A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert

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Read in February for the Dragons & Tea Book Club!


Goodreads Synopsis:

She’s the town pariah. He doesn’t give a damn.

In Ruth Kabbah’s world, comic books are king, silence is golden, and human contact is a pesky distraction. She doesn’t like people, which works out just fine, because the people in this small town don’t like her. The exception to that rule? Evan Miller, her way-too-charming next-door neighbour…

Ex-military man Evan is all tattooed muscle on the outside—and a big, cuddly teddy bear beneath. He’s used to coaxing prickly people from their shells, but he’s never met a woman quite like Ruth. Blunt, sarcastic, and secretly sad, she’s his exact opposite. She’s also his deepest desire.

Soon, Evan’s steady patience and smouldering smiles are melting Ruth’s reserve. But when small-town gossip from her past begins to poison her future, she’s forced to make a choice. Should she trust Evan completely? Or is her heart safest alone?

Please be aware: this book contains mentions of intimate partner violence that could trigger certain audiences.

I had never heard of Talia Hibbert before, but the second I found out she’s a romance writer who is always boosting body positivity and consent, I WAS THERE FOR IT. Now I want to own every single book by her. Please, if you want to support an independent, ownvoices author, pick up her books! I truly think you’ll be in for a real treat.

This book follows Ruth, a black, plus sized woman who creates web comics and prefers to stay home and keeps to herself. She lives in a small town called Ravenswood, where she’s been labeled a “pariah” and rumors about her are constantly flying. But she’s just trying to move on from her past where she was involved in an abusive relationship. Ruth is also autistic and she tends to not trust new people. She is only close to her sister and mother, but that all starts to change when Evan moves in next door.

Evan is white, ex-military, and he’s very soft spoken and incredibly loyal. He also has a past where he was hurt, and he’s just trying to move on. He’s kind and constantly giving to others. He notices Ruth and slowly befriends her. After he sees Ruth’s horrible diet and learning her cooking skills are… nonexistent… he starts cooking her food every day and brings it over. AND OMG MY HEART.

There’s nothing I love more than two people connecting over food, and I just loved how understanding and patient Evan was with Ruth. He never pressured her to confront him about her past, and once their relationship evolved, there was always so much consent and body positivity.

What I really loved about Ruth was that she was so fiercely loyal to her family, and she knew how to stand up for herself. But she also completely shuts down when any mention of her ex was brought up, because she was always so focused on guilt and blaming herself for the abuse. This topic is brought up a lot, but Talia Hibbert really does such a tasteful job at addressing it. Ruth’s anxiety is also so relatable, and I just know so many people are going to understand and just GET her character. Also? Her favorite attire is pajamas and that is such a mood.

Please use caution going into this book if you are a survivor of abuse. And there are triggers for anxiety, slut shaming, and ableism language toward autism. But I seriously can’t recommend this book enough if you are looking for a good book in the romance genre. Trust me, I don’t read a ton of romance (where there is a whole lotta steam!) but this one was so incredibly well written and you will fly right through it!

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This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.


At the recommendation by my friend Julie, I knew I had to pick This Adventure Ends as my first Emma Mills book. I’m so glad I did!

This is one of those coming-of-age YA books that feels like a blanket enveloping you. It is mostly character driven, but driven by some of the best characters I’ve ever read. I truly loved Sloane and her group of friends. I even loved the adults, which I know can be hit or miss sometimes when reading YA.

So this book stars Sloane, a high school student who moves from New York to Florida. Her father is a famous author (very a la Nicholas Sparks) but he’s fallen into a career slump. Her parents’ marriage also isn’t doing so well. But then Sloane befriends twins Vera and Gabe, Remy, Aubrey, Bree, and let’s not forget my favorite… Frank (a bisexual mixed-race student!)

Early on we learn that Vera and Gabe’s mother passed away, but she was a very famous painter whose paintings are highly sought after. But through a fluke accident, the one painting Gabe truly wanted to keep got sold. Sloane becomes determined to find that painting. Not so much because she’s slowly developed feelings for Gabe, but because she knew how much he was hurting and she thought this could be the one small thing to set things right.

However, looking for the painting isn’t the main focus of this book. We get to watch Sloane’s relationship evolve with Remy, who is helping her track down the painting. We also see her friendship bloom with Vera, and it is, hands down, one of my favorite platonic ships of all time. I also loved her dynamic with Frank, who is basically the king of hosting parties. Seriously, the friendship was so outstanding, it truly made me feel like I was part of the group.

But this book also highlights struggles the parents go through, such as marriage strains, career roadblocks, and just day-to-day life. I really loved Sloane’s dad, Mike, who found refuge and inspiration in a teen show (and writing fan fic). I also really loved how he confided his work in Sloane.

I also loved how Sloane was written. She was complex, and oftentimes her personality really reflected my own at that age. I was moody, sarcastic, and knew when to deflect to make light of a situation. I really really got her. And Vera? OMG. Vera gets the BFF Award of the Year. I loved her colorful personality so much, and it was an extra bonus she had another ‘life’ as a famous social media star. Of course, I loved Gabe, who is serious and broody and mysterious most of the time. I wanted to learn so much more about him!

So what did I not like? Well, I actually wasn’t too keen on the fan fic parts, and I also didn’t really like how Vera and Gabe’s stepmom was portrayed as the “bad guy.” I don’t know, maybe I’m just tired of the “young beautiful woman marries an older guy and gets pregnant so she must be the bad guy” trope. Like, I totally get being a teenager and finding out your new step mom is super young would feel weird, but I think her character could’ve just been written better.

I still really loved this book, and I honestly cannot wait to read more by Emma Mills!

fourstars

Buddy read with Jen!


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A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run?

So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.

Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.

Through welcome and unwelcome distractions, she just keeps running, to the destination that awaits her. There, she’ll finally face what lies behind her—the miles and love and loss…and what is to come.


If I could recommend one book to read this year, it would be this. I loved it so so much, and it will stick with me for a very long time.

Things start out a little vague but slowly picks up as we begin to learn so many things about Annabelle and her past. Due to a very traumatic experience, Annabelle decides to pursue a daunting task: running cross country from Seattle, Washington to Washington, DC. It is a five-month journey with her running from town to town, with her grandfather following her in an RV, and she meets many supporters along the way. But the reason isn’t instantaneously clear to us, the reader. All we know is that she is doing this out of many emotions: grief, guilt, remorse, and with the hope to heal.

I don’t usually gravitate toward books where, from just reading the description, sounds like a “journeying” story. But oh my god, I am so glad I did. This is so much more than journeying from point A to point B. You see, we also learn that Annabelle is trying so hard to move on from the pain created by a nameless individual called The Taker, and as she continues, mile after mile, she slowly begins to shed the feelings of guilt. She wants to make a change. She has to do something.

I also want to mention that it is addressed in the book that the type of long distance running Annabelle is doing isn’t recommended. It puts way too much stress on your body, no matter how well trained you are at long distance running. So, while it may not be truly realistic, it is mentioned several times she doesn’t push herself to run too long, and she gets lots of food/drinks via local supporters and her grandfather in their RV. Plus, her brother and friends are just THE BEST, and they plan out safe routes for her and arrange any sort of accommodations she needs.

I know I am being rather vague but I don’t want to give any hints of spoilers, because I think this book will be so much more impactful if you jump right into it. But it does deal with a lot of heavy themes such as toxic masculinity, especially how much women have to be so cautious when we are nice to someone or fear we are giving mixed signals. And also the importance of taking someone’s pleas for help seriously. Y’all, my copy of this book is so heavily tabbed because I could not relate to it more! So many times me and my friends went through similar experiences in high school (and this was back in the early 2000’s) and just seeing Annabelle go through the same things made me so angry and exhausted. It just makes me so sad this is something we still have to deal with today.

Alright, I know I wasn’t extremely detailed in my review but if I could recommend any book to read RIGHT NOW it would be this. Yes, the topics are heavy, but I promise you it is so worth it. It is a story about healing and how running not only helped heal Annabelle, but also brought a whole community, a whole nation, together.

Read further for minor spoilers and trigger warnings:

And, honestly… in light of some recent tragic news in the US in association with gun violence… I just feel this book is so important now more than ever.

Trigger warnings: Unwanted touching, stalking, gun violence, murder, PTSD.

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Buddy read with Sophie!


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Blog Tour: In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

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ARC provided by Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review.

Title: In Another Life

Author: C.C. Hunter

Pages: 352

Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery

Publication Date: March 26, 2019

Goodreads Synopsis:

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

This was my first time reading a book by C.C. Hunter and I am definitely intrigued and would love to read more! I am always drawn to mysteries, but sometimes YA mysteries can be a hit or miss for me. However, I really did enjoy this book so much, and although I had a few issues with some of the characters, I really think fans of young romance mixed with a hard-hitting mystery would enjoy this book.

This book follows two POVs: Chloe and Cash. Chloe has a strained relationship with both of her adoptive parents. Her father had an affair and is dating someone new, while her mother is a cancer survivor struggling with depression.

Then there’s Cash, a “mysterious” and “tough” character who enters Chloe’s life when he suspects she might be someone else. Cash is also a foster child living with a married couple, the Fullers. Chloe and Cash’s worlds come together when Cash recognizes Chloe in a missing person’s age progression photo. He thinks she may be the Fuller’s missing child.

This story had a lot going on from the get-go: Chloe and Cash have an insta-love budding romance, Chloe is her mom’s caretaker, Chloe is constantly fighting with her father, Cash has a strained relationship with his foster parents, and then there’s the big mystery of who exactly is Chloe Holden?

While this book starts off feeling more like a contemporary, it quickly turned into a mystery as pieces of the adoption and kidnapping came into play. I also really appreciated how such hard-hitting topics were woven into this story. Cash has an extremely tragic past, and even though he’s with a wonderful foster family, he feels immense guilt for being there.

I think what made me lower my rating a bit on this book was how much Chloe had to act like the adult and caretaker for everyone. Not only was she still struggling with her parent’s divorce and her father’s infidelity, but she also became the sole caretaker for her mother during her cancer treatments. And while I completely understand depression is horrible, I was so mad at her mother for how she treated Chloe. Her mother clearly needed professional help but kept piling her anger toward her ex-husband on to her child. I just… felt really, really uncomfortable reading those scenes.

But I really did love Cash so much. He was trying so hard to do the right thing, and I really liked how his and Chloe’s relationship bloomed. And I really felt for Chloe. I couldn’t even imagine being in her position, let alone finding out I might possibly be a kidnapped child? Like, how would I even begin to process that information?

I really enjoyed how the mystery played out and I was second-guessing a lot of things until the very end. And I found the ending soooo satisfying!

Trigger/content warnings: Cancer, divorce, infidelity, kidnapping, child abuse, depression.


About the author:

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C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel.


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You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno

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ARC provided by The NOVL in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Magpie Lewis started writing in her yellow notebook the day her family self-destructed. That was the night Eryn, Magpie’s sister, skipped town and left her to fend for herself. That was the night of Brandon Phipp’s party.

Now, Magpie is called a slut whenever she walks down the hallways of her high school, her former best friend won’t speak to her, and she spends her lunch period with a group of misfits who’ve all been socially exiled like she has. And so, feeling trapped and forgotten, Magpie retreats to her notebook, dreaming up a place called Near.

Near is perfect–somewhere where her father never cheated, her mother never drank, and Magpie’s own life never derailed so suddenly. She imagines Near so completely, so fully, that she writes it into existence, right in her own backyard. It’s a place where she can have anything she wants…even revenge.

Wow, I truly didn’t think I was going to love this book so much. This was my first novel by Katrina Leno and I now want to real ALL her books, please!

This book was so quiet as it built up to one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever read. And while You Must Not Miss is marketed as a contemporary, I’d like to say it very much has magical realism and subtle thriller elements. Because as we see the things that happen in Near? My heart was racing, and I was also living for all those spooky vibes!

This book is about Margaret (aka “Magpie” according to her family), a high school sophomore who had a major falling out with her best friend, Allison. Her parents are also going through a separation, which has triggered her mother’s alcoholism again. To make matters worse, Magpie caught her father cheating, and she keeps reliving that horrible moment of walking in on him naked.

But Magpie is also harboring another traumatic experience, one so bad she can’t even talk about. So she starts writing a fictional world called Near. This world is perfect; her parents are together, her sister hasn’t abandoned her — her life isn’t in shambles.

And then one day, when she’s feeling so overwhelmed, she notices a door. A door that leads her to Near. Her fictional world became real and she learns she can use it to get anything she wants.

From here things take a much darker turn, but I was LIVING for these scenes. I love how one moment I’m getting The Wayward Children vibes (secret doors!), and the next I’m feeling thoroughly creeped out (people in Near kept winking at Magpie. I don’t know why but that always gave me goosebumps.) I’m not saying this book is horror at all, but I loved how subtly everything built up to the point where I was rooting on Magpie to unleash her revenge.

I also want to gush about the bisexual rep (there is a bisexual male student), and there is a trans boy (my favorite character ever). What I loved is that nobody made a big deal about these characters being who they are. There are no hurtful comments or misuse of gender pronouns by other characters, which is so refreshing! I also loved Magpie’s group of friends so much.

This book also addresses so many hard-hitting themes, such as toxic masculinity, rape culture, victim blaming, feelings of deep-rooted guilt, and reclaiming our bodies. It also heavily revolves around adultery and alcoholism. Please use caution if those are major triggers for you. I know there were a few instances where I had to set the book down due to some of these topics.

I truly hope you pick up this book come April 23rd. I read it in just a few sittings and I cannot stop thinking about it. I would not be opposed to a sequel because that ending really left me wanting more!

Trigger warnings: Sexual assault and rape, abuse from a parent, parental infidelity, divorce, alcoholism, underage drinking, slut shaming, abandonment.

Buddy read with Madalyn! ❤

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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ARC provided by Berkley Romance in exchange for an honest review.


Title: The Bride Test

Author: Helen Hoang

Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary romance

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Goodreads Synopsis:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Oh, to dive back into the world of my favorite Vietnamese family made me so happy!

There’s just something so comforting about Helen Hoang’s writing. I can’t put into words how much her books mean to me and the themes she tackles are so important. If I could choose one author to read books from for the rest of my life, it would be her.

The Bride Test is a spin-off/companion novel to The Kiss Quotient. We follow Khai, a smart, hardworking young professional. He also has ASD (autism spectrum disorder, formerly known as Asperger’s), which makes him feel and process emotions a bit differently. Khai believes he has a heart of stone; that he is incapable of feeling love and sadness. He doesn’t get close to many people, and because of this, his mother decides to try to play match-maker. She flies to Vietnam to find Khai a girlfriend (and potential wife.)

Enter: Esme. Esme is half Vietnamese and white, but she never knew her birth father. She works as a hotel maid, and she’s a single mother taking care of her daughter, mother, and grandmother in Vietnam. When the offer to fly to California to meet Khai arises, she takes it, thinking she can at least try to start a new life for her and her family.

I will admit, the whole “mail order bride” concept did cross my mind and it made me feel kind of weird. But this story isn’t about forcing two people into a marriage. This story is about a girl who just wants a better life for her daughter; to carve her own path and to make her own future. Esme is so smart and brilliant, and she doesn’t take shit from anybody. But she’s also so kind and softhearted, and she truly sees the best in everyone.

I simply adored her dynamic with Khai and his family. And I loved how Helen Hoang made everything very slow-burn. The pacing was perfect, and it also played out the romance (and sexual tension) in an organic way. I appreciated how Hoang spoke about ASD and explained how Khai processes information and how he reacts to certain things a certain way. This book is ownvoices, and Hoang drew inspiration for Khai from her own experiences with ASD.

But above all, this book was a love letter to Hoang’s mother. Just like Esme, her mother came to America with hopes to start a new life, too. And she truly did. All on her own. I implore you to read the author’s note at the end of the book, because it will make you feel 10000% more connected to the story.

So, I know you’re probably wondering which book is “better”: The Kiss Quotient or The Bride Test? They both stand on their own in totally different ways. If I HAD to choose? I think I preferred The Kiss Quotient because it was a bit more lighthearted. The Bride Test was definitely steamy, and the characters are so lovable (Quan is truly the best bro out there), but it took on more serious tones. (But, yes, there is a cameo from our beloved Michael and Stella.) Even so, I still stand by my 5-stars. As someone who grew up in SE Asia, I was living for all the scenes that talked about food (fish sauce, rambutans, lychees) and the Asian-family dynamics. I truly think this book will be perfect if you’re looking for a steamy romance filled with so much heart and humor. ❤

Also? I am so stoked Hoang is going to write five more books, all centering around Michael’s sisters! BRING THEM ON!

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The Foxhole Court (All for the Game, #1) by Nora Sakavic

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Thank you to my dear friend Melanie for gifting me this book!

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Title: The Foxhole Court

Series: All for the Game, #1

Author: Nora Sakavic

Pages: 237

Genre: YA contemporary

Goodreads Synopsis:

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

I was super nervous starting this book because of the polarizing reviews, but I am so glad I did! While I realize 3-stars isn’t the greatest rating of all time, I really enjoyed reading about Neil’s journey and am excited to continue the series!

This first installment follows Neil, a college student with a troubled past. We are told he’s running away from something, and we get little snippets about his dark family history. Neil ends up getting recruited to Palmetto State University to play on their Exy team. Exy is a sport similar to lacrosse, and the PSU team is known for being a band of misfits with some sort of tragic story.

We follow Neil as he tries so hard to hide from his past all while his Exy teammates give him a hard time. I’ll be honest, I got really irritated with so many of the characters. They were just so awful to him, and I was ready to scream when I read a very shady scene that involves Neil getting drugged in a club.

But as more of each teammate’s mystery is uncovered, I began to understand why they did what they did. I know I’m being super vague here, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I really started to warm up to most of the characters, and I really liked how their relationship with Neil started to bloom. I also loved the competitive nature of the game. But even though this book focuses on a sport, the sport didn’t feel like it distracted from the plot of the story.

Overall this story gave me major Paper Princess + Fence vibes. You’re probably like, wtf, Paper Princess?! Well, all three of these stories start out with a character coming from an underprivileged background, and they get taken in by a group of people who treat them kinda shitty. This story is also full of so many twists and wtf-moments. Honestly, I felt like I was handed one wild thing after another. This is NOT your typical YA contemporary.

I can see why this book isn’t for everyone, and I can also see why it’s well loved. I truly loved Neil so much, and I’m ready to learn more about his wild past. I also know some spoilers about a certain OTP, so I’m already setting my heart up for that. 😉

Trigger warnings: Drug use, overdosing, alcohol use, homophobic slurs, ableist slurs, abuse, drugging/hazing, talks of self harm and suicide.

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Buddy read with Solomon and Melanie!

xx,

Amy

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

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Book provided by William Morrow in exchange for an honest review.

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Title: 99 Percent Mine

Author: Sally Thorne

Pages: 368

Genre: Adult contemporary romance, chick lit

My rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

99 Percent Mine was such an anticipated 2019 release for me, and I am so thankful I got to read it in time for Contemporaryathon!

This book follows three main characters: Darcy and her twin brother, Jamie, and their friend Tom. All her life Darcy has had a crush on her childhood friend, Tom. But since Tom was Jamie’s best friend, she never pursued a relationship with him. Flash forward to the present and the twins have inherited their grandmother’s cottage. The cottage is in poor shape so they hire a home renovation team to come in to flip it so they can sell it. Enter: Tom, Mr. Home Renovator Extraordinaire.

I really love the premise of house flipping, and I knew that the setting of being confined in a small cottage was going to be the perfect set up for sexual tension. But for some reason I actually got a bit… bored? Maybe it’s because the ENTIRE book (except the first chapter) takes place in the cottage, so everything started to feel redundant.

Another thing that was also very redundant to me was the constant reminder that Darcy is “not like other girls.” There’s the constant reminder that she has a nipple piercing, her hair is short, she drinks a lot, she neglects her health, and she’s constantly globetrotting. Maybe I’m just tired of the “not like other girls” trope, but all of those points were ALWAYS brought up way too much.

I was also so disappointed in how Darcy treated Tom. Tom is, by far, the best character in the book. He’s so soft and kind, and learning about his past made him so much more likeable. But Darcy’s strong sexual aggression toward him borderline made me uncomfortable, and she was really demanding of him. Also? We are reminded practically on every page how hot Tom is. It’s like, okay… we get it. He’s hot. Let’s talk about something else. Lol!

Don’t even get me started on Jamie. Yikes. He was such a bad seed and I really didn’t like how he was painted to be a villain, but at the same time he was the only person who could help Darcy through her health problems.

I realize I just dumped a ton of negativity in this review, so I apologize! I actually did enjoy this book overall! I loved the cottage setting so much, and I really loved Tom. And I won’t ever deny that Sally Thorne is amazing at writing friends/enemies-to-lovers romances, and the way she builds sexual tension is A+. Are you going to get The Hating Game? No. But I do think fans of her writing will still appreciate this story. There’s a lot of talk about found family and strong friendships which warmed my heart, and the slow burn romance is worth it!

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Buddy read with Trina, Heather, and Kristin!

xx,

Amy

ContemporaryAThon 2019 TBR: Round 4

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Hi, friends! Are you planning to participate in this round of ContemporaryAThon? ContemporaryAThon is a weeklong readathon taking place February 11-17 (host information below!) I didn’t do so well last year but I have high hopes I’ll do better this time! Below are the challenges and the books I chose for each one! I’m not sure if I’ll read all 7 books… so… wish me luck! Hahaha.


CHALLENGES:

1. Read your most recently purchased or acquired contemporary

Fence Vol. 2

2. Read a contemporary with blurple (blue or purple) on the cover

99 Percent Mine

3. Read a diverse contemporary (keeping in mind that it is Black History Month!)

The Bride Test

4. Read a dark, taboo, or emotional book

Forever, Interrupted

5. Read a contemporary you meant to read in 2018 but didn’t get to

Radio Silence

6. Read a contemporary in a non-traditional format (ebook, audio, graphic novel etc)

The Legend of the Golden Raven

7. Read a contemporary with a picture on the spine (not a color or pattern but an image)

Check, Please!

(Double up and make as many of them work for as many books as you want!)


LIVE-SHOW: 2/16 on Chelsea’s Channel (Time TBA!)

THE HOSTS:

CHELSEA

JULIE

NATASHA

MELANIE

FOLLOW CONTEMPORARYATHON:

CONTEMPORARYATHON INSTA: https://www.instagram.com/contemporar…  CONTEMPORARYATHON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/bookhangover_


And in case you missed it, here’s my YouTube video of me discussing each book I picked!


xx,

Amy

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

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Title: The Wicker King

Series: The Wicker King, #1

Author: K. Ancrum

Pages: 305

Genre: YA Contemporary

My rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.


The Wicker King is my first read of 2019 and what a great way to start out the new year! This was also Melanie and I’s pick for our first Dragons & Tea Book Club read, and we couldn’t be more honored that so many of you joined us! Also a HUGE thank you to author K. Ancrum for joining our book club and answering all our questions. We couldn’t have asked for a better book and reading experience to kick off 2019.

This ownvoices book left me speechless, and I can’t really put into words how unique and heartbreaking it is. And that dedication? The best thing I ever read.

What starts out as two boys getting arrested for setting fire to a toy factory turns into a flashback of what happened prior to those events. It’s a deep look into mental illness and the lines that are blurred between fantasy and reality.

So while this book leans more on the contemporary side, I want to address that there are major triggers for mental illness (hallucinations), anxiety and depression, child abandonment/neglect, and codependency.

At first I was expecting to be fully transported into Jack’s fantasy world/mind, however as the story progresses, we eventually were thrown into August’s mind, and how much of an impact Jack’s disorder was having on August. And this regression of his mind is depicted in the physical pages of the book — they turn darker and darker. Truly, this book’s format is such an experience of its own!

And aside from the themes of mental health, this book addresses the issue of parental neglect and abandonment. How these boys had no safe space and didn’t know who to turn to for help. So they leaned on each other to the point where they had major codependency issues. However, there is another character who steps in to provide Jack and August a safe, supportive environment, and she may be one of my new favorite characters ever.

I’m sorry if this review was so vague, but I truly didn’t want to reveal anything spoilery. I think this is one of those books you should just dive right in (if you are in the right headspace!) to get the full experience.

Also, K. Ancrum published a free, digital companion novella to The Wicker King. It is called The Legend of the Golden Raven! The sequel, The Weight of the Stars, will release on March 19, 2019.


We have a Goodreads group for anyone who is interested in joining our Dragons & Tea Book Club! Information regarding our February pick, discussion boards, etc are all over there! 🙂

xx,

Amy