Review: Smitten (Lauren Rowe)

Smitten
Author: Lauren Rowe
Publication Date: July 25, 2020
Publisher: SoCoRo Publishing
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From USA Today Bestselling Author Lauren Rowe comes an all new, Standalone Friends to Lovers Romance.

I met Alessandra at a party. Tried to impress her. Was almost positive I was going to fail.

I think I said something along the lines of, “I’m a Goat called Fish who’s hung like a bull—but not really. I’m actually pretty average.” Smooth. I know. Try not to be jealous.

When she laughed—and I mean, really laughed—I knew she wasn’t like the other girls I’d been meeting on tour. Hell, she wasn’t even in the same stratosphere as those fangirls and gold-diggers.

At one point during the party, Alessandra said, “There’s nothing like a girl’s first love.” I knew she was talking about the first smash hit by my band, 22 Goats. Alessandra said it was the first song she’d heard by us and it “hit her like a ton of bricks.” Ironic, seeing as how I was having the same reaction from being in her presence.

I made it my mission to impress her. Give her the kiss of a lifetime that night. But since I’ve always been the dude with zero game, nothing went according to plan.

I’m not giving up, though. I’m going to win this girl over. I’m done sitting on the sidelines, watching the bad boy getting the girl. This time, the nice guy will finish first. Even if it’s the last thing he’ll do.


I’m not really sure where I saw Smitten first. It might have been a Facebook add. I was in this mood where I didn’t know what I was in the mood to read and the blurb called to me, so I downloaded it through KU. It was a good choice because I quickly became smitten with this book.

My favorite thing about this book was how Lauren Rowe captured the feelings of meeting and instantly connecting with someone perfectly. The feelings she invoked reminded me of meeting my own husband and getting to know him. It was so fun to experience those moments of connection between Alessandra and Fish.

There were a lot of other great things about Smitten. I enjoyed how Alessandra and Fish were looking for the same things in life and love. There was a natural progression of their relationship that made it feel real. I also loved the care with which Fish took to make sure Alessandra was comfortable with the direction their relationship with taking. Add in the fact that there was little drama and no angst, and it was a very fun take on a romance between musicians. It was unlike any rock star romance I’ve read yet.

So, yeah. If you couldn’t tell, I loved Smitten. It was my first book by Lauren Rowe, but it won’t be my last. I’m so excited to read her backlist and get to know some of the other famous characters better.

Mini Reviews: The Girl in the Love Song & 40-Love

The Girl in the Love Song
Series: Lost Boys, #1
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: June 7, 2020
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

At Santa Cruz Central High School, they called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys…

Miller Stratton is a survivor. After a harrowing childhood of poverty, he will do anything it takes to find security for himself and his mom. He’s putting all his hopes and dreams in the fragile frame of his guitar and the beauty he creates with its strings and his soulful voice.

Until Violet.

No one expects to meet the love of their life at age thirteen. But the spunky rich girl steals Miller’s heart and refuses to give it back.

Violet McNamara’s life hasn’t been as simple as it looks. Her picture-perfect family is not so perfect after all. Her best friend Miller is her one constant and she is determined not to ruin their friendship with romantic complications.

But the heart wants what it wants. As Miller’s star begins to rise to stratospheric heights, what will it take for Violet to realize that she’s the girl in all of his love songs?

Lost Boys is a new series of interconnected, coming-of-age standalones from USA Today bestselling author Emma Scott, coming in 2020

My thoughts:

This book was VERY angst filled. More so than any other book I’ve read by this author. The level of angst was too much for me, honestly. Even though I loved the characters and the story, I had a hard time bringing myself to read it. After about 20% I ended up skimming through until Part 4 where I started reading again. I hate that I did that, but I didn’t want to not finish it. It really was a vbeautiful story with a fantastic ending.

40-Love
Series: There’s Something About Marysburg, #2
Author: Olivia Dade
Publication Date: May 16, 2020
Publisher: Hussies & Harpies Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

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.

My thoughts:

I’m pretty new to Olivia Dade’s writing. This only my second book by her. I really like how she combines strong, relatable women with hot guys. It’s a nice change from perfect bodies all the time. I enjoyed this book a lot, but there were times where the MC’s hangups about her body and perceived self bugged me. I got over it, though, because I loved the guy who won her heart. It was a fun vacation read.

Review: Hate the Player (Max Monroe)

HTP - BT banner

Hate the Player
Author: Max Monroe
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Roses are red, violets are blue, stay away from Andrew Watson’s *ahem* because no other women ever do.”

That’s quite the way to start a conversation at a casual lunch, huh? Grilled chicken, French fries, and pelvic-fatigue, oh my!

And that’s not even the worst of it.

My friend Raquel didn’t pull any punches when she warned me about my brand-new costar and his notoriously player-esque ways. Apparently, my most important mission on my first role in a feature film is to stay immune to his charms.

Are you kidding me? Production costs on this movie are in the hundreds of thousands a day, and staying away from a panty-whispering, vajayjay-charmer is supposed to be at the top of my list? Pfft. Puh-lease.

It doesn’t matter that he’s annoyingly attractive, uber rich, crazy famous, and lusted after by ninety percent of the female population; Andrew Watson is trouble with a capital T—especially for a woman like me.

As a preventative measure, I’ve decided to go ahead and hate him.

Don’t worry, you guys, I’m completely in control. There’s absolutely no way I’m going to do something stupid like fall in love with him.

I can hate the player but still secretly love his addictive game.

I’m sure of it.


ADORABLE! HILARIOUS! Hate the Player was everything I was expecting from the duo behind Max Monroe and more. Now I love everything they write, but this one was especially entertaining. There was something about the celebrity trope combined with the enemies to lovers one that made for a great time. Birdie, the confident country music star, was a fish out of water in the acting world. Famous womanizing actor Andrew helping her find her groove was one cute moment after another. Even when they were slinging insults at each other this book was nothing but fun. Their chemistry was off the charts. Add in some cameos from the first couple of books in this series, and it was PERFECTION! Max Monroe’s humor shined so bright. I smiled so hard. This is the stay at home and read romance everyone needs in their lives right now. I already want to do a re-read.

Hate the Player, a slow burn and hilarious romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Max Monroe is available now!

Download your copy today or read for Free on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2C7tklj
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/HateThePlayer

Add Hate the Player to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2ZLb2y4

HTP - Teaser 3

About Max Monroe

A duo of romance authors team up under the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling pseudonym Max Monroe to bring you sexy, laugh-out-loud reads.

Max Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than ten contemporary romance titles. Favorite writing partners and long time friends, Max and Monroe strive to live and write all the fun, sexy swoon so often missing from their Facebook newsfeed. Sarcastic by nature, their two writing souls feel like they’ve found their other half. This is their most favorite adventure thus far.

Connect with Max Monroe

BookBub: http://bit.ly/3bJFJJh
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ReoxkK
Facebook: http://bit.ly/31XxggS
Instagram: http://bit.ly/39wuCkW

Stay up to date with Max Monroe by joining their mailing list today: http://bit.ly/2HzGmau
Website: https://www.authormaxmonroe.com/

Review: Cake Series (J. Bengtsson)

Today, I’m sharing with you my latest binge read review of the Cake series. It’s a series that features the McKallister family.

Cake, Book #1 – ★ ★ ★ ★

The Cake series starts out with Jake McKallister. He’s a famous rockstar with an infamous past. As a child, he was abducted by a serial killer and managed to live. Now, he’s touring the world singing to fans. Jake never thought he would meet someone he would be willing to let get close to him, but waitress and student Casey Caldwell manages to do just that with her witty humor. Their relationship is a wild ride of the highest ups and the lowest downs. I really loved Jake and Casey. Their relationship was so cute and their banter was spot on.

There were only a couple of things that I wasn’t a big fan of in this book. One, Casey was a self-reliant and independent woman. She lost a little of that at a couple of points in this book and it surprised me. Anything for love, I guess? The other thing was the jump to the Epilogue. I wanted a little more of the in between. I didn’t quite get the jump until almost all the way through the second book. Overall, it was a GREAT new adult romance.

The Theory of Second Best, Book #2 – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Jake’s younger brother and sidekick, Kyle, is next up to find love. Kyle is a “Logan Kade” type of character. He’s always making everyone laugh. He’s the upbeat guy who is hiding some hurt on the inside. In order to break out of the shadow of his rockstar brother, Kyle goes on reality TV show called Marooned. Think Survivor.

I didn’t think I would like the whole island reality TV setting, but I totally did. Somehow the author managed to keep the story moving in this setting better than I thought she would be able to. I fell in love with (almost) all the characters in the competition. I especially loved the bromance between Kyle and Dale.

I can’t leave out how super cute was the romance between Kyle and Kenzie. They might have just been friends for most the book, but their connection shined. This whole TV show situation really worked out for their characters and love story.

Oh! I also loved how those moments from Cake were filled in. I loved how Kyle really grew up from everything he had been through from the reality TV show to what went down with Jake. That time period showing up also made me very curious about Emma’s book, so I had to jump right into it.

Fiercely Emma, Book #3 – ★ ★ ★ ½

I had a harder time with this book than the first two in the series. I’m going to blame that on ice cold Emma. I understood why she put off the vibes she did and treated people the way she did, but it still wasn’t fun to read. Thank goodness for Finn and his lightness. Without him, this book would have been just miserable. I loved the lightness he brought out in Emma and the hope he gave her. He’s one of my new favorite male love interests I’ve read in a while.

One of the things Fiercely Emma had more than the first two books was flashbacks. While I don’t normally like them in books and was originally not loving them in this one, I ended up appreciating them because so much about the past with Jake and the family’s situation during the time of and after his abduction was brought to life. It made understanding all the dynamics easier.

The Newlyweds, Book #4 – ★ ★ ★ ★

I’m always hesitant to go back to a couple I love when they’re being thrown into more turmoil by the author. I don’t want their shiny, happy end ruined. That first chapter really made me wonder if I wanted to know what was going on. Luckily, things went back in time and played out chronologically. I ended up really enjoying this book because it brought Casey and Jake together in a way they hadn’t been before, while also giving us some answers about Jake’s past.

Rogue Wave, Book #5 – ★ ★ ★

Keith and Sam… I’ve loved these two throughout the entire series. I don’t know that they needed a full length novel, though. I would have been okay with a cute novella for them. Or maybe just a full length novel set entirely in the present. I already had a lot of Keith’s drug history from the previous books. I would have been okay with skipping those moments and just focusing on how they met and their current situation. I would have liked more time with them together and not so much of them apart. Not enough time was spent on that. There was a cute epilogue, but it was just a quick look at where everyone was.

Overall thoughts on the Cake series:

As a whole, this series was really good. I loved how the horror of Jake’s abduction and his celebrity was woven into each family member’s book because of the affect it had on them personally. I also loved each romance. Some books were better than others, but all were good. Cake is definitely worth a series binge.

Taylor Swift Lover Book Tag

Get Ready For It…

I recently saw this tag at Read and Thoughts and had to do it. I love me some Taylor Swift, and thought it would be so much fun to pick out my own answers to each prompt. If you want to check out the original tag, you can find it here on Nish & Ngoc’s Book Nook.

The Rules:

1. Link back to the original creator of the book tag (Nish & Ngoc).
2. Thank the person that tagged you and link to their post.
3. TAG AS MANY SWIFTIES AS YOU WANT! (Or non-Swifties, maybe inspire them to listen to our Queen)

Here we go!

1. I Forgot That You Existed – A book that you want to forget you ever read

“It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference”

After and the entire series made me so mad. One, because of the emotionally abusive relationship. Two, because I felt the need to read the entire thing so that I could (hopefully) find out that Tessa grew a backbone.

2. Cruel Summer – A book you turn to when the going gets rough

“Killing me slow, out the window. Always waiting for you to be waiting below.”

It’s probably this whole series. For some reason, it’s super addictive for me and it completely gets me whole attention no matter what’s going on.

3. Lover – Your book OTP

“Can I go where you go? Can we always be this close forever and ever?”

Jaime & Wes — These two could not be any cuter together.

4. The Man – Your fave kick-ass female protagonist

“I’m so sick of running as fast as I can. Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man.”

Beatriz Perez — She’s willing to do whatever it takes.

5. The Archer – A book with good mental health representation

“All the king’s horses, all the king’s men couldn’t put me back together again. ‘Cause all of my enemies started out friends.”

I loved the way this book was set up. It’s one everyone should read.

6. I Think He Knows – Your fave fictional crush

“I want you, bless my soul, and I ain’t gotta tell him, I think he knows”

Tyson Preeter — I don’t really do fictional crushes, but he’s one of my favorite male love interests.

7. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince – Fave angsty romance

“It’s you and me, there’s nothing like this. Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince. We’re so sad, we paint the town blue. Voted most likely to run away with you.”

So, so angsty.

8. Paper Rings – Book with an ugly cover that you absolutely adored

“I love shiny things but I’d marry you with paper rings”

I thought this cover was ugly when I first saw it. After reading the book, it goes with the decade it’s set in and the vibe of the book. Also, it has the author’s daughter as a model on it. The story was AMAZING.

9. Cornelia Street – A book or series you never want(ed) to end

“I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends”

I really wish Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy would have written more than 2 books in the WAGS series.

10. Death By A Thousand Cuts – A book or series that deserved a better ending

“I can’t pretend it’s okay when it’s not, it’s death by a thousand cuts”

I LOVED The Start of You and Me. The Map from Here to There ruined my memories of that first book. It left things even more up in the air.

11. London Boy – Your fave British male protagonist

“They say home is where the heart is, but God, I love the English”

Max Stella — If you have read this, you know why he’s my favorite.

12. Soon You’ll Get Better – A book that your heart will never recover from

“This won’t go back to normal, if it ever was. It’s been years of hoping…”

I loved this book so dang much, but there is a reason I’ve only read it once. I don’t know if my heart could take a second journey throw.

13. False God – A character you would leap into the burning pits of hell to save

“We were crazy to think, crazy to think that this could work. Remember how I said I’d die for you.”

Kate

14. You Need To Calm Down – A book with a powerful message

“Say it in the street, that’s a knock out. But you say it in a Tweet, that’s a cop-out.”

This isn’t my necessarily my favorite Colleen Hoover book, but it has a really important message.

15. Afterglow – A book you want to give a second chance

“Hey, it’s all me, in my head. I’m the one who burned us down. But it’s not what I meant. Sorry that I hurt you.”

I tried to listen to it earlier this year and was so lost. I want to try to read it instead of listening.

16. ME! – Best character development

“I’m the only one of me. Baby, that’s the fun of me.”

Margaret — The things she has to go through and come to terms with.

17. It’s Nice To Have A Friend – Fave friends-to-lovers story

“School bells ring, walk me home…something gave you the nerve to touch my hand…Church bells ring, carry me home.”

Arizona & Carter — SO ADORABLE!

18. Daylight – If you could only read one book or series again and again, what would it be?

“I don’t wanna look at anything else now that I saw you. I don’t wanna think of anything else now that I thought of you.”

or

This is hard. I would probably say The Off-Campus series UNLESS you can count the Him and WAGS series as one series.

WAIT! I lied. It would totally be Fallen Crest High series. I re-read that one all the time for some reason.

So those are my answers. What are yours? Feel free to do this tag and let me know, or just comment. I’m not tagging anyone specifically.

Mini Reviews: Parental Guidance, Throw Like a Girl, You’d Be Mine, & Pike

Hi, friends. Today, I’m sharing with you four quick reviews.

Parental Guidance
Series: Ice Knights, #1
Author: Avery Flynn
Publication Date: May 31, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC (Amara)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

All I want is to play hockey on the Ice Knights, instead, I’m in a viral video for all the wrong reasons and my mom—yes, my mom—has taken over my dating apps. Then, when I think it can’t get any worse, the fates deliver Zara Ambrose, a five-feet-nothing redhead with more freckles than inches and who’d rather be anywhere other than on a date with me.

Now a bet with her friends and my PR nightmare have us both stuck in this go-on-five-dates-with-the-same-person hell situation. But if we band together, we can get the whole thing over with and go on with our lives. It’s perfect! No feelings. No future. No fuc— *ahem* fun. No naked fun.

What could go wrong? Nothing—as long as I remember the rules. Don’t notice the way she looks in a dress. Don’t react when she does that little shivery sigh thing whenever we touch. Don’t think about the fact that she’s never had a toe-curling orgasm that wasn’t self-delivered and just how badly I want to change that.

Five dates—that’s it—and then we go our separate ways. At least, that was the plan..

My thoughts:

A while back I read Awk-Weird, the second book in this series, and absolutely adored it. I was excited to go back and read the first book in the series. I didn’t fall in love with Parental Guidance the way I did Awk-Weird. It took me longer to get into the story. It wasn’t until Zara and Caleb met (a bit into the story) that I started to love it. Parental Guidance ended up being a cute read with characters I loved. It’s worth the read, so power through the build up to Zara and Caleb meeting to get to the good stuff — all those hilarious dates.

Throw Like a Girl
Author: Sarah Henning
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Friday Night Lights  meets Morgan Matson’s  The Unexpected Everything  in this contemporary debut where  swoon-worthy  romance meets underdog sports story.

When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she’ll have to convince their coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched… Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he’ll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the Spring. But it will take more than the perfect spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland’s halls, and behind that charming smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.

With well-drawn characters and a charming quarterback love interest who’s got brains as well as brawn, Throw Like a Girl will have readers swooning from the very first page.

My thoughts:

I’ve wanted to read Throw Like a Girl since I first saw the cover and title. It was just so fierce and cute at the same time. The story was pretty much the same. Liv was a star softball player who made a huge mistake that ended with her at a new school playing football after being recruited by Grey, the quarterback. I loved that Liv was tough, but also had a softer side. I like that she stood up for herself even when she was embarrassed or hurt. I also loved how she was the one with the athletic prowess. Liv was able to transition quickly between sports and I thought that it was great because you see that with guys in books but rarely girls. This book was one that was over before I was prepared to part ways with the characters.

You’d Be Mine
Author: Erin Hahn
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

My thoughts:

This is another book I wanted to read when it came out, but never got to. It wasn’t until I read (and LOVED) an ARC of her upcoming book that I rushed back to buy You’d Be Mine. I couldn’t wait to read more from Hahn. I knew I loved her writing, but I was even more impressed knowing this was her debut novel. It was perfection. I loved everything about it. Annie and Clay were such amazing characters and their story warmed my heart. I hate that I have to wait to read another book from Hahn. I love her writing so much!

Pike
Series: The Pawn Duet, #1
Author: T.M. Frazier
Publication Date: March 24, 2030
Publisher: Frazier Publishing
Genre: Dark Romance, Contemporary, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

**A King Series Spin-Off**

Born into chaos. Baptized in the gutter.
I was raised by the violent laws of the streets, spilling blood without the hindrance of useless emotions or connections.
Unfeeling. Unloved. Alone.

My life was perfect.

Until her.

While on a manhunt for a mysterious enemy, one hellbent on taking both my business and my life, I find Mickey. She’s covered in mud, rambling nonsense, and clearly out of her mind.

She’s also a distraction I don’t need.

That is until I discover a connection between the girl and my enemy.
Mickey isn’t a distraction anymore.
She’s the perfect weapon.
One I’ll use to exact my revenge.

The plan is an easy one, but there’s something about Mickey that’s making it more and more difficult.
A familiarity I can’t place. A need I can’t explain.
A want I have to deny.

After all, she’s not mine to keep. She’s a tool. My pawn.
My sacrifice.

My thoughts:

I don’t know… I’m not sure what’s not sitting right with me about Pike. Maybe it was the speed of the story. Everything moved so fast — I even was a little confused at one point. Or maybe it was that I didn’t 100% buy the level of attraction between Pike and Mickey at times because of the situation at hand. Then, there was the frustration I felt not knowing what Mickey was hiding… It might have been all three of these books combined. The only time I felt like I could truly enjoy things was when Preppy made himself useful. Pike totally needed his levity. So, yeah. This one wasn’t my favorite in the series, but I’m still looking forward to finding out what happens next. Maybe I’ll fall more in love with Pike and Mickey as things go on.

Review: I’ll Be the One (Lyla Lee)

I’ll Be the One
Series: I’ll Be the One, #1
Author: Lyla Lee
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.


The first thing that drew me to I’ll Be the One is the fabulous cover. The colors and the model just pop off it. There’s such joy in the model’s face, that I couldn’t help be drawn to this book. I wanted to feel her joy and know what she was so happy about. The second thing that caught my attention was blurb. I loved that there was going to be a message about body positivity. Third, I know very little about K-pop and I wanted to learn more.

Skye Shin was a character who couldn’t help but shine. She was upbeat and positive when she could have been sullen and feeling sorry for herself. I loved that she didn’t let her weight define her or hold her back from her dreams. That’s a super important thing for teens who are reading this book to takeaway from it — adults, too.

The relationship between Sky and her mom fascinated me. I got where Skye was coming from, but I could also see where her mom was too. (Not that I agreed with how she conveyed her opinions most of the time.) It really made me think about how I talk to my own preteen daughter about weight or really anything. I liked how their issues were examined and how things ended up at the end.

Henry… I loved his character. He was slightly mysterious and very sweet. Skye’s friendship/relationship with him was exactly what she needed and I loved how it had drama, but wasn’t crazy over the top. The way the competition fueled their interactions was really cool. Plus, Snowball. That dog was awesome.

Skye also had some amazing friends in this book. They all lifted Skye up and kept her going when parents, competitors, judges, and people in general judged her. I especially loved Lana.

Earlier I said something about wanting to learn more about K-pop. I don’t know that I really learned a lot about it in this book. Most of the plot was based around the competition TV show and not K-pop specifically. I did like the competition. It reminded me of a combination of So You Think You Can Dance and The Voice. What did I end up learning more about was Korean culture. I loved that.

I could go on and on about how fabulous I’ll Be the One was. I adored every minute of the time I got to spend with Skye and her friends. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Review: Open Book (Jessica Simpson)

Open Book
Author: Jessica Simpson
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Jessica reveals for the first time her inner monologue and most intimate struggles. Guided by the journals she’s kept since age fifteen, and brimming with her unique humor and down-to-earth humanity, Open Book is as inspiring as it is entertaining.

This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie.

Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her readers if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first.

Now, America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality TV pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites readers on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. Open Book is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.

First celebrated for her voice, she became one of the most talked-about women in the world, whether for music and fashion, her relationship struggles, or as a walking blonde joke. But now, instead of being talked about, Jessica is doing the talking. Her book shares the wisdom and inspirations she’s learned and shows the real woman behind all the pop-culture clichés — “chicken or fish,” “Daisy Duke,” “football jinx,” “mom jeans,” “sexual napalm…” and more. Open Book is an opportunity to laugh and cry with a close friend, one that will inspire you to live your best, most authentic life, now that she is finally living hers.


Jessica Simpson’s Open Book does what so many celebrity memoirs fail to: give an in depth look at her life. Jessica Simpson came across as open and honest. She didn’t hide her faults or try to paint herself always in the best light. She pointed out her part in everything that happened to her and around her over the years.  Obviously, it’s her opinions and memories so it is probably a little biased, but it came off feeling valid and impressed me. I honestly have a higher opinion of Jessica Simpson now than I did in the past. Open Book is one of the best memoirs I have read in recent years.

Review: Drummer Girl (Ginger Scott)

Drummer Girl
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date:
Genre: Mature Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC from WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He was the words.
She was the rhythm.
Together, the told one hell of a story.

Drummer Girl is a mature YA/New Adult romance by Ginger Scott. This book
features garage bands, drug use, sexual situations, and honest talk
about mental health. Full blurb to come.


I like to read Ginger Scott’s books because I never know what she’s going to throw at me. Each book is something new and completely different. Her writing is always amazing, but it’s her stories that hit me hard.

Drummer Girl surprised me in more than one way. I knew it was going to be about music, but I didn’t realize it was going to deal with mental health. The combination of the two made for an explosive story. I liked the narrative Ginger Scott created around it. Some parts were brutally honest, while others almost secretive. There were things I didn’t see coming, but probably should have.

I have to admit that while I really liked Drummer Girl, I wasn’t 100% sold on Jesse and Arizona’s relationship. I wasn’t sure whether or not it was a healthy relationship for either of them. I was surprised by how accepting their parents were of it. That being said, I loved how they communicated. They didn’t hold back. Plus, they truly supported each other.

One of my favorite things about Drummer Girl were the friendships. Ari and her best friend reminded me a bit of the relationship I had with one of my closest growing up. We were different in some of the same ways, but had that same close connection. I also really liked Jesse’s friendship with Rag. Rag had Jesse’s back when others wouldn’t have.

Another great thing about this book was that both Jesse and Arizona’s parents were involved. Since this story was in Arizona’s POV, we mostly saw her parents. I didn’t like how they were at first. I understood their protectiveness, but thought they were a little too overbearing. By the end, they had won me over — especially her dad.

Drummer Girl is one of those books I like even more the longer I think about it. When I was wrapped up in the story, I felt a little off-balance and not sure what to think about it. Having finished it, I know that was the genius of Ginger Scott’s writing. She made me feel Arizona’s feelings and I didn’t always realize it right away.

EXCERPT:

Drummer Girl, Copyright Ginger Scott 2019

“That’s the first time I’ve played that song. I like it. We should add it to our set,” he says, pulling the strap from around his neck before setting his guitar at the foot of his bed. “What do you think?”

He twists so our knees are touching and our shoulders are squared.
“I think you’re a showoff, one. And two…I totally think we should close with that at our gig. People love retro shit like that at shows.” I don’t really know what people like at shows because the only kinds I’ve ever been to have been for high school marching nerds or jazz geeks. I probably don’t even deserve to utter the word gig yet. I’m a gig virgin. I do know movies, though, and if this life was a movie, our band would close with that.
Jesse’s eyes linger on my face, making me warm.
“Okay then,” he says, finally. “And I’m not a showoff.”
His lips pucker with his smirk and mine follow suit until a laugh seeps through.
“You so are!” I shove at him playfully, and his hands wrap around my wrists and shove back gently but don’t let go.
“No, I’m a great example. That’s a totally different thing,” he says, pulling me toward his chest until my fingertips meet the hard surface of his pecs under a well-worn white T-shirt.
“I’m pretty sure it’s just a synonym for showoff how you’re using it. In fact, now you’re just being arrogant!” I gripe back through laughter, a wry smile playing at one side of my mouth. Jesse remains quiet, though. His head leaned a tick to the right. My lips vibrate with this sudden change in atmosphere, and without even helping myself, I bite my bottom lip. There is just enough light in the room to see these small things we’re doing, these…signs. At least, I’m giving a sign. I hope I’m not imagining Jesse’s.
At least three full breaths pass between us without words. I count mine, and I guess how many he takes because really, I can’t see much beyond the dark centers of his eyes and the top curl of his lip. I wait for him. Even though I’m dizzy and happy and excited, I don’t want to be eager and desperate. I wait for him to move closer…to do something.
I wish for him.
“Would it be okay if I kissed you now?”

About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, and A Boy Like You.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

Social Media Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GingerScottAuthor
Twitter: @TheGingerScott
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegingerscott/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GingerScottAuthor
Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GingerScottAuthor/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GingerScott
Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

Daisy Jones & The Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Narrators:
Jennifer Beals, Pablo Schreiber, Benjamin Bratt, Fred Berman, Ari Fliakos, Judy Greer, January LaVoy, Robinne Lee, Julia Whelan, Jonathan Davis, Henry Leyva, Oliver Wyman, Nancy Wu,  P.J. Ochlan, Arthur Bishop, Holter Graham, Brendan Wayne, Pete Larkin, Alex Jenkins Reid, Robert Petkoff, Sara Arrington
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.


Prepare yourself. This is one of those reviews that is probably going to ramble and make little sense. I can’t help it. I’m completely overwhelmed by my feelings for this book — in a good way.

Daisy Jones & The Six is officially my favorite audiobook I have ever listened to. I cannot even begin to explain how amazing listening to this book was. I’ll start with the writing. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a freaking genius. There’s no other way to say it. Listening to Daisy Jones & The Six felt like listening to a memoir of a real live band. I had to stop myself from Googling the band and its members. That’s how real this story felt. Heck, I wish it was real so I could do that. That’s how much I loved this band. A band I have never even heard. How crazy is that? I also have to comment on how deep and moving this book was. That’s something normal for a TJR book, but I didn’t think this particular format would be able to show the depth of emotion it did. It was impressive.

I think what made the audiobook format so priceless was the narration. People, this is the way you MUST experience this book. I am sure reading it is good, too, but the narration was top-notch. I don’t think I have listened to a book with quite so many cast members before. Each narrator was perfect for the portrayal of their character. The textures of their voices layered in the best way and added even more emotion to the story. It also made keeping each character straight easy. Their voices made the band feel all the more real. I was mesmerized by it all.

As for the actual story… It was brilliant. I loved how it started with the history of Daisy Jones, switched to the history of Billy and Graham Dunn and their band The Six, and then the combination of them both. I can’t think of a way to describe it other than a beautiful, unexpected build up. It’s truly the story of a band making it big with little surprised along the way. The story almost feels like it could go on forever until suddenly it’s almost over and I had no idea where it was really leading until I was at the end.

And that end. Man, I still haven’t recovered. It was utter perfection. The best and worst surprise. I don’t cry that often while reading book, but it hit me hard. I was sobbing in those last moments I spent with Daisy Jones & The Six. It’s not like it was the saddest book I’ve read or anything. I just connected with something special in those last moments.

I haven’t really said much about the characters themselves. There are so many of them, it’s hard to know where to start. Maybe with Daisy Jones herself. She was beautifully imperfect. I both loved and hated her. Billy Dunn was the same. Although, I loved him more than hated him. Daisy might have brought on the opposite feelings. I felt the same about all the characters. They were flawed in that real sort of way. That was made me love this book. Flawed characters figuring things out. The magic was in the way they fit together. Does that even make sense? The funny thing is I’m trying to tell you about the characters and the band and they weren’t my favorite character in this book. My favorite character was Camila Dunn. That woman had a strength I could only strive to have. Her truths and actions impressed me. She’s going on my list of all time favorite characters ever.

Everything about this book’s journey was utter perfection and I just can’t get over it. It’s rare for me to buy a book I’ve already read, but I think I am going to need a copy of this one on my shelf. I already want to experience Daisy Jones & The Six all over again. If I didn’t have to return the audiobook to my library, I would listen to it all over again right now. I’m that obsessed with it.

Okay, enough rambling.