full of magic and whimsy and sweetness. I loved it.
12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
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I just bought the collectors edition of Anna and the French Kiss. I haven’t received it yet, but it’s absolutely stunning. Buy this version here.
13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
All the books. Seriously. So many. I want to continue reading at least one Brittainy C Cherry book per month. This month I’m going to read Loving Mr. Daniels. I want to read the rest of Autumn Grey’s back list. I’m definitely going to read Mariana Zapata’s new release.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Summer 2020 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I don’t usually set up seasonal TBRs since I do monthly TBRs, but I thought it would be fun to put together 10 books that give me summer vibes that I’d like to read this summer. Whether or not that actually happens is debatable, BUT at least I’ll have this list for reference!

Summer 2020 TBR

*=Author of Color

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This one gives me all the summer vibes from the cover… the main character becomes Misty Haven’s Summer Queen.

*If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kahn

Winnie is living her best fat girl life and is on her way to the best place on earth. No, not Disneyland–her Granny’s diner, Goldeen’s, in the small town of Misty Haven. While there, she works in her fabulous 50’s inspired uniform, twirling around the diner floor and earning an obscene amount of tips. With her family and ungirlfriend at her side, she has everything she needs for one last perfect summer before starting college in the fall.

…until she becomes Misty Haven’s Summer Queen in a highly anticipated matchmaking tradition that she wants absolutely nothing to do with.

Newly crowned, Winnie is forced to take center stage in photoshoots and a never-ending list of community royal engagements. Almost immediately, she discovers that she’s deathly afraid of it all: the spotlight, the obligations, and the way her Merry Haven Summer King, wears his heart, humor, and honesty on his sleeve.

Stripped of Goldeen’s protective bubble, to salvage her summer Winnie must conquer her fears, defy expectations, and be the best Winnie she knows she can be—regardless of what anyone else thinks of her.

 

 

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*Sexy in Stilettos (In Stilettos #1) by Nana Malone

I feel like this one will be light and fluffy – perfect for summer!

What’s worse than having to watch your sister marry your ex-fiancé? How about when that fiancé fires you from the family business?

Hyper-organized, event planner, Jaya Trudeaux is used to doing things by the book and never making waves. It’s a strategy that’s served her well until she finds herself in failure alley with no fiancé, no job and her thirtieth birthday looming. Maybe it’s time to change her methods. Starting with an unlikely date to the wedding from hell.

The only thing that can tie carefree, playboy, Alec Danthers down is his formidable step mother. When she calls him home to help find his wayward brother, he never imagines an uptight, list making, sass-talking woman would make him think about putting down roots.

Can Jaya put the lists down long enough to enjoy the ride that is Alec? Will Alec stop running long enough to recognize true love?

Warning: Sexy, sass talking women will make you laugh, cry and want a pair of killer footwear.

 

 

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*Game, Set, Match (Love Match #1) by Nana Malone

For some reason I relate tennis to summertime. I think it is because my dad and brother play tennis all the time and I have memories of going to the park with them and watching them play in the summer.

Off the court, tennis star Jason Cartwright’s playboy image is taking a public beating. On the court, he’s down 40-love. A knee injury is shutting down his game, and the paparazzi are splashing his love life on every magazine. A comeback is in order, but the makeover he needs to save his faltering career is in the hands of the woman he loved and left 15 years ago.

While single-mom Izzy Connors sees people for who they really are through the lens of her camera, even without it, she knows Jason isn’t the star he appears to be. Although his charm and good looks haven’t dimmed since he broke her heart, all she sees is his wasted talent and playboy lifestyle.

Can Izzy put the past behind her and help Jason get his game, and his image, back on track? Or will the click of her camera shatter his world as well as his heart?

 

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*Four Summers by Nyrae Dawn

I think it’s pretty obvious why I chose this one. Nyrae Dawn is a new-to-me author!

A moment can change everything…Charlotte Gates is tired of being Charlie Rae. She loves the lake she was raised on, their rental cabins, and spending her nights under the stars…but inside she yearns for more. After his freshman year, Nathaniel Chase’s family spends their first summer at The Village. From the beginning Charlotte intrigues him. She’s the girl who always says what’s on her mind, wins at night games, and gets lost in the sky, each time she looks through her telescope. Over the course of four summers together, Charlotte and Nathaniel become best friends, share firsts, mend broken hearts, protect each other’s secrets, overcome tragedies…fall in love. And say goodbye…Charlotte wants out of The Village. Nate wants her to have her stars. And they dream of being able to do it all together. But life isn’t as easy as their summers. Each summer is told in alternating points of view between Charlotte and Nate. Journey with the pair, and their friends, as they share their story about growing up, discovering who they are, making tough choices, and falling in love again and again.

 

 

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Sunshine and Bullets (The Bullets #1) by CoraLee June

The main character’s nickname is Sunshine!

Sunshine. It’s a nickname I haven’t heard since I lived on Woodbury Lane, where the houses were pretty, but the secrets? Deadly. It was a pet name known only to the Bullets. Rough, violent, and ruthless, they laid claim to the town – and my heart.

I wasn’t supposed to fall for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks‚ especially not four of them. But they were the only ones who understood that sometimes hell hides in plain sight. I was the girl with all the conveniences a privileged upbringing could provide. The world only saw two loving parents and a pristine home life, but I knew the truth. And it was going to get me killed. So I disappeared from everyone and everything I’d ever known. I changed my name and my appearance, but the scars I carry, they’re still the same.

The Bullets are all grown up now, too – a crime boss, a pro fighter, a bounty hunter, and a federal agent. Life took them in different directions, but they once shared the bonds of a brotherhood forged under the harshest conditions. Together, they were fearless. Brutal. Unstoppable.

I’m praying they can find that unity again. If I’m going to survive this, it’ll take everything they have. Because that’s the thing about running from the past. It catches up with you eventually.

 

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

The blurb says, “It was a summer of secrets.”

The dying wish of 16-year-old Lina’s mother was for her daughter to live in Tuscany and get to know her father, whom Lina has never met.

“Howard is the best man I’ve ever known,” her mother says, “he’ll keep you safe.” Why did her mother wait so long to tell her about him? Lina has a happy life in Seattle and doesn’t want to leave. Shortly after she arrives at Howard’s home, Lina meets Sonya, who gives Lina a diary that belonged to Lina’s mother, the one she had kept while she was a photography student in Florence. While Lina is living her life and exploring Tuscany with her handsome neighbour, Ren, she follows in the footsteps of her mother and gets to know her as never before. She also finds out the truth about her father. Mostly she finds out about herself.

 

 

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*Like Lovers Do (Girls Trip #2) by Tracey Livesay

This is an ARC I received from the author and it sounds like such a sweet beach read! This comes out in September!

Sometimes faking it can lead to the real thing…

Driven and focused, Dr. Nicole Allen is an accomplished surgeon. With a tough past, Nic’s gone above and beyond everyone’s expectations. But when she disciplines an intern—a powerful donor’s son—a prestigious fellowship she’s awaiting is placed in jeopardy.

Coming from a successful family who runs a medical business empire, Benjamin Reed Van Mont is the black sheep, having chosen to start his own business instead. Though he’s not ready to settle down, he knows when the time comes it definitely won’t be with a workaholic doctor like his friend Nic—even if she’s had him re-examining his edict…more than once.

When Ben’s status-climbing ex-girlfriend finds her way back into his orbit, Nic proposes a swap of services. She’ll spend the week with Ben on Martha’s Vineyard, pretending to be his girlfriend—but only if he’ll have his family intervene on her behalf so she won’t lose her fellowship. How hard can the charade be?

But as they’re about to discover, they’ve sorely underestimated their true feelings for each other…

 

 

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This has been on my TBR for far too long! I loved The Sky is Everywhere by this author and have heard great things about this book.

“We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”

At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world. This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

 

 

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Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne

This book cover gives me all the summer vibes and it sounds SO good.

Ruby has always been Ruby Chertok: future classical pianist and daughter of renowned composer Martin Chertok. But after her horrendous audition for the prestigious music school where her father is on faculty, it’s clear that music has publicly dumped her. Now Ruby is suddenly just…Ruby. And who is that again? All she knows is that she wants away from the world of classical music for good.

Oscar is a wunderkind, a musical genius. Just ask any of the 1.8 million people who’ve watched him conduct on YouTube – or hey, just ask Oscar. But while he might be the type who’d name himself when asked about his favorite composer and somehow make you love him more for it, Oscar is not the type to jeopardize his chance to study under the great Martin Chertok – not for a crush. He’s all too aware of how the ultra-privileged world of classical music might interpret a black guy like him falling for his benefactor’s white daughter. But as the New York City summer heats up, so does the spark between Ruby and Oscar. Soon, their connection crackles with the same alive, uncontainable energy as the city itself.

Can two people still figuring themselves out figure out how to be together? Or will the world make the choice for them?

 

 

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The Music of What Happens Next by Bill Konigsberg

This book takes place during the summer!

Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn’t want to think about, ever.

Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His “wives” and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won’t like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he’s the only one who can keep the family from falling apart.

Throw in a rickety, 1980s-era food truck called Coq Au Vinny. Add in prickly pears, cloud eggs, and a murky idea of what’s considered locally sourced and organic. Place it all in Mesa, Arizona, in June, where the temp regularly hits 114. And top it off with a touch of undeniable chemistry between utter opposites.

Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they’re willing to risk – to get the thing they want the most.

Recent Reads: June 1-13

Since my wrap-ups are so long at the end of the month, I decided to break it up into two different posts. You can watch the video of this wrap-up here:

 

Here are the books I read from June 1 – June 13.

*=Author of Color

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On the Rocks (Becker Brothers #1) by Kandi Steiner

3 stars
This is a small town contemporary age gap romance. Ruby is 19 and the daughter of the mayor of the small town. Noah works at a popular whiskey distillery. They meet when Ruby is visiting the distillery to purchase a wedding gift for her husband-to-be. So, if you are not a fan of cheating, you probably won’t be a big fan of this book. Granted, her fiance is an awful person, but the demonizing of his character seemed too convenient. It also occurs after there is already emotional cheating. Putting all of that aside, I did enjoy this book and I definitely want to read on in the series. I’m super curious about all of Noah’s brothers, and I’m assuming each brother has his own story.
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*The Boyfriend Project (The Boyfriend Project #1) by Farrah Rochon

4 stars
This contemporary romance is about three women who find out that they are all dating the same guy via a viral live tweet of his date with one of them. Both the main character and another of the women crash the date and become friends. They all decide to swear off men and focus on themselves. Of course, that is when the main character falls for someone. I loved the friendship in this book, in fact, more than I was interested in the romance. I LOVE reading books that feature women in STEM and our main character, Samiah, works for a tech company. Daniel, the hero, was fine, but he was very forgettable. I definitely think Samiah deserved someone a better and more interesting.
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*The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

5 Stars
I borrowed this audiobook from my library, but I absolutely need to own this.
This is a coming of age, story about a girl who feels out of place, even in her own family, until she discovers her passion for spoken word poetry. This book is told in verse and when you listen to the audiobook, it’s such a beautiful experience since the author narrates this herself.

I’m a big fan of spoken word poetry, so I appreciated her inflections and the way she read the lines, but I also wish I had this book in physical format as well. In fact, I’m planning on buying the physical copy as well so that I can underline my favorite parts and pull quotes from it. Not to mention the cover is gorgeous.
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Handsome Lawman (Handsome Devils #3) by Lori Wilde

4 stars
This is a book I read for a secret TBR. It’s a contemporary small town cowboy romance. This series follows attractive brothers that are very popular in this small town. Trent is the sheriff of the town and the first time he meets the heroine, it’s because she is being accused of theft. Erin is new in town and running away from her past.

This book was light, fluffy, and super cute. It’s was a nice palette cleanser read. I always love reading about animals in romances. This one was a little off-putting because the hero is basically forced into taking in Erin’s foster puppy, which any pet owner knows, is never a good idea. No one should ever be pressured into owning a puppy. However, it was adorable seeing Trent fall in love with the puppy.
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*The Man I Can’t Have (Ward Duet #1) by Shanora Williams

3 stars
This book is available on Audible Escape – it’s also available on KU. This is a story of a rich housewife and artist whose husband is constantly away for work. She hires a landscaping company to redo her backyard. Marcel is the owner of the landscaping company and they have an immediate connection.

This is a new-to-me author and I didn’t read the synopsis going in to this, so I had no idea what I was in for. I read this last week and honestly I’m still kind of reeling by how unexpected this book was. There were a lot of elements of this book that were pretty middle of the road, a typical romance. But then there were a few dark and gritty things thrown in that maybe seemed a little out of place to me. The ending felt like it came out of nowhere and I’m not really interested in reading the next book in this duet.
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Insidious (Tales from the Dark Side #1) by Aleatha Romig

4 stars
I read this book because it is Steph, from Steph’s Romance Book Talk’s favorite book and a few fellow romance booktubers and I read it and had a live show discussion about it with Steph.

I want to preface this by saying, I went into this completely blind with absolutely no expectations, whatsoever.

This is a very dark romance with so many trigger warnings, I’d say if you have any triggers whatsoever, it may be best to avoid this book.

I don’t even know how to describe this book. Basically, our main character is married to a very powerful and wealthy man who is dying. She has a contract with him which basically takes away her consent. He likes to watch her with other men and she has no choice in the matter.

There are no “good” characters in this. Everyone is some shade of awful human being, including the main character. But I loved her. Where you’d expect her to be extremely submissive, she’s actually quite badass. I’m always here for the vengeful, dark, heroine. I’m very interested in reading more by this author.
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White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

I read this book for the Blackout Buddy Read. This is a book by a white author to educate other white people about racism. This book does what it intends. It made me uncomfortable. It forced me to look at myself through a different lense. It gave me the history lesson they don’t teach in schools.
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*Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi
4 stars
This is a super short Audible exclusive fairytale about a king who trades the love between himself and his queen in exchange for life. The story begins a year and a day later when they realize that just because their love was taken away, doesn’t mean they can’t find their way back to it.

I originally rated this book 3 stars because I felt like it was just meh. I didn’t really like the way the story was told, it felt very juvenile, though I know that was the intent. It was told like a fairytale.

As I thought more about this book, I realized the parallels this story draws between this fantastical stories with witches and magic and a very common, real life thing that often happens between married couples. The king and queen were in love, but that love is taken away from them. How often do we hear about married couples who fall out of love because they have grown apart instead of together? They either have to find their way back or go their separate ways. And much like how the two characters in this book didn’t realize they had the ability to fall in love again, a lot of married couples often don’t realize that same thing.

Needless to say, I bumped up the rating to 4 stars.

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*Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.6) by Alyssa Cole

5 stars
OMG THIS BOOK WAS SO ADORABLE AND I WISH IT WAS LONGER! I read the first book in this series, but I did not read the second, however, after reading this book, I am determined to read the rest.

This is such an adorable, geeky, love story with such great rep. The main character is Black, disabled, a total boss bitch who runs a super successful website, and is SUPER nerdy in the best way. The hero is nerdy in his own way, he’s really good at puzzles and is a little socially awkward.

The premise is my favorite thing on the entire planet. The heroine is the only one who watches the heroes livesterams because she loves his soothing voice and it helps her sleep. So when he stops livestreaming, she has trouble sleeping. So, she reluctantly sends him an email asking him to send her audio clips of his voice.

As someone who is obsessed with people’s speaking voices to an embarrassing degree (I’m looking at your Jonathan Groff), this was the love story I didn’t know I needed in my life.
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My Favorite Souvenir by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland

3 stars
This is available on AE and KU. few people were raving about this book in our Romance Booktubers Ask Us Anything liveshow, so I knew I wanted to give this author duo another try. I’ve read a few books of theirs in the past that I didn’t love, but also didn’t hate and this one was honestly no different.

Though, I did really love the premise. The heroine decides to go on her honeymoon even though her wedding was called off, but something happens and she can’t get a hotel room in the middle of a snow storm. She notices a guy scheming to get a hotel room and decides to get in on the scheme so she can get one, too. They end up hanging out and going on an impromptu road trip together.

I loved that entire aspect. I loved the meetcute and the road trip. But, much like a lot of the other books I’ve read by this duo, it just missed the mark for me a bit. I think it had a lot of potential, but it ended up falling flat. I didn’t love the bit of magic (tarot card reader) aspect, I don’t think it added anything to the story, it was really unnecessary and forced. I also didn’t love the epilogue.

I don’t usually mind epilogues that tie everything in a pretty bow, but this one felt unnecessary and extra also.
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Hard as it Gets (Hard Ink #1) by Laura Kaye

4 stars
This book took me so long to read because I read a physical copy and had to keep putting it down for different readathons and ARCs, but I finally finished and I really enjoyed it!

This entire series revolves around a tattoo parlor called hard ink and this group of men who were in the military, but have been dishonored due to a series of intricate lies. I’m guessing the entire series is them trying to unravel and bring to light the truth.

This book introduces you to the entire situation and characters without being info-dumpy or boring. The only downside is I’ve found that I don’t typically like romantic suspense novels and this was one. I found myself not really invested in the whole suspense storyline and wanting to just be immersed in the romance because it was so good. I can’t wait to read the other books in the series because I’m so interested in all the other characters. I really hope the hero’s brother has his own book because I loved him from the second he walked on page.
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All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

5 stars
This is the most recent book that I read, and I read it completely on a whim. It’s a book that has been recommended on instagram for those who are looking for Queer Black representation. For some reason I thought this was ficton even though the title clearly states it is a memoir.

I was pleasantly surprised and extremely invested in everything this author had to say. I feel like his story is so important and I’m so glad it is classified as YA even though there are some explicit scenes. Perhaps because there are explicit scenes. He addressed so many questions he had himself growing up queer and black that I feel will be so beneficial to young people who rarely see themselves in media.
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Hello, 35.

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I just wanted to pop in here really quick to say I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M HALFWAY THROUGH MY 30’S!

I swear, time has sped up like crazy since I had kids.

Speaking of the kiddos, they have been absolutely adorable all day today. Violet has been calling me her birthday girl and Roree has been orchestrating little surprises all day.

I’ve spent the day reading, organizing books, and working on projects. Basically, it has been a perfect birthday.

I have a birthday zoom call with family this evening as well.

I hope you are all having a great day, too!