After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author… More
Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran – quite literally – into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either… Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can’t help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn’s new celebrity client, there’s even more at stake than Dax’s custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she’ll be promoted to partner. The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?
After a law school experience, steeped in sexual tension, ends with being backstabbed. Two people are forced to coexist while trying to do what’s best in a custody agreement.
4 out of 5 steam level
This book starts off laugh out loud funny. I was laughing, cringe reading (lots of embarrassment) and smile reading throughout the first few chapters of this book. Here’s a little snippet of funny exchanges:
“I don’t have time to shave regularly these days, let alone time for hot dates.” She sighs. “I hate this whole online generation crap. Why can’t I just meet a nice guy in a coffee shop, or the library or something?”
“I think you’d have to frequent coffee shops and library for that to happen, wouldn’t you?” I ask.
But don’t let the humor fool you. This book isn’t entirely funny. In fact, in the first 4 chapters- it starts to get pretty serious. The overall plot of this book revolves around a custody dispute. The writing, even when it wasn’t funny, still packed a good punch. I included a snippet of this too (you’re welcome):
“Heartache is the worst affliction. It robs a person of rationality, or logic, of forethought and patience. It makes everything good painfully bright and magnifies the bad with an intensity that’s difficult to tolerate.”
Another thing in the pro column for me is their jobs. The two main characters were both lawyers. You got to see them in law school and then see them practicing different types of law. I really enjoyed that whole aspect of the book.
The last chapter of the book was great so it definitely ended on a high note for me. It felt a little disjointed from being laugh out loud funny to being heavy and not very funny at all. But overall I enjoyed reading this and read it quickly!
Okay, you know how I feel about names. The main characters name was Daxton. You read that correctly. DAXTON. The whole book, I kept thinking… how does that name even dawn on you to use? I’ve never even heard of that name before! It did have a saving grace though because towards the latter end of the book we get to experience this funny exchange:
“Oh my God, Emme, look, Liam is waiting for you! Who’s with him? Oh! Oh! That’s Clark and Jackson and River.”
“Who the hell named these kids?” I mutter.
“Your name is Daxton,” Emme points out.
Another thing I didn’t love was how predictable this book was. I knew exactly what was going on in all of the plotlines- and in fact, ended up being a little annoyed that it took the characters so long to catch on. It got to be a little bit stressful at times!
Speaking of stressful- when these characters get together it seems ethically unsound. So I was pretty stressed throughout the book waiting for the shoe to drop on that part of the plot.
I think my biggest gripe was that this was titled Meet Cute and it’s not a cutesy book- but more of a heavy hitter.
Watch: Legally Blonde (because… lawyers)
Watch: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Siblings raising siblings storyline!)
Eat: Shepherd’s Pie
So I was really trying to think about what my next Books & Baking should be. I had a few ideas but in the end it was the weather that made me choose this one. I’m so ready for this warm weather- and here in KC it’s already been in the 80s! Dream summer weather for me! So without further ado, this months post is all about Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch.
What are we making? You’d think it would be gelato… but I actually have no idea how to make that, and I’m fairly certain it doesn’t actually include any baking. So we are making homemade ice cream sandwiches! Let’s take a look, shall we?
I know, you’re wondering- how will I ever make these super professional looking ice cream sandwiches?! Fret not, dear friend, I will make you the hit of your book club this Spring/Summer!
Here’s what you’ll need…
Cookies & Cream Ice Cream (or the ice cream flavor of your choice- you can even get fancy and use a few different flavors for a neapolitan spin!)
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg – room temperature (hold it in your hands to speed the process up!)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract if that’s what you have!)
1 1/2 cups flour (if you have cake flour, use that!)
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (don’t eliminate this, salt haters! This makes a difference in baking!)
1 heaping cup of dark chocolate chips
I know that’s a lot of ingredients but it will go quickly I promise. Ready to get started? Good, I love a lady (or gentleman!) that’s prepared.
- Scoop your ice cream into a small pan. Mine actually a Pyrex container but you can use an 8×8 glass dish. (The purpose of this step is to get the ice cream to be an even thickness when you put it into the middle of the cookies).
- Use a knife or an offset spatula and smooth over the top of the ice cream so it’s all even on top. Cover with plastic wrap, then place the whole dish in the freezer for it to freeze back up again.
- Preheat your oven to convection 325 or regular baking 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut your (freshly removed from the refrigerator) butter into roughly 3/4 inch pieces and put it in your mixing bowl.
- Add both sugars to the bowl and start mixing. (My rule of thumb for creaming butters is 4-5 minutes. I stick it all into my KitchenAid, turn it on, set a timer and then start working on my next steps!)
- While your butter/sugar mix is creaming, get out a separate bowl for your dry ingredients. I know, how annoying that you need to use two bowls. I promise it’s worth it! Mix up all of the following in your second bowl: cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
- By now your mixing timer should have gone off. Add in your (room temperature) egg, and your vanilla paste.
- Then grab your dry ingredients bowl and mix those suckers all together!
- Last step for the cookies! Add in your chocolate chips!
- Next place them onto your parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. You’re gonna wanna smush them down and make sure they’re a uniform size. I used my cookie scooper but then just smashed them all down. (Trust me, I tried NOT smashing them and they were fluffy little delicious clouds but didn’t work well for these sandwiches).
- Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes. Remove and place onto a cooling rack. (Didn’t believe me before about smashing the cookies? Here’s my compare and contrast proof)
- Once the cookies are cool (feel free to put them into your freezer to speed up the process), you’re ready to make your sandwiches! Take your Pyrex container of ice cream out of the freezer and take the plastic wrap off. Put a cookie on the top of the ice cream and take your offset spatula (or knife) and cut out the ice cream around the shape of your cookie. Sandwich it with another. Voila! You’ve made a sandwich!
- Store these by sticking them all in a big Tupperware container, or wrapping them up individually in your freezer!
Need a reminder about how awesome these are going to be? Look no further, I’ll remind you!
– Lorenzo went by the nickname Ren, not Enzo. If you had to choose a nickname based off of your name, what would it be?
– Pick your dream cast for this book to be turned into a movie! (A girl can dream right?)
– Describe yourself as a flavor of gelato and explain why!
– Who was your favorite supporting character in the book?
– What was your favorite scene in the whole book?
Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means. Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?) Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.) Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?) Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!) Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite? Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…
A literal birthday clown decides that dating her high school crush and the towns bad boy will help her be taken more seriously.
5 out of 5 steam level
This book was a cute and funny romcom. I chuckled to myself a few times while reading it. The family dynamics were written really well. As the youngest child in my family, I liked reading about the siblings and their struggles to all be taken seriously. My favorite part of the book was the girl gang. The Just Us League was a crew of women supporting women and I can get behind that all day every day! I could tell as I was reading that there were going to be some other companion books in this series and when I finished the story, that was confirmed! As I was scrolling through my kindle notes for the novel, I found quite a few funny lines highlighted. This was a true romcom (and a steamy one)! The amount of clown jokes in this, was perfect in every way. I laughed a lot at Georgie’s humor. Also, her sister Bethany was awesome. She definitely has to have her own book because she was amazing in every way. I loved the scenes she was in. Here’s a little snippet of humor to wet your pallet:
“You look like a live childbirth just went by in your Facebook feed.”
Funny right? Haha! I definitely busted out laughing when I read that line.
There was a flaw with the whole plot. It didn’t make any sense why Georgie would be taken more seriously as an adult by dating Travis. He was a playboy… who dates a playboy and then is suddenly taken seriously?
There is a big scene regarding professing a relationship status. That scene just wasn’t for me. It perhaps has to do with my personal taste public displays of proposals. But oh my gosh I was cringing while I was reading it!
There was a sentiment in this book that was repetitive. The reader was reminded that Georgie was attempting to show Travis that he was worthy of commitment. Did I tell you he was worthy of commitment? Travis, you are worthy of commitment! Oh did you get it already? I did too.
Holy steam room steam level! This book was STEAMY!!! I think a lot of romance readers are really gonna like that about it. However, for my personal preferences, this was too steamy.
I couldn’t get a read on whether or not Travis was supposed to have an accent in the book. That doesn’t really matter but he gave Georgie a nickname that they used THE WHOLE BOOK (in fairness I do not like cutesy nicknames in books. It rarely seems genuine to me) and that seemed like it was kind of more a southern style of talking. I’m not sure.
Travis. Travis, Travis, Travis. I just didn’t like him. Isn’t that the WORST in a romance read? It’s not the writing of him, I just didn’t like his character. I would NEVER have dated him. He was super domineering and gave insane mixed signals. He was possessive and had a dirty bedroom mouth. He was just kind of a douche. I know, strong words but really how else do you describe someone like that?!
This book was not for me but honestly, I do think a lot of readers will really like it. I would probably recommend it to a few friends who’s reading style I’m familiar with.
Do: write down your ultimate goals and dreams. Find your support group that will encourage you to get there.
Eat: a big waffle breakfast!
Listen: God Only Knows by Brandi Carlile
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.
A guy on the Autism spectrum, who hasn’t dated, is convinced to house a potential mail order wife that his mom set him up with.
4 out of 5 steam level
So if you didn’t know, this book is a companion novel (in the same world and kind of a second book but also a stand alone book) as The Kiss Quotient. The Kiss Quotient, I wasn’t in love with, but also it was one of the very first steamy romance novels I’d ever read. So I am kind of convinced it would rank higher now that I’ve immersed myself into the romance reads culture.
I really liked this book! I love love loved the main characters! This is told from two perspectives (dual POVs) and it made the book that much more enjoyable. I loved both main characters and felt like I knew both of them and their thought processes well!
My/Esme, our female protagonist, was independent and determined. She was, dare I say, scrappy and sexy. She was kind and vulnerable. Khai, our male protagonist, was so realistic. He was kind, and sensitive. He was considerate and funny. Hoang wrote the dual perspectives very well and each chapter was so specifically different from the POVs- they never blended together.
At its core- this was the story of a female immigrant and a boy on the Autism spectrum. I’ve said it multiple times but that won’t stop me from saying it now, romance novels are THE most diverse novels published right now. (Try to change my mind!)
Lastly, this books acknowledgment section was epic. I mentioned that in Sky in the Deep as well. I’m clearly a fan of a well written acknowledgment section. (Come to think of it, I also love that part of Children of Blood and Bone). The author explains how Esme/My ended up as the main character and… I mean, you just have to read it. It was amazing and made me love the book even more!
This next part will be hard to explain without giving away any spoilers but I’m going to do my darndest! This book ended with an Epilogue… which you know I love! So why is it in the “didn’t like” section? The epilogue took place FOUR years after the main portion of the book. Let that sink in. We spend a lot of time with these characters and then we’re catapulted four years forward. I wasn’t thrilled with the overall relationship status of Khai and Esme at this point. I won’t go more into that, but if you’ve read it you know!
Overall I would easily recommend this book to romance readers. It is on the higher end of steam level that I’m comfortable reading. If you liked the first book in the set, The Kiss Quotient, I think you’ll like this book even better!
Listen: Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne
Eat: Authentic Vietnamese food!
Do: Learn something new that you’ve always wanted to learn!
Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare. As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.
A teen actress who hates homework, is forced to work with a tutor on more than one assignment.
I love a Kasie West book. She writes roughly 1 million books a year. Okay, I might be exaggerating but seriously she churns these suckers out. Some of her books have made it to my Required Reading List.
There were some great quotes in this book. There’s one in particular that I wrote down because it just screamed wisdom from Kasie West.
“Life lesson, Grant,” I said. “Just because someone says another person is attractive doesn’t mean they’re saying you’re not. And just because you’re good-looking doesn’t mean everyone is attracted to you.”
Gotta love it right?! I did read this book in one sitting. I mean, it was a night when I was having insomnia but still. I did really enjoy this book!
There was a small mystery in this book- and I am NEVER surprised in mysteries. But honestly, I wasn’t sure who the culprit was! I had many theories but none strong enough to slap the handcuffs on someone with authority. That’s a big win for this book!
The dad in this book was really solid. I love when YA books feature good parents. It gives me hope in the world for some reason. (They do say that art imitates life!)
The two main characters were fun and cute. It should be noted that this IS a companion novel to Love, Life and The List. I remember not loving that book, but you get a glimpse back to those characters in this novel and I enjoyed hanging out with them again.
Overall the story moved quickly and it was funny.
Oh also, it featured the topical item of zombies. So that’s something.
I actually initially rated this book 4 stars, but even a 4 star rating for me usually means I’m recommending it a lot- and I haven’t recommended this since I read it at the end of February (Okay, so I’m behind on reviews. You caught me).
The main problem is that I didn’t find the characters sticking with me. I didn’t strive for an outside of the pages friendship. (What? I’m totally normal, I promise). I liked them but they were maybe a tad boring? I’m not sure. Pretty quickly after I read this book I couldn’t remember any of the characters names. That’s not a big deal but I felt like that needed to be reflected in my rating.
I couldn’t picture Lacey. Like ever. The whole book I kept thinking… what does she look like?! I wish all authors would supply you with their pinterest board of inspiration so you can get a good handle on who they were thinking of while they were writing. (Ps. if you missed my review from Sky in the Deep – the author DOES provide a pinterest board for that book!)
Read this book during the school year. Specifically during you junior or senior year of high school!
Eat: at a restaurant where your friend is the waiter. (My friend in high school worked at Baskin Robbins. If yours does too, I am in full support of eating there instead of a place where you can get an actual meal).
Do: Decide what you would do if you realized zombies were a real thing
Listen to: Everybody’s Girl by Jennifer Lopez
Polly and Olly were never supposed to meet… Polly might spend her days searching for eligible matches for her elite list of clients at her New York dating agency, but her own love life is starting to go up in smoke. Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about the very person she’s meant to be setting her latest client up with… surely it can’t get any worse! But then Polly bumps into oh-so-handsome Olly, who heads up a rival agency, and realizes that perhaps all really is fair in love and dating war…
A girl with british-isms and job insecurities tries to find her footing in New York.
The main character in this book was British and living in America. There were so many words throughout the book that I didn’t understand. Or if I did understand them, didn’t flow with my American thought process when reading. Managing to stay “schtum” is a great example. Don’t know what that means? I didn’t either.
I missed out on dialogue. I know the whole book can’t be dialogue, but I wanted more in each chapter. There was a lot of Polly’s thought process or different back stories. There’s a character named Brandon and he is described 7000 times in detail. Okay I’m exaggerating, but Polly’s sense of drama has rubbed off on me.
I didn’t mesh well with our main character, Polly. She was very timid. Very dramatic and just wasn’t very likable for me. She didn’t have huge character flaws that made her unlikable – if that makes any sense- but she wasn’t a character that I would be friends with.
The title is a bit misleading- it’s about Polly and Olly. But in execution- the book didn’t feature a lot of their interactions. 50% of the way through the book, they had interacted 3 times – none of which were extremely notable scenes, and the duration of which were all quite short. (Look, I just used quite in a sentence. The british lingo in the book is rubbing off on me!)
I requested the book for the cover, and the concept – it just sounded good! In the end, it didn’t deliver what I was expecting.
I mentioned that I submitted a request to read this book. I that because (other than having a super cute cover) it had a cute premise. I loved the idea of the plot!
The good part about this book is that it is a light and easy read, no trigger warnings and no commitments!
There was some funny dialogue in this book! Polly’s roommate was particularly funny and I really enjoyed some of his lines! Here’s a great example:
“You’re so horny you probably go to Starbucks just hear someone cry out your name.”
Funny right?! It was lines like these that kept me reading the book even if I didn’t understand most of the british-isms throughout it.
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!
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.
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).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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!
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