Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Sunday Post [47]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


If your child is done with school for the year, I envy you. We still have three more weeks. Apparently, the school year starts later in Virginia? We started in Texas, so it feels like this year is never going to end. The coronavirus and homeschooling haven't helped. It's starting to feel like summer, so it would be nice if we could act like it's summer too! We actually inflated the swimming pool the other day, and the monsters spent HOURS outside. They loved it! Thankfully, Jacob was home, so he stayed out there with them while I got some stuff done inside. 

Our caterpillars have pupated (formed into chrysalides)! We're going to move them to their habitat today, so they'll have room when they emerge as butterflies! It's such an amazing process. Squirming, wriggling caterpillars are transforming themselves into beautiful butterflies with wings! Can you imagine crawling around for the first half of your life, only to fly endlessly for the duration? Our son has been learning about life cycles at school, so it's been nice to have something he can see firsthand. 

I miss having my husband home during the week, but we're slowly developing a new routine. Everything is starting to reopen around here (even the beaches), so I have a feeling things will get worse before they get better. When I get groceries, very few people are actually wearing masks (definitely not staying six feet apart) and only a handful of employees working at the store have one on. They're handling everyone's groceries, yet not taking all of the necessary precautions. IT'S SO FRUSTRATING. When did life start to mean so little? If you're not worried about yourself, at least help keep other people safe. Children have started contracting the virus with devastating results, and I don't want my children to die because someone else feels like this pandemic is a hoax, or that wearing a mask would be a waste of their time. It hurts NO ONE for you to wear a mask, but has the potential to help EVERYONE else.

Previous week on the blog: 
  • Sunday: NA
  • Monday: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab (★★★★☆) Review
  • Tuesday: NA
  • Wednesday: My Weekly Pull [116] & Can't-Wait Wednesday [91] Post
  • Thursday: NA
  • Friday: NA
  • Saturday: Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith (★★★★☆) Review

What I'm currently reading:
Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington 🎧
Changeling (The Oddmire, #1) by William Ritter
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
  • I started the audiobook for Love Songs & Other Lies, and I'm really enjoying it so far! I'm only an hour or so into it, but I have a feeling it's going to be full of drama. It's one that has been on my TBR for a while, so I'm happy I'm finally finding the time for it.
  • I started the first book in The Oddmire series with my son last night, so I haven't read enough to form an opinion yet. I hope it's good, since our last book (Spark and the League of Ursus) wasn't a hit.
  • I am enjoying The Jane Austen Society way more than I thought I would! I've never been the biggest Austen fan (the terminology and phrasing typically go over my head), but this book is making me want to read Austen so I can share the love these characters so clearly have for her stories.
  • The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is a book I won several weeks ago, but that only arrived recently. I opened it immediately to read a few pages, and it's DARK. I cannot wait to see where the story goes!

What I plan on reading next:
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Out Now: Queer We Go Again! by Saundra Mitchell & Various
The Court of Miracles (A Court of Miracles, #1) by Kester Grant

What I'm watching:

Avatar: The Last Airbender is on Netflix! Obviously, that's what we've watched all weekend! ;)

Challenge updates: 
Current giveaways:
Don't forget to enter my Twitter Giveaway for an ARC of Mary Kay Andrews' Hello, Summer! It might not have been the beachy romance I was expecting, but the murder mystery was wonderfully written. :) You can read my review here!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith't+Read+the+Comments&qid=1590249016&s=books&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=03debf51f17435cdfa99b1d0604326f9&language=en_US
Narrated by Richa Shukla Moorjani &
Sunil Malhotra
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.


I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I was originally supposed to read and review this book for a blog tour, but then we moved and it fell through the cracks. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook for Don't Read the Comments, so I'm going to count this one as a win! The narrators were fantastic and really brought life to Smith's words. They lent an authenticity to the story that I don't think I would have been able to produce on my own. 

Divya is struggling with trolls, online bullying, cyber stalking, and so much more simply for being a female gamer, and likely because she was also a person of color. I really loved how she was portrayed, and how realistic her experiences were. She was scared for herself, her mother, and her best friend, but she also didn't want to let the trolls win their absurd war. They were driven by hate, and their actions had lasting consequences on people's lives. It wasn't enough to destroy D1V in the virtual world, but they wanted to hurt her in real life as well. 

It's scary because it's true. I'm happy the author chose to shed light on an issue that plagues a lot of people, but one that doesn't receive enough attention. The actions of trolls and online bullying are seen as harmless, because it's just words on a screen right? Death in a game isn't death in real life? Unfortunately, that's not the case. People's actions online can have a drastic impact on a person's life. Children have committed suicide after being repeatedly bullied online, and it's an issue that more people should take seriously. Words matter. Your online presence matters. You can't just do or say whatever you want behind your computer screen, because what you put out into the world has the potential to hurt someone else.

I really liked both Divya and Aaron, and enjoyed their individual stories. They were a little underdeveloped, but still amazing characters. I wanted to know more about their families, and what their lives were like before gaming, but we mostly see what they're dealing with in the present. There's very little reflection or rumination, and I wanted to learn more about what drove them to their present situations. I also wanted a more gratifying conclusion, and wish certain people had been brought to justice (especially for Divya's best friend). I know it's impossible to catch every troll, but I still wanted that for D1V. 

The gaming aspect was something I really related to as well! I love playing video games (mostly RPGs), and recently brought out our old SNES for the kids to play on (desperate times call for desperate measures). Our son loves to play Donkey Kong Country, and the girls get excited about Mario Paint. The game the book centers around is called Reclaim the Sun, and I wish it really existed. It's definitely something I would play! I loved how immersive it was, and like the idea of endlessly exploring planets with unknown content. Smith should see about getting his fictional game made into one people in the real world can play! I think it would be very popular. :)

If you're looking for a satisfying story with wonderful characters, Don't Read the Comments has both. The author touches on tough topics, while also conveying the importance of friendship, family, and standing up for yourself and what's right.


Author Bio: 

Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).

Buy Links: 

Social Links:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

My Weekly Pull [116] & Can't-Wait Wednesday [91]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!
Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Ghosts #2 by Jennifer Rostowsky, Tamra Bonvillain


Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature that's hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. It highlights the upcoming releases we're really excited about reading! CWW is a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday (WoW), that was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
Spindlefish and Stars by Christine M. Andrews
Expected publication: September 22nd 2020 by Little, Brown

Synopsis (via Goodreads): In which a story is spun.
And unspun.

Clothilde has lived her whole life in the shadows with her (sometimes) thieving and (always) ailing father. But when he fails to meet her one morning, sending her instead a mysterious ticket of
half-paffage, Clo finds herself journeying across the sea to reunite with him. The ticket, however, leaves her on a sunless island inhabited only by creaking fishermen, a rumpled old woman, a piggish cat, and a moon-cheeked boy named Cary.

Clo is quickly locked away and made to spend her days in unnerving chores with the island's extraordinary fish, while the old woman sits nearby weaving an endless gray tapestry. Frustrated and aching with the loss of her father, Clo must unravel the mysteries of the island and all that's hidden in the vast tapestry's threads -- secrets both exquisite and terrible. And she must decide how much of herself to give up in order to save those she thought she'd lost forever.

Inspired by Greek mythology, this spellbinding fantasy invites readers to seek connections, to forge their own paths, and to explore the power of storytelling in our interwoven histories.

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading! 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab
Synopsis (via Goodreads): “Expansive, romantic, and powerful.” —Gayle Forman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay and I Have Lost My Way

Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.

"The best way I’ve come up with to describe how Harry kisses is that he does it with joy."
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Breath Like Water wasn't the story I was expecting, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Susannah was a wonderful character that I could easily relate to, and her determination was enviable. She struggled to make time for the important things in her life, but failed to sometimes see what was right in front of her face. She was so focused on her swimming, and making it to the Olympics, that she let other relationships and responsibilities slide.

Susannah was a selfish character, but not in an obnoxious way. She was dedicated to her dream, despite the many setbacks and obstacles she had to overcome. Winning a medal once doesn't guarantee it will happen again, and her body's normal changes have made her feel heavy in the water. She's unaccustomed to maneuvering her new shape in an effective way, and struggles to swim the times needed for success. However, Susannah still pushes herself every practice. She doesn't quit or give up, and she takes all of the crap her coach throws at her because she wants to be better. She believes her condescending, hurtful, rude, and general ass of a coach is what she needs to succeed.

I really hated how much Susannah tolerated from her coach, and really wanted to punch him in the throat. No one disagrees with him, because he "trains champions," and they all want to make it to the Olympics. His methods are traditional, and not suited for everyone on the team, and he only pays attention to the people he thinks stand a chance. When Beth comes into the picture as an assistant coach, Susannah is hesitant at first, but soon realizes that Beth has more to offer than she first thought. She's compassionate and understanding, molds workouts that are suited to Susannah and her teammates on an individual level, and she doesn't curse at them or throw temper tantrums.

Dave went out of his way to be hurtful, and to make the team feel like they were worthless without him. He made them swim against each other, forced them to work tirelessly, and even stuck his nose in their relationships with they didn't suit him. It was horrible, and I hate that he was able to get away with so much. Yes, he shared a kind word with Susannah here and there, but his sole focus was himself. He wanted to look good, and he wanted people to think he was important. HATED. HIM.

Susannah wasn't perfect–not by a longshot–and her stubbornness wasn't always endearing. Oftentimes it was annoying and irritating, because she pushed people away for no reason at all. She ignored family and friends in pursuit of her dream, and blamed them when things didn't go her way. She was quick to apologize and make amends, but you can't always undo the damage words alone can cause, which brings me to Harry. 

Easy-going, fun-loving Harry was one of the highlights for me, and I adored him from the start. His grand gestures and enthusiasm were contagious, and he never failed to make me smile. He makes his feelings known from the beginning, and is patient while Susannah figures out what she wants from their relationship. Eventually, he tells her they need to define what they have, because hanging out in limbo was hurting him. Thankfully, Susannah decides to give in to her romantic feelings, but while their relationship was a whirlwind of fun and new love, it was also filled with strife. They are both dealing with personal struggles, which I won't get into here, but that largely affects their relationship. I will say that this book addresses bipolar disorder, and the impact it can have on people's lives.

I thought the author handled the effects of being bipolar with skill and compassion. Jarzab explains it in a way that is thorough and understandable, without making me feel like she was info-dumping. The facts and revelations happened naturally, and in a manner that conveyed its complexities without making it a focal point of the story. It was a prominent part of a character's life, but it didn't define them. It was simply a part of them, like their hair color, or shoe size. I really loved the way it was addressed and that it wasn't over-simplified for the sake of the story.

There is a large family focus, which I also loved. Both of the main characters have parents that really care about them, and want what's best for their children. Susannah's parents have sacrificed over the years to make her dreams a reality, but they don't begrudge the money or time spent on their daughter (or having to wake up before dawn nearly every morning to take her to practice). They were supportive, but also quick to point out when she wasn't being kind, or failed to notice what was happening around her. Harry's parents are also supportive and understanding, and clearly wanted the world for their son.

Somehow the author made the relationship between Susannah and Harry feel like it was an insta-love, but also a slow-burn romance. Susannah knows what she feels for Harry, but isn't sure she wants to act on those feelings. Harry has been clear about what he wants from the start, but he patiently follows Susannah's lead and lets her decide how much she's willing to give. Again, she's a little selfish here (wanting his affection, but not willing to allow herself to be distracted), and I hated that it felt like she was stringing him along for a while.

Finally, if you're looking for a sweet HEA, that's not what this is. Their road is a hard one, and it will definitely make your heart hurt, but you'll also understand what they're going through and want what's best for everyone. It's complicated doesn't even begin to describe what this book is, but it's messy in some of the best ways. I was so invested in their lives, and really wanted them both to be happy and successful. Breath Like Water will break your heart, make you feel a wide range of emotions, but ultimately satisfy you in the end. Susannah and Harry might live in a world full of uncertainty, but there was always hope. (★★★★☆)


About the author:

Anna Jarzab is a Midwesterner turned New Yorker. She lives and works in New York City and is the author of such books as Red Dirt, All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and the Many-Worlds series. Visit her online at and on Twitter, @ajarzab.

SOCIAL LINKS: Instagram, Twitter, Website

Friday, May 15, 2020

A Handful of Reviews [4]
Guardians of the Galaxy #1-3 by Al Ewing, Juann Cabal, Belen Ortega, Chris Sprouse, Nina Vaqueva, Ivan Shavrin

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Once, they were a team of misfits. Now they’re a family, and they’ve earned their peace. But the universe is not a peaceful place -- and it’s only getting worse. The Great Empires are in turmoil. The rule of law is dead. And amidst the chaos, the Gods of Olympus have returned -- harbingers of a new age of war, reborn to burn their mark on the stars themselves. Someone has to guard the galaxy - but who will accept the mission? And will they survive it? Al Ewing (IMMORTAL HULK) and Juann Cabal (FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN) bring you in on the ground floor of a whole Marvel Universe of action and suspense!


It's been a while since I've read a Guardians of the Galaxy series, despite Jacob telling me I would have enjoyed the previous run. I caught glimpses of what he was reading, and it looked really sad. I'm not entirely sure what was going on with Rocket (it's only briefly mentioned at the start of this new series), but I was worried the story would make me cry. I didn't feel like crying, which is why I chose to skip it. Ironically, Ewing had me sobbing by the third issue of this one, so now I might as well go back and read the previous story. 😐 Seriously, I was ugly crying on the couch.

I really, really loved how the third issue was written. Normally, Groot doesn't speak in a language readers can understand. We depend on the other characters in the story to translate for him within their dialogue, and we get the gist of what he's saying, albeit indirectly. However, in the most recent issue, it's everyone else that speaks like Groot, and he alone has the clearly defined dialogue. It was beautifully written, and really conveyed the emotions swirling through the various characters. I think Ewing is clever, and he made sure something specific had a very large impact on readers.

The story itself has been enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to seeing what adventures Ewing will take the Guardians of the Galaxy on next. Their group is fluid, and new characters are constantly being introduced. Like that little blue bunny on the third cover (for the life of me, I cannot remember his name), and the villains they're currently fighting. If you're looking for something new to read, and don't mind getting emotional, definitely check this one out!
Hawkeye: Freefall #1-3 by Matthew Rosenberg, Kim Jacinto, Otto Schmidt

Synopsis (via Goodreads): When a mysterious and ruthless new Ronin starts tearing a destructive path through the city, suspicion immediately falls on Hawkeye, but Clint has more to worry about than who’s wearing his old costume. After a clash with the Hood ends badly, Hawkeye gives himself a new mission that will place him in the crosshairs of one of New York’s most dangerous villains. Hawkeye’s mission and Ronin’s secret plans will set them on a collision course that only one of them will walk away from. Fan favorite Clint Barton returns in a brand new series from Matthew Rosenberg (UNCANNY X-MEN, THE PUNISHER) and Otto Schmidt (Green Arrow).


Hawkeye is my favorite Marvel character! It doesn't matter if it's Clint Barton or Kate Bishop, I'm going to read it! I absolutely adore them both. They're quirky, sarcastic, skilled characters (they're talented because they're so good, and they don't have actual super powers) that I've always related to. They've worked hard to make a name for themselves, and they persevere despite various setbacks. 

However, I am really struggling with Clint in this one, despite understanding his actions and his reasoning. He's tired of seeing the bad guys get away with doing bad things. There are corrupt politicians, mayors, and police chiefs𑁋people with power and political ties that cheat the system. He wants to do everything by the book, but gets frustrated when his efforts are overruled the very next day. What's the point in fighting evil, if the same evil gets released back onto the streets without a trial or repercussions? What happened to delivering a punishment befitting the crime? 

Speaking of punishment, Clint has some very strong Frank Castle vibes in this one. He's decided to take the law into his own hands, and starts making very questionable decisions. There is a lot going on in this story, with time travel and the morality of his choices. On the one hand, I agree that something needs to be done, but I'm not sure his methods are the right route. Especially when he starts lying and deceiving his friends, who are honestly there trying to help. They care about him, and they're concerned about the carnage his actions are leaving in his wake.

Clint has really gotten himself stuck in some serious shit this time, and I'm not sure how he's going to get out of it unscathed. I'm pretty sure something drastic will have to happen before he stops what he's doing, and I feel like everything is going to come to head sooner rather than later.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) by Laini Taylor
Narrated by Khristine Hvam

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


Daughter of Smoke & Bone is a series I started years ago, but sadly never finished. I stumbled across the trilogy at a used book store shortly before our most recent move, and decided it was finally time to find out what happens to the lovely Karou and the tortured Akiva. Laini Taylor is a master storyteller, and I absolutely loved the world she created within the pages of this book. It was dark, magical, and otherworldly, but strangely realistic. I can't believe it has taken me this long to jump back into this world of flawed angels and misunderstood demons. 

I really enjoyed Karou as a character. She's relatable and just wants to carve out a spot for herself in the world. It's not easy when you're privy to secret doors and friendly monsters, but she's well-cared for and loved. She's not sure how she came to live with Issa and Brimstone (there are two others, but their names elude me), but she's happy with her life. Collecting teeth for Brimstone is weird, and he doesn't always tell Karou what they're for, but he has taught her how to tell them a part. Karou has a knack for stringing them together, but doesn't understand their significance. Her history is blocked from her𑁋for a very good reason𑁋and I really liked the slow reveal. Taylor doesn't make us wait until the very end, but wraps Karou's past and present into a wonderful web of tangled memories and misinformation. 

Brimstone is a fantastically creative and amazing character that I adored, and one that will forever have a place in my heart. He's gruffy and severe on the outside, but has always had a soft spot for Karou. I can't say more without spoiling something, but The Wishmonger is easily one of my favorite characters ever

Understandably, Karou is curious about the secrets the chimaera keep, so she makes less-than-stellar decisions when it comes to respecting rules and boundaries. She knows Brimstone and the others have secrets, and that there are times when she's not allowed to be in the shop. They don't mind when she's around their human visitors, but she's not allowed to see who or what enters through a door in the back. Brimstone did his best to protect Karou (from herself and others), but the past has a way of catching up to you, despite your efforts and intentions. When Karou's world is irrevocably changed, my heart broke alongside hers, and felt her fury deep in my soul. 

Akiva is an interesting character. He's tortured, but not broody. His anger and vehemence is warranted based on what happened in his past (especially the part shared with Madrigal), but his actions afterwards will be hard to forgive. He took his pain and rage, let them twist the person he had the potential to be, and became the monster he feared he was. Madrigal's softly spoken words, shared comforts, and midnight laughter did little to diminish his need for revenge. In fact, it was likely because of those things that he lost himself.

The juxtaposition of who the characters were before, and who they are now, was simply amazing. It's like Taylor wrote two versions for both Karou and Akiva, and now she's blending them together. Only time will tell who they will chose to be. Does Akiva deserve forgiveness? Is Karou willing to overlook something that stemmed from indescribable pain? There are no right answers, and they're not decisions I would personally want to make, so I'm anxious to see how the two will resolve their current circumstances.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Can't-Wait Wednesday [90]

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature that's hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. It highlights the upcoming releases we're really excited about reading! CWW is a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday (WoW), that was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon
Expected publication: February 2nd 2021

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”

High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful—and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy.

Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers. And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest: A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat. As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile—and monumentally more successful—didn’t already make her stomach churn.

As the two rival app developers clash again and again—and again—Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow. Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?

Fun fact: Lily Menon is a pseudonym for Sandhya Menon, the author of When Dimple Met Rishi, There's Something About Sweetie, and others!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Summer Set by Aimee Agresti
[Blog Tour: Review]

The real drama hap backstage in this juicy novel about an idyllic summer theater where hot stars, has-beens and hopefuls chase roles—and each other. Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood’s hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, she's pushing forty, exiled from the film world and back at the summer Shakespeare theater that launched her career—and where her old flame, Nick, is the artistic director. It’s not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself getting her groove back, bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships and even reigniting her spark with Nick, who still seems to bring out the best in her despite their complicated history. Until Charlie’s old rival, Hollywood’s current it girl, is brought in to attract theater donors, threatening to undo everything she’s built. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtains, Charlie must put on the show of a lifetime to fight for the second chance she deserves in career and in love
Synopsis: With a setting inspired by the real-life Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires where stars like Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lauren Graham, and Chris Pine have performed, THE SUMMER SET (Graydon House Books; May 12; $17.99) is a salacious rom-com, beach read perfect for Broadway nerds and Hollywood gossips alike.

Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood's hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, she's pushing forty, exiled from the film world back at the summer Shakespeare theater in the Berkshires that launched her career—and where her first love, Nick, is the artistic director.

It's not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself thriving: bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships, and even reigniting her spark with Nick despite their complicated history.

Until Charlie's old rival, Hollywood's current “It Girl,” is brought on set, threatening to undo everything she's been working towards. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtains, Charlie must put on one heck of a show to fight for the second chance she deserves in her career and in love.

DNF at 23%

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I'm going to chalk this one up to it being a review copy, and just hope that the finished product is a little more polished. My main issue with The Summer Set was its formatting. The POV would change in the middle of a chapter, and it was making me crazy! I never knew who was speaking, and it would take me several sentences to figure it out. The story bounced between Charlie, Nick, Ethan, and Sierra, but there were a lot of other characters connected to their individual perspectives (with some interesting and unexpected overlap). 

In addition to the formatting, there are time skips that added to my confusion. Characters would reference something that had happened, only we weren't there and didn't experience it with them. For example, Sierra mentions understanding Ethan's family drama, but we weren't privy to whatever those two shared concerning his parents. "Sierra had already witnessed Ethan's frustration with his family and understood how hard he tried to bottle it up."

What did she witness? When? Was this their brief conversation about why he had a job? If so, that was not indicative of bottled up emotions. And then a random character named Tripp pointed out the shirt he was wearing and said something about Ethan designing them for his family's business (apparently they can be bought from Urban Outfitters), which led to Ethan sharing a few words about setting up something profitable for his family, but that's the extent of the information we receive regarding his personal drama (the gist: he made money for his family, yet they're unsupportive). Sierra and Ethan have also developed quite the friendship in a very short amount of time, and we don't really get to see that take shape. One minute they're strangers, and the next they're best buds. 

That's not the only gap that I stumbled over, but it was the most recent. At a bonfire, Nick brings Charlie a stick (for s'mores) and the group Sierra and Nick are a part of feel the need to comment on their interaction. Someone claims it's an olive branch because Nick got upset when Charlie kissed Chase during rehearsals, even though the two are playing Romeo and Juliet. It wasn't a stolen kiss in a dark corner somewhere, but one that was planned in the script. Are you confused yet? I am! Why? Because whatever they're talking about wasn't something that was witnessed by readers. After the group dissects a conversation they can't hear and are not involved in, someone else divulges Nick and Charlie's shared past, although no one knows why the two split when they did. It's a mystery!

Additionally, the characters in this book, at least where Charlie and Nick are concerned, are in their 40's! They're acting like angsty teenagers, and it's all because of something that happened YEARS and YEARS ago that we're𑁋again𑁋not privy to. I'm sure those details would have been shared eventually, but I don't have that kind of patience. Here's an idea... TALK TO EACH OTHER. If they had simply had an open and honest conversation, a lot of the conflict could have been resolved. Instead, they dance around each other, neither of them wanting to address the bees in their bonnets.

The story itself wasn't bad, and I didn't hate the characters, but I disliked how disorganized the book felt. Every time the perspective changed, I would have to readjust and find my flow again. It didn't help that after discerning who was speaking, I then had to figure out how much time had passed, and what I didn't know I'd missed. I wouldn't cross this one off your list completely, but definitely see if the published version has been cleaned up a bit before diving in.

About Aimee: 

Aimee Agresti is the author of Campaign Widows and The Gilded Wings trilogy for young adults. A former staff writer for Us Weekly, she penned the magazine's coffee table book Inside Hollywood. Aimee's work has also appeared in People, Premiere, DC magazine, Capitol File, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer, and she has made countless TV and radio appearances, dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and HLN. Aimee graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, DC, area.

Social Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Sunday Post [46]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.


Happy Mother's Day! Being a mother has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life, especially right now while we're all stuck at home! I've enjoyed the extra family time we've had, but three-year-old twins and a six-year-old can be exhausting (they have to be properly exercised every day, haha). They just have ALL THIS ENERGY, and we're running out of ways to creatively exert it. We can only walk around the neighborhood so many times! They've been begging to go to a playground, and we've sadly not been able to let them. Despite the restrictions, we've actually had a lot of fun together. We've had time to do a lot of the activities we've put off because of work and school. Board games, movie marathons, puzzles, redoing the garden and yard at our new house, deep cleaning and organizing (I think that one was only fun for me, haha), and Jacob has been able to work on his woodworking projects in the garage. The kids love to "help" him, which usually means hammering nails into the wood he recently pulled nails from. ;)

Jacob goes back to work on Tuesday, so we'll see how that goes. It's definitely going to shake things up around the house! For example, I will be doing my son's Google Meets and online assignments solo while also trying to keep the girls occupied. Normally, one of us will do the homework and sessions, and the other will entertain the girls. We've been switching it up to keep things interesting! ;) I'm don't know what he'll be doing at work right now, but they want to slowly start getting back to normal, and no one really knows what that means.

During one of our walks, the monsters found a nest that had been knocked from its tree, so we brought the babies home. One was already dead inside of the nest, and the other two looked pretty bad. Luckily, they're older and have most of their feathers, so they happily ate the worms and bugs the kids dug up. Yesterday they started moving around more, and it was clear they wanted to be able to hop around, so we placed them in the front yard. After a while, several robins descended to investigate the two fledglings, and it was like they collectively decided to take them under their wings. At one time, five different robins were hopping around and trying to parent the babies. We left them alone, and can only hope for the best. I'm just happy to have them out of the house! All the cheeping! Our cats and dogs were losing their minds.

Sadly, John Prine died recently. IN SPITE OF OURSEVLES is our JAM. Jacob and I love it. 

Previous week on the blog:
  • Sunday: Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke (★★⋆☆☆) Review
  • Monday: NA
  • Tuesday: Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews (★★★☆☆) Review
  • Wednesday: Can't-Wait Wednesday [89] Post
  • Thursday: NA 
  • Friday: Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino (★★★☆☆) Review
  • Saturday: NA
What I'm currently reading:

The Summer Set by Aimee Agresti 
Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

What I plan on reading next:

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

What I'm watching:

We finally caught up on Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, and we're both over it. First, I hate that Simon was having feelings for Zoey while he was engaged, and that Zoey allowed those feelings to grow. She knew he was engaged, so it should have been a no from the start. Second, I dislike how she treats Max. Max has been her best friend for years, and she keeps putting him and his feelings on hold. Why? Because she has lingering affections for Simon? She should have been honest with Max from the start. Third, she's kissing them both and claiming to not know how she feels, and it's gross. However, I did enjoy the songs related to her father, and sobbed like crazy during the last episode. Unfortunately, I don't think it's a show I'll be continuing. 

I finally watched all of Afterlife with Jacob, and was surprised by how much I liked it! I'm really looking forward to starting the second season.

Challenge updates: