Incredibly cute new-adult love story with a generous serving of feminism
Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Kaitlyn Hill for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!
This summer, Reese Camden is trading sweet tea and Southern hospitality for cold brew and crisp coastal air. She’s landed her dream marketing internship at Friends of Flavor, a wildly popular cooking channel in Seattle. The only problem? Benny Beneventi, the relentlessly charming, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing culinary intern–and her main competition for the fall job.
Reese’s plan to keep work a No Feelings Zone crumbles like a day-old muffin when she and Benny are thrown together for a video shoot that goes viral, making them the internet’s newest ship. Audiences are hungry for more, and their bosses at Friends of Flavor are happy to deliver. Soon Reese and Benny are in an all-out food war, churning homemade ice cream, twisting soft pretzels, breaking eggs in an omelet showdown–while hundreds of thousands of viewers watch.
Reese can’t deny the chemistry between her and Benny. But the more their rivalry heats up, the harder it is to keep love on the back burner…
Kaitlyn Hill is a writer, reader, and sweet tea enthusiast who believes that all the world is not, in fact, a stage, but a romance novel waiting to happen. Her debut novel Love from Scratch comes out 4/5/22 from Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House.
Kaitlyn has a BA in Sociology/Anthropology and German Studies, which means that she can tell you way too much about the Communist Manifesto in Karl Marx’s mother tongue. Before landing on writing, she worked in roles from city government intern in a small German town to Haunted Mansion Maid at Walt Disney World, and most recently, at her hometown public library.
Aside from books, Kaitlyn’s favorite things are giraffes, ABBA, and excessively long naps. She lives with her real life romance hero in Lexington, Kentucky.
If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.
Y’all, this romance novel was so incredibly cute. I was literally grinning my face off at the end when a particular scene happened and that one scene single handedly elevated my rating half a star. I want to start off this review by mentioning that this is pegged as a YA romance novel, but I would definitely say it is a NA romance instead, as I’ve written above. The main characters are both 18 and recent high school graduates. The novel follows these two interns as they’re thrust into a sudden workplace partnership filming cooking videos under a segment titled Amateur Hour. I don’t know about you, but all of that screams new adult to me.
There are so many glorious tropes thrown into this one. We have workplace romance, food themes, and rivals/workplace competition. While there were a few tropes that I could have definitely done without such as workplace misogyny (a particularly taxing trope for me as a queer woman of color in a cis-het white male dominated field) and miscommunication (boo!), the main and supporting characters were just so lovely that I couldn’t really be upset for long.
One of the many things that I think this book handled really well was feminism. Misogyny and sexism in the workplace and on the internet is something that basically every woman can attest to. This book tackles this head on and fights back in a way that I was particularly proud of. We had some fantastic male allies come to bat as well as a healthy dose of women supporting women. While I do think it could become a bit preachy at times and that there could have been a bit more intersectionality with trans/non-binary folks, I thought it was really well handled.
This is definitely a book that I’ll file under comfort reads for future sad times. I see myself revisiting these characters and this story multiple times in my future.
Love From Scratch is out now, so if you’re interested, definitely check out some of the links listed above!
A coming-of-age novel about the important of open communication
Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Annie Rains for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!
A pitch-perfect summer camp rom-com about two teens with nothing in common who come together to help break up a romance and unexpectedly start one of their own
Sixteen-year-old Paisley Manning has been attending Camp Seabrook since she was a little girl, when her parents ran it together. For the last few years, since her father’s death, she’s been the one helping her mom run the camp behind the scenes. This year, however, will be Camp Seabrook’s last hurrah because Paisley’s mom has met a guy online and they’re getting married.
Enter Hayden Bennett, who is working alongside Paisley. Paisley and Hayden are like oil and water. She follows the rules, and he seems to live to break them all. But when Hayden catches wind of Paisley’s predicament, he has an idea. If a matchmaker in some computer algorithm caused the issue, a couple of real-life matchbreakers can fix it.
As they work to break up the happy couple, Paisley discovers that maybe Hayden’s not so bad after all. Has she met her own perfect match in her fellow matchbreaker? Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it
USA Today bestselling author Annie Rains lives in a small, coastal North Carolina town, full of lovable folks, scenic downtown areas, and breathtaking nature—similar to the towns she writes about in her books. Annie’s love of reading and writing grabbed hold of her at a young age and never let go. Her first book was published in 2015, and she’s been writing heartfelt, page-turning stories ever since. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s reading from her never-ending TBR stack on her bedside table, taking long walks while plotting her characters’ happy endings, and living out her own happily ever after with her husband, three children, feisty rescue cat, and mischievous dog.
If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.
What should you do when your mom is willing to sacrifice everything you know to move with her new boyfriend? That is the question Paisley Manning finds herself forced to answer when her mom suddenly announces not only that her boyfriend is moving, but also that both of them will be going with him. As a result, the camp that Paisley’s late father helped build–and that Paisley loves–will have to be sold to accommodate the impending move.
It’s her last summer at Camp Seabrook (called Camp Starling throughout the novel) and Paisley decides that the best course of action is to team up with rule-breaker Hayden Bennett in an attempt to break up her mother’s happy relationship. No relationship, no move. What could possibly go wrong?
The Matchbreaker Summer is a young adult coming-of-age story that teaches readers lessons about being true to oneself, the importance of honest communication, and the acceptance of necessary change. This novel was a quick and easy read for me, and the overall plot arcs were pretty darn cute. My main complaint is that I think it was marketed to the wrong audience.
The book is labeled as young adult, with the main characters being 16, but both the writing and the story would have much better fit characters who were younger in age. While I could believe that Hayden and the other camp counselors were 16, Paisley’s character struck me as strangely immature. Her motivations and actions didn’t seem aligned with her age, and I kept finding myself imagining she was around 13 years old instead. There are admittedly several times where her more mature aspects come out, but that also happens with younger teens as well, so I do think her character still would have worked better if she were of younger age.
That being said, I very much appreciated the commitment to emphasizing the importance of open communication to avoid/solve problems. The adults in this book (aside from the select few) were actually very supportive and caring, which is kind of unusual for YA contemporary novels. I wish more books had healthier depictions of adult-teen relationships like this one.
The Matchbreaker Summer was just released yesterday, so if you’re interested, definitely check out some of the links listed above!
An outrageously cute and quick read. Perfect for the holiday season.
Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond and Tif Marcelo for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!
Giveaway information to win your own copy of the book is listed at the very end!
A paperback original romance about a bookish Filipino-American girl who crosses paths with the innkeeper’s aggravating nephew–but when they accidentally switch phones, their newly discovered secrets draw them together.
Lila Castro is ready to take on her last winter break of high school. The snow is plentiful, the mood is full of holiday cheer, and she’s earning extra cash working at the cozy local inn. But her perfect holiday plans crash to a halt when her boss’s frustratingly cute nephew, Teddy Veracruz, becomes her coworker. When they accidentally switch phones one afternoon, they both realize they’ve been hiding things from each other. Will their secrets–and a dash of holiday spirit–bring them closer to love?
Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it.
Tif Marcelo is a veteran US Army nurse and holds a BS in Nursing and a Master’s in public administration. She believes and writes about the strength of families, the endurance of friendship, heartfelt romances, and is inspired daily by her own military hero husband and four children. She hosts The Stories to Love Podcast, and is the USA Today bestselling author of In a Book Club Far Away, Once Upon a Sunset, The Key to Happily Ever After, and the Journey to the Heart series.
If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.
I don’t know about you, but there’s something that I love about books with book blogging main characters. It always feels like the author is giving us a little thank you for the part that we play in the bookish community.
If you haven’t read The Holiday Switch, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about, because the blurb for some reason doesn’t mention this fact: Lila Castro (the main character) is a book blogger. She has been anonymously blogging for around 2 years using a website called Tinsel & Tropes (HOW CUTE IS THAT!?). The book includes several of her blog reviews as part of the story, and it made me feel so seen. It was one of my favorite parts of this adorable novel.
The plot follows a romance that is brewing between Lila and her new coworker Teddy. It starts off as a bit of a hate-to-love situation, with Teddy showing up and taking the hours that Lila had needed in order to save up money for college. However, their relationship quickly warms and turns into one of the cutest things I have ever seen. Most of their communication happens through flirty/banter-filled text messages, and I am a HUGE sucker for text conversations in romance novels. On top of that, this book has great Filipino American rep, realistic characters and character relationships, and the perfect cozy holiday vibe.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading The Holiday Switch. It is a festive and heart-warming read that you won’t want to miss, and it’s out tomorrow. Don’t forget to grab your copy!
One winner will receive a finished copy of The Holiday Switch. The giveaway starts on October 4th and ends on October 11th.
A story about first love and foolish, but relatable, mistakes
Thank you so much to Hear Our Voices and Pintip Dunn for allowing me to be part of this book tour and for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! If you’d like to follow along with the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.
The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name—hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed.
In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of dating practice.
In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must date in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course — and on dates they organize based on their favorite rom-coms. The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, dreamy, and infuriating.
Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. Her parents love him, so naturally he’s the perfect person for her to pretend date.
I’m a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. I graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received my J.D. at Yale Law School.
My novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance.
In addition, my books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award; and a Kirkus Reviews Best Indie Book of the Year. My other novels include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and MALICE.
Review (No Spoilers)
When I first read the blurb for Practice Makes Perfect, I couldn’t sign up for this tour fast enough! Hate-to-Love and Fake Dating are my absolute favorite tropes of all time. Put them together and I am SOLD.
While the hate-to-love aspect of the story was on point for me–I love me some angsty attraction mixed with angry flirting–I did feel like the fake dating plot could have been more fleshed out. I still don’t quite understand the logic behind going from you’re not allowed to date during high school to we are forcing you to date but it’s going to be fake. Given that Winnie wasn’t allowed to touch her dates nor develop any real feelings for them, I kept wondering what exactly was she supposed to be practicing?
As far as the characters go, I was never able to grasp what was going on with Mat and Taran in terms of their decisions and personalities. I had so many mixed feelings about those two that I still don’t know how I feel about them now that I’ve finished the book. Winnie, on the other hand, was possibly the most relatable character of all time for me. I cried a LOT towards the end of the book because I remembered what I was like in high school and Winnie’s struggles were so on-point with my experiences that it physically hurt. The relationship that Winnie had with her sisters was by far the best part of the book. The three of them were so supporting and loving toward each other that I couldn’t help but love them as well.
Dating Makes Perfect is an easy and enjoyable read filled with fun dialogue and lovable moments. On the surface this is a story of first love, but at its core it’s really a story about a young woman learning what it means to love herself. I wish I could go back in time and give this book to my 13-17 year old self. It has a message that she so often needed to hear.
My partner and I hosted our first readathon on April 5th! We called it the Trope-ical Readathon and it was a 24 hour readathon where participants could read whatever books they wanted and fill out a bingo board that we made based on things that appear in a lot of books.
Here’s the bingo board we had:
Honestly, it was a LOT of fun. We’re definitely going to be doing another readathon again, so if you’re interested in participating, follow @tropeicalreads on Twitter for updates!
Book #1: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon (2.5 stars)
This book was such a disappointment and I’m still so sad about it. It was so hyped on Twitter and I really thought I was going to enjoy it.
One of the things that upset me the most about the book was that it’s classified as a Beauty and the Beast retelling but it kind of isn’t? I felt like it would have been fine as an original tale (given a few tweaks) and that the author was beating me over the head with a stick trying to get me to believe that the male MC was the beast. The following quote is completely made up by me and not in the book but this is basically what it felt like I was reading every time he was in a scene:
He ate his spaghetti with such ferocity that it was SO INCREDIBLY BEAST-LIKE. The slurps he made sounded more like THE GROWL OF A GRIZZLY BEAR than that of a human boy. His hunched over frame resembled that of A LARGE ANIMAL ready to pounce on its prey.
Book #2 Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey (4 stars)
This was pretty darn cute of a read! The characters were kind of completely ridiculous but in an adorable rom-com sort of way that I enjoyed. I think what I most appreciated was that the book didn’t shy away from showing how friendship can mean so many different things depending on the people involved.
I don’t remember much about why I took away a star but it was probably because this book includes a trope that I’ve always hated. It’s kind of a spoiler if I say which trope it is but if you’re curious, just ask!
Book #3: Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz (3 stars)
This book started off really well for me. I was laughing a lot and falling in love with both of the MCs fairly quickly. Unfortunately, I got incredibly bored as the book progressed and lost interest in the plot. There is a good chunk of around 100 pages in the middle where I felt like almost nothing happened. I kind of wonder if the book started off as a novelette since it’s only around 300 pages total.
Regardless, this book had pretty in-depth character development which is something that I think YA often lacks. I was really happy that I was able to watch the MCs grow as people and learn from their mistakes.
A “love story” that felt more like a tragedy/horror than a romance.
Eugene and Tatiana were thrown together when they were just teenagers. Eugene’s best friend was dating Tatiana’s sister so they often found themselves in each other’s company. They might have even fallen in love if things went a little differently.
Ten years later, they meet once again, and though a spark is still there, they can’t seem to figure out how to move on from what happened all those years ago.
Review (No Spoilers)
I borrowed this book from a local library because it was December (of 2019) and I wanted to read as many cheesy romance stories as possible by the end of the year. The books that I went to the library to try to find weren’t there so I ended up grabbing a bunch of random books that I found in the Young Adult section that seemed romantic.
The blurb on the sleeve of the book seems very promising. It even says that the book is “a timeless love story for the ages” but that is SUPER not what it is (as you can probably tell from my CWs). Sure, the two MCs have romantic interest in each other, but for most of this book I just found myself wondering wtf was wrong with Eugene because he genuinely seemed like a sociopath.
Another thing that contributed to my low rating is that the book is written in verse, which was a first for me. In my opinion, the style mostly just took away from the experience. I admit, there were times where it offered more emotion than prose would have provided, but I often found myself confused on how I was supposed to be reading. On top of that, the narrator is some kind of omnipotent being or something and I still don’t understand what was going on with that.
A quick read with some issues that I think could be easily fixed.
When Maybelle Lloyd and Michael Hawkins were children, they participated in a wedding–their wedding. They don’t remember, but it was enacted at the request from Michael’s terminally ill mother.
Thirteen years later, Michael overhears the Lloyd’s arguing with his father about a piece of mail. When he sneaks in to take a peak, he is met with the biggest shock of his life: the wedding was signed off on and has been recognized as legally legitimate for years!
When Michael tells Maybelle the truth, the two of them are forced to decide if they should get their marriage annulled, or give it a fair chance.
Review (No Spoilers)
I feel like I need to give a bit of background before I get to my main review.
Firstly, thank you so much to Sarah for sending me a free copy in exchange for a review. If any of you have talked to Sarah, you might have observed that she is possibly the kindest person in the world. When she reached out to me about reading her book, she did so in basically the nicest, most respectable way possible, and I super appreciate her for that.
Secondly, this genre is totally out of my norm so even though I didn’t like this book, it’s definitely possible that some of the things I didn’t like are actually completely normal.
The book is classified as a Christian young-adult romance and basically I figured, hey, I’m Catholic and I love me some young-adult romance so it can’t be much different right? Wrong.
For starters, the book is censored. And by censored, I mean super censored. For example, the word “piss” as in “you piss me off” was written as “p*ss” (which idk about you but that kind of looks much sketchier to me).
Also, there was a lot of emphasis in not having pre-marital sex, which again, could totally be a Christian genre thing but it felt super weird for me (despite the fact that I, myself, am celibate).
Okay, now let’s talk about some other things.
This book has at least 3 instances of sexual assault in it–one of them basically being rape. To add on to this, the rapiest one of all was totally excused after like a page. When I read it, I kind of went into full on rage mode and even considered not finishing the book. I really don’t think it needed to be in the story.
Something else that I thought was out of place was the weirdly dramatic ending. I thought the book was coming to a really nice conclusion when all of a sudden the end of Chapter 19 basically jumped out of the bushes and punched me in the face. From then on, I felt like the book had suddenly changed tone and I had no idea why. I literally wrote “honestly wtf is happening” as a note because I was so confused.
The last thing I want to mention is just a quick note that the writing needs a copy edit. The book itself is a super quick read–I read it in a few hours even with all of my highlighting and notes–but typos and awkward/clunky wording did slow me down a few times. If you check out my Kindle notes on Goodreads, you can see some examples of the types of things I commented on.
All in all, I think this story has a lot of potential as a light-hearted, non-serious read. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but if you do decide to take a look at my kindle notes, you’ll probably notice that I was having a lot of fun at times. I even laughed out loud during several parts. I probably won’t pick up another Christian romance novel anytime soon but I am sincerely grateful to Sarah for giving me the opportunity.