Review: We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like ThisWe Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

You’ve swept me off my feet again, Rachel Lynn Solomon. I see you and it’s like you see me too.

Quinn Berkowitz is the harpist for her parent’s wedding planning business.

Tarek Monsour is a cater-waiter, and aspiring baker, whose family’s catering business is frequently hired on by the Berkowitzs for events.

Over the years, the two have worked a lot of weddings together.

Somewhere along the way, Quinn became a skeptic of the whole love thing, while Tarek went completely in the other direction. He’s now over-the-top romantic; full of positivity with regards to love.

Last summer, Quinn became fed up with watching Tarek’s grand gestures to other girls. Perhaps she had secretly grown to like him more than she admitted.

When she called him out on it though, her ire seemed to ruin everything. He left for college and they didn’t talk for a year.

As summer returns, so too does Tarek, home from college and again working with his parents.

The first wedding Quinn sees him at is uncomfortable as heck, but this is a romantic comedy, so y’all know what’s coming.

We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This is exactly as adorable as it sounds. Solomon always knows how to bring the cute, as well as relatable substance.

This book is full of incredible OCD rep, sex positivity and exploration of other issues a lot of young adults go through; like, what the heck do I want to do with the rest of my life?

Solomon is always able to handle serious topics well and seamlessly incorporates them into otherwise light-hearted narratives.

This is the YA Summer Romance that should be on everyone’s reading list. I highly, highly recommend it!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Rachel Lynn Solomon is an autobuy author for me and I can’t wait to see what cutesy-creation she dreams up next!!!

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Review: Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw

Mina and the UndeadMina and the Undead by Amy McCaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up **

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Shortly after arriving in New Orleans, 17-year old, Mina, can already tell it will be a summer she’ll never forget.

She’s there to visit her estranged sister, Libby, who moved from their hometown, Whitby, in England, to New Orleans the prior year.

After their mother abandoned them, Mina and Libby went to live with their uninterested Aunt. When Libby left as well, Mina felt completely alone.

Mina is hoping that this summer with give the two of them a chance to talk about everything that’s happened and repair their relationship. After all, sisters are for life.

Their first stop is the Horror Mansion at which Libby works. The good news is, Libby has gotten Mina a chance to audition for a job there as well.

Fairly quickly after that, Mina is introduced to all of the people in her sister’s new life. Her girlfriend, Della, roommates, Jared and Lucas and her boss, Thandie.

At the conclusion of her audition for a position in the interactive walking tour of the Horror Mansion, Mina tries to find the girl she is supposed to hand her costume off to.

Mina discovers the girl’s very dead and mutilated body in the attic of the Mansion. She screams, chaos ensues.

When Libby becomes a suspect for that murder and others, Mina teams up with her new crush, Jared, to try to clear her sister’s name.

The two discover a dark underworld around them that ties to some of New Orleans oldest and scariest legends.

This was such a fun, nostalgic treat for my horror-loving heart! The vibe is campy, teenage horror, like Buffy, or The Lost Boys.

I live for that kind of story, as it takes me back to a time when life was simple, hair was big and vampires were real.

This story is full of classic horror tropes and 90s-pop culture. If you are looking for a light, easy, nostalgic read, I definitely recommend picking this one up.

While it’s not a perfect story, I think if you are in the right head space, it can be a hell of a good time. It certainly was for me!!

So, grab your butterfly clips, your VHS tapes, your wooden stakes and pick up a copy today.

I am really excited to see what Amy McCaw comes up with next! This is a super solid debut!!

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Review: Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

Every Last FearEvery Last Fear by Alex Finlay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matt Pine’s older brother, Danny, is serving a life sentence for allegedly killing his high school sweetheart, Charlotte.

After his trial, a True Crime Documentary was released claiming Danny was wrongfully convicted. Many viewers seemed to agree; think Making a Murderer.

Matt remembers something about the night of Charlotte’s death that no one else knows. Because of this, he thinks Danny may actually have done it, or at least been involved.

Their parents, unsurprisingly, fully believe in Danny’s innocence. In fact, their father, has never quite given up the search for information that will free his oldest son. The whole situation with Danny had caused quite a bit of strife within the family.

When the Pine family decides a getaway to Mexico is just what they need to reconnect, Matt, currently at school in NYC, is the only one who doesn’t get to go.

Arriving home after a late night partying, Matt receives the terrible news that his family, Mom, Dad, younger sister and brother, are all dead.

He can’t believe the news. Apparently, the authorities in Mexico seem to think their deaths were accidental; due to a gas leak.

The individuals Matt speaks to in the FBI don’t seem to be so sure however. Matt is sent to Mexico to recover the bodies and it is there that he starts to suspect something much more sinister may be at play.

That feeling doesn’t disappear when he returns to his hometown for the family funeral.

Matt, along with an intrepid FBI agent, begin an investigation into what actually happened to the Pine family; discovering past crimes may be linked to their deaths.

This was interesting. A fast-paced and solid story.

Initially, I was feeling like we were getting too many perspectives, as we followed, Matt, his Dad, Mom, younger sister and the FBI agent, Sarah.

But as the story started to weave together, I began to see why all of those perspectives were actually necessary. Each contributed to puzzle and what a puzzle it was!

This was smart, twisted and tense. Some aspects were more predictable than others, but overall, I really enjoyed how it played out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m happy that I finally gave this one a shot!

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Review: Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond (MSW #53) by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran

Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond (Murder She Wrote Book 53)Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond by Jessica Fletcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Following a Literary Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, Jessica decides to travel further South to visit with her dear friend, Dolores, in South Carolina.

Dolores has recently married her third husband, Willis Nickens, a wealthy businessman. Jess is eager to meet him.

After Jessica reaches the Nickens’ South Carolina home, she discovers she isn’t the couple’s only current house guest.

There’s staff, of course, as well as Willis’ son-in-law, adorable niece and business partner. Through observing Willis’ interactions with these other guests, Jessica quickly determines Dolores’ new husband is a bit of a jerk.

He seems to bully everyone he comes into contact with. Lording his money and power over them. When Jessica discovers his body, facedown in the koi pond, on her early morning run, she immediately suspects foul play.

The local law enforcement doesn’t seemed as convinced, however, and they brush off her initial attempts at assistance. Clearly, Jessica’s reputation did not proceed her.

Eventually, they come around to her side of things. Willis was in fact murdered. Their number one suspect: Dolores.

Jessica knows Dolores could never commit murder. Thus, she is forced to begin an investigation of her own, to clear her friend’s name and help to capture the real killer.

Killing in a Koi Pond was an absolute delight. Although the 53rd-installment of this beloved series, it’s the first penned by veteran Cozy author, Terrie Farley Moran.

She did a fantastic job channeling the original tone of the series. I really hope she continues on!!

This story held to the classic format, read quickly and will definitely keep Cozy fans engaged.

There were a couple of moments where the narrative fell into a bit of a lull, but overall, a real treat!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This is the 37th-book in this series that I have read. I am huge fan and will keep on coming back for more as long as they are published!

Reviewer’s Note: If you are new to this series, you can jump in anywhere, you do not need to read them in order. Especially if you have ever watched the television program and have that background on Jessica’s character.

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Review: A Chorus Rises (A Song Below Water #2) by Bethany C. Morrow

A Chorus Rises (A Song Below Water, #2)A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

After the explosive conclusion to A Song Below Water, teen influencer, Naema Bradshaw finds herself for the first time vilified in the public eye.

As an Eloko, a magical being beloved by all, Naema has been treated as a quasi-celebrity in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, for her entire life.

Now pegged as the mean girl who outed classmate, Tavia, as a Siren, Naema is getting dragged in social media channels where she has always been respected and adored.

Once a movie releases purporting to tell the true story behind Tavia, her sister, Effie, and the event known as The Awakening, Naema only sees hostility towards her increase.

Growing more and more frustrated with her current situation and the fact that no one seems to understand her side, Naema decides to leave town.

Heading South, Naema goes to stay with extended family that she never sees. This trip is actually her first time leaving Portland and the bubble she has created there for herself.

Greeted at the airport by her cousin Courtney, Naema can tell immediately from his reaction to her, that life is going to be very different outside of Portland.

Her family couldn’t care less about her Eloko status. She’ll be treated just like everyone else; loved and cherished, but for herself, not for her Elokoness.

It is once she is separated from all the noise in Portland, that Naema is finally able to channel the connection to her ancestors and discover the true power of her voice.

This story was interesting and a tough one to rate. I really had to consider it once I was done.

We only get Naema’s perspective in this book, whereas the first book followed both Tavia and Effie.

This one does incorporate a lot of mixed media, however, and I always enjoy that. It makes the overall story feel more realistic in my opinion.

The bulk of the story focuses on Naema coming into her own. We really get to deep dive into her world.

While there is still an underlining examination of privilege, race, social media and the experience of black women in America, I didn’t feel that coming through quite as strongly in this volume as in the first. It’s definitely still here, it’s just overshadowed a bit by Naema’s day-to-day.

As far as Naema goes. I really enjoyed her perspective a lot. She is snarky, strong-willed, stubborn and funny. I loved her interactions with Courtney and the rest of her family.

I can see why some people may be put off by her, she can seem a bit of a princess at times, however, I think she feels real.

She is a product of her environment, but once removed from Portland, she was able to grow and evolve as a character, which we love to see.

I think Morrow created an important and timely story with both of these books. I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys YA Contemporary stories with Fantastical elements that tackle real life issues.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I will definitely be picking up future work from this author!

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Review: The Ivies by Alexa Donne

The IviesThe Ivies by Alexa Donne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Avery, Emma, Olivia, Margot and Sierra are collectively known as The Ivies. They’re also lowkey feared by their peers at the prestigious Claflin Academy.

This tight group of five all have the same goal: acceptance into an ivy league school.

Knowing the ins-and-outs of college admissions, the girls have agreed to all apply ED to different Ivies.

Their reasoning is, if they all apply to separate schools they won’t be competing directly against one another and therefore, will up their chances of acceptance.

Avery Montfort, the Regina George of the group, has claimed Harvard as hers.

On Early Decision day, it is revealed that Emma had secretly applied to Harvard and gotten accepted. While normally this would be cause for celebration, Avery did not get in and thus, blames Emma.

Enraged, Avery confronts Emma at a party and the two girls get into a fight. Ultimately, storming off to separate corners.

Olivia, our main character, watches the drama unfold from the sidelines. She secretly applied to Harvard as well, and got in, but there is no way she is telling Avery that!

The following morning, Emma is found dead. Olivia is shocked. Could Avery have possibly been angry enough to kill their friend over a college admission?

In the high-stakes world of cut-throat academics, it’s definitely possible. Olivia begins to doubt her place within the Ivies. It seems the other girls have been doing a lot of things behind her back.

When it becomes clear the police may flub it up, Olivia decides to team up with her cute co-editor of the school paper, Ethan, and investigate Emma’s death herself.

With a boarding school setting, loads of rich people drama and solid amateur sleuthing, The Ivies pairs some of my favorite tropes together into a red herring-filled, satirical romp through upper-class teenage lives.

It’s pure mean girl chaos at its best!

While it did start out a little slow for me, once Emma’s body is found, everything heats up quite nicely.

From there, the pace is steady and twisty until the over-the-top conclusion! I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves rich teen drama.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had a lot of fun with this one and appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last StopOne Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Casey McQuiston!!!

I’m going to find it close to impossible to write this review without swooning like a fangirl, but I’ll give it my best shot.

In One Lost Stop, we follow 23-year old college student, August, who has recently moved to New York City.

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the city, August is on a journey of self-discovery. She’s on her own for the first time and is a little desperate to find her place.

Securing a room in an apartment with three other people and taking a job at a 24-hour pancake diner seem like steps in the right direction.

August is establishing herself as a functioning adult, no matter how meager her resources, yet she still feels alone.

The stars align one day, however, as she meets a girl on the Q. The sexy and mysterious, Jane, gives August a scarf in her hour of need. After that, August cannot get her out of her mind.

Subsequently, she runs into Jane every time she is on the train and a relationship develops. It very quickly becomes clear that something about Jane is a little off.

Jane’s not just a random punk rocker, razorblade girl with a cotton candy heart, taking her style inspiration from the 1970s. She’s actually from the 1970s, and somehow, someway, finds herself trapped on the Q-line.

I know this seems like a bit of a trippy idea, but it was such a phenomenally fun and creative way to frame this story.

August coming to the revelation that Jane cannot leave the train and trying to figure out what exactly that means and why; it was bloody fantastic and so incredibly entertaining.

August’s roommates, Myla, Niko and Wes, all become involved in the relationship, as well as their neighbor, Annie. Together this vastly diverse group of souls evolve into one of the most beautiful found-families that I have ever read.

Each person had their own unique story, voice, personality and contribution to August’s growth and maturation. I absolutely adored the way they interacted and supported one another.

Friendship goals, for sure. McQuiston packed so much into this book and watching the evolution of August’s character was immensely satisfying.

There were so many moments when I laughed, a few when I felt my heart-breaking and times where I was just left contemplating this thing we call life.

The release date for this book coinciding with the 1st day of Pride month, couldn’t be more perfect!

The representation includes a plethora of Queer identities and romances. I particularly enjoyed how OLS is just a story of Queer individuals living their lives in the way they choose.

It didn’t really have individuals having to hide who they were, or having to come out to anyone in a dramatic way.

They all just were living their day-to-day lives in New York City; dealing with family, work, relationships, LIFE. There was a certain sense of peace to be found in that, even when the narrative got a little crazy!

I think August learned a lot from her new friends. Particularly how to open up, be herself and allow herself to need other people in her life.

That it was okay if things were complicated, what with her love interest being trapped in time and all.

Jane was a fascinating character as well. I loved how her life was pieced together through her continual interactions with August.

It was particularly clever how McQuiston used Jane’s character, in a way, as a plot device to compare the experiences Jane had, as a Queer woman, in the 1970s, versus the experiences that August and her friends have in the present time. It felt like a subtle, respectful nod to those who came before.

At the end of the day, this book has it all. If you enjoyed Red, White & Royal Blue, you should love One Last Stop. It’s next level. This book made me overflow with feeling!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I greatly appreciate the opportunity!

A new favorite!!!

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Blog Tour: You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon

You Will Remember MeYou Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You Will Remember Me is a deviously twisted tale of obsession and long-buried secrets. That sound great, right!?

A man waking up on a beach in Maryland has no memory of his past, or even his name. He is left with foggy recollections that lead him to the state of Maine and directly to people who recognize him.

They say his name is Asher and he has been missing for years. He is quickly reunited with his long-lost sister, Maya, who takes him in and agrees to care for him during his recuperation.

When Lily Reid’s boyfriend, Jack, goes missing after an evening swim at a beach in their Maryland town, everyone suspects that he has drowned.

Lily refuses to give up on him however, so she begins an investigation into where he may have gone. It leads her to a small town in Maine.

There she spots Jack on the street. Upon approaching him, he has no memory of her. Making matters worse, he and his sister, insist that his name is actually, Asher.

Lily is so confused. Why would Jack have given her a false name? It is clear to all, Ash is suffering from amnesia due to a head injury and Lily decides to stick around for a bit to interact with him more. She’s still in love with him.

Following three perspectives, Ash, Lily and Maya’s, this story is a wild ride. It’s fast-paced and engaging the entire way through.

Personally, I enjoy an amnesia story. I also love obsession tropes and long-buried secrets. This book has all of those things, so was a great recipe for me!

A few of the elements involved in the story were a bit far fetched and a tad convenient, but honestly, it’s still a great time. It’s not a story that’s asking you to take it too seriously.

I think if you go into this looking for fun twists, turns and devious actors, you’re in for heck of a fun experience.

Hannah Mary McKinnon has a way with over-the-top drama. It’s her style and I’m here for it. It’ll keep me coming back, that’s for sure!

Thank you so much to publisher, MIRA, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate it.

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Review: Madam by Phoebe Wynn

MadamMadam by Phoebe Wynne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**2.5-stars rounded up**

When 26-year old, Rose Christie, gets hired on as a Classics teacher for the illustrious, Caldonbrae Hall, she’s understandably nervous about the placement.

Caldonbrae, a traditional boarding school for girls, is a far cry from the public schools she has taught in previously and from the start, Rose feels out of place.

Her trepidation doesn’t improve as classes begin. The young ladies treat her with contempt and an overall lack of respect.

She is astounded that such well groomed girls would think that it is okay to treat one of their teachers in such a way.

But it isn’t even just the girls. Other teachers and staff barely give her the time of day. She’s like an annoying gnat they all seem to want to swat away.

The longer Rose is there, the more confounding the whole experience seems to be.

As Rose slowly, and I do mean slowly, begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together, the shocking truth of Calonbrae Hall is revealed.

Y’all, the premise of this book had such promise. I wanted to love it. I expected to love it. Unfortunately for me, it fell a little flat.

The atmosphere was my favorite aspect. It did feel gothic, like the school was trapped in time.

Set on the cliffs of Scotland, it felt cold and remote. While Rose was there, it felt like she was very far removed from the rest of the world; from anyone who could help her.

I was intensely interested in the beginning, for probably the first 20%, and I felt the last 15% was engaging as well. However everything in between was like watching paint dry.

There were so many details. I just kept waiting and waiting for something to happen and it was like, the payoff never came.

I liked the ideas behind where the author was going, but I just think the execution was a miss for me. I feel like it could have been edited down. Perhaps if it were more concise, it would have been more impactful.

In other words, in this case, it’s not the content, but how that content was presented that was the issue for me.

Additionally, I do think it is important to note that I listened to the audiobook. I think the narrator did a good job. Frankly, if I had read a hard copy, I may have been even more displeased with it.

With this being said, just because it didn’t necessarily work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If the synopsis sounds interesting to you, absolutely give it a shot!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with the opportunity to listen to this audiobook. I do appreciate it very much!

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Review: Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores #3) by Danielle L. Jensen

Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores, #3)Gilded Serpent by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gilded Serpent is the third installment in Danielle L. Jensen’s Dark Shores series.

Coming in at just under 600-pages, Jensen definitely packed in a lot of information, action and startling revelations.

With this series, if you aren’t aware, you can read the first two books in any order. Meaning you can read either Dark Shores, or Dark Skies first, followed by the other.

I personally read them in publication order and would recommend that to others.

I felt like Dark Shores established the setting and functionality of the world perfectly. After reading that one, I had a strong hold on the type of series this was going to turn out to be.

It’s one that channels all the brutality of Ancient Rome, mixed with a fair amount of magic and heavy doses of political intrigue. Also, let’s not forget the sweet romance.

In Dark Shores, the action centers around Teriana and Marcus. In Dark Skies, we follow Lydia and Killian.

Gilded Serpent follows all four of these characters as their storylines begin to merge more and more.

Through the first two books, I became quite attached to all four of these main characters. Because of that, my excitement level for this release was heightened even more.

As I have mentioned in my previous reviews for this series, including the prequel, Tarnished Empire, I love this series and think it is incredibly underrated. All YA Fantasy lovers need to check this one out!

I did rate this book slightly lower than the first two books, mainly because it wasn’t as easy for me to follow, or stay as fully engaged with this one.

I think the length started to get to me, as well as the sheer volume of information that Jensen packed into this one. Also, I did have some issues at the beginning remembering what had happened at the conclusion of the first two books.

While I recognize that as a ‘me’ problem, I also feel an author including slight, subtle recaps is always helpful. I didn’t feel a lot of that here.

Regardless of that fact, however, I still really enjoyed my time reading this novel. The world continues to be built out. It’s dangerous, complex and full of compelling people, creatures and history.

I am really looking forward to the next book in this series. I am planning to do myself a favor and binge read the first three again prior to picking it up.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Teen, for making my dreams come true and providing me with a copy to read and review.

I truly appreciate it and will be singing this series praises for a long time to come!!!

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