The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: The Bromance Book Club
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Series: Bromance Book Club #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Andrew Eiden & Maxwell Caulfield
Length: ~9 hours (352 pages)
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Source: Library (Libby app)

SYNOPSIS

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

MY THOUGHTS

This was SO CUTE! As much as I love romance books about new relationships, my favorite thing about this book was that it shows what comes next. Relationships are hard work. This book is about a married couple in a relationship at its breaking point, where both parties have to decide if it’s still worth the effort.

I like that Gavin is a successful, professional athlete, but he feels so grounded and real. He has fears and insecurities. He isn’t the stereotypical confident jock.

Thea lost herself in her marriage and her children. She wants to recover the spontaneous, passionate artist she used to be, but she’s not sure there’s room in her marriage for her to be who she wants to be.

The book club was HILARIOUS. The premise was absurd, but I appreciated the effort all these “alpha males” put into understanding women and improving their relationships, and their antics had me laughing out loud.

This was a sweet and realistic second-chance romance. It showed how people change and fake it in relationships, but that creates an opportunity to either call it quits or try to fall in love again.

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Aurora Rising
Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Aurora Cycle #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Kim Mai Guest, Johnathan McClain, Candace Moll, Lincoln Hoppe, Donnabella Mortel, Jonathan Todd Ross
Length: ~14 hours (473 pages)
Publisher: Listening Library
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Library (Libby app)
Recommended for Fans of: The Illuminae Files, Stargate, Six of Crows

SYNOPSIS

It’s 2380 and the graduating students of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Tyler Jones has been a star pupil who hopes to recruit the squad of his dreams but ends up with a mixed and volatile crew.

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem – that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

Vividly told in the seven voices of the team members, this is fast-paced, action-packed, wickedly humorous and fabulously entertaining. Described by one online fan as ‘a mystery with tons of action. A kind of thriller on steroids with a fantasy feel.’

MY THOUGHTS

I LOVED THIS CREW SO MUCH! Squad 312 is my favorite troupe of misfits and outcasts since Six of Crows. Each character felt like a real, rounded, complicated, unique person, and I loved how the alternating POVs in this book gave each character a clear, strong voice.

The storyline was so rich and mysterious. I loved the subtle, futuristic sci-fi take on Sleeping Beauty, and it reminded me of a YA version of Stargate. The conflict is so complex; this book only scratches the surface of the truth about Auri, her abilities, and her connection to the force that threatens the entire galaxy. This story was a roller coaster adventure with a shocking and heartbreaking ending that left me begging for book 2!

I also need to point out that the audiobook production was absolutely incredible with a full cast and sound effects that brought the story to life. Each narrator was perfect for the character he or she portrayed. I loved this book so much that I want to get the physical books, but I also plan to experience book 2 on audio when it comes out because it was that amazing.

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Red, White, & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Length: ~12 hours (421 pages)
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Source: Library (Libby app)
Recommended for Fans of: rom-coms, enemies to lovers

SYNOPSIS

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

MY THOUGHTS

SO MANY HAPPY TEARS! This story is charming. The characters are so strong and well-written. Alex is an extremely relatable narrator as he struggles to figure out who he is and what he wants, even if we can’t relate to his particular circumstances.

Alex and Henry’s romance was so darn cute! Their enemies to lovers arc was so well done. Their shared love of Star Wars! The way they ended their love letters to each other with quotes from famous letters! They are so perfect for each other.

My only complaint is I thought it took a smidge too long before they got caught. Things went too well for them for too long, and I could’ve used a little more suspense surrounding their secret relationship. But the rest of the book more than made up for this.

I’ve seen some reviewers call this story unrealistic. I prefer to call it idealistic, depicting the bester version of what our country and and our society could be. I can’t believe this book got me so invested in imaginary politics! As a Texan, that part of the story struck really close to home, and the ending left me bawling. This book made me so happy and it left me with so much hope for what the future can look like.

Valentine’s Day Book Recommendations

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! If you’re looking for some reading to get you into the mood, I’ve got you covered. Below are my top 5 Valentine’s recommendations from each of the following genres: romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and thrillers!

Top 5 Contemporary Romance

These are some of my favorite adorable rom-coms that make me feel all the feels!

1. Well Met by Jen de Luca

Enemies to lovers at a Renaissance Faire? Yes, please! This book kept me smiling, laughing, and crying the whole time.

2. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Another enemies to lovers! This time about sworn enemies who end up on an all-expenses-paid honeymoon trip to Hawaii after the bride & groom get food poisoning. Plenty of hilarious and heartbreaking moments in store.

3. Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

One more enemies to lovers for you, this time between the First Son of the United States and the Prince of England! Their relationship was sooooo cute, and the story had me ridiculously invested in imaginary politics!

4. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

After Lina’s mother dies, she travels to Tuscany with her mother’s old journal to meet her father and learn about her past. There she finds love, gelato, and so much more. This book will have you laughing through your tears.

5. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

After Lara Jean’s old love letter to Peter Kavinsky accidentally gets mailed (as well as letters to all her former crushes), they start fake dating to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. You will fall in love with Lara Jean as he juggles her family, friends, baking, crafting, fake relationship, and very real feelings.

Top 5 Science Fiction & Fantasy

If you prefer the romance to play out in the background to an epic adventure, these are the perfect Valentine’s Day books for you!

1. A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2) by Sarah J. Maas

RHYSAND. Need I say more? A Court of Thorns and Roses is good, but A Court of Mist and Fury is WHERE. IT’S. AT.

2. Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray

Abel is Earth’s most advanced mech. Noemi is a soldier fighting for freedom for the planet Genesis. THIS SERIES IS EVERYTHING, Y’ALL!

3. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

A witch and a witch hunter are forced into marriage. The juxtaposition leads to some truly hilarious moments, plus this book has an interesting magic system, a great cast of supporting characters, and life-or-death stakes.

4. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Romeo & Juliet, but R is a zombie.

5. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

This series is full of relationship goals! I adore all 4 main couples in this series of sci-fi fairy tale retellings.

Top 5 Thrillers

Would you rather read about dysfunctional, messed up, twisted couples? Here are some anti-romance domestic thrillers for you!

1. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

This is one of the most out-there thrillers I’ve ever read about a woman having an affair with a man and befriending his wife, but it’s so twisted and good. The ending made my jaw drop!

2. Verity by Colleen Hoover

This book is dark, creepy, and disturbing. A writer is hired to complete the works of successful novelist Verity Crawford, who has become incapacitated. While sorting through Verity’s notes, she begins to fall for the husband and discovers some dark truths about Verity herself.

3. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Jack and Grace’s marriage is perfect from the outside, but it’s a completely different story behind closed doors. This is super dark and twisted, but it’s a favorite.

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The model for modern domestic thrillers! When Amy goes missing, her husband Nick becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance, but there’s more to this case than meets the eye.

5. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

If you thought Amy and Nick’s relationship in Gone Girl was messed up, wait til you see what this couple does for “date night.”


Have you read any of these? What are your recommendations for Valentine’s Day?

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: ACOTAR #1
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: New Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 419 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: purchased
Recommended for Fans of: fairy tales & retellings, high fantasy

SYNOPSIS

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever. 

MY THOUGHTS

Original Review (2017):
The story started off a little slowly for my tastes, but the world was so rich and the characters were so bold that I was easily hooked. And of course, I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings.

I really appreciate how well this book stands on its own. It may be first book of a fantasy series, but it tells a complete story with a satisfying ending that makes it stand out from other first-books. That being said, it leaves just enough questions unanswered to get me excited for the next book without relying on a major cliffhanger. I really enjoyed this retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the series does with that story in the vibrant and dark world that Maas has created.

Now:
I loved this a lot more reading it the second time because I have so much love for this series. I originally gave this book 4 stars, but I bumped my rating up to 5 on the reread. It was nice to be reintroduced to this world and be reminded of who Feyre was in the beginning and where she came from, because it makes her journey in the next books that much more incredible.

I do still think that the story drags in the middle, but it didn’t bother me as much rereading it because I enjoyed spending that time with Feyre and watching her growth. If you find this story too slow or just aren’t into it…STICK WITH IT! It’s worth it for A Court of Mist and Fury! ACOMAF is one of my favorite books of all time, and the way it takes this lush, dark story to the next level is something everyone should experience.

Do you reread books? What’s the last book you reread, or one you would like to?

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Genre: Thriller
Audience: Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Source: Book of the Month
Reminded Me Of: The Shining

SYNOPSIS

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

MY THOUGHTS

This is a supernatural thriller. The ghosts are real. This is not a spoiler; this is something the reader needs to know and expect before starting this book in order to fully appreciate the story. This is kind of like The Shining lite, with less horror but lots of suspense.

This book was SO creepy and spooky. I personally LOVED the supernatural elements and think they made the book stand out.

Carly and Viv were both great, strong female characters, and I loved how the mystery unfolded across time in their parallel investigations. Simone St. James did a great job pacing the twists multiple timelines, with a reveal in the past influencing the present, and vice versa. The way all the pieces came together was brilliant.

Viv really got to me. I admired the passion with which she fought to get justice for the murdered women, never giving up her search for the truth even when her friends and the police warned her it was too dangerous. She never gave up on uncovering what really happened to those women. I also loved the female solidarity between Viv, Marnie, and Alma. Terrible things happened, but those women stuck together and supported each other through it all.

AND THE ENDING. The suspense ramped up so high throughout the last few chapters and had my heart racing so fast that I thought it might kill me! It probably didn’t help that I finished this book while home alone with no background noise, but I can feel my pulse increasing now, as I write my review days later, just thinking about it! This book was so ridiculously well written. I know it’s only January, but I’m already calling this as my favorite thriller of 2020. This will be hard for anything to top.

January 2020 Wrap Up

I can’t believe January is at an end! On the one hand, January has been forever long. On the other hand, I started this blog one month ago on January 1, and I feel like I haven’t had nearly enough time to figure everything out! I can’t believe it’s already time to post my first monthly wrap up on my blog!


PHYSICAL BOOKS

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson ☆☆☆☆☆
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher ☆☆1/2
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett ☆☆☆☆1/2
The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi ☆☆☆1/2
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas ☆☆☆☆☆
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James ☆☆☆☆☆

AUDIOBOOKS

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ☆☆☆☆
Renegades by Marissa Meyer ☆☆☆☆☆
Frankly in Love by David Yoon ☆☆1/2
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ☆☆☆☆☆
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston ☆☆☆☆☆


2020 READING GOAL PROGRESS

At the beginning of the year, I shared my 2020 reading goals. When I post my wrap up at the end of each month, I also want to reflect on the progress I’m making toward reaching my goals.

Read 75 books: 11/75 (5 books ahead of schedule!)

Explore more genres: Nothing new, but I definitely read a mix of genres and continued to explore contemporary romance!

Buy fewer books: The only new book I got was my one BOTM pick!

Finish more series: I reread Renegades so I could finish the series, but I didn’t make any other progress and actually started some new series.

Reread more: I reread two books, Renegades and ACOTAR.

Read at least two classics: Not yet, but I’ve got all year!

Read one graphic novel each month: The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1)


Overall, I’d say I had a really great start to the year. I read a lot of books, and most of them were 4 or 5 star reads! I am also pleased with the progress I’ve made toward reaching my reading goals for the year. There’s still a lot of 2020 left ahead of us, but if January was any indication, it’s going to be a great year!

How did your month go? What was the best book you read in January?

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆1/2
Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Genre: Dystopian
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Length: 416
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Source: Giveaway – choice book
Recommended for Fans of: The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale

SYNOPSIS

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

MY THOUGHTS

“We are the only Gods here.”

This is a really important read about the expectations and restrictions placed on girls. Even though this story takes place in a dystopian society, too much rings true in our own society today. I completely understand all the comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies, with a dash of The Hunger Games and Mean Girls.

Tierney is a strong and smart protagonist who knows there is more to the grace year than it seems. As she seeks the truth, she discovers that the lies about the grace year are darker and deeper than she could have imagined.

The author previously published horror books, and there are clear horror influences in The Grace Year. The descriptions of the things the girls do to each other are violent, brutal, and gruesome.

This story illuminates what girls will do to each other to gain the upper hand, but it also shows the amazing things that can happen when women choose to come together and look out for each other. The grace year is meant to break and subdue women, but spending a year unbound by law and limits gives the girls a taste of freedom to savor and hold onto.

This wasn’t quite a five star read for me. The book dragged a bit in the middle and got a little off course. Additionally, I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending. Throughout the book Tierney looks for ways to change her society for the better, but at the end I’m not left with the sense that large-scale change is inevitable, even though it seems there is progress. I also wonder what happened in this society to make men so afraid of women that their only recourse was to break and control them. However, I can’t stop thinking about this story, because even though it is fiction, it feels so close to a potential reality.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆1/2
Title: Frankly in Love
Author: David Yoon
Series: Frankly in Love #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Raymond J. Lee
Length: ~10 hours (432 pages)
Publisher: Listening Library
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Library (Libby app)

SYNOPSIS

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

MY THOUGHTS

I really wanted to love this book. I highly anticipated this release because I’ve enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s books, but I should not have placed my expectations for her writing on him. I almost DNF this book, and the only reason I finished it is because my next audiobook was on hold.

My biggest issue was that it felt like two different stories were happening that did not blend together well. Some parts of this book were so great, but others not so much.

I’ll start with the good. There were important discussions about race, identity, and family that were very deep and well-written. I think this idea could have worked as a short story or essay about the Korean-American experience, because the family dynamics in this book were so insightful, but as a whole the book did not come together.

Now for the bad. THE ROMANCE. This book has “love” in the title, but the romance was just not good. This book featured several YA romance tropes (instalove, fake dating, cheating), none of them well-executed. The cheating didn’t even bother me that much because the relationship never felt real to me in the first place. In general, the interactions between Frank and other teenagers felt awkward and inauthentic.

David Yoon knows how to write about Korean-Americans, but he does not know how to write believable teenage characters. YA is not the right fit for him to tell his story. I might consider reading something from him in the future in a different genre or platform, but I will not be reading the sequel to Frankly in Love.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Renegades
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Renegades #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner
Length: ~17 hours (556 pages)
Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Source: Library (Libby app)
Recommended for Fans of: superheroes, antiheroes

SYNOPSIS

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

MY THOUGHTS

SO. GOOD. I always love a good superhero story, and this one did not disappoint.

I love that the main character, Nova, is a villain and gives us a unique perspective on the Renegades. She isn’t a villain because she’s evil; she’s a villain because when she was a child the Renegades did not come. At the beginning of the story she seems like she’s an Anarchist through and through, but as we get more inside her head we see that while she believes the Anarchist cause is just, she doesn’t always agree with her fellow Anarchists that the ends justify the means. Throughout the book she struggles determine what she truly stands for and where her loyalties truly lie as both Renegades and Anarchists challenge her beliefs.

In contrast, Adrian is a born Renegade who fully supports what they stand for, but his desire to learn the truth about his mother’s death and test the limits of his power cause him to keep his own secrets from the council. He, too, comes to question whether the Renegade organization is always exercising its power appropriately, but his goal is to change it from within, not destroy it.

Nova and Adrian had such a slow burn before they finally admitted their feelings for each other. I am so curious to see how their relationship develops in book 2 and how their secrets will impact their romance. I’m rooting for them! But they might not be able to forgive each other when the truth comes out.

The ending actually blew my mind. Marissa Meyer pulled off some truly spectacular twists that I did not see coming but they made so much sense.

I also thought that the narrators did an amazing job with the audiobook, and I would highly recommend that format! This is my second time reading this book, and I only listened to the audiobook so I could reread it before I continue the series. The narration was so good I almost want to finish the series on audio, but the books waiting on my shelf will not be ignored!