Book Reviews

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

Bookish Life Lesson, You Have a Match edition: If you’re getting a DNA test, know that it might reveal some skeletons in your family closet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

But it isn’t the knowing that matters. It’s the feeling that does.

Emma Lord

It feels like I just came off the high of reading Tweet Cute by Emma Lord, so imagine my happiness when I was approved for an ARC of You Have a Match! Emma Lord has easily slipped into being a top tier YA Contemporary author, and any worries that she may have been a one-hit wonder, died out when I was reading this book.

We follow Abby Day (many a pun are made about her last name, it’s hilarious) and Savvy, the older sister she never knew she had. After being coerced into taking a DNA test by her besties Leo and Connie, Abby and Savvy’s worlds are thrown upside down in trying to figure out exactly why Savvy was put up for adoption a year and a half before Abby was born. It’s so wonderful to read this book as it unfolds. Mostly because, even though there is some romance between Abby and a certain adorable chef-in-training, the main focus of the story is on Abby and Savvy and their budding sisterly relationship. A relationship, btw, that isn’t all sunshine and rainbows despite just finding each other. They have all out fights and bickering matches that only sisters a year and a half apart could have. (Something I’m not that familiar with since my sister is 10 years older than me, we never fight, and she’s my bestie).

I particularly loved the Parent Trap-esque feel to the family dynamics as the mystery of Savvy’s adoption came further into the light. You quickly find yourself rooting for the 2 sets of parent’s to figure their shit out so they can all be one happy family. But don’t worry, if you are in for the romance, there is plenty of that too!

This book is easily recommendable for YA Fans, especially fans of Tweet Cute. I’ve already made a mental note to send a copy of it to my sister when it releases.

Book Particulars:

  • Page Count: 320 Pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
  • Edition Read – eBook, thanks to St. Martins, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
  • Release Date: January 25, 2021
  • Dates Read: October 20th – October 22nd

Book Synopsis:
When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

Book Reviews

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Bookish Life Lesson – Tweet Cute Edition: When reading a book that focuses on a Grilled Cheese themed Twitter war, make sure you have snacks on hand, so you don’t binge eat multiple Grilled Cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Tweet Cute Cover

It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.

Emma Lord

Every year, typically during the summer, I go on a YA RomCom kick. It’s a good palette cleanser from the typical YA/NA/Adult Fantasy binges that I go on for the rest of the year. This summer, however, it got delayed and I didn’t go in until the very tail end of September. First book up on the docket: Tweet Cute.

Tweet Cute was an adorable kick off for my month or two of RomComs. With a definite You’ve Got Mail vibe, I found myself sucked into the story easily. The two main characters Pepper and Jack engage in an all out Twitter war for their parent’s business. Pepper on behalf of the big chain Big League Burger, and Jack for his family’s small local deli Girl Cheesing. The bickering that Jack and Pepper do from the get go is great. They have such natural chemistry that you easily start to ship them from the get go. One aspect that I loved particularly, is the range of emotion that Jack presents. It’s so refreshing to see a male character cry and show emotion. Being a teenager is so raw at times, and often teen males aren’t shown having the full range of emotion, even in the privacy of their own rooms.

But every RomCom needs it’s friction, in this books case, it came from Jack’s father and Pepper’s mother. This was the only part of the story that didn’t mesh as well with me. While the explanation at the end totally wraps it up well, the build up for that area of the story felt a little over the top.

Overall, this book was a fun read, and I’m eagerly anticipating Emma Lord’s next book, You Have A Match, releasing in January 2021. I’d give this a solid 4/5 (maybe even a 4.5/5).

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Particulars:

  • Page Count: 362
  • Edition Read: Kindle via Libby
  • Release date: January 21, 2020
  • Read Date: September 30th – October 1st

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming―mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese―that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life―on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate―people on the internet are shipping them??―their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Book Funsies, TBR

Top 10 Books on my Summer 2020 List

Summer is literally around the corner. 5 days away. Quarantine has made time so fluid and confusing it’s almost hard to fathom that Summer is here already. I don’t know about you, but Summer is my least favorite season. It’s hot with very little rain. And my preferred reading atmosphere is a cup of coffee or tea, my reading chair, a cat, a book, and the big bay window next to me with rain falling outside. But maybe that’s just me, haha. The interesting side effect is that Summertime is the only season I read books other than Fantasy. I tend to gravitate back toward Contemporary or Romance in the Summer. So, without further adieu, here is my Top 10 TBR for Summer 2020.

**Books don’t necessarily come out Summer 2020, just when I plan to read them**

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

No Judgments by Meg Cabot

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

Hideaway by Nora Roberts

A family ranch in Big Sur country and a legacy of Hollywood royalty set the stage for Nora Roberts’ emotional new suspense novel.

Caitlyn Sullivan, a daughter of Hollywood royalty, was already a star at ten, but still loved to play hide-and-seek with her cousins at the family home in Big Sur. It was during one of those games that she disappeared.

Despite her glamorous background, Cate was a shrewd, scrappy survivor, and she managed to escape her abductors. Dillon Cooper was shocked to find the bruised and terrified girl huddled in his ranch house kitchen—but when the teenager and his family heard her story they provided refuge and comfort, reuniting her with her loved ones.

Cate’s ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years away in Ireland, sheltered and protected but with restlessness growing in her soul. Then, finally, she returned to Los Angeles, hoping to act again and get past the trauma that had derailed her life. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night—one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance…

By the Book by Amanda Sellet

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.

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend… 

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli

YES
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybeit’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.

Frosted Kisses by Heather Helper

Former Manhattan girl Penny has quickly discovered that life in a small town is never dull. Not when there’s a festival for every occasion, a Queen Bee to deal with, an animal shelter to save, and a cute boy to crush on.

There’s a new girl in town: Esmeralda. She’s beautiful, French, and just happens to be Queen Bee Charity’s best friend. Penny hopes the arrival of Esmeralda means Charity might be too busy to keep making her life miserable.

But Penny doesn’t have a lot of time to worry about Charity. Her best friend, Tally, has recruited her to help raise money to save the local animal shelter. Then there’s Marcus, the adorable and mysterious boy who Penny thinks maybe likes her as much as she likes him. Plus, this is Penny’s first holiday season as a “divorced” kid–although she has no idea what this means.

Can Penny help her friends save the shelter, navigate her new family dynamics, and get the boy, or will Charity and Esmeralda find a way to ruin everything?

Random

A Very Bookish Mental Health Week

Next week is Mental Health Awareness week. As a result, I thought I would write about my own experiences dealing with my mental health. And mixed in I will have book recommendations for novels (mostly YA) that deal amazingly with mental health.

I grew up in a household where mental illness was common knowledge. I always knew that my sister, 10 years my senior, struggled with mental illness. I didn’t realize until later that my father did as well. When I was around 8 or 9 my parent’s did try and “shield” me from the worst of my sisters cycles. At that point she was going on 19, diagnosed bi-polar (still the label at the time), and about to enter what we now refer to as her “dark years.” Mostly because she doesn’t really remember what happened during those years. My belief as to why they hid it from me was I was in a “copying Kate” phase. I think the worry was I would intentionally try and be like her, even in her depressive cycles.

When We CollidedWe are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…
Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.
Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.
Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.
In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

Fast forward about 5 years. I was a sophomore in high school when the anxiety started really kicking in. The feeling like I wouldn’t ever fit in. My friends joked that I was like the chameleon. Every day at lunch I would hang out with a different friend group. Constantly worrying that if I spent too much time with one group they would realize just how out of place I was. That I didn’t really work with them. So I jumped from group to group and never let anyone get too close. That became my norm.

Turtles all the way downSixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

The thoughts I had about myself seemed completely normal to me. “Maren, you are so ugly.” “Maren, you are so fat.” “There is no way that guy would like you, look at the all the way prettier and skinnier girls that are in this show too.” “Why would they possibly invite you out? You are so boring.” Every day these thoughts would swirl through my brain. No matter how many times I had friends that would ask me to sit with them, or go out with them on weekends, the thoughts persisted. By my senior year in high school these thoughts were part of how I lived. I didn’t realize that they were part of a mental illness. I completely believed them to be true.

In college the anxiety worsened, and the depression that had been simmering for years on the back-burner started to boil. No matter what I did, the thoughts and worries began increasing. My personal life took a serious toll. I never let anyone get close enough to do more than a first date. Friends left, either because I pushed them away or because they legitimately sucked. My family went through a significant downfall (this one luckily figured itself out after many months). Because of everything I couldn’t keep a lid on the depression anymore.

But I did.

For years and years I compartmentalized everything in my life. Every few months I would go through, what I referred to as, my compartments “busting open.” For a few days or a week all the self control I had would be decimated. I would avoid contact with everyone, going on a hermitage. I didn’t have interest in anything I loved. All I could do was binge watch TV and go to the beach to stare at the ocean.

Fast forward 8 more years. My ability to maintain control on the anxiety and depression has deteriorated significantly. I “break” far more often. I promise those around me that I will get help, but I never do. I promised my father that I would follow his recent example and finally get the help I deserved. Not only for me, but for those around me that loved me. A couple of months later, I hadn’t followed through on that promise, and my father died suddenly of a heart attack. The next few months were a blur of emotions. By September I had, unknowingly, slipped so much further down than I ever had in my life.

They Both Die at the EndOn September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.
Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

 

 

The wake-up call came during one of my late night runs. I had taken to running at 10 o’clock at night, which came with it’s own dangerous behavior. I collapsed at my 2 mile mark in the middle of a park and thought to myself “Gods, this would be such much easier if I was just dead.” That thought scared the shit out of me. Through all the years of battling depression I never once went to a suicidal place. It was a point of (ridiculous) pride for me. But here I was, wishing I was dead. And I didn’t just think it once, I thought about it a lot, over several weeks. I scared the shit out of my best friend, who felt so upset that he was all the way across the country and couldn’t help me. I scared my sister. I scared my husband. So, in honor of my dad, I finally did it. I made an appointment with my doctor to get a referral for a psychiatrist. The first step of many. My psychiatrist put me on medication and it seemed to get so much better, after a month of insane side effects.

13 Reasons Why.jpgYou can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Two weeks ago my multiple jobs became a little busier, and my anxiety/depression began to skyrocket without my realizing it. I was working 80 hours a week and sleeping 3ish hours a night. Until 4 days ago. I had a day long panic attack. I spent the day crying and hyperventilating at random intervals, shaking, a million thoughts racing through my head all at once. Until that night when my husband and my mother rushed me to the ER because they were sure I was going to pass out from erratic breathing. Doctors and nurses kept coming in to ask me if I had a “plan” for suicide. They were taking away my phone (which for me is a big deal), talking about putting me on a 72 hour hold, and I had no control over what was happening. Needless to say this didn’t help the anxiety. Luckily, the ER psychiatrist finally determined I was not a danger to myself or others, so they let me go.

Over the past few days since then, my family has forced me to give up commitments. To get myself down to a 40 hour work week (or as close as I could manage on such short notice).

My struggle with mental illness is far from over. But that is exactly what it is. An illness. And this illness is something I can fight, as long as I have the strength to make myself do so. I hear some people say “Being sad is a choice.” I say, fuck that. For those with depression and other mental illnesses being sad isn’t a “choice.” But I can amend the statement. Doing everything I can to fight the sad, that is a choice. And it is the choice I am taking every day.