Monday, May 13, 2019

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez & The Story It Inspired Me To Tell

I had received a review copy of the The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez from my friends at Forever publishing, which I was so thankful for because at first glance it looked to be a novel I might enjoy. After seeing some early rave reviews for the novel, I quickly moved it up my to be read schedule. With an unexpected day off from work (thanks Houston floods), I sat down to start it. In less than 24 hours I had read it cover to cover. If you have not heard about this story, below is the synopsis.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

To be published: June 11, 2019
About the book: Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen--especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass. []
I was warned to have tissues near by while reading, but couldn't help but think: Why? Surely this story can't be THAT much of a tear jerker for me. Boy was I wrong. Not only did this book bring about the tears, but it also touched on a very personal, very emotional part of my own story. One that inspired me to share it on my Instagram stories after I finished reading it.

The amount of messages I received in response to my personal confessions surprised me. I had no idea so many others were feeling and understanding my own struggles with such a similar issue. I knew immediately I wanted to dig deeper with those thoughts here on my blog. So, here's my story that was inspired by this story.

Grief is the feeling we hold inside ourselves over the loss of something that's meaningful to us. 

I know that feeling of grief all too well since I am a motherless daughter and have been for 15 years. I never truly empathized with women who were grieving over lost children, or the reality of never being able to carry a child, because I had never walked in those shoes. It's still a topic I feel very strongly about because I do know women in my own life who have to endure those struggles, and still are enduring those pains. Reading this novel about the main character Kristen, and her own personal story about coming to terms with the thought that she may never carry her own child due to medical issues, struck a chord with me. Something in this particular story spoke to me and had me thinking about the choices I've made in my own life have led me to a very similar feeling of loss.

Because of the choices I've made, I am grieving the loss of ever becoming a mother myself.

Now I realize this is not something that has happened to me. I chose the path I chose. I am where I am today, without children of my own, because of reasons in my past. I am completely aware of that. I do not place blame on anyone, or anything else. But I'm starting to realize now that I am still allowed to grieve for a future I thought I'd have, but am not currently living.

Growing up I always saw myself as a mother. People always told me I had "motherly" instincts. Caring for, and loving others, just came naturally. I still value these qualities in myself today, and truly believe it's why I have taken the profession of being a teacher. When someone asks me, "Why don't you have kids? Do you just not want them?", I find myself sometimes agreeing because it's just easier to lie than tell the truth.

The truth is, I wanted to be a mother. 

In the author's note of this novel, Abby Jimenez wrote about the main character's happy ending: "It was about her recognizing that she wasn't defined by her ability to have children, and that her worth went beyond the state of her uterus." That one line stood out to me, as if Abby herself was speaking right to me. The choices I've made in my own life, that led me to not becoming a mother like I'd hoped to be, do not define me. There is more to who I am, as a woman, than just becoming a mother. Yes, this saddens me that I will never know the feeling of creating a life and carrying it, to watch it grow and evolve into a human being. That is part of my path I must live with.

I'm also recognizing that it is ok to grieve that loss. Feel what I feel, but not let it detour me. 

If you're reading this, and you see something similar in my story, I hope you don't feel alone in your grief. Know that it is ok to be sad for the future you thought you'd have. Know that it is ok to be angry with yourself for not making other choices. But also know that you ARE worth more than what you thought you'd become. I've always believed books come into our lives in just the right moments, and this book here, definitely presented itself to me when I needed it most.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Checking In & Moving Forward: What I've Been Reading Lately

Oh hello there! Remember this space? I know I've been a bit quiet on this corner of the internet, but I promise I have still been reading and sharing... just more efficiently and consistently on my instagram account. I think it's safe to say that I have dove head first into the #bookstagram world and it's been every bit enjoyable! I still consider myself a book blogger at heart (it is where my bookish community journey began), but I've also embraced other outlets to share my love for reading.

I've decided to keep this space as more of a "check in" or reference piece to go back to and see what I've been reading. It is by no means closing, but just an extension of my social media outlets, where I can share more in depth conversations about the books I've read.

Here's where you can find me on Instagram: @greadsbooks

What I've Been Reading Lately...

Wild Seasons series by Christina Lauren

My annual reread of the my favorite series, Wild Seasons by Christina Lauren, has commenced! Y'all, I LOVE these books. They are everything I want in a contemporary adult romance. Each time I revisit one of their stories, it's like I'm discovering something new. In fact, after I reread the second book, Dirty Rowdy Thing, I changed my original rating from 4 stars to 5 stars! It's weird how your perspective on a book can change depending on the time in which you read it. Obviously I rediscovered a new love for Harlow and Finn's story.

Have you read these books? I feel like I am constantly recommending them to everyone I know. If there ever was a perfect series for my adult contemporary romance genre, this would be it.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

I've seen some mixed reviews early on for Sally Thorne's newest novel, 99 Percent Mine. Here is my take away on this book: It is NOT The Hating Game. So please stop comparing the two. They are obviously very different stories. If you're not a fan of this follow up because the book itself did not please you, then obviously you have the right to feel that way. I just don't understand the folks who disliked it because it was not The Hating Game for them. For me, that is not being fair to the author, or her work.

I really enjoy Sally Thorne's writing style and she's proved herself to be diverse with her characters in this novel and that is something I really gravitated towards. I am 100% on board for what she has to offer next!

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

Y'all, I am such a fan of Jasmine Guillory! She keeps producing such interesting, engaging, and swoon-worthy novels. I first fell in love with The Wedding Date, and have been on board for each of her novels since then. The Wedding Party publishes this summer and it is every bit just as delightful as the previous two. For fans of characters from the first book (& even the second), you're totally going to love this one!

Her stories have a realistic approach that I could totally see happening to someone I know. I love when an author gives that sense of familiarity in their writing. Reading a Jasmine Guillory book feels like hanging out with a best friend. It's comforting, yet exciting. Exactly what I want, when I want it.

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I'm calling it right now: THIS IS MY FAVORITE READ OF 2019!! Yup, it is THAT GOOD. I can't wait for the world to read it and experience it, too. There is so much goodness packed between these pages. The romance is off the charts swoon-worthy. The political views are so on point. The emotional journey this book will take you on IS EVERYTHING.

The cover may lead you to believe it's a "cutesy" book (gagging at that description), but trust me when I say this, the story inside is purposeful and powerful. Especially in the times we're living currently. When you're feeling down about our society and the negativity of it, this novel brings forth a sense of hope that we oh so need right now. If only this fictional world was our reality.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

This quietly outspoken book grabbed me when I least expected it. I love when novels have the power to do that. I have a soft spot for adult fiction that touches on grief and the ugly side we don't always talk about. There's a natural selfish aspect of grief that we can't help but feel and this book delivered that message loud and clear. I'm thankful for stories that present a narrative that I can relate to and grab hold of.

The setting for this story is gorgeous, as well. I have never been to Maine, but man is it on my travel bucket list now. You know an author's writing is powerful when you can literally touch all your senses to a place you've never even been before. Bravo to this unexpectedly beautiful book.

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

For YA fans, this is another solid contemporary read from author Jenn Bennett. Serious Moonlight follows the story of a young girl who lives in the Pacific Northwest, in and & around Seattle, Washington. She encounters a boy and has a first time experience with him during a very emotional moment in her life. She's left thinking that this encounter is of the one time variety and she'll never have to see him again. But, boy is she wrong.

I really appreciated the authenticity of what it means to be emotionally mature. We can act and do things, but its how we feel and how we react to those feelings that truly dictate our own personal journeys. This particular story nailed that theme so perfectly. Also, the setting? Perfect. Seattle is beautiful and I completely envisioned it throughout the story.

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Another YA that I gave 5 solid stars to. Jennifer E. Smith writes such great contemporary novels for, and about teens. This particular novel is set on a cross country journey for two teens as they take the train from New York to California. They both end up on this train ride together for very different, very unexpected, reasons. How their narratives intertwined and then became involved was such a joy to read.

As someone who has had an interest in taking a cross country train ride, I was fascinated by the commodities of such an adventure. You can tell this author did her research! I've come to learn that Jennifer E. Smith weaves an emotional tale that definitely pulls on your heart strings when you don't quite expect it. This novel definitely succeeded in an emotional journey, figuratively and literally.

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Oh Sarah Dessen, queen of all summery YA contemps. She has brought me back to what a quintessential Dessen novel feels like for me. All the elements of heartache, rich history, self discovery, a breathtaking summery setting, and a character arch you can't help but root for, not to mention a swoon-worthy romance that builds and builds.

This particular novel touches on grief, learning to let in a side of yourself that you never knew existed, and releasing things you've kept such a firm grip on simply out of fear. This novels just might be her best work yet, in my honest opinion. There's a powerful story between these pages, one I know that long time Dessen fans will definitely appreciate and fall in love with, too.

So, tell me what you've been reading lately! Got any good reads of 2019 so far that you want to recommend? I am always looking to add to my own to be read list. Please share in the comments!

Monday, January 28, 2019

January Check In: What Have You Been Reading?

We are almost a month into the new year and I've been steadily reading through my books. How's it going in your corner of the world? Have you come across anything that's completely wow'ed you? Or have you unfortunately encountered a dud or two? I've read everything from a 5-star read down to barely a 3-star read. I thought it would be a good time to check in and share with you all what I've been reading and what I thought about those books.

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills was the first full length novel I read in 2019 and I REALLY enjoyed it! This was my first Emma Mills book to read and definitely won't be my last. There is a soft poetic sense of familiarity as I read this YA novel, the kind I'd been missing and didn't even realize it. The strong friendships in this novel and how those friendships evolve and change as we grow older, really stood out to me. I love stories being told through the teenage eye, right on the cusp of their futures, deciding which path to take and how those decisions can change so much of your life ahead. I highly recommend this novel for fans of strong contemporary YA that definitely delivers with all the feels.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. I cannot properly explain my joy and excitement when this galley showed up in my mailbox (thank you Berkley Romance team!!!). If you're a fan of her debut novel The Kiss Quotient from last year, then get ready, because here comes another book to fall in love with all over again. It's hard to really compare the two because they are very different, at least for me. Hoang truly shines with this sophomore novel, taking adult romance to such a heightened level of emotional growth and stability. There is a deeper story written here, one that is very close to Hoang's personal life, and as the reader you can definitely feel it through the pages. Dare I say I love this novel even more??

I decided to try something new this year, to help broaden my romance books that I read. Over on my instgram (@GReadsBooks), I asked my followers to recommend a romance to me. I decided each month to read a new-to-me romance recommended by you all. It is a great way to discover new books and authors I have never heard of, and/or finally sit down and read those romance books people keep gushing about, yet I never found time to read them. I plan to read one or two from this list each month. If you have a favorite romance you'd like to recommend to me, please do so in the comments below and I'll be sure to add it to my list.

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker was one of the first books I decided to read after I initiated my "Recommend a Romance" feature on Instagram. To be honest, I was blown away by how many people told me it was either their favorite read of 2018, or their most recommended book for others to read. So naturally I went into it with very high expectations. That might have been part of the problem. Unfortunately, this novel did not wow me like it has for so many others. Immediately I was not a fan of the main character. I struggled to connect with her, and that made my struggle to connect with the story as a whole even more difficult. I found myself putting the book down and not excited to be picking it back up. The romance itself did not spark the chemistry I had hoped for, either. I'm glad I gave this one a try though.

I Knew You were Trouble by Lauren Layne was just the palette cleanser I needed! She has become a contemporary romance author that I know I can count on. All of her books that I've read so far have been sexy, flirty, and just enough emotional depth to keep me tied to the story. I've been slowly making my way through her backlist titles and that's why I picked this one up. This NYC advertising agency is packed full of sexy tension and irresistible charm. Each book in the Oxford series has definitely entertained me. I am also a super fan of her latest series, 21 Wall Street, and have preordered the next book in that series which is due out in February. Her writing style reminds me of old school Christina Lauren (I'm looking at you, Wild Seasons series) & I can never get enough of that!

Overnight Sensation by Sarina Bowen is currently on my kindle app. As you're reading this blog post, I'll probably be finished with it. I came into this series late, starting with book four (Brooklynaire) which I devoured last year and loved. So when book five came out, I immediately wanted to jump back in to this professional hockey adult romance world. These books are the perfect antidote when you're looking for an escape from reality. The sexy banter is great and the steamy scenes are, well, STEAMY! I don't know much about hockey, but when I read these books, I feel like the Brooklyn Bruisers number one fan! Ha! I definitely recommend this series and hope to go back and read them from the beginning.

These are the books I've been reading this month (with the exception of a few short stories, and others not pictured). I'm planning to make a stop at the bookstore on Tuesday to buy my copy of 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, another 2019 release I am highly anticipating. I have a gift card to spend, so I think I'll also pick up Becoming by Michelle Obama since it's been on my wish list for quite some time. What books have you read? What are you planning to read next? Let's keep the book chat going in the comments!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A New Year of New Books: 2019 Edition

Happy New Year! I've always enjoyed the start of a new year. I don't know why because it's not as though things drastically change from December 31st to January 1st. In my head though, it's a new beginning, somewhere to start fresh again. I'm not one for resolutions (though I've tried making them in the past) because I'm the worst at sticking to a plan unless it's concrete and tangible. This is also why I can never commit to a specific reading challenge, other than completing a certain number of books read in a year.

When it comes to what I read, I am very spontaneous! I know WHAT I want to read, it's just the timing that is never a sure thing. Especially when I get my hands on those coveted reads I've been patiently waiting for. And that brings me to today's post... it's a new year to display new books I am really looking forward to reading in 2019. At the bottom of this list, I've included 2019 releases that I've already had the pleasure of reading and definitely want to put on your radar. So be sure to check those out, too. As always, let me know in the comments if you plan to read any of these, too, and/or which books are on your to-be-read list for 2019.

Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson
To be published: January 8, 2019
About the book:
A year ago, Brooke Covington lost everything when her beloved older brother, Jason, confessed to the murder of his best friend, Calvin. Brooke and her family became social pariahs, broken and unable to console one another. Brooke’s only solace remains the ice-skating rink, where she works but no longer lets herself dream about a future skating professionally.

When Brooke encounters Calvin’s younger brother, Heath, on the side of the road and offers him a ride, everything changes. She needs someone to talk to…and so does Heath. No one else understands what it’s like. Her brother, alive but gone; his brother, dead but everywhere. Soon, they’re meeting in secret, despite knowing that both families would be horrified if they found out. In the place of his anger and her guilt, something frighteningly tender begins to develop, drawing them ever closer together.

But when a new secret comes out about the murder, Brooke has to choose whose pain she’s willing to live with—her family’s or Heath’s. Because she can’t heal one without hurting the other. [goodreads]

Match Me If You Can by Tiana Smith
To be published: January 8, 2019
About the book:
Mia's best friend Robyn is known for her matchmaking skills, which is perfect, because homecoming is just around the corner. But Robyn refuses to set Mia up with the guy of her dreams, which forces Mia to take matters into her own hands. She uses Robyn's matchmaking service to make sure popular Vince Demetrius falls for her.

Vince asks her out, but Mia doesn't count on Logan, the persistent school newspaper photographer who seems to like her out of the blue. Now she has to choose between Vince - the guy she knows is right for her - and Logan, who insists that she give him a chance. And she needs to make sure Robyn doesn't find out that Mia's been matchmaking behind her back.

Mia has two weeks before homecoming. Can she fix the mess she made or will she have to kiss her perfect match goodbye forever?

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
To be published: January 29, 2019
About the book:
Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers. [goodreads]

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
To be published: February 5, 2019
About the book:
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families. [goodreads]

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
To be published: February 5, 2019
About the book:
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. [goodreads]

The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason
To be published: February 19, 2019
About the book:
On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma.

Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption. [goodreads]

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
To be published: March 5, 2019
About the book:
Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo's spare ticket offer online, she's convinced it's the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he'll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they've created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track? [goodreads]

When Summer Ends by Jessica Pennington
To be published: April 9, 2019
About the book:
Aiden Emerson is an all-star pitcher and the all-around golden boy of Riverton. Or at least he was, before he quit the team the last day of junior year without any explanation. How could he tell people he's losing his vision at seventeen?

Straight-laced Olivia thought she had life all figured out. But when her dream internship falls apart, her estranged mother comes back into her life, and her long-time boyfriend ghosts her right before summer break, she's starting to think fate has a weird sense of humor.

Each struggling to find a new direction, Aiden and Olivia decide to live summer by chance. Every fleeting adventure and stolen kiss is as fragile as a coin flip in this heartfelt journey to love and self-discovery from the author of Love Songs & Other Lies. [goodreads]

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
To be published: April 9, 2019
About the book:
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? [goodreads]

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
To be published: April 16, 2019
About the book:
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 of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel. [goodreads]

If I'm Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
To be published: April 23, 2019
About the book:
High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want. [goodreads]

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum
To be published: May 7, 2019
About the book:
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 counsellor 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? [goodreads]

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
To be published: May 7, 2019
About the book:
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. [goodreads]

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
To be published: May 7, 2019
About the book:
10:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she's just performed her hit song "Heartbeat" in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She's about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She's in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She's very cute. He's maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same. [goodreads]

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
To be published: May 14, 2019
About the book:
People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands. [goodreads]

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (Book Cover Coming Soon!)
To be published: May 14, 2019
About the book:
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky. [goodreads]

Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne
To be published: May 28, 2019
About the book:
For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page. [goodreads]

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
To be published: June 18, 2019
About the book:
Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie is twenty-seven years old, single, and obsessed with romantic comedies (she and her mother watched them religiously, before her mom died). Her dating life is limited by the expectations she’s formed from these movies. She is not as open to new experiences as she might be, because she’s waiting for her Tom Hanks–i.e., a guy she’ll find in the perfect, meet-cute romantic comedy way. When Annie does finally meet her perfect match, it’s not quite in the way she expected, and she’s forced to reckon with the walls she’s built around herself over the years. [goodreads]

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (Cover Coming Soon!)
To be published: June 4, 2019
About the book:
Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out? [goodreads]

Better Than the Best Plan by Lauren Morrill
To be published: June 25, 2019
About the book:
It's the last day of junior year, and seventeen-year-old Ritzy--short for Maritza--is pretty sure she has a great plan. Summer job--check. Hang with friends at the beach--check. Keep looking after herself as she's been doing since her mom bailed to follow her bliss--check. Or no check?

After someone reports that Ritzy is living alone, a social worker shows up and puts her into foster care. That's surprise enough. Even more surprising? Ritzy has been in foster care before, as an infant, and the woman who cared for her then takes her in again. But maybe the greatest surprise of all for Ritzy is that living with her foster mother, Kristin, in Kristin's gorgeous house, isn't all that bad. And neither is the cute, friendly boy next door. If Ritzy's mom hadn't gotten her back all those years ago, this is the life she could have had. But is it the life she should have had?

When Ritzy's old life catches up with her new one, she has some decisions to make. Can she plan for the worst, but still hope for the best? [goodreads]

Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe
To be published: June 25, 2019
About the book:
Six months ago, writer and bookstore owner Maddie Hanson was left at the altar. Since then, she’s had zero interest in romance—despite the fact that she runs a book club full of sexy eligible bachelors. But when her latest novel is panned by an anonymous blogger who goes by the name Silver Fox—and who accuses her of knowing nothing about passion—she decides to prove her nemesis wrong by seeking a romance hero in real life . . .

There’s the smoldering rock musician, the bookish college professor, and her competitive childhood friend who may want to steal her bookstore more than her heart. Even Silver Fox is getting in on the action, sending Maddie alarmingly—and intoxicatingly—flirtatious emails. And that’s not all. Her ex wants her back.

Now Maddie is about to discover that like any good story, life has twists and turns, and love can happen when you least expect it—with the person you least expect . . . [goodreads]

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
To be published: July 16, 2019
About the book:
Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other

After an "oops, we made a mistake" night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa's wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they're comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won't fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn't looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don't fall in love. [goodreads]

Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
To be published: July 30, 2019
About the book:
The Lady’s Plan

When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans. Plans to inherit her father’s business, to make her own fortune and to live her own life. But first, she has plans to experience a taste of the pleasure she’ll forgo as a confirmed spinster. She does not, however, plan to find the most beautiful man she’s ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin The Year of Hattie before it's even begun.

The Bastard’s Proposal

When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie's feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can’t help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him--especially when he discovers her plans for a night of pleasure…on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires...for a price.

An Unexpected Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure: she won't give up her plans; he won't give up his power...but neither of them see that if they're not careful, they'll have no choice but to give up everything...including their hearts. [goodreads]

How the Light Gets in by Katy Upperman
To be published: August 6, 2019
About the book:
Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents once were.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late? [goodreads]

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare
To be published: August 27, 2019
About the book:
To an undaunted wallflower, he's just the beast next door.

Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.

Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.

When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.

Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?

And a two-legged dog.

And a foul-mouthed parrot.

And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .

Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.

Not if he ruins her first. [goodreads]

Books I have on my 2019 radar, but specific details have not been released yet...

  • The Map From Here to There by Emery Lord (sequel to The Start of Me and You, expected publication date for October 2019)
  • Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy (middle grade book set in the same world as Dumplin', expected publication date for May 2019)

Books I've read that will be publishing in 2019...

Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren
To be published: March 12, 2019
About the book:
Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes. [goodreads]

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn
To be published: April 2, 2019
About the book:
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. [goodreads]

One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase
To be published: June 18, 2019
About the book:
A tragedy on a hot summer night at a lake house forever alters the lives of two best friends—and the man they both love. But the truth isn’t as simple as it appears in this intricate novel of love, friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness in the tradition of Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s Bittersweet.

Leah Tessaro has been waiting for this moment for a long time: Her boyfriend, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s home on Seneca Lake for a week of lazy summer bliss, boating, and barbeque. The couple has been together for four years, and Leah is convinced that Ollie is finally going to pop the question. And Leah can’t wait to share the joyous news with her best friend, June Kang, who is joining them on their getaway, and whose presence will make everything feel more real.

Seven years later, the moment June has been dreading has finally arrived: Her fiancé, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s lake house. But this is not an ordinary visit to an ordinary place; it is a house haunted by June’s long-buried memories of her lost friend, Leah—and the connection that appears to remain between Leah and the man for whom June’s love is as deep as her sense of foreboding.

Alternating between the two women’s vibrant voices, One Night at the Lake is a gripping novel that explores a complex tangle of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, all driving toward one question: What exactly happened to Leah on that hot summer night? [goodreads]

Start Here by Trish Doller
To be published: August 13, 2019
About the book:
Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them with a twenty-five-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread.

Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without Finley—and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.

From acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a poignant tale of forgiveness, grief, and the brilliant discoveries we make within ourselves when we least expect it. [goodreads]

Happy New Year, friends! And as always, Happy Reading!

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