Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

twice in a blue moon

 

official blurb
Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak. During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good. Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

my blurb!
Two people who fell in love when things were a little less complicated, run into each other again – feeling the brunt of all kinds of complications.

5 out of 5

 🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
Wow! I cannot believe I actually read a second chance romance that I liked! If I could describe the look of absolute shock on my face while I’m writing this I would try to… but I can’t so you’ll just have to believe me.  Not sure what a second chance romance is? Well, it is the trope where you fall in love once with someone and there’s some sort of miscommunication or backstabbing that occurs… then years later you fall in love again. I always hate it! One day in DecemberLove and other words… It’s just not my thing! Yet here I am reading this book and loving it!
This book was funny, but the storyline was really strong. I very much enjoyed both of the main characters and would even be interested in reading a novella with some of the side characters. Tate’s mother, for instance, would be really interesting to read about!
This did have some steam but I would still recommend it to people who like a really low steam romance novel. There were multiple sex scenes in it that weren’t close door, but they were not very descriptive either. (I almost tried to rate this a 2 steam level but consulted my friendly steam rating in my sidebar here and decided it HAD to be a three).  Definitely on the lower end of seam levels for a Christina Lauren novel! [If you haven’t read my review of the unhoneymooners, check that out too because it has a very low steam level and is great for newbie romance readers!]
This book took place in Northern California.  My old stomping grounds!!! I wish that they would have mentioned specifically where in northern California this book took place, because I love to picture a specific place. I was imagining something kind of like Big Sur, but I would have loved to have a point of reference for that! Regardless the book does get points for even mentioning northern California!

what i didn't like
Literally the only thing I did not like about this book was that it needed an epilogue very badly. Very badly. Not even necessarily an epilogue but maybe just one last chapter. I actually thought that maybe they forgot a chapter in my advanced readers copy…that’s how much it needed it! I know it’s hard to believe I would still rate this at 5 starts but I’m hopeful that they will put an epilogue into the finished book. There is some major vengeance/sass/wit needed in the final chapter, that specifically has to be channeled toward the character who deserves it! Without that chapter the book is missing something… I still loved it, I read it over 48 hours and enjoyed every minute of it! But Christina and Lauren – if you’re reading this, please add a final chapter!

while reading you should
Do: reminisce about your dreams when you were in high school/ college.  (I’m personally not a fan of longing for the road not traveled- but who says you can’t try to get back into an old passion! …I’m talking about a hobby here not a person! haha)
Eat:  Strawberries… make a crepe, put them on a pancake, eat them on their own!
Listen to: playlist I created for this book on Spotify!

arc review

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Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum

hope and other punch lines

official blurb

Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future. Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing. Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope. Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

my blurb!

Two teens dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 find that different coping mechanisms can still lead to healing.

5 out of 5

what i liked

Wow, two chapters into this book and I knew I would be hooked. It is what I think a good YA book is, it’s cute yet heavy, it’s hopeful yet real. The book is alternating chapters between our two main characters – Noah and Abbi. Abbi who has, for better or worse, become the face of the survivors of 9/11. Noah who is determined to joke his way through tragedy. Both characters were both relatable and likable. I cruised through this book but also wanted to savor it. I think you will too!
Ready for me to call out some specific moments in this book that I fell in love with? How about on page 181 where Noah references Julie Buxbaum’s previous book Tell Me Three Things?! I love love love little easter eggs from an authors previous books. Sarah Dessen is a master at doing this and it will never get old!
I tried to think of the quote in this book that I think captured the entire sentiment of it. Here’s something that Noah says that I feel like really sums up Love and Other Punch Lines:

“But you can be serious and funny at the same time. We need the serious to recognize the funny, and the funny to give us even a shot in hell at surviving the serious. It’s a really simple theory if your think about it. They’re mutually dependent, not mutually exclusive.”

This book focuses a lot on 9/11, and as I was reading it was so curious what was made up, and what was real. It was almost like reading a historical fiction book and you think you’re learning a lot and then you think… well is this even real? Well at the end of this book the author reveals what was true and what was not true. Much of what I was genuinely intrigued about and had never heard of, was indeed true. This really solidified the 5 star ranking for me. I love that I learned something from this book, and that teens who maybe weren’t old enough to comprehend 9/11 will read this book and get a bigger understanding of a moment in time that turned everything else into after.

while reading you should

Do: name your car
Eat: gummy bears
Drink: a slushy

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

born a crime

5 out of 5

what i liked

I listened to this on audiobook after I was gifted it by a friend. Man am I glad that I listened to it! I think reading this book would also be great, but Trevor Noah does read this audiobook and it is so good.
This book is titled Born A Crime because Trevor is born of mixed races in South Africa during the apartheid. So his birth was literally a crime. His insight into living during this time period was incredibly interesting! I didn’t know very much about the apartheid other than referencing Nelson Mandela and his prison time. I feel like I know quite a bit more now, but I’m still interested in learning more.
Trevor grew up in South Africa and has since moved to the states. He references just how different his life was from the typical life here in the States. It was all just really eye opening. (Let me preface that I have been to Africa- a few countries in southern Africa, so I did have a good frame of reference from how different their lives are from my own.) There is just a huge power in hearing someone’s personal story and how much that can show you about the world.
I loved hearing stories about Trevor’s mom, and his extended family. His intense and alcoholic step dad. All of the scenes that he describes are written so well, and they feel so real while you’re listening.
He’s a strong writer, in fact, part way through the book I actually forgot he was a comedian/celebrity. It just seemed like a regular memoir.
Fun fact, this book as been optioned to become a movie starring Lupita Nyong’o as Trevor’s mom! I can’t wait to watch it!
Pick this book up, (and on audio!) you won’t regret it!
This book is REQUIRED READING for memoir lovers!

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Roomies by Christina Lauren

roomies

 

official blurb
Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient. For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to actually talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions. Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago. Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

my blurb!
A girl who feels indebted to her uncles, figures the best way to help them out is to marry a guy she has a crush on; simply to help him secure a visa.

5 out of 5                                                              4 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
So… I read this book at the end of January.  Yes I know, I’m that behind on reviews.  And back in January I rated this book 4.75 stars…just shy of required reading.  But alas, with the gift of time I now find myself grading this book higher. Mostly because I can only remember the good things. So this book is REQUIRED READING for Romance Lovers!
I read this book in one sitting.  One night. The whole book.  I was so into it! This was a 2am book read for me!
It was really funny, I laughed out loud multiple times.  Which, honestly I’m kind of just expecting from Christina Lauren by now.  This is another perk of reading romcoms, you can lay in your bed and laugh out loud, annoying your sleeping husband beside you.
This book was just plain cute.  I found myself smiling a lot while reading it.  I really enjoyed it!  Is there anything better than smile-reading?  I submit not!
Our main man, Calvin, was perfect.  I mean, he’s totally book boyfriend material.  And he has an accent so that’s an added plus.  He was loyal and kind and talented.  Did I mention the accent? Because he had an accent.
Our main girl, Holland, was odd and quirky and really likable.  In the first few chapters you already find yourself rooting for her to succeed.
Here’s a quick quote to wet your appetite for Roomies:

“Tonight I’ve concluded two things about gin: it tastes like pine cones and is clearly the devil’s sauce.”

what i didn't like
I know I said I didn’t remember what I disliked about the book, but as I was writing the “liked” section I remembered!  Yay for the amazing power of memory!  (I have to cheer my memory on because honestly, it’s awful).  The ending of this book left a few too many loose ends for my taste.  I needed a couple of things to be a bit more concrete.  Could I be more vague for you? YES! haha But I don’t want to give any spoilers so that’s as vague and precise as I’m willing to be.  Overall though, I still loved this book so I’m keeping the five star rating.

Interested in more of my reviews of Christina Lauren books? Check these one’s out!
Love and Other Words
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
The Unhoneymooners
Dating You Hating You

while reading you should
Do: plan out what you’ll wear and who’ll you take to the theater when this book becomes a movie! That’s right this book IS becoming a movie- starring Jenna Dewan.
Drink: gin.  Not an alcohol fan? Full disclosure, I’m not either.  In that case drink Gin…ger ale!  See what I did there?
Listen: Ho Hey by Lennon and Maisy

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Harry Potter (#1) and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

HP1

official blurb
Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry. Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

my blurb!
An eleven year old boy finds out that he can do magic and gets to go to a new school to study it.

So this was a reread- or in my case a re-listen.  I have always listened  to the Harry Potter books. Yes you read that correctly, me- a huge Harry Potter fan, I have not actually physically flipped pages of an HP book.  I listen to Jim Dale’s many voices to make the story come alive.  And it is…magical.

5 out of 5

 

This is REQUIRED READING FOR FANTASY LOVERS.  Let me reiterate that.  If you don’t like fantasy books, you probably won’t like this book.  If you don’t like middle school age books, you probably won’t like this book.

what i liked
Ron is an MVP! I didn’t remember how much I really liked Ron. His humor is really funny throughout the book. I definitely laughed out loud multiple times.
I’ll always have a soft spot for Neville Longbottom, there’s just something about him that I adore! It could be because of the actor who plays him and what he looks like. Just saying. But really Neville is my favorite.
The world building is done very well! I seriously loved every scene with the Dursleys in it. She does so well writing them so that you can’t help but hate them! But you also love reading about them!
Funny story about listening to the audio books is that I don’t know how to spell a lot of the words in Harry Potter and I didn’t actually know that Voldemort had a “t” at the end of his name! I did eventually pick up a book and read his name and was shocked, because Jim Dale the reader of the audiobooks does not pronounce the T.
Upon listening to the book this time around, I noticed that Hermione’s skin color is never mentioned and this time I pictured her being black because of the description of her features and her hair. Of course I’ll always imagine Emma Watson but it was interesting that my mind chose somebody else this time around!
It really makes magic seem normal and that’s the best possible compliment I could give to JK Rowling. I sometimes didn’t even notice that this is a fantasy book because it seems so real!
Another thing the book does so well is to actually capture the ages of the characters. The snide remarks and the annoyance about teachers… the way that Harry refuses to call Professor Snape by the title of Professor and just called him Snape haha! The line at the very end of the book really captures Harry’s age and his wiliness! (Sidenote- isn’t wiliness the best word ever? I need to use it more often!)

what i didn't like
There’s a little cheesiness involved in this book regarding the ending and how Harry is able to defeat the bad guy.  I think it should be noted, but honestly I didn’t mind it that much.  These books are done so well and I’m so happy to finally be reviewing them!

while reading you should
Listen: to this book on audiobook.  I mean, you can read them it’s true.  But seriously Jim Dale is a master at his craft! I’ve listened to almost every audiobook he’s ever read!
Do: Get some harry potter swag. There are so many things to buy that are HP themed, the options are endless!
Watch:  The first Harry Potter movie!

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

the flateshare

official blurb
Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.  But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

my blurb!
Two people share a living space (bed and all).  One person lives there during the day, and the other at night.  They never plan to meet.

5 out of 5

 

1 / 5 steam level

For all of you looking for LGBT character in books- this book did feature a supporting character subplot with an LGBT romance.
Trigger Warning: Emotional Abuse.

what i liked
Have you noticed yet that I don’t love “women’s fiction” books yet?  (I don’t know why they’re usually called that and not just fiction, btw).  I get kind of depressed when I read them, because the adults lives are so humdrum.  But guess what? I read a fiction book that I loved!!!  Oh… you knew that?  You already saw the part where I rated it 5 stars? Fair enough.
While this book wasn’t all sunshine and roses (trigger warnings in this book for emotional abuse), I did find myself smile-reading quite a bit throughout it.
This book was for sure British but while that can be a hindrance in understanding the flow or tone in some books (I’m looking at you When Polly Met Olly) , it was great in this book! (More like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine). 
So many words came to mind when I was thinking of this book… funny, stressful, cute.  It was all of these things!
There were some amazing pop culture references in this.  I LOVE a good pop culture reference so everytime I read one I would get a little giddy.
Guess what else this book had? An Epilogue!!! I can’t help it, I am a sucker for a good epilogue! I love the wrap up in a book!
I adored the main couple in this book.  Tiffy and Leon.  First of all, let me shout out to them being an interracial couple.  Secondly they were so freaking likable!  I am totally fictional friends with them.
Here’s a little snippet from my main man Leon:
Tiffy: You’re an introvert.
Make a face.  I’m not a fan of those Myers Briggs – type things that tell you your personality type, like horoscopes for business people.
Me: Guess so.
If you didn’t know this about me- I HATE personality tests.  I know, you want to tell me my enneagram number.  I’m happy for you and your number, and I don’t want to take the test!  (Did that just giveaway my number? Crap.)
Need a little pallet teaser for Tiffy?  I didn’t leave you hanging!
Leon looks at me with amusement.
“What a hat,” he says.

“What a day,” I counter, spreading my arms out wide.  “No other headwear would do it justice.”
Need I say more? Tiffy and I are soul sisters?!  If you don’t follow me on instagram (you should be ashamed of yourself!) then you don’t know about my hat obsession. In fact I regularly post to my Instagram story with #beretoftheday.  That’s right, berets are awesome and there’s nothing you can do to talk me out of it!  Do you see why Tiffy and I are besties?
Also, if it wasn’t clear from those excerpts, the chapters are told from alternating POVs.  So you hear from Tiffy and you hear from Leon’s perspective and they’re both perfect!
I loved this book- if you’re looking for your next great fiction read then look no further than The Flatshare!

while reading you should
Do: bake something to share with your neighbors!
Listen to:  Manhattan by Sara Bareilles and Sun-Drenched World by Joshua Radin

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

sky in the deep

Wow, this book. I got this in an Owlcrate box (the only Owlcrate I’ve ever gotten) and it was signed and proceeded to sit on my bookshelf for a full year! I kept seeing different reviews for it that were positive but I still never picked it up!  Truth be told, I was burnt out on fantasy books after a few bad ones.  Even after reading Six of Crows, I still wasn’t ready to hop onto the fantasy bandwagon again.  But alas, I entered into another book slump.  Where nothing piqued my interest to read, and nothing was getting anywhere near 5 stars.  I decided to reach for this book one night.  24 hours later I was finished with it and singing its praises.  Without further ado, here is my review of Sky In The Deep!

official blurb
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago. Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family. She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

my blurb!
A Viking warrior is captured by the last person whom she expected to take her.  She is willing to do anything to escape and go home.  And I mean anything. (Graphic violence depicted).

5 out of 5

 

what i liked
This book is REQUIRED READING FOR FANTASY LOVERS.  I’m not joking when I say, as soon as I finished this book, I called my sister and told her to stop whatever she was doing and read it!  I did the same thing for my husband. They both loved it.
If I was ever going to write a novel, this is what I want to write.  This book is just so empowering to read about a female badass heroine! This girl is not waiting for someone to come save her, she’s going to maim, kill and destroy to free herself from her bondage.  This book features fierce men and women fighting side by side!  A lot of readers might read it and not even think about that aspect (which is fine!) but they’ll be subconsciously getting that message and it is SO COOL!
Young wrote complicated and loving families.  Seriously, I know these characters and I am still with them.  They are my fictional friends and family!  (Am I obsessed?  Okay maybe slightly. But I dare you to read this and not be obsessed!)
I shipped this couple hard.  What does that mean? It means I was rooting for the duo in this book. I was hollering for them (I mean…silently in my head, but still…) and craving their scenes!
When the book was finished- it ended perfectly.  It left me wanting more but still completely satisfied with the ending.  It was AMAZING!
I also wanted to note that the characters have names that didn’t come easily for me to pronounce.  You know that I hate that.  But it was so fitting for this world and culture that Young built.  I think it all aided in the world building.  I mentioned that I was pretty sure I was pronouncing them wrong in my head (Ginny Weasley anybody?) but I was committed to the pronunciation after finishing the book (I may have done roughly 200 instagram stories about this book already).  Anyways, Adrienne Young herself responded and said she has a pronunciation guide on her website!  I’ve linked it so you don’t have the same issues I had. (While you’re there, check out these other fun things she links- like her pinterest board of inspiration for Sky In The Deep, and her Spotify playlist!)
I loved this book SO much that I read the acknowledgments.  Not just that, but I finished this book and had to be somewhere. When I got back home, I picked the book back up to read the acknowledgments.  That is how much I loved Adrienne Young’s writing.  Also, just as a shout out to her amazing acknowledgments – it definitely made me want to figure out an acknowledgement day where everyone does that for their own personal lives.  I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we could just casually give our Oscar’s speech without ever winning an Oscar?  I know… what a dream.  Don’t worry I’m working on it.
I’m sure you’re already feeling pretty confident that this book is for you, but if you’re not I have some tips for you.  If you liked Nina and Matthais from the Six of Crows duology, you’ll like this book.  If you liked Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, you’ll like this book.  If you liked the Carve The Mark duology by Veronica Roth, you’ll like this book.  If you like fantasy books, you’ll like this book. If you like books, you’ll like this book.  (Did I take it one too far there?  I tend to do that…)

Also wanted to note that a NEW paperback version of this book JUST came out and it has a bonus chapter from Fiske’s point of view.  (Yes I am accepting this book donation to my personal library). And if that wasn’t enough to get you amped up, a SECOND book in this same universe is coming out soon! It’s called The Girl The Sea Gave Back and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

while reading you should
Eat: Fish… that you caught yourself. (I went too far with that one again didn’t I?)
Do: Take a self-defense class and feel inspired!
Listen: To the Spotify playlist that the author created

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