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

 

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

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Title: The Simple Wild

Author: K.A. Tucker

Pages: 388

Genre: Contemporary romance, new adult

My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

I just finished reading this book and knew I had to immediately write my review while all my feels are still fresh. Y’all, I don’t read a lot of romance, but I have been so lucky that the romance books I read in 2018 were stellar. The Simple Wild is no exception, and I’m so happy I got to end 2018 with this piece of joy.

This book pretty much had everything I ever wanted: atmospheric wilderness, enemies-to-lovers, found family, small town feels, hot pilots, and AIRPLANES. Like… you don’t understand. I used to fly planes. Having an entire book centered around aviation made my heart so damn happy.

In a nutshell, we follow Calla, a 26 year old woman from Toronto. She and her father never had a relationship after her mother left her father in Alaska. However, one night Calla receives a phone call asking her to come visit because her father is ill. When she arrives she is greeted by a rather moody bush pilot, Jonah — and their strange and kind of wacky relationship blooms from there.

I really loved how K.A. Tucker painted the romance; it wasn’t an insta-love situation, yet the male and female love interests weren’t horrible to each other, either (which is what I dread sometimes going into an enemies-to-lovers plot). I’ve read some romances where the man is just way over the top mean, but he really wasn’t at all! And this book has more witty banter and silly pranks which I thought were so fun. The romance is definitely a slow burn, but it all played out organically and realistically. (And let’s just say there’s a cabin scene and you KNOW that shit makes me weak.)

I also loved how Calla is into fashion blogging and instagramming, because it felt like I was reading about myself. Trying to capture that perfect instagrammable photo, thinking of the perfect captions, and perhaps over packing a little too much for a trip. Yeah, that’s relatable af to me.

And, of course, you can’t have an aviation-centered book without me picking it apart! Sorry! But I can honestly say K.A. Tucker did such an amazing job researching everything from aircraft mechanics, avionics, terminology, and aircraft types. It was fun for me to come across a plane and be like, “Oh! I’ve flown one of those before!” I was living for all of the flying scenes, and they’re abundant but so different from each other. Bangor, AK is a fictional town but it’s based off of Bethel, AK (according to the Acknowledgements) so I creeped the Bethel airport. Sure enough, it’s quite similar to how the Bangor airport is described in the book, and it surprised me they have a control tower, too! (tbh I thought Bangor was much smaller than the real town it’s based off of, but hey, it’s a fictional book so I won’t drag it.)

But I digress. I just simply loved the dynamics between these characters so much. There’s the found family between Jonah, Wren (Calla’s father), Agnes, and Mabel… and just everyone in town and nearby villages who all know and love each other. The sense of community is real in this book. And I loved how Calla and Wren were able to reconnect their father-daughter relationship. The message in this book really resonated with me; how we can’t expect others to change, but it is okay to still love and support the choices they make.

I will say that one thing that bugged me was how much Jonah made Calla feel bad for enjoying things like beauty and fashion, It’s so common for men to believe women put on makeup to please men or for other shallow reasons, when really I personally put on makeup for myself. I like makeup, and I like the way it looks. I’ve grown used to going make-up-free as I’ve gotten older, but I still love buying it and using it. I’m not saying Jonah is in any way a “toxic masculinity” character, but his constant griping about women and makeup got to be annoying. But I can’t let Calla off the hook, either. She refers to Jonah as a “yeti” a lot because of his long hair and beard, and that got pretty old, too.

There’s also the constant reminder that Jonah is the “best damn pilot” out there and it’s like, okay, I get it — let’s stop with the overused shtick from 1980’s action films, please. Being a good pilot is one thing but he does make some unsafe decisions so… [insert KermitSippingTea.jpg]

But seriously, I loved this book so much, and I did not expect it to punch me so hard in the feels. I was worried I was going to be angry with the way Wren’s illness was handled, or how the aviation was going to be portrayed, or that the love interest was going to be horrible — but none of that happened. I wholeheartedly recommend this book especially if you’re an enemies-to-lovers fan. I will definitely be reading more books by K.A. Tucker soon!

Trigger warnings for cancer, talks of cancer treatments, parental separation.

fivestars

xx,

Amy

 

Dragons and Tea Book Club: February Book Announcement!

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Hi, friends! Melanie and I want to thank each and every one of you who joined our book club ever since we announced it in December. I’m amazed at all the discussions we generated on Goodreads and that we were so lucky to have K. Ancrum answer our questions! The Wicker King was such a unique, tragic, and beautiful book that will stick with me forever.

I know you’re all probably curious about our next buddy read book. So without further ado…


Our February book will be:

A GIRL LIKE HER by Talia Hibbert:

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The Dates & Breakdown:

February 4th — Ch. 1-7 (p. 1-68)

February 5th — Ch. 8-15 (p. 69-134)

February 6th — Ch. 16-22 (p. 135-201)

February 7th — Ch. 23-28 (p. 202-256)

February 8th — Ch. 29-end (p. 527-end)

Why we chose this book:

February is Black History Month and we thought it’d be the perfect way to boost this ownvoices, diverse contemporary romance (and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner)! Even if contemporary isn’t your jam, we hope you’ll give this a chance as we’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it. (Also the ebook is only $2.99 on Amazon US!)


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Title: One True Loves

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Pages: 352

Genre: Contemporary romance

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

I think this is one of those books where you’re either going to end up loving or hating the ending. I fell into the “love it” camp, but I totally understand why others may not agree!

I am also always intrigued by “what would you do?” scenarios. And I know Taylor Jenkins Reid is quite the master at weaving those kind of stories. This book felt very pure and realistic, and I very much fell in love with all the characters.

In a nutshell, this book follows Emma. She marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They both felt trapped and bored in their home town, so once they got married, they vowed to always travel and be on the move. They lived very spontaneous and adventurous lifestyles. Until one day, Jesse is presumed dead from disappearing after a helicopter crash.

Emma moves back to her home town and eventually pieces her life back together. She finds happiness in running her parents’ book shop and then becomes engaged to Sam. After all those years, she finally was able to move on with her life. Then Jesse returns.

This book completely resonated with me because it really does split a life into “before” and “after”. Do you have one of those moments that split your life into two? For me it was falling ill with an incurable illness. One moment I was health and happy, and then “after” I was sickly, bedridden, and unable to achieve the goals I previously wanted. This book really hit me because I really did change as a person between my late 20’s and early 30’s. And after a lot of time grieving that part of me that I “lost”, I am now in a much better head space and happier.

I loved how this book followed not just Emma’s relationship with Jesse but also her relationship with Sam. Each man in her life was not painted in a negative light, so it was difficult to decide who to ‘ship’ her with. But ultimately I’m happy with the decision she made in the end. It all felt very realistic (despite some of the decisions Emma made.) I will warn you that Emma does sleep with both Jesse and Sam, and that cheating is still cheating. So please keep that in mind if that’s something that will bother you.

Overall I truly loved this book and recommend it. I really loved how TJR was able to seamlessly weave together Emma’s “before” and “afters”, and how it is okay and normal to change the paths in our lives.


fourstars

Buddy read with Melanie and Sue!

xx,

Amy

 

One Day in December by Josie Silver

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fourstars

Title: One Day in December

Author: Josie Silver

Pages: 416

Genre: Contemporary Romance

My rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

For some reason I was expecting this to be one of those Serendipity-like stories where a guy and girl miss their first chance at love so they spend the next several years searching for each other. But really this book is so much more than that; it goes beyond “love at first sight” and focuses on life and friendships that spans over the course of ten years. I truly had such a great time reading this book and it was even better that I got to read this while co-hosting TistheSeasonAThon!

This isn’t your typical romance or holiday story. In fact, I found the “Christmassy” vibes to be very minimal. I truly think you could read this during any time of year.

This book follows two POVs: Laurie and Jack. Laurie is a journalist who happens to be on a crowded double-decker bus when she locks eye with a man at a bus stop. They feel an instant attraction but the bus is too crowded for her to get off and for him to get on. Laurie spends the next year trying to find “the bus boy”. She even has her roommate, Sarah, helping to track him down. Then one day Sarah introduces Laurie to her new boyfriend, and… you guessed it. Sarah’s boyfriend, Jack, is “the bus boy.”

Now, if this were normal life, Laurie would tell Sarah that Jack is the bus boy and they’d probably have a good laugh about it. But in true rom-com fashion Laurie keeps it a secret. And so does Jack.. because he recognizes Laurie as “the bus girl.”

All of this is unveiled early on in the book, so I was pleasantly surprised how much depth we got from all the characters as the story progressed. Over the course of several years we follow Laurie’s life as she navigates love, family, and personal growth. She even spends some time in Thailand — so that gets major points from me. It was really refreshing to read a romance that wasn’t solely focused on one main relationship. You follow all the ugliness of friendships and marriages, and how as we get older, we change into different people (or not at all).

I will admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Jack from the get-go. He’s moody, indecisive, and quite bratty. But I liked that he (and others) are flawed. And it felt like each character’s personalities and actions were portrayed in a realistic way.

This isn’t a “fluffy’ romance, nor is it a sugar-coated “chick-lit” book, either. It’s fun and easy to fly through but it also deals with heart break, loss, and angst. It’s definitely a slow burn but I found it so worth it in the end!

Trigger/content warning: loss of a sibling (not on the page), loss of a parent, cheating (kissing).

fourstars

xx,

Amy