ARC Review: By the Book by Amanda Sellet

Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: By the Book
Author: Amanda Sellet
Format: eARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
As a devotee of classic novels, Mary Porter-Malcolm knows all about Mistakes That Have Been Made, especially by impressionable young women. So when a girl at her new high school nearly succumbs to the wiles of a notorious cad, Mary starts compiling the Scoundrel Survival Guide, a rundown of literary types to be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, Mary is better at dishing out advice than taking it—and the number one bad boy on her list is terribly debonair. As her best intentions go up in flames, Mary discovers life doesn’t follow the same rules as fiction. If she wants a happy ending IRL, she’ll have to write it herself.




A personal anecdote for you that, I swear, relates to this book: I work with a lot of ivy league graduates of the scholarly nature and our main character, Mary’s parents are so painfully, triggeringly, pin-point-perfectly depictive of those types of people.

I truly wondered if I would make it through this book with all the eye-twitching I had going on any time her parents spoke.

Mary’s parents have the uncanny ability to overcomplicate when communicating and they are in need of constant validation and awe with their usage of SAT words in normal conversation.

Honestly, that goes for everyone in Mary’s family. Including our narrator. I tolerated it because her voice makes total sense given her upbringing and obsession with classic novels.

The narrator honest-to-goodness threw in the word “erstwhile.” As soon as I read that, my eye started twitching because I have a vivid experience at work in which my boss’s boss tried to come at us with an email communication to the community using that word, and we (in the marketing/communications department) immediately vetoed it.

As I hit the 50% mark, I began to find Mary charming, funny, and observant, which made for a great reading experience and I fell more and more in love with her big, quirky family. Yes, even her parents whose arms must hurt from all the self back-patting.

I grew up in a big family (3 siblings, lots of cousins) and seeing it depicted in books and movies always warms my heart – especially when done well. It’s why I tear up watching Little Women and why I adored To All the Boys I Loved Before. This was no different.

I say the following with both praise and warning:
The writing style is very nobody-talks-like-that-but-we-love-to-see-it Dawson’s Creek meets SAT prep with a lot of Gilmore Girls, but with classic literature references instead of pop culture references. There is even a glossary of literature references made at the end of the book.

You know how there is a Rory Gilmore reading challenge? I totally could see a Mary Porter-Malcom reading challenge stemming from this book.

All that being said, I think this book is very self-aware. I believe (and hope) that it is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, in which case, it is done incredibly well.

And now, I shall gush, because it’s what I do best:

I loved seeing how Mary’s world clashed with contemporary high school – how she interpreted everyday high school drama and how everyday high schoolers interpreted her.

The friend group in this was so, so refreshing. All three girls have such vivid personalities with little focus on looks, which I so appreciated. I seriously WISH I had friends like those in high school. I’m many, MANY years out of high school and I even wanted to hang out with them.

And who would I be if I didn’t talk about the romance in this book?

YA romances can be pretty predictable, but I’m going to be honest, this one wasn’t nearly as predictable as most YA novels I read. There were SO many sweet, swoony moments. The type of tiny moments that are significant simply because of the build-up.

The inclusion of Mary’s diary entries were not extra fluff. They directed the story in significant, but subtle ways. They weren’t boringly long, they were short and sweet, but packed a punch.

When I closed this book (figuratively speaking because I read the eARC for this), I felt exactly how I hope to feel every time I open one… a little giddy, a little nostalgic, and a lot satisfied.

Butterfly Rating: 4 Stars


Re-read Worthiness: Maybe

Bookshelf Placement: Yes

I love the cover!

Book Boyfriend Rating: 5 stars





ARC REVIEW: That’s Not a Thing by Jacqueline Friedland

Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: That’s Not a Thing
Author: Jacqueline Friedland
Format: ARC received in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley
Release Date: 4/14/20

Meredith Altman’s engagement to Wesley Latner ended in spectacular disaster—one that shattered her completely. Years have passed since then, and now she’s about to marry Aaron Rapp, a former Ivy League football player and baby-saving doctor. As they celebrate their engagement at a new TriBeCa hotspot, Meredith is stunned to find the restaurant owner is none other than Wesley, the man she is still secretly trying to forget.

When Meredith learns that Wesley has been diagnosed with ALS, her feelings about their past become all the more confusing. As she spends more time with Wesley and is pulled further under his spell, she discovers what kind of man her new fiancé really is—and what kind of woman she wants to be.



I’ve never been yanked around by my heartstrings so much by a book before.

I didn’t remember anything about the synopsis before I picked up this book to read it, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I went into the novel blind, because I thought I had a pretty good idea about where this book was going, and I was so wrong.

I won’t go into detail here for that reason.

The first half of this book is told in a dual timeline. Sometimes when this happens, I find I’m more invested in one timeline than I am in the other, but that was not the case with this book. I was completely invested in both timelines from the very first page. I felt attached to the characters I was meant to feel attached to immediately.

I felt as torn as our main character, Mer. And that is not at all an easy place to be, not at all.

The first 30ish percent of this book seems like your typical novel. I thought I knew where it was going and I was comfortable with that. And then I was completely blindsided…and immediately after the first punch in the gut, I felt like I got hit again. And again. Up until the very end, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how and if everything was going to be resolved. NEEDING everything to be resolved. And entirely unsure HOW I even wanted it to be resolved.

I casually read the first part of this book over a couple of days, picking it up whenever I had time. Little did I know that once I hit a certain part, I’d abandon my plan of getting to bed early and stay up all night reading fiendishly until I finished.

aside from the story itself, I loved the three main characters in this book.

Mer is not a main character I usually like so much. She’s almost overly self-sacrificing, greater-good kind of character that can be eyeroll worthy sometimes, but she isn’t perfect and she’s not annoying. She’s just a good person in a really heartbreaking situation.

Then there is Aaron, who seems like your typical almost-too-perfect rebound boyfriend and Wes, the magnetic first love.

There are a lot of typical romance tropes here, but I promise this book isn’t typical. It’s so much more and it’s a story that needed to be told.

I adored this book, these characters, and yes even the heart pumping, tear-jerking rollercoaster it took me on.

Keep in mind there are trigger warnings in this book for severe illness and loss of a parent. I’m not the best at spotting triggers, but I felt like I should mention the ones I did notice since this was an ARC.

Butterfly Rating: 5 Stars


Re-read Worthiness: Yes

Bookshelf Placement: Yes

Book Boyfriend Rating: 5 stars





ARC Review: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams *NEW FAVORITE*

Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Undercover Bromance
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Series: Bromance Book Club #2
Format: ARC provided by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.



I don’t often laugh out loud while reading books, certainly not nearly as much as I did while reading this book.

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