First Lines Fridays – June 25, 2021

Welcome back to my blog! It’s that time of the week again where I bring you another First Lines Fridays post! To read my last First Lines Friday, click here.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Today’s First Lines

I spent the last hour wondering if I would die tonight.

You can drop dead from a heart attack at seventeen, right? The prospect of tonight’s dinner party made my heart ricochet off my rib cage so fiercely I was convinced my days were numbered.

Can you guess what book it is? This book has been on my TBR for ages but these first lines have me wanting to start it right now!

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?


If you’re interested in All Your Twisted Secrets you can purchase it on Amazon (affiliate link)!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Subscription Spotlight: Bubbles & Books

Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing attention to one of the book boxes that I subscribe to: Bubbles & Books. If you want to take a look at my last product spotlight post, you can check out my post about Sleuth Kings here.

What is Bubbles & Books?

You can visit their website for more info, but I’ll try to give you the basics.

The January Bubbles & Books standard box (taken from my bookstagram)

Bubbles & Books is an international book box subscription service that sends you a package every month. There are three levels of subscription (each level adds to the previous) which changes what you receive. I’ll go over those below.

Level 1: Digital Bubbles

This is the cheapest subscription level option that Bubbles & Books offers. If you choose this level, you’ll receive 3-5 bath products and access to 5+ free eBook downloads every month. The way the eBooks work with Bubbles & Books is that you get a URL in each box that leads you to free Kindle deals. I prefer physical books to eBooks and my TBR is already crazy, so I’ve only taken advantage of these deals once, but I think I downloaded like 10 from that one URL.

Level 2: Standard (my subscription level)

Since this is the first option when you go to subscribe, I think this is the most popular level. Every month you receive 3-5 bath products, one new release paperback, and access to 5+ free eBook downloads.

With the Standard and Premium packages, you get to choose the genre of the books you want to receive. If you ever want to change genres, all you have to do is email them to let them know. I’ve tried 3 out of 4 genres so far so they’re probably just like PICK SOMETHING ALREADY 😂

The genres you can choose from are: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, and Mystery/Thriller.

Level 3: Premium

This is the highest level of subscription that Bubbles & Books offers. With this level you get two new release paperbacks in the genre of your choice, 5-7 bath products, and access to 5+ free eBook downloads. This level was a bit too expensive for me to want, but whenever I see unboxing photos of people at this level I get super jealous.

Extra Info

Bubbles & Books also has an Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and membership rewards system. (They have a Twitter but their last tweet was 2018 so I don’t think it’s active.) I’ll go through (and link) these below.

Instagram (@bubbles_books_box)

Instagram is where I have basically all of my interactions with the Bubbles & Books team. They post updates on sales, upcoming boxes, and upcoming events. They also repost their subscribers’ unboxing photos so you can always see what books/items other subscribers have recently received.

Facebook

If you’re a subscriber, you can access their Facebook group where they throw fun events. In fact they’re throwing a Facebook Live sale tomorrow. I’m not a part of the Facebook group because all my bookish stuff is done through Twitter and Instagram, but if you use Facebook for your bookish things, definitely check it out!

Pinterest

I have absolutely no idea how Pinterest works so I can’t give you much info on this one, but if you’re into using Pinterest, you can check them out there as well. Here’s what their page looks like.

Rewards System

At some point (I honestly don’t remember when) I received the following rewards card in one of my boxes:

How this works is that every month they send you a Bubbles & Books sticker that you put in the circles on this card. Every time you hit one of those golden circles, you email or post a picture of it and they’ll give you a reward.

I forgot about this for a long time so I actually just sent pictures of me hitting the 3 month and 6 month benchmarks to their email address. I can’t wait to see what the extra special something is!

My Opinion

I am a HUGE fan of this box. I have several bookish subscriptions and it’s very rare that for a book box to allow the customers to have so many choices (in terms of genre and subscription level). As I mentioned before, I’ve already taken advantage of their option to switch genres at any point and I’m extremely grateful for that. I’m currently subscribed to Contemporary Romance and I think I found the genre for me. I still haven’t tried Historical Romance yet but that’s mostly because Historical Romances tend to have themes that are upsetting for me personally.

On top of the customization for this box, I really enjoy interacting with the Bubbles & Books team on Instagram. They’re very active in liking and commenting on all of my unboxing photos, and when one of my boxes had the wrong book, they were quick to apologize and make things right. Honestly if they offered me a job I’d be so down 😂

Unboxing Photos & Discount Code

I’ll close out this post by posting a bunch of my Bubbles & Books unboxing photos and giving you a discount code if you’d like to subscribe.

If you’d like to give them a try, you can use my code JENJEN30 for 30% off of your first box. I’m not actually an affiliate or anything they just offered me a code once to give to my friends/followers and I was like THAT’S AWESOME.

Anyways, happy reading!

#TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour Review: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A beautifully designed and executed thriller that will keep you guessing to the very end.

Thank you so much to The Write Reads, Penguin, and Carole Johnstone, for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary physical copy and media kit!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

About the Author

Carole Johnstone is an award-winning writer from Scotland, whose short stories have been published all over the world. Mirrorland, a psychological suspense with a gothic twist, is her debut novel.

Having grown up in Lanarkshire, she now lives in the beautiful Argyll & Bute, and is currently working on her second novel: a very unusual murder-mystery, set in the equally beautiful Outer Hebrides.

Review

Book CWs

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Twelve years ago my life began again.

But it was a lie.

With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is the story of twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.

Cat lives in Los Angeles, about as far away as she can get from her estranged twin sister El and No. 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where they grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the grand old house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. No. 36 Westeryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues all over the house: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…

A sharply crafted mystery about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Daphne du Maurier.

Review (No Spoilers)

This book was fantastic! Though I received a complimentary hardcover for this tour, I initially started off listening to this on Audiobook so that I could continue doing work at the same time. Eventually, I switched to the physical, and then went back to audio to finish it up.

I would personally recommended reading it physically if you’re able. The main reason I suggest this is because the book moves back and forth between the present and the past, something that is very difficult to tell when you’re listening to the narration. When I first started the audiobook, I thought that my confusion was just due to the narrator having a Scottish accent, but I soon discovered (after grabbing my copy to look at) that the writing style just doesn’t transfer over to audio that great. If you do want to try the Audiobook (it’s available on Scribd), I would suggest following along with the book until you get used to the switches.

In regards to the plot, Mirrorland makes great use of the unreliable narrator trope. I know that a lot of people have grown tired of it nowadays, but I think Mirrorland did it justice. Instead of making our main character Cat a beaten down and depressed drunk whom no one trusts, Johnstone instead created a character that is both fragile and strong. Cat has dealt with severe trauma for a very long time, and I was so proud of how much she grew as a result. Sure, she struggles at times with panic attacks and memory loss, but I never stopped rooting for her. And I think she never stopped rooting for herself.

If there’s one thing that I would critique about Mirrorland, it’s that I think the book tried to do a bit too much. There was a point at around 85% where I thought “isn’t this book done? how is there more??”. I then remembered that someone in our blog tour chat group mentioned that they wanted the book to end around 85% in and I think I agree. I’m a bit noncommittal about it because the last chapters had some things that I really liked, but they also had things I felt didn’t work as well as the rest of the book. I’ll have to sit on it for a while longer.

I would definitely recommend Mirrorland if you’re into adult mystery/thriller novels. If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here!

My physical copy (from my bookstagram)

Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove by Marie Laval

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A wonderfully written love story with unexpectedly dark themes.

Foreword

Thank you so much to Rachel at https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/ and Marie Laval for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary digital copy and blog tour media kit!

About the Author

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for the past few years. She writes both contemporary and historical romance. Her novels include best selling contemporary romantic suspense novels LITTLE PINK TAXI and ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU, which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Awards, as well as A PARIS FAIRY TALE and BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC. Her latest novel, ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE, was released in February 2021. Marie also contributes to the best selling Miss Moonshine’s Emporium anthologies together with eight author friends from Authors on the Edge.

Giveaway (UK Only)

Enter to win 2 bracelets with glass found on a Northumberland beach, a pack of pencils, a mystery gift and some chocolate. (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using this link.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Review

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

From the big city to a little yellow mobile library on the Isle of Skye …

When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams …

However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.

Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?

Review (No Spoilers)

Welcome back to my blog for another book tour! I apparently had 3 tours due back to back so you can expect another review tomorrow.

Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove was a very good book, but before I get into it, I want to spend a bit of time warning you that it’s not as happy-go-lucky as the cover, blurb, and title lead you to believe. If you are at all triggered by topics such as domestic abuse, gaslighting, trauma, and parental neglect, please click the link I’ve listed above to view the content/trigger warnings for this book. Emotional/mental abuse is an extremely prevalent theme throughout the novel and it blindsided me in the worst way. If you’ve read The Flatshare, it was very similar to that type of thing. My partner actually had to ask me if I was okay a few times because of how much this book was affecting me. And even though I thought this book was great, if I could go back, I would have put my mental health first and skipped it. (Funnily enough there’s actually a line in the book about how the main character wouldn’t want to read a book about abuse and violence and I was like hello!!!!! that me!!! lol)

Okay, now that I got the serious stuff out of the way, let’s get back to talking about why I liked this book. The things that I think made this book extraordinary were the fantastic writing style and the lovable main characters. Jenna, Daniel, and Katrina were so charming and the whole found-family dynamic present on the isle really warmed my heart. Katrina is one of the cutest fictional children I’ve ever read and I love her oh so much. As someone who has experienced emotional/mental abuse at both the hands of my ex and my parents (hence why I don’t like reading about these topics), Jenna was very very relatable. I wanted to wrap her up in a snuggly blanket next to a warm fire and give her bottomless hot chocolate. Daniel was such a gentle giant that I wished nothing but happiness for him. He was dealt some terrible cards throughout his adult life and he deserved so much better than that.

There were a few things that were included in this book that struck me as super random, but they somehow worked incredibly well. Drummond’s character was completely unnecessary, but he provided me with much needed comic relief despite his unlikable nature. The inclusion of the magical tales of mermaids, curses, and treasure had me puzzled at the beginning, but it added a nice fantastical element to the story that I think was handled very well. And while I think that the ending was a bit too neatly tied together, after all the tragic story arcs I had to power through to get there, I think it was a much needed relief.

Marie Laval is definitely a talented author that I’ll keep an eye out for in the future. Now that I’ve read her bio, it does seem like she specializes in romantic suspense, but hopefully I can find some lighter reads to explore.

Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove is out today! If you’d like to purchase a copy, you can find it on Amazon US (affiliate link) or Amazon UK!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Spotlight: The Mostly Invisible Boy by AJ Vanderhorst

Today I’m bringing attention to the book The Mostly Invisible Boy by AJ Vanderhorst. I’ll take you through the blurb, about the author, and a few tour excerpts!

Premise

Eleven-year-old Casey is stubbornly friendly, but he’s eternally the new kid at Vintage Woods Middle School. Students look right through him—and they’re not faking. Casey doesn’t know why he’s mostly-invisible, but when he scales a colossal oak, he discovers a fortress in its branches. The forgotten sentry tree marks the border between his safe, suburban life and a fierce frontier.

Casey and his little sister Gloria infiltrate Sylvan Woods, a secret forest society devoted to ancient, wild things. Sky-high footpaths. Survival sewing. Monster control. Shockingly, people here actually see Casey—but being seen isn’t enough. He wants to belong.

Keeping his identity hidden–while struggling to prove he fits–is hard enough, but Butcher Beasts have returned to Sylvan Woods after a hundred years. Trickery is under siege. As the monsters close in, and the fearsome Sylvan Watch hunts Casey down, he and his newfound friends must unearth abandoned magic, buried at the forest’s roots…or be devoured along with everyone else, Sylvans and civilians alike.

A fast-paced middle grade fantasy/adventure book with all the monsters kids could ever hope for.

Book CWs: For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Purchase on Amazon US (affiliate link)

About the Author

AJ Vanderhorst has had many jobs, including journalist, paramedic, escape artist, and baby whisperer. One time in fifth grade, he built a traffic-stopping fort in a huge oak tree, using only branches and imagination, and slept there for a week.

Now he and his wife live in a woodsy house with their proteges and a ridiculous number of pets, including a turtle with a taste for human toes. This makes AJ an expert on wild, dangerous things—invisibility spells, butcher beasts, hungry kids, you get the idea.

He is the only author in the world who enjoys pickup basketball and enormous bonfires, preferably not at the same time. He and his family have drawn up several blueprints for their future tree castle. Visit AJ online at ajvanderhorst.com.

What readers have to say

I love his relationship with his sister, Gloria. He never disparages her ideas or tells her that she is imagining things. He protects her as much as he can but ultimately lets her stand up for herself. Gloria, in fact, is the heroine in several of their adventures and he never feels slighted by this, instead, he is proud of her achievements. This is such a refreshing and delightful depiction of sibling relationships.

Broken Geek

AJ Vanderhorst has the most beautiful imagination. The way Vanderhorst puts this world in your mind is nothing short of brilliant. The journey to the Sylvan Woods had me on the edge of my seat, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My Bookish Bliss

I absolutely love the world that AJ Vanderhorst has created here, he really does have a wonderful imagination. It kind of gives off treetop Percy Jackson vibes, and I am totally here for it.

_ForBooksSake

The characters are all so witty and eloquent, and yet the dialogue feels so natural and flowing. The story itself is fast-paced and fun, it doesn’t ever get stuck on anything or leave you bored.

The Artsy Reader

A great little middle grade novel and loads of fun to read.  Descriptive and creative and extremely enjoyable.

Herding Cats

Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: Again Again by E. Lockhart

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There’s somehow too much but also not enough going on in this book, and I still don’t know how to feel about it.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and E. Lockhart for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary physical copy and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: June 2, 2020

From the New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud comes a complex novel about acceptance, forgiveness, self-discovery, and possibility, as a teenage girl attempts to regain some sense of normalcy in her life after a family crisis and a broken heart.

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times–while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.

A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.

Purchase/Information Links:

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

E. Lockhart wrote the New York Times bestseller We Were Liars and the upcoming Genuine Fraud, a psychological thriller. Her other books include Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and the Ruby Oliver Quartet, which includes The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends. She also wrote How to Be Bad with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle. Visit her online at emilylockhart.com, and follow her on Twitter at @elockhart.

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

I’m going to start off this review with a bit of a disclaimer. I rated this book 4 stars because I have no idea how to rate this book. When I finished it, I had so many overwhelming and conflicting feelings that I didn’t even understand how to feel about it. Now that a few hours have passed since then, I still don’t know. And I kind of think that might actually be the point.

Again Again is written in such a unique way that it begs the reader to think deeply about it’s trying to say. The overall plot follows Adelaide as she struggles to cope with her recent breakup and her brother’s illness, but throughout the novel, there are several bolded sections that (to my understanding) indicate what could have happened/did happen in an alternate timeline.

As a result, you find yourself reading very similar passages 2-4 times in a row, where the characters reactions are altered only very slightly but will result in an entirely new story. In one version you might watch as two characters share a few lines of dialogue and begin falling in love; in another, you might see the same two characters exchanging similar lines of dialogue but growing apart instead. The overall effect is both amazing and disillusioning at the same time.

When I read through the first sections featuring alternate universes, I was apprehensive at how it was going to work, but it actually grew on me very quickly. It’s never quite explained what these passages mean/are, but once again, I think that was kind of the point. The story is both written concretely, and extremely open at the same time . In fact, there was somehow both an ending and not an ending at all. I even managed to both hate and like the characters at the same time (tbqh I think Adelaide needs some serious therapy). Maybe now you see a bit of why I’m so conflicted with how I feel about it?

I definitely think that Again Again is a book that deserves to be read more than once. There are so many things going on that it can be difficult (or maybe impossible) to figure it all out with one reading. What was the book trying to tell me? It feels like something really big, but I’m not sure I’ve yet to pin it down. Maybe I’m not meant to.

First Lines Fridays – June 11, 2021

Welcome back to my blog! It’s that time of the week again where I bring you another First Lines Fridays post! To read my FLF from last week, click here.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Today’s First Lines

Julia’s world was blue.

Blue was everything. Blue was safe. Blue was home.

How she longed to see red.

She could glimpse it from the alley in which she crouched. The forests of the Red were ever present, cradling an encroaching on stone and blue paint. The tops of the trees danced over the stuccoed walls of the buildings that formed the Blue: the last city on earth.

‘They’re coming out,’ Claudia whispered.

Can you guess what book it is? I recently received a copy from the author and I’m looking forward to reading it!

The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.


If you’re interested in The Gilded King, you can purchase it on Amazon (affiliate link)!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A book that explores what friendship means along with the importance of boundaries and communication.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Miel Moreland for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary digital copy and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: May 18, 2021

In Miel Moreland’s heartfelt young adult debut, It Goes Like This, four queer teens realize that sometimes you have to risk hitting repeat on heartbreak.

Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph used to think their friendship was unbreakable. After all, they’ve been though a lot together, including the astronomical rise of Moonlight Overthrow, the world-famous queer pop band they formed in middle school, never expecting to headline anything bigger than the county fair.

But after a sudden falling out leads to the dissolution of the teens’ band, their friendship, and Eva and Celeste’s starry-eyed romance, nothing is the same. Gina and Celeste step further into the spotlight, Steph disappears completely, and Eva, heartbroken, takes refuge as a songwriter and secret online fangirl…of her own band. That is, until a storm devastates their hometown, bringing the four ex-best-friends back together. As they prepare for one last show, they’ll discover whether growing up always means growing apart. 

Purchase/Information Links:

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

Miel Moreland writes character-driven contemporary Young Adult novels. Born and raised in Minneapolis, she has a Midwestern heart but wandering feet. When not making pop music references and celebrating fandom, she is likely to be found drinking hot chocolate and making spreadsheets. She currently resides in Boston. 

Review (no spoilers)

This is my first tour with TBR and Beyond, so I hope I’m doing everything correctly! If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

It Goes Like This is a young adult contemporary novel about four ex-bandmates. After experiencing an extremely messy breakup of their band, Moonlight Overthrow, Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph find themselves suddenly reuniting in order to put together a one time reunion benefit concert.

The premise of this book caught my attention immediately. Not only is it interesting, but it’s also a very fresh take for a YA contemporary. In most contemporary novels, the best friends start off together and a conflict breaks them apart in the middle of the novel. In It Goes Like This, the initial conflict has already happened before the primary timeline begins, and you learn more and more about it through a series of flashbacks.

My favorite thing about It Goes Like This was that for a book with an all-queer cast, there was not a lot of time spent on LGBT discrimination. As a pansexual who often uses reading as an escape, I’m always a bit nervous about how in depth these conversations are going to go. There are some brief conversations/reflections about it (the most being the exploration of Steph’s non-binary identity), but the main and secondary characters of the book are extremely supportive and protective of each other, even despite their rocky relationships.

This brings me to why I rated the book 3 stars. While I was extremely grateful for the unconditional underlying camaraderie between these four characters, I had a hard time liking any of them individually. Miscommunication/Lack of communication is one of my least favorite tropes, and this book relies on it very heavily. The more they continued to randomly lash out at each other, the more frustrated I found myself getting. There was clearly a lot of unresolved issues between them, but I had hoped that their past mistakes would have taught them what not to do this time around.

Another thing that I discovered as I read this was that I think it would have been easier for me to read if it were written in first-person instead. Each chapter focuses on a different character, but all of them are written in third-person and more than once I found myself confused as to what was happening. For a book thats main emphasis is on relationships, I think it could benefit a lot from first-person narration. Please note, however, that the version I read was an ARC, so the final publication will probably resolve these issues.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend It Goes Like This if you’re looking for a queer contemporary that explores the importance of self-image, friendship, and family.

Book Review: Redemption by Kelly Moran

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A nice escape read despite the tough themes it tackles..

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

Nearly the last remaining member of Olivia Cattenach’s family has just died overseas and left her overcome by grief. But when a soldier shows up at her ranch with a final message from her brother, she finds new purpose. Nathan Roldan is as formidable as they come. Bulging muscles and inked to boot, he looks like every bit the bad boy he claims to be. Except, under his shuttered gaze and behind his walls lies a gentle giant. Determined to carry out her brother’s wishes, she chips away at Nate’s layers and discovers more pain than any person should ever have to endure. And a passion she never dreamed was possible.

He’s not the hero she thinks he is…

Nate’s mistake got a fellow comrade killed, and a deathbed promise to take care of the guy’s sister lands him in Wyoming with the hope of redemption. But he wasn’t expecting…her. Beautiful, witty, and sweet, Olivia is everything he doesn’t deserve. Born a nothing, he’ll die a nothing. Though guilt is a living thing, temptation is too hard to resist. Somehow, she’s unleashing his restraint and unearthing feelings he buried long ago. He wants her. More, he’s worried he needs her. She’s trying to save him, but when she learns the truth, he’ll lose the only happiness he’s ever known.

Review (No Spoilers)

Thank you to BookTasters for providing me with a complimentary eBook in exchange for a honest review!

When I saw that this was one of the romance options available from BookTasters, I jumped at the chance. I read Kelly Moran’s Bewitched (also with BookTasters) over a year ago and enjoy it quite a lot. If you’re interested in reading my review of that book, you can find it here.

Redemption is a novel that features the classic “secret” trope. Nate is an ex-soldier who watched his one and only friend die right in front of him. As part of a promise made during these moments, Nate travels to Wyoming to watch over his friend’s little sister, omitting how deep his part in the tragedy was. He dedicates himself to watching over her from afar, but neither of them can deny the building chemistry between them.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading about Olivia and Nate’s journey. Nate is someone who grew up under extremely hard circumstances, with no one to care for him properly. Throughout the book, we watch as Olivia slowly chips away at his hard exterior to show him what it means to be loved and cared for. With trauma as deep as Nate’s, will one woman’s kindness be enough? You’ll have to read to find out!

The reason I rated this book three stars instead of something higher is simply because I felt like the storyline was a bit too perfect. The novel tackles a lot of extremely dark themes such as domestic abuse, PTSD, and grief. But, a lot of these conflicts were solved much too quickly for my tastes. It made what started off being a relatively realistic storyline turn almost fairytale like. In fact, I’d probably label this book as a relatively light read, despite these themes.

If you’re interested in reading a romance novel about a young woman showing a closed-off ex-soldier what it means to be cared for, then you should definitely give this a shot!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

First Lines Fridays – June 4, 2021

Welcome back to my blog! It’s that time of the week again where I bring you another First Lines Fridays post! To read my FLF from last week, click here.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Today’s First Lines

Call it whatever you like. A vacation. A high school graduation present. Maybe even an escape. All I know is I’m as far from Miami as I’ve ever been.

I’m here because the Cuban Remedy failed. It’s forever ancient and reads like a recipe. Though the ingredients may vary from family to family, the goal is always the same: suffer heartbreak and your family will fix you. Except no amount of food and family could heal my heartbreak, so like a plotline from one of Mami’s telenovelas, they tricked me instead.

“Next, please.” The London Heathrow customs officer waves me forward. “The purpose of your visit, miss?” he asks after I hand over my passport.

Two seconds pass, then four, then my blatant lie. “Vacation.”

Can you guess what book it is? I think it was a book I got in an Unplugged Book Box late in 2020. Scroll down for the reveal!

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is an absolute delight. Cozier than a hand-knit gray cardigan and richer than Abuela’s pastelito recipe, Namey takes you from Miami to Winchester, and leaves your heart belonging to both.” —Rachael Lippincott, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Five Feet Apart

Love & Gelato meets Don’t Date Rosa Santos in this charming, heartfelt story following a Miami girl who unexpectedly finds love—and herself—in a small English town.

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.


If you’re interested in A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, you can purchase it on Amazon (affiliate link)!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.