Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published: September 4, 2018 by Gallery Books
About the book:

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. JOSH AND HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING tells the story of two people who are definitely not dating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

Move over all previous Christina Lauren books, because here comes a new favorite!! As soon as I got my hands on a new installment from the writing duo CLo, I stopped what I was doing (or reading, I should say) and cracked this baby open. I didn't want to stop until I was finished! Wait, no. I lied. I read so painstakingly slow because I DID NOT WANT IT TO END. Y'all, this adult contemporary ball of swoony goodness is everything I love about this powerhouse writing team. It is MAGIC.

We first get to know Josh and Hazel during their college years. Though their first meeting is brief, it is still very much impressionable and the type of first encounters that lingers in your mind. As the story progresses and we meet a more grown up version of Josh and Hazel, there's an instant spark, the one you saw ignite early on and have been slowly watching as it spreads... hot... hotter... INSANELY HOT! GET THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER HOT! *fans self*

The relationship of just friends, but you know -- good lord, do you KNOW -- that it's something so much more than just friends, is the best part about this entire story. As the reader, it's so obvious how they feel about one another. But it's the journey, as we sit back and watch these two characters come to that realization on their own terms, that fulfills this story on such a crave-worthy destination. Not once did I find myself yelling at the characters to figure out the obvious. I truly enjoyed their discoveries, in their own time.

I like the risks these characters take. Hazel has always been carefree and extravagant. While Josh has been the more reserved, careful one. You would think they'd mix like oil and water. But there's a beauty in the connection they make, first as friends, then as something so much deeper and just more. I found myself having the Wild Seasons vibes (a previous Christina Lauren series that I absolutely adore and reread constantly), but mixed with a more emotional twist. I've already pre-ordered a signed copy and plan to reread this novel when it arrives. THAT is how much I love it.

Josh and Hazel, you are yet another shining example of the brilliance that evolves from Christina and Lauren's beautiful, creative minds.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cover Reveal: Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren

I am so excited & feel very honored to be hosting the cover reveal for Sara Biren's next novel, Cold Day in the Sun. Her debut novel, The Last Thing You Said, was one of my favorite reads of 2017 & I absolutely LOVE how these two different book covers compliment each other. Cold Day in the Sun will be published on March 12, 2019, and you can see the beautiful cover right here!

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.

Add it to your goodreads || Pre-order from Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, Book Depository

Author Sara Biren is here to answer a few questions about the novel and her writing (fun fact: Sara and I are both Foo Fighter fans!!).

1. What inspired you to write this book?

COLD DAY began as a very different book, a book inspired by a spring break trip I took to the Florida Keys during college. I had wanted to write something light-hearted and fun after the heaviness of THE LAST THING YOU SAID, but it turned out to be pretty heavy in its own way. That book, working title KEYS, has been completely rewritten (twice) and looks nothing like the original version except for the two main characters.

The new story was inspired by my love for hockey and my years as the JV hockey team’s manager in high school. This was before the days of girls’ hockey, so managing was the closest I could get to the ice. I loved my time on the bench and made lifelong friends. I also wanted to write a story about a strong, talented girl playing on the boys’ team, the challenges she faces, and her journey to find her place in the world.

2. Name five things that you love about the book:

• The music: Holland loves grunge and glam metal. I had so much fun putting together the playlists in the book.
• The setting: COLD DAY takes place in Halcyon Lake, the same Minnesota resort town as THE LAST THING YOU SAID. This one is set during the winter, of course – hockey season.
• The title, which came to me in a moment of inspiration during a Foo Fighters concert on August 22, 2015, as Taylor sang “Cold Day in the Sun.” I heard those lyrics and knew. (Yes, I’ve been working on this book a very long time – I think I started it the summer of 2012 or 2013. It’s all a bit of a blur.) Like Holland, I love Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters so much, and, like Holland, Wasting Light is my favorite of their albums.
• Holland’s hockey playing brothers. They give her crap but are always supportive.
• The hockey scenes – the perfect excuse to go to local high school games and watch UMD Bulldogs and NHL games on TV. Our high school team went to the state tournament this year for the first time in school history – very exciting! Go Knights!

3. Who is your favorite hockey player?

Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings. I had his rookie card taped up in my locker in junior high. My brother gave me a signed, framed Yzerman jersey for my wedding.

4. What are you working on now?

My next YA is called IF YOU WERE HERE, my Minnesota autumn story: A rock star's son and the caretaker's daughter, a comeback and a scandal, facing the secrets of the past and learning to live in the present. I’m also working on a side project, an adult romance called I SAW YOU FIRST, which takes place in the mid-90s at an electronics store similar to the Best Buy of old (where I worked for many year).

5. What are you currently reading?

I’m officially on vacation for a week and a half. We’re headed first to northern Minnesota and then northern Wisconsin for some serious lake time, so I’ll have lots of reading time as well. I’m currently reading STARRY EYES by Jenn Bennett, which will be followed up with THE OTHER SIDE OF LOST by Jessi Kirby, THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang, and YOU ARE A BADASS by Jen Sincero.

6. Five fast facts about you:

Aries, ENFP, Assistant Scoutmaster (Boy Scouts), Troop Leader (Girl Scouts), content & social media manager (day job).

Where to find Sara Biren:
Website: sarabiren.com
Instagram: @sarabiren
Twitter: @sbiren
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sbirenauthor/
Newsletter sign-up: https://www.sarabiren.com/p/contact.html

Want to win Sara's debut novel THE LAST THING YOU SAID + a pre-order of COLD DAY IN THE SUN? Well, here's your chance! Enter the rafflecopter below. This contest is open to U.S. residents only. Please see my policies page for further contest rules.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

My Summer Reading Pile + a Giveaway!

Hey friendly readers! Can you believe it's already almost August?! I sure can't! In just a few weeks time I'll be back in the classroom and resuming my regularly scheduled crazy life-style. The days of lounging on the couch, or in the pool, are beginning to fade. But, before they do, I wanted to share some more of what I've been reading this summer... and give away a favorite summer read of mine to a lucky reader!

First, let's check out what I've been reading:

These are all the books I've read this summer. Quite a few were re-reads for me! There are some ARCs mixed in, as well as older romances that I've been wanting to check out. Overall, I'd say it's been an amazing summer of books for me! I'm in the middle of reading two more right now: another historical romance + a YA contemporary, that I hope to add to this list by the end of the weekend.

A few of my stand out faves from the list above:

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean
About the book: When Wicked Comes Calling...

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She's seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won't accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain...

Bastard son of a duke and king of London's dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion...

But there's nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she'd rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil's carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he's ever wanted...and the only thing he's ever desired.


This is easily one of my favorite reads of the YEAR, y'all! I cannot shout my love for this book any louder (ok, maybe I can and I will! ha). Even if historicals aren't your thing, the love story of this novel is so so gripping. It possesses the type of characters who feel like actual people to you. I am STILL thinking about them, all these weeks later. I already know I'll be rereading it at summer's end because I just can't quite say goodbye yet. Best part: it's the first book in a new series from Sarah MacLean!!

A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
About the book: The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, Hannah does find him. He’s cute and makes her laugh like crazy. She just wishes she’d caught his name, because Toilet Boy Cinderella really lacks sex appeal.

For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start for a million reasons. But for five minutes his luck changes: in a fancy restroom painted purple like it belongs in a Bond villain hideaway, Sam falls head over heels for some strange and hilarious girl. Of course, he doesn’t know her name. With his luck, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.

But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a chance misunderstanding drive them apart . . . and then the cycle starts all over again. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.


This is an oldie that is definitely new to me. It's been awhile since I've read a book where I am literally laughing out loud and having such JOY reading it. The humor of this book is all my style. These authors know how to write dialogue, and damn is it funny as all get out. I loved the realism of this particular story, too. For anyone who has ever been an awkward teen and trying to find their lobster, you will totally relate to this one! I read their next book FRESHERS immediately after because I couldn't get enough of their voices. That book was equally just as grand.

Some other faves worth pointing out

STAY SWEET by Siobhan Vivian

(check back for my detailed review of this later in August)

I THINK I LOVE YOU by Lauren Layne

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE by Huntley Fitzpatrick
(my 3rd time to read it & I still love it so much!)


Want to read one of these books from my pile? I'm giving away a copy to one lucky reader (must live in the U.S. & be 18 years of age). Please fill out the rafflecopter below to be entered. Good luck!!

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Hi, it's me.

Hello there.

If you saw my previous blog post, I had mentioned going silent for a bit here. I also mentioned that I'd come back when I felt like blogging again. I'm still not 100% certain on how often that will be, but... I'm here now, blogging, because I felt up to it again.

So, hello there.

What have you been reading? Any new books you've discovered that have completely consumed you? I love when books do that. Even though I haven't been in the mood to properly review any books I've read recently, I've still had the urge to keep reading. In fact I've sort of dubbed this summer as my unofficial Summer of Re-Reads.

It started with SUMMER SKIN by Kirsty Eagar. Y'all, this Aussie author is phenomenal! If you're a regular at my blog, then you already know my love for her writing. Since Summer Skin just published here in North America, I thought it was only fitting to celebrate that with a re-read. Next up was a visit with an old love, SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller. Trish is a great friend of mine (in fact, we share a love for Kirsty Eagar's writing, among many other loves, ha!) -- reading her stories bring me calm, something I can rely on when I am searching for something I know I'll need. With all the publication hype, I had to do a re-read of THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang. I read an ARC of this one back in January and loved it immediately. The second time around? I loved it even more. If you've been seeing all the great things being said about this one, they're true! It's amazing. My latest re-read goes to WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE by Huntley Fitzpatrick. This has become a summer tradition for me. Y'all, this novel is everything a summer YA contemp should be. Each time I read this story I find something new to fall in love with. It's the perfect escape I needed.

I've been reading some new stuff, too. A few of those that deserve shout outs are: SAVE THE DATE by Morgan Matson, WILD ACES series by Chanel Cleeton, and THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory. On my shelf to read very, very soon are: STAY SWEET by Siobhan Vivian, ALWAYS NEVER YOURS by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka, and NOT THE GIRLS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR by Aminah Mae Safi. I've got my eye on some upcoming releases, too: JOSH & HAZEL'S GUIDE TO NOT DATING by Christina Lauren, FIGHT OR FLIGHT by Samantha Young, and THE GEOGRAPHY OF LOST THINGS by Jessica Brody.

Books aren't the only thing that's been occupying my time now that summer has officially began. I've been watching TV, too! For the past few years, TV has dropped to the wayside. Since Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, I haven't found anything that I felt was worth sitting down and making a point to watch (except for that whole Game of Thrones binge watch I did last summer). But then, I discovered Superstore. Never has a TV show come into my life at just the right time. I started watching past episodes on Hulu back in April. The day I had to put my sweet Daisy down, I found myself in a numb blur of motions. My heart ached and I just felt... empty. I didn't want to go anywhere, or really talk to anyone. Forget trying to read something. So I turned my TV on and started watching Superstore. There was just enough in the storyline to pull me in, but not completely consume me. It was exactly what my mind needed. As the weeks went by, and I started to settle into my grief more, I continued watching it season by season. I think this is one of the funniest shows I've ever seen, to be honest. The humor speaks right to me. Though I discovered it during a very difficult time in my life, it became an escape that I leaned on and then grew to love. Regardless of where you are in life, it's still a great show and worth watching.

Now that it's officially summer, I am home for the season. It's my time to refresh and relax before another school year begins in August. I just got back from my family vacation to Colorado. We went back to the same mountain resort in the Rocky Mountains that my family visited almost 30 years ago, when I was a little child. It was amazing to experience it again. So much had changed, yet so much felt familiar, too. I hadn't appreciated the scenery at 6 years old, as I do now at 36 years old. Those mountains! It is breathtaking. To say I had a nice time is an understatement. It was a vacation I know I'll hold in my memories for years to come.

So what's next? Well, in a few weeks I'll be turning 37. I've got another vacation planned to visit my best friends in Chicago, too. I know the summer will be over in a blink and I'll be back in the classroom before I know it. I'm trying to slow myself down and relax for now. It's hard not having Daisy here, though. I still find myself wanting to walk her, look for her, pet her. Those are habits that will take some time to ease.

Tell me -- what are you reading? watching? any summer plans? Even though this blog is not what I had planned, it's still here, and I'm still giving it my voice. I hope you'll stick around and listen.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Where I've Been... & What's To Come

Hey friends... I've been a bit quiet on the blog lately and wanted to update my readers as to why. Those of you who follow me on social media may have already received this update, but for those who just follow this blog I have some sad news to share.

My sweet Daisy, who I adopted into my life over 14 years ago, has passed away. It was a very difficult decision to make as her fur-mama, one I know deep down was the right decision to make, but still so incredibly hard. She was 15 years old, and for a dog that's definitely a long life. I found out she was very sick and there wasn't much to do.

I told Daisy I loved her as much as I could. I held her in my arms the entire time. It was brutal on my heart, but the passing was peaceful. I lost a piece of myself that morning. There's a sadness that will forever be inside my heart. She was my companion for 14+ years. She was part of my every day routine for 14+ years. She came into my life just months after I lost my mom, and ever since then she had been the one taking care of me. It was now my turn to take care of her.

Yes I'm sad. Yes I'm heartbroken. I wasn't expecting the magnitude of this grief until it hit me shortly after. Is it getting easier? It's becoming more manageable, yes. I haven't been able to remove her leash from the hook beside my garage door. I still expect to hear her, see her, feel her as I walk around my home. Losing Daisy is like losing a piece of myself. It will never be found.

So, with that being said, my focus on things has definitely shifted. I had all these plans to kick off another year of Sweet Summertime Reads and every time I sat down to write a blog post for it, my heart just wasn't in it. I am not giving up on this blog, but my previous plans for it are changing. The school year is winding down this week and with it comes a lot more free time for me this summer. Perhaps I'll get back my want to blog and posts some new things here.

Until then, you can always find me on social media:

Twitter - @GReadsBooks
Instagram - @greadsbooks

I hope you're all taking care of yourself. If anything, I've learned through this grieving process is that there is no end date. We all go through it at our own pace, at our own time, and it never truly ends. I'm thankful for the love I've received from this book community. Your support has meant so much to me. I'm still here, and I'm still reading. Always feel free to recommend me books whenever you want! I promise to be back here at my blog when my heart feels up to it again.

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