Review: The Getaway List by Emma Lord

The Getaway ListThe Getaway List by Emma Lord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Getaway List by Emma Lord released in January of 2024. I’ve been putting it off because after completing this, I have no more Emma Lord’s to read until 2025.

A sad day, indeed…

But that day has come. I started the audiobook this morning, because I just couldn’t resist anymore and sure enough, I binged it all in one day.

This story is unsurprisingly sweet and cute, full of heart-warming character moments and a #goals Found Family that I wanted to be a part of. I really enjoyed it!

In this story, we meet our MC, Riley, on the day she graduates from high school. She realizes that she’s been working so hard the past 4-years, trying to do everything her Mom wants, that she hasn’t had any time for herself.

She’s at a point when her classmates are moving on to their next steps, and she doesn’t even know what she wants her next steps to be. It hits her like a truck.

Riley also realizes she misses her best friend, Tom, who moved away years ago to New York City with his Mom, and she needs a chance to reconnect with him.

Being with Tom, before he moved, those are the last times she really remembers being able to be herself. She misses him and their easy connection.

Needing the freedom to explore options for what the future may have in store for her, Riley plans an impromptu trip to NYC. Sadly, her Mom doesn’t support her decision and the two get in a row. Her Mom tells her she can’t go.

But Riley’s 18-years old, it’s time she start making decisions for herself. Even though she’s not leaving under the best of circumstances, her mind is made up and off she goes.

The reunion between the two friends is a little uncertain at first. They haven’t seen one another in corporeal form in years. Nevertheless, before long, like true friends, it feels like they’ve never been apart.

After a few days, Riley is feeling more like herself than she has in a long, long time. She decides it would be best if she stay for the Summer. She and Tom have begun to check off items from their Getaway List, and it just feels fated.

There’s also something else brewing in Riley’s mind. What are these butterflies she’s getting in her stomach whenever she’s with Tom? This is a whole new feeling, one she just may now be ready to explore.

One of the things I love most about Emma Lord’s books is the journeys that the characters go on. Her books are very much Contemporary, with Romance being more of a subplot, which works for me.

I’m not a heavy Romance Reader and the books I enjoy the most with Romance in them, tend to focus a lot on other things going on in the protagonist’s lives other than Romance; such as family or career issues.

This book is truly about self-discovery for Riley. She’s lost herself in trying to make her Mom happy, and doing what she needs to do to be the good girl. She’s been doing what her Mom wants, but finally comes to a point where she recognizes she needs to start making decisions for herself.

She’s at that fantastic crossroads in life, just after high school, where all obligations of childhood are completed, and it’s time to start take the first steps into adulthood. The world is literally her oyster.

I liked her desire to reconnect with Tom, and I definitely understood her motivations for tracking him down. It was fun watching them reconnect and being along for the ride as their feelings for one another evolved.

My favorite part, however, was the Found Family that Lord created around Riley and Tom. They were both having difficulties with their Moms, and the added support they received from their friends was so needed.

There was a line in the book, I didn’t flag it, so don’t quote me, but it was something along the lines of, family isn’t who you share blood with, it’s who you’ll spill blood for. That hit in a special way with this book.

If those are the kind of vibes you enjoy in your Contemporary stories, you need to check this one out. It delivered all of that and more. The mix of funny, heart-warming moments, with more serious, quieter moments, was beautifully-executed, IMO.

Overall, I thought this was such a gratifying story. Lord wrapped everything up in a lovely little bow, and I walk away with a big smile on my face.

I’m so happy that I finally made time for this; that I finally caved and read the last Emma Lord book that I have left to read. Emma, I will see you in 2025!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. Clearly, Emma Lord is one of my go-to authors and I cannot wait to pick up more from her.

Her brand of sweet will never get old to me. I eat it up like ice cream with every available topping on it!!

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Review: Dungeons & Drama by Kristy Boyce

Dungeons and DramaDungeons and Drama by Kristy Boyce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Dungeons and Drama is truly adorable. It made my nerd heart so happy and left me wanting more from this author!

This YA Romantic Comedy features a fake dating trope and lots of cute, fun and witty character moments.

In this story we follow Riley, a theater girl, who gets busted taking her Mom’s car without permission to go see a show in the city. With her best friend in tow, the girls take the risk, and sadly, don’t get away with it.

Riley gets grounded. She’s allowed no extracurriculars and as extra punishment, she has to start working at her Dad’s game store after school.

She’s barely ever set foot in the store and has no interest in games. All Riley cares about right now is getting the High School Spring Musical, currently canceled due to budgetary considerations, back on.

Her life is a mess without the possibility of the Musical. She can hardly think of anything else. Well, there’s a few other things she thinks about: her uncomfortable relationship with her Dad, her ex-boyfriend succeeding in all things theater and the fact that he’s driving her nuts.

A new co-worker at the store, cute and shy boy, Nathan, could be exactly what Riley needs. She convinces him to pretend they’re into one another. Her ex now thinks she’s moved on and the girl that Nathan likes is suddenly more interested in him, eaten up with jealousy because of Riley.

All is going to plan, until Riley realizes that flirting with Nathan is no longer much of an act. Have her plans gone too far? Is she falling for the D&D boy at the game store?

This book was so lovey. I read it in a day and got completely swept up in the story. I loved both Riley and Nathan. They were both incredibly earnest and naive, but in a way that felt natural to the story and works for the YA-genre.

I also enjoyed exploring Riley’s relationship with her Dad. As a child of divorce, who lives with her Mom, Riley has felt sort of abandoned by her Dad. He’s not a bad person, you can tell how me he loves her, but their communication at the start isn’t great.

I loved watching the time they spent together at the store have such an impact on the way they communicated with one another. I felt like that development was just as satisfying as the romantic portions of this story.

But yeah, the romance was pretty sweet. It was just so cute, I can’t think of another way to describe. I was crushing right along with Riley. Nathan is a pretty special guy.

I loved how he got Riley to join his D&D group; which was one of my favorite parts of this story. She ended up really enjoying it and was even able to channel some of her musical talents in her role as a bard.

I think as far as YA Rom-Com stories go, this has to be one of my faves. I feel like it was just really well executed. The character work was fantastic and I loved the messages and themes explored throughout.

I would definitely recommend this to any YA Contemporary Reader, particularly if you are a fan of RPGs, or the theater. This was a perfect blend of those things for me!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m really looking forward to reading more from Kristy Boyce.

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Review: Didn’t See That Coming by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Didn't See That ComingDidn’t See That Coming by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Didn’t See That Coming is a companion sequel to Jesse Q. Sutanto’s 2022-YA Rom-Com, Well, That Was Unexpected, a book I loved with my whole freaking heart.

It ended up being my favorite Romantic Comedy of that year, and in fact is probably my favorite ever. In fact, I stated in my review that I would fall on a sword for it. I stick by that.

I just want to get it out of the way early that I am a huge Jesse Q. Sutanto fan. If you frequently read my reviews, you probably know this already, and may even be sick of hearing me singing her praises.

Too bad, I say, because if she keeps cranking out wildly-enjoyable stories like this, those praises are going to continue raining down for a long time to come.

In this book we are following Kiki, who is the cousin of Sharlot, the leading lady from Well, That Was Unexpected. Kiki is attractive and popular, just your typical teen girl in Jakarta, except Kiki has a secret.

She’s a fabulous gamer, but no one in her real life really knows how good she actually is. After running into hugely sexist attitudes in the gamer community, Kiki changed her username to one where all of her teammates and opponents will think she’s one of them, a bro.

Playing anonymously has allowed her to just play, instead of having people treat her differently because she is a girl. She’s even made some good friends, in particular, one boy whose username is Sourdawg.

When Kiki’s parents make her transfer schools to an elite private school, her world is flipped upside down. Once the popular girl with a horde of IRL friends, Kiki is now at the bottom of the pecking order.

The school’s golden boy even singles her out, gives her the atrocious nickname of Crazy Kiki and ends up harassing her every day. It’s terrible. Kiki can’t believe that the other kids just sit back and let this little despot control them all.

She ends up turning to her now normal interactions with Sourdawg for comfort during this difficult transition period. Then the unexpected happens. As it turns out, Sourdawg, who she thought lived in an entirely different country, actually lives in Jakarta and goes to her new school!

But who is he? And what will he do when he finds out that Kiki is Kiki, a girl! He’s opened up to her, thinking she was just a bro. It’s too late for her to come clean, she’s in too deep. He’ll hate her. This throws Kiki into a tailspin, as over the months, she’s fallen for him hard.

I really enjoyed my time with this story. It had actually been so long since I first read the synopsis, I had forgotten that it was a companion novel. I was very happy to be with Kiki again, because I thought she was so dynamic and fun in Well, That Was Unexpected.

I listened to the audio and highly recommend that format. The narration was very well done and brought Kiki to life for me. I felt like I was listening to her tell me her story.

Additionally, this ended up being a lot more than a light and fluffy Rom-Com. It surprised me the level of thoughtful substance Sutanto brought to the page.

I would love to hear Sutanto talk about her inspiration and process for this one. As I feel like this story, as far as the gaming elements, the sexism experienced as a female player, really came from the heart. I’m left wondering how much of her own experiences she channeled into this.

Sutanto’s signature humor and style were still here on full display, but it also tackled some fairly serious topics. I feel like Kiki’s story, read at the right time, by the right Reader, could hit real hard.

Overall, I found this to be a super cute, engaging story of a girl trying to find stability and her place in an entirely new landscape. The romance was well paced and I’m so happy with the ultimate outcome.

I’d love to see another companion novel in this series. The setting of Jakarta is fun and I love just this entire group of characters. I definitely think there are more stories to tell among this group of young people!

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Review: Gwen & Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

Gwen & Art Are Not in LoveGwen & Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gwen & Art Are Not in Love is a Queer Medieval YA Rom-Com that is absolute sugar to read. I walked away feeling light and airy on its sweetness.

This is a YA-debut for this author, and I’m really hoping we’ll be seeing more from them in this space. I feel like this one definitely succeeded in what it set out to do.

This story follows Gwen and Arthur, who have been betrothed since they were kids and they’re not happy about it. The only thing they’ve had in common over the years is the ability to annoy one another.

As they reach marriageable age, Arthur travels to Camelot to stay for the Summer in the lead up to their impending nuptials. It doesn’t start off well, as Gwen catches Arthur kissing a boy, and Arthur discovers Gwen’s long-held crush on the kingdom’s only lady knight, Bridget Leclair.

It’s now clear that it’s more than general disdain keeping them apart. Having a new found understanding for one another, and their predicament, the two make a pact to cover for each other as they pursue their love interests.

This was adorable and so much fun. I think this would be a great fit for Readers who enjoy the style and feel of the Lady Janies books, such as My Lady Jane, or My Contrary Mary.

I definitely recommend the audiobook. There is dual narration for Gwen and Arthur, which is incredibly well done. The narrators captured the spirit of these characters.

The dynamic between Gwen and Arthur was the highlight for me. It was a bit of a journey of self-discovery for them both and I enjoyed watching them open up to one another.

Through their honesty with themselves and each other, they were able to develop a much needed support system in their new friendship group. There is a strong found family element to this story, so if that is something you enjoy seeing, you’ll definitely find it here.

I enjoyed the level of humor that Croucher brought to this story and that it didn’t get steamy at all. It’s fun, playful and flirty, but without being drowned out in unnecessary details for characters who don’t feel ready for all of that just yet.

For me, I could have used a bit more action, intensity or intrigue in the overall plot, it was just lacking a little of that for me. That is 100% personal taste though, and you may not feel that at all when you read it.

The action did amp up a bit right at the end, with a battle and some political changes, I just feel like I sort of needed a little more during the bulk of the story if I were going to give this a 5-star rating.

At the end of the day, this is a hugely enjoyable story. It’s heart-warming, it’s fun and I would definitely recommend it to Readers looking for a fun Queer story, or for Readers who enjoy witty dialogue, or a Medieval setting.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I will be picking up more from Lex Croucher!

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Review: The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway

The Renaissance of Gwen HathawayThe Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway by Ashley Schumacher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Renaissance of Gwen Hathaway is a charming-YA Contemporary Romantic Comedy set at a Renaissance Faire.

If that description sounds even slightly alluring to you, you need to pick this up posthaste.

In this story we follow 17-year old, Maddie Hathaway, who has traveled and worked the Faire circuit with her parents her whole life. Maddie doesn’t attend regular school and has had only one really close friend.

A lot has changed over the last year for Maddie though. Her good friend and their family have left the circuit, so they are forced into long-distance friendship. The most devastating change though is that Maddie’s Mom has passed away, leaving her and her Dad to travel the circuit alone.

It’s understandably left a huge hole in their lives and while they are still close, they have a more difficult time connecting without Mom around.

When we meet Maddie, they are just getting to the final stop of the season, a place in Oklahoma that was her Mom’s favorite. This seems fitting as the one-year anniversary of her passing is going to happen while they are there.

Unfortunately, the property is under new management and a lot has changed.

Being back at this place and seeing the changes sends Maddie for a bit of loop. She is struggling and feels alone. Her Dad keeps himself busy with work and Faire friends, so it gives Maddie a lot of time to just be in her own head. Sometimes that is not a comfortable place to be.

Then we meet Arthur. A jovial and fun-loving bard, son to the new owners, who sets his sights on Maddie, christens her Gwen, as in Guinevere, and then refuses to leave her alone, no matter how much Maddie tries to shut him down.

We are talking the teen grumpy-sunshine set-up of my dreams. Once Arthur and Maddie meet, I was unable to look away. They are just so cute.

I loved how wholesome this story felt. I generally wouldn’t use that word, but I don’t know, it just seems to fit here. It was such a great examination of IRL-issues, while also bringing such warm humor and charm.

The setting of the Faire is so well done. I love how the Faire shapes the action. It’s not just stated as the backdrop to sell copies, it actually is an integral part of the story.

I feel like a lot of Readers will be able to connect with this one. As an exploration of grief and confidence issues, I can’t give it higher marks. I also liked the way Maddie’s character grew over the course of the story.

As Maddie was able to let down her walls, the world opened for her in such a positive way. I know this is a standalone, but I would love more of this story and these characters.

Maddie is at such an important point in her life, the end of high school, and I would love to see what choices she makes for herself in the future.

Initially, I gave this one 4.5-stars, but the more I have sat with the story, thought about it, talked about it, recommended it to people, the more in love with it I am.

I laughed, I cried, I became so invested in Maddie’s life and outcome; how could I not bump this up to 5-stars?

If you love witty banter and humor, paired with the honest exploration of real-world issues, you have to check this out; particularly if you a fan of Renaissance Faires. Additionally, I think this could be a great story for parents and teens to read together. I think it could open up some great dialogue.

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

This is the first novel I have read from Ashley Shumacher and I am definitely excited to read more of their work in the future!

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Review: Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake (A Brush With Love #2) by Mazey Eddings

Lizzie Blake's Best Mistake (A Brush With Love, #2)Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake by Mazey Eddings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Lizzie Blake’s Best Mistake is the second book in Mazey Eddings’ adorable A Brush With Love series. These novels are Adult Romances that follow a friendship group of women.

I loved getting to know a little bit about Lizzie at the end of A Brush with Love, so I was super excited when I learned she was to have the starring role in this next novel!!!

Lizzie, a professional baker, is known to be the chaotic one in their friendship group. She really tries, but yeah, she messes up sometimes, forgets things, gets distracted, makes reckless decisions, etc. It’s just who she is.

Although some people may look at these things as personality quirks, for Lizzie, who lives every day with uncontrolled Adult-ADHD, they are a lot more than that. She struggles to stay on track, with even every day functions oftentimes being difficult for her.

One mistake she doesn’t make is getting into a serious relationship. Hook-ups, sure, yes, she loves that one night of intimacy and pushing boundaries. Anything more than that brings complications. No, thank you.

That’s why when her most recent hook-up with a super charming, sexy Australian man named Rake, turns into a 2-night affair, it really throws her for a loop.

Rake, who was only in the States for a business trip, returned to Australia shortly thereafter. Regardless of the distance, he can’t seem to get that charming redhead off his mind. He’s given up on relationships though, so just needs to accept it for what it was; two wild nights.

But when Lizzie calls him to tell him she’s pregnant, it very suddenly becomes much more than that. What will this non-couple, this long-distance non-couple, do?

I had a ton of fun with this book. The audiobook is delightful, the narration was so engaging. It’s wild, charming, funny, OTT and 100% a page-turner.

I loved both of these characters so much, as well as getting to watch their relationship evolve. Eddings writes some incredible banter and her characters are always well-developed, often dealing with relatable issues.

Additionally, the steamy scenes are fantastic. And yeah, it’s super steamy, so please don’t go into this thinking it’s rated-PG. It’s not, this is R. However, it’s not overwhelmingly so. This novel is about the story of the relationship more than the great sex.

I can definitely say after this book that Mazey Eddings is one of my go-to Romance writers. I will pick up anything she writes in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I enjoyed this so much and am looking forward to the next book in the series where Lizzie’s friend, Indira, gets her time to shine!!

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