40 – Love (There’s Something About Marysburg #2) by Olivia Dade

40 love

 

official blurb
This match is no game.  When a rogue wave strips Tess Dunn of her bikini top, desperate, half-naked times call for desperate, please-cover-me-kids-are-coming-closer measures. Enter Lucas Karlsson, AKA that flirty Swede in the water nearby. When he prevents her bare buoys from being exposed to fellow vacationers, even an ocean can’t drown the sparks that fly.  Lucas, a former top-level tennis pro now giving lessons at the resort, fled there after the abrupt, painful end to his injury-plagued career. But he’s finally ready to move on with his life—and after a few late-night, hands-on sessions with Tess, he’s eager to prove he’s the ace she wants.  But this match comes with challenges: She’s forty, and at twenty-six, he’s barely old enough to rent a car. Worse, they only have two weeks together before Tess returns to her assistant-principal life in Virginia. During that brief time, they’ll have to play hard, take a few risks, and find out whether their chemistry is a one-shot wonder…or whether they’re meant to be doubles partners for life.

4 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level

what i liked
I really enjoyed this book!  It featured a lot of body positivity that was very enjoyable to read!  I would describe the tropes in this book as: age gap, vacation romance, and plus size heroine.
I’m honestly not sure if I’ve read a plus size heroine book that I’ve enjoyed this much before!  Some of the previous ones that I’ve read had a lot of the guy liking the girl despite of her size.  That was not the case with this book.  Our main man, Lucas, is totally into Tess and there is no “despite of” involved!
Another major pro for this book (no pun intended… but also I’m now proud of that pun) is that Lucas was a former pro tennis player. I’ve never read a tennis book before, but I LOVE tennis!!!  It is a bucket list item for me to attend every major tennis open.  So far I’ve done the US Open and it was amazing.  Oh… what’s that?  This is a book review and not me fangirling about Roger Federer?  Fine.  Well, lets just say that I loved that this book had a tennis storyline in it and I now want to read 210982083 other books that feature tennis!  (Let me know if you have any recommendations!)
This is my first Olivia Dade book but it sure won’t be my last.  I laughed out loud multiple times when reading this book.  The banter between the two characters was amazing.  I should also mention that i rarely root for a couple when they fall in love in a really quick time frame in a book.  I was rooting for Lucas and Tess! I think that just says something about Dade’s writing of the couple in general that you want to root for them.
As you can see, this is the second book in a series.  I actually didn’t even know that and it didn’t affect the flow of reading this book at all.  So it is safe to say that it is a stand alone book within a series!  (Btw, how cool is it that so many romance books do that? Why don’t other genres do that as often?)

what i didn't like
Tess talks about her goal to be the principal at her school. She talks about it a lot.  Too much.  Did I convey that point enough? Haha.  I liked that she had a professional goal but it was driven home too much for me.
Also, at one point in the book I lost steam a bit.  The dialogue slowed down and I found myself skimming a bit to try to reach some dialogue.  That doesn’t necessarily say anything about the writing style of the book because it could honestly have been my attention span while reading it.  But I feel it must me mentioned in my review!

while reading you should
Do: Play tennis.  It’s okay if you suck at it, it’s still fun!
Eat: a cupcake.  Preferably after you play tennis as a reward.
Watch: Borg vs McEnroe

when to read
This book is a total vacation read.  Summertime is even better.

arc review

DuxSignature

Wall of Winnipeg by Maria Zapata

wall of winnipeg

official blurb
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked. For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable. What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

4.25 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

Wow I cannot believe how long it took me to get into this book and also how much I ended up loving it for how long it took me to get into it!

There are a LOT of trigger warnings in this hefty book. That’s right… It’s hefty. Her books are SO long and this one was 673 pages! Alcoholism, physical abuse, drug addiction (side character), foster care. There were maybe more than that if I really broke it all down but those were the majors.

It was my first Zapata book and she was described to me as the master of a slow burn. Totally agree after reading and I am here for it! But let me tell you, I was well over 100 pages into this book… maybe 175-ish and I was so close to DNFing this book.  The only reason I didn’t is because I’ve had so many friends rave about it.  I totally get the hype now.  As I’ve been away from this book I almost upped my rating to 5 stars because I’ve thought about this book so frequently, but it is (in my opinion) too long.  Like, way too long.  But dang, was it good!!

There was one sex scene in the book. It was probably around a three steam level- and this scene could easily be skipped. There’s also cursing in it, in case that bothers you!

Aiden gave me major Joshua Templeman vibes from The Hating Game and I loved that! I do wish some of the chapters were written in his perspective.

I also stalled out a LITTLE bit in the end. I usually love an epilogue but this book was so long that I honestly didn’t enjoy the epilogue much at all. After finally getting into this book though, I cruised through the middle/end of it! So a solid four stars for me!

while reading you should
Watch: Love on the Sidelines
Eat: a vegan meal
Do: go for a run

DuxSignature smallercopy

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

what you wish for

arc review

official blurb
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before. When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

5 out of 5


 

REQUIRED READING FOR FICTION LOVERS

Ah! Let’s start with the fact that I loved this book! I was so nervous yet excited to read it because I adored Happiness For Beginners.  (If you didn’t know, this book is a stand alone book but it is a companion to HFB with some crossover characters).  I love love loved this book! It was a warm cup of coffee, a cozy sweater and the perfect playlist wrapped up in the impeccable writing of Katherine Center.

There were SO many quotes throughout this book that I made a note of.  I read an advanced readers copy so I can’t quote it for you. But you’re going to have to trust me that the writing you expect from Katherine Center does not let down in this book!  In fact it lets you up …okay so that’s not a thing, but it should be.

Remember in HFB, that I raved about it being a fiction book to support my gratitude lifestyle?  What You Wish For also keeps up with the theme of gratitude.  (If you want a reprisal of my love for all things gratitude then read my review for The Gratitude Diaries).  Seriously I love this theme so much – the characters in Katherine Center’s books do not  have perfect lives, but they search to see the best in their circumstances.  It was a very compelling theme to read in this time of coronavirus.  It left me feeling hopeful.  What a gift!

Did I mention that I was smile reading throughout most of this book?  By chapter ten or eleven I knew that I did not want to put the book down without finishing it.  There were a couple of roller coasters on the way to the ending. (You know, that feeling that an event in the book must be the climax, only to continue reading and think that the following events must be the stories climax).  I was happily along for the ride the entire way.

If I could change one thing about this book, it would be that I want a bonus chapter from Duncan’s perspective.  Specifically when he has to assume the caretaker role.  That’s all I’ll say.

Here comes my content warnings (previously called trigger warnings) if you find these to be spoilers then don’t read the next line:
Content warnings include: gun violence, school shootings, loss of a loved one.

while reading you should
Dress: In your favorite outfit featuring bright colors and/or fun patterns
Do: Go to a carnival.  Well… this is kind of a lie from me because I hate carnival rides. But if you’re into them then you should totally go while reading this book.
Eat: chocolate chip cookies.  This has nothing to do with the book but they make me happy.

DuxSignature smallercopy

Crave by Tracy Wolff

crave

official blurb
My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me. Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me. Which could spell death for us all. Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

arc review

5 out of 5

Okay I know you might think it’s insane that I’m giving a vampire book five stars but, listen – this book was 572 pages of awesomeness. Okay so it’s not on my list of required reading for fiction lovers, but it IS on my list of required reading : guilty pleasures. (If you’re keeping track, so far this list includes a book about a fallen angel and now a book about a vampire).

what i liked
-I found the characters super likable! I wanted even more scenes about Macy (is it weird that we really barely see her interact with her boyfriend? I mean, it’s not like there wasn’t time… 570+ pages!).
-I zoomed through reading this, I was always looking forward to picking it up and I never wanted to put it down.  If I read this on an ebook on my kindle I would’ve read it through the night for sure.
-Jaxon. Jaxon. Jaxon. That is all. I could go on, but Grace will for me in the book so I won’t.
-Grace… okay I wasn’t obsessed with her but generally I tend to get annoyed with main characters in books like these. I couldn’t make my way through The Mortal Instruments series completely because of Clary.  So Grace was a welcome change.  While I’ve never read twilight (I know, I need to rectify that STAT!) I have seen the movies.  And Kristen Stewart in those movies (picture as many eye roll emojis as humanly possible right here, okay?).  Anyways, I was expecting Grace to be reminiscent of Bella in twilight.
-All of the fantastical creatures! (no spoilers from me!)
-The library featured in the book.  I know that’s random but this is my review, what are you going to do about it?!

what i didn't like
The cheese level in this book is REAL.  The insta-love is there…. it is strong…the smell of it is wafting.  (Okay, I think you get it).
The first interaction between Jaxon and Grace was so incredibly bizarre.  I could not get over it.  Who physically touches someone when they first interact…prior to even exchanging names?!  Who, I ask you?!
I couldn’t get a good grip on what Jaxon actually looked like because all Grace kept observing was something along the lines of… (and i’m paraphrasing here) “Jaxon’s eyes…looking into my soul. Knowing me somehow. Showing me the despair that only he could detect deep within my own bones.”  So yeah… I couldn’t figure out what he looked like.
Listen… I realize the “do not like” list is long for a five star book. I rarely even write anything under this header when a book ranks 5 stars.  But that’s why it’s in my guilty pleasures list. Because… yes there were some flaws, but omg it was so good!

while reading you should
Watch: Legacies (you can binge it on Netflix!)
Listen to: Autumn Leaves by Miles Davis
Do: hydrate… you can never drink too much water!

Okay, last but not least, I’m gonna include one of my favorite scenes in the book (there were a lot to choose from but I feel like I need to sell you on this book because I loved it.  Some would even go so far as to say, I devoured it.   … see what I did there? Also, lets go ahead and be annoyed together that Grace doesn’t use punctuation when she texts)  :

Jaxon: It’s supposed to be a warning
Jaxon: Winky kiss emoji

Me: Of what?
Jaxon: Things that go bump in the night
Jaxon: You never can be too careful
Me: I like scary stories
Jaxon: But do you like the monsters in them?
Me: I guess it depends on the monster
Jaxon: I guess we’ll see, then, won’t we?
Me: I don’t know what that means

You’re hooked right?! Go read this book and then tell me all about your feelings because you will have them all when you read them! Oh… I guess I should also mention that this is book one and book two does not come out for a year.  Oopsies.  But still… go read it!

DuxSignature smallercopy

Yours Truly, Cammie by SJ Sylvis

yours truly cammie

5 out of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

REQUIRED READING FOR ROMANCE LOVERS

official blurb
I follow one rule in life: Don’t get involved with a Marine. After this past year of heart-wrenching misery, and an entire childhood as daughter of one of the highest ranked officers in the Marine Corps, I’ve had enough of saying goodbye. I’ve had enough heartbreak to last me a lifetime. But in an attempt to avoid an awkward run-in with a previous blind date, whom I may or may not have abandoned mid-dinner, I found myself standing in an exam room with Lucas Wells. He was exceptionally handsome on the outside, but the second he started to run that egotistical mouth of his, I wanted to do one of two things: smack him or kiss him. Lucas Wells, the United States Marine, has me bending my rule in more ways than one. But the real question is, will I succumb to breaking my rule altogether, or will he break me before I even get the chance? This was a reread of this book for me. I loved it the first time and I still devoured it the second time.  (That’s such a weird sentence to write about a book that it almost makes me uncomfortable but it also made me laugh, so I kept it.)

what i liked
I love Luke.  Did SJ Sylvis choose his name because she’s a Gilmore Girls fan? I don’t know but I will pretend the answer is yes. (Even though we all know that I’m team Christopher).
Speaking of Gilmore Girls there is room full of sunflowers scene in this book that is VERY reminiscent to a room filled with daisies.  If you know, you know.
I liked Cammie’s BFF named Jojo. I like it when the characters have a good crew around them.
I recently started watching Hart of Dixie (which the author also watches)  and there’s a very lovable character in the show named Wade. He refers to the main character in the show as “Doc” the whole time.  And Luke in the book always refers to Cammie as “Doc” (even though she’s a nurse).  I personally liked this nickname! I know, I’ve complained a lot in the past about cutesie nicknames in romance novels. But I liked this one, what can I say?
This book is hilarious.  I laughed out loud a lot at how ridiculous Cammie’s train of thought was because I was so here for it!  Here are some examples:

“He was what you’d call a nice, tall glass of water. Actually, I almost felt as if I needed some water to moisten my now drying mouth. Jesus, take me now.”

“Whenever I’d acted bitchy (read as: beautifully sarcastic and witty) toward someone, it was only ever because I either: (1) knew the person really well, so they knew I was kidding, or (2) knew that I would never see them again.”

Trigger Warnings:
If you do not like reading a book with cussing, then this book is not for you.
If you do not like a book with a high steam level, this book is not for you. (4 out of 5 steam level according to my steam meter)
This book features the loss of a loved on, specifically a military loss.

I read this book quickly both times I read it. It even features multiple epilogues- You know I’m a sucker for an epilogue!

what i didn't like
I really love this book- hence the required reading on my romance novel list status.  I would say if there’s something that readers won’t like about this book it is maybe how little we actually know about Luke. Or maybe the way that Cammie deals with conflict.  I wasn’t bothered by either of these very much.  But I would TOTALLY be down with a novella from Luke’s perspective.  Maybe a second book featuring Luke’s brother featured in the epilogue and then Luke can be in it too?!  I know, I’m an idea girl- and I only require 2% of the commission from these ideas! (Just kidding, SJ Sylvis, write more about these two!!!! )

when to read
Because this is required reading- you can read it anytime. BUT I recommend it during warmer weather, or during a crazy rain storm.

while reading you should
Watch: Gilmore Girls and Hart of Dixie
Eat: chocolate chips
Do: prank someone
Listen to: Nothing But You by Bob Moses

DuxSignature

The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

glass hotel

official blurb

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I’ve only read Station Eleven by Mandel, but I loved it. In fact it is probably my most widely recommended books.  However if you’re reading this review and you’re still in the throws of coronavirus- now is not the time to read Station Eleven.  But feel free to still go over and read my review of it! 🙂

Now let’s get started with this review.  I decided to format this one a little bit differently because why the heck not.  Here are some of my notes I wrote down while reading this beautifully written book.  You can decide when you read them, what my rating should be. Because I still haven’t totally decided what this book should be rated.

  • 55 pages in and it’s really confusing. There are seemingly random numbers on the pages throughout the chapters. The chapters are written from multiple characters perspectives. There are a ton of names to keep track of and I can’t remember them all. I keep flipping back and forth to see if it’s a name from a previous section and it rarely is.
  • There’s a girl named Vincent. Who names a girl Vincent? It has taken me at least 50 pages to remember that Vincent is a girl.
  • Over 90 pages in and no real plot yet. They keep alluding to the plot but not much of anything has happened. I’m enjoying the journey though.
  • I don’t know anything about pyramid schemes other than people making jokes about Young Living. Which I think is more MLM but honestly don’t know. After reading this I’m still completely confused about it. I think it needed to be actually explained to the laymen better. Page 205, an actual explanation! Yay! (And I actually even followed the explanation with “newborn mom brain” working against me!)
  • Page 240 before the storyline of “the woman who disappeared off of the boat.” This whole time I thought it was referring to… well to someone else (I don’t want to spoil that) It wasn’t…
  • I think this book should have a different title. Maybe Ghost Stories.  You decide what you think when you finish it and let me know what you think the title should be.  I feel like Ghost Stories is a pretty strong contender.

I would recommend reading this on a Kindle. Like station eleven, only in writing style, there are roughly 7000 names in this book. Okay, you got me, not 7000. I have a flair for the dramatic. But there were a lot of names. And if you have a memory like mine, a Kindle will be your best friend for the X-ray feature.

After finishing this book I have NO idea what to rate it. I didn’t feel fulfilled with the ending and it actually seemed like it was a two different stories written in the same book. That’s not to say that the stories didn’t converge in some sense but… Not enough for it to make sense to me.

I HAVE to mention that there are little easter eggs in this book if you’ve read her other books.  I’ve only read Station Eleven, like I mentioned, but I’ve heard that some characters from her other books made their way into this one as well.  That’s right, keep your eyes peeled and you might see some of your old friends from Station Eleven in this one!  

When I say I really enjoyed the writing style, I mean it!  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

-“Why were the righteous so often irritating?”
-“One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid.”
-“It’s always possible to fail to know the people closest to us.”
-“That’s what money gives you: the freedom to stop thinking about money”
-“Very few people who go to the wilderness actually want to experience the wilderness. Almost no one.”

Okay it’s time for me to rate this thing.  I know I won’t be widely recommending it like Station Eleven.  It really had a slow but steady pace… which in fairness I think quite a lot of adult fiction has this pacing.  It seemed like different stories were all jammed into one book.  The characters weren’t very likable (I think this is a trend for Mandel that she writes “realistic” characters.  I put that in quotes because I hope that if you met me in real life I would be likable and I am also a real person.  So with all of that in mind… I think I’m going to officially rate it:

3.75 our of 5

DuxSignature smallercopy

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

tweet cute 1

official blurb
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.

Full disclosure while I was reading this book I was sure it was either written by Emma Mills or Emory Lord… only later did I realize that it was an entirely new to me author!

what i didn't like
Tweet Cute was a really adorable YA read.  It could easily have been five stars but I got stressed out a couple of times while I was reading it.  The relationship between the main character and her mom was pretty realistic as far as strained relationships but the “don’t rock the boat” mentality of a teen I just can’t get behind.  That could be because I’m not a huge people pleaser.

what i liked
What this book did have going for it was a teeny tiny mystery/ twist.  A really cute high school couple that didn’t have huge communication issues!  A You’ve Got Mail vibe.  Overall it was a quick read that almost everyone will enjoy!  There were multiple times reading this book that I got real Chilton vibes from the school (Gilmore Girls reference) so that was fun!  Also, remember Prof Umbridge from Harry Potter?  There’s some total Umbridge parts as well!

Looking for LGBTQ books?  This book has a supporting character that you’ll like!

while reading you should
do: bake!
watch: you’ve got mail
eat/drink: a milkshake!

DuxSignature smallercopy