Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Blog Tour: Birthday by Meredith Russo - Review

Birthday by Meredith Russo

Publishing Date: May 21, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron
Pages: 288
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "Two best friends. A shared birthday. Six years... ERIC: There was the day we were born. There was the minute Morgan and I decided we were best friends for life. The years where we stuck by each other's side-as Morgan's mom died, as he moved across town, as I joined the football team, as my parents started fighting. But sometimes I worry that Morgan and I won't be best friends forever. That there'll be a day, a minute, a second, where it all falls apart and there's no turning back the clock. MORGAN: I know that every birthday should feel like a new beginning, but I'm trapped in this mixed-up body, in this wrong life, in Nowheresville, Tennessee, on repeat. With a dad who cares about his football team more than me, a mom I miss more than anything, and a best friend who can never know my biggest secret. Maybe one day I'll be ready to become the person I am inside. To become her. To tell the world. To tell Eric. But when? -- Six years of birthdays reveal Eric and Morgan's destiny as they come together, drift apart, fall in love, and discover who they're meant to be-and if they're meant to be together" (Flatiron).

My overall thoughts and review: I remember a lot of people raving about Meredith's previous book If I was Your Girl, which I haven't read yet, but I've recently learned that Russo, as a transgender woman, her objective is to "write books about a transgender character that has a happy ending." This was my first book by her, and I've already put her previous book on hold at the library to read next. I really liked this book. It follows two best friends over the span of 6 years. They've been best friends for even longer than that. They also share the same birthday. Every year they always spend it together and each section of the book shows their birthday of the corresponding year.

Morgan has always felt uncomfortable in her own body. She's been holding this secret for a long time, and with the passing of her mother, it gets harder and harder each day to tell someone. To her, after losing her mother, all she has left is Eric and her father, and she worries that her secret of wanting to be a girl will change that. And that she'll lose them. Russo takes us through the painful journey of what Morgan feels and experiences. There is a lot of bullying that happens, which unfortunately is very true for trans individuals today. In those moments, I'm taken back to a conversation I had with a trans friend of mine and they explained that despite having a supportive friend group, the stigma and stereotypes still exist, and because people cannot comprehend something that is 'different' from their own norm, they often turn to bullying. It's absolutely heartbreaking to read it from Morgan's perspective, but also the fact that it still happens today to many individuals going through what Morgan did. Morgan tries so hard to even push away this need and desire for her true self, only because she thought at the time that it was best to be what everyone thought she should be or how she should to be. When she is able to come to terms with everything and share her secret with Eric and her father, my heart absolutely burst with happiness. It was such a long journey for her and I'm so pleased she was able to have her happy ending and a sense of peace.

I love Morgan and Eric's story so much. Gender wasn't even a factor for Eric, because he simply loved Morgan. He has always loved Morgan. I really loved reading about their friendship, but also seeing their dynamic change when they fell in love with each other. This book is definitely one that punches you in the gut with everything, makes you want to reach out and hug the characters, but most importantly, reminds us that we still need to do a lot more for our LGBTQ community. What Morgan goes through bullying wise happens on a regular basis for many trans individuals, and in some cases, it is possibly a lot worst as well. This book reminds us that someone else's gender shouldn't be a deciding factor on how we treat them, and during difficult times of where someone is struggling with finding their true self, we should be allies and respectful of that choice. This is definitely a story that will stick with me for a long time, and I highly would recommend this as a great YA read that is both beautiful but also educational.

*Warning: there are instances of transphobia, homophobia, bullying and abuse, suicide, and alcoholism. 

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Monday, 13 May 2019

Blog Tour: Getting Hot with the Scot by Melonie Johnson

Getting Hot with the Scot (Sometimes in Love #1) by Melonie Johnson 

Publishing Date: April 30, 2019
Publisher: SMP
Pages: 368
Contemporary Romance

The Premise from the Publisher: "The first in a new series, a journalist focused on her career and a sexy Scottish comedian turn a one night stand into forever. Cassie Crow leaves for vacation with two goals: fill up her empty charm bracelet and have a one night stand. For once, she wants to have fun instead of obsessively checking her work email. And kissing a man in a castle who’s dressed as a Scottish Highlander is the perfect solution. Except when that man turns out to be Logan Reid, the host of a popular sketch show—and Cassie has just been roped into his latest prank. She wants nothing to do with his antics, but that was a really great kiss, and one night together couldn’t hurt. It’s clear that one night isn’t enough and when Logan’s show brings him closer to Cassie, they decide to give dating a try. Can the woman who’s focused solely on her career and the man who refuses to take life seriously make it work?" (SMP).

My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise of this book, I was really intrigued by how Cassie has been planning this Europe trip with her group of friends for a while now. I assumed from there that each friend would get their book featuring their HEA. I also love reading romance novels set in different areas because it allows me to really get a sense of the place, especially places I haven't been before. I'm happy to say that the friendship group and world building did not disappoint in this book. I knew I liked the book immediately with the simple interactions between Cassie and her friends. But what really sold me was when Logan and Cassie had their "meet cute" in the Scottish castle, where Cassie pointed out to Logan that she knew for a fact that he wasn't a time traveler (made me think of Outlander and DW). Things are complicated because Logan wants to use that clip of when they met as a bit for his sketch show. That said, there's a clear connection between the two and they are definitely attracted to one another. From there, you see both really fall for one another, and kind of break out of their shells when they are around each other. Even though it seemed that Logan wanted to purely get her to sign a contract to be featured on his show, it became so much more than that. I do wish at times that he was much more straight forward and quicker with things with keeping things up front. I did also liked that the book focused on their relationship in a daily every day routine. I find that a lot of romances that occur destination wise in romance novels, just move from that to immediate HEA. I like seeing them work through just non-vacation life and finding a balance with one another. I especially liked seeing how they were in Chicago together, but I also loved when Logan brought Cassie home to the Scottish Highlands to show her his family. Overall, it was a really fun, sexy, and lovely romance to read. I am definitely keen to read the next one in the story to see how the relationship between Bonnie (Cassie's bestie) and Theo (Logan's friend) works out. I'm hoping we get to see some of Logan and Cassie in the next one as well. Definitely the perfect read this summer!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars

Available for purchase:
Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository

** Audible - For a preview of the audiobook narrated by Evelyn Eibhlin, the pseudonym for Melonie Johnson, click here!

Disclaimer: I received a digital advanced reader's copy from St. Martin's Press in exchange for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

About the Author
A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, award-winning author Melonie Johnson—aka #thewritinglush—is a two-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist who loves dark coffee, cheap wine, and expensive beer. And margaritas. And mimosas. And mules. Basically any cocktail that starts with the letter m. She met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. They went on to live happily ever after in the suburbs of Chicago with two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a trio of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin.

Author Twitter: @MelonieJohnson
SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts

Thursday, 9 May 2019

[Cover Reveal] All Grown Up by Vi Keeland

All Grown Up Title

Release date: July 8th, 2019
A Standalone Contemporary Romance
#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Vi Keeland

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Batch Reviews #13

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Pages: 320

My Review: Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient was one of my favorite reads from last year so I was so excited to learn that she was writing more. Since then, another book has been announced linking this series, but also 5 new books about Michael's sisters. I'm over the moon excited because Helen is definitely up there as one of my favorite romance writers. I have to say, her male leads are especially my favorite because they just make you swoon a lot. I must admit, I was a bit hesitant for this story though. When I read the premise of it, I was wary because of how Esme was selected by Khai's mother to come over from Vietnam to marry him. I don't know if it's just me, but after seeing the horror that is 90 day fiance, I was worried this would fall into that. It did take longer than usual for Esme to grow on me because in the beginning, she was hiding things and even lying. I know she did it to make a good impression on Khai, but it still didn't sit well with me. Khai's mom also chose her because of how she was naturally, and not some different version of her. Other than that, once she figured out that her sense of accomplishment and happiness wasn't contingent on another human being, I really admired her strength in persevering and wanting to accomplish a life for herself in the States. Helen's author note also mentioned that she framed a lot of Esme's character from her own mother, and that made me think of my own mother's strength in how she came to a foreign country and has accomplished a lot.  I really loved Khai as a lead though. He was just the sweetest and the nicest because he went out of his way for the people in his life. Seriously, it's impossible to not love him. Also, I loved seeing Michael pop up too offering advice in all things love and sex. I must say, Khai and Quan, the two brothers, made this book for me. I just loved both of them a lot. You can really see their bond and I loved seeing Quan step up and try and fix things too. He was a great brother to Khai, but also a wonderful ally for Esme. His book is next in the series, so I'll be over here eagerly awaiting his story. I didn't love this book as much as I did with TKQ, but it is still a strong book with good family dynamics, friendship, identity, and love. If you loved TKQ, you will definitely enjoy this, but definitely go into it knowing that it is a different kind of story from TKQ. I think that way, you'll give Esme and Khai's story a fair chance :) 

Available for purchase:
Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader's copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

Pretty Reckless (All Saints High #1) by L.J. Shen (✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars)
Publishing Date: April 21, 2019 
Publisher: ljshen 
Pages: 360

My Review: I'll be an LJ fangirl forever. I just adore her writing so much! I've been eagerly waiting for the ASH series since she announced it. I have to admit, I wasn't the most excited for Daria's story since I didn't love Defy (Daria's parents Jamie and Mel's story) since it was the shortest book and I also really wished we got Jamie's POV (Leigh, please give us that extra content one day!) In another book too, you saw a younger Daria not being so nice to Trent's daughter, Luna. I'm a little protective of Luna as you can see. But what I love about LJ so much is that she is able to change our mind about a character completely. There are characters that you are determined to just hate, but by the end of the book, LJ has somehow made you fall in love with that character. That definitely happened here. I didn't love Daria immediately, but learning more about her and seeing her vulnerabilities definitely made me appreciate her more. She goes through a lot, and has a lot of anger from years in terms of her mother, Mel, but also dealing with Penn's twin sister, Via. When her and Penn decide to destroy an acceptance letter meant for Via, Via goes missing shortly after that. Penn didn't realize it was Via's letter at the time, but after that, he is determined to hate Daria. Daria's relationship with her mother is also strained after that because Via was Mel's prize ballet student. Years later, Penn becomes Daria's foster brother and with both of them from rival football schools, the tension between them is super thick. There's a clear attraction between them both, but with what happened with Via, a HEA doesn't appear to be in their cards. I also know that this is the first in the series, so it had to do a lot in terms of establishing the world building. You got to see all the Hotholes from the previous book (my heart was pretty happy to see Vicious!), and you also got to see the 'Totholes' in this book. They all appear to be good friends since their parents are close, and I can just tell already that I will love Vaughn's book. He is Vicious' son after all ;) It was so nice to see how close Vaughn and Knight are, and you got to see an older Luna too. Her personality is awesome. I can't wait for all their stories! But back to Daria, I'm glad that they had a good relationship with her and that they had her back regardless of what came to pass. Penn and Daria had a lot to work through in terms of problems: sister drama, parent drama, exes, and also a rumor that Daria had a relationship with the school principal. I think what I loved most about their story was that despite how much they had to work through, they always put the other person first. It wasn't always what was best for their relationship, but they put the other person first, and it just goes to show how selfless both characters were. My favorite parts were definitely Jamie related. I liked him before, and like I said, I'm a little bitter we didn't get his POV in his story, but seeing him as a dad to Daria, goodness!! SWOON. He was just an all around good husband and good father. I just fell in love with him more after this book. I can't wait to see everyone pop up again in the next two books. If you are a fan of LJ's writing, you'll definitely enjoy this one! If you do check it out, be sure to leave me some theories in the comments below! I've been discussing theories with one of my good friends and fellow LJ fangirl, and it's so much fun to predict what's to come! 

Available for purchase: 
Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting (✮✮✮✮✮ - 5/5 stars)
Publishing Date: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 384

My Review: When I read the premise for this book, I was instantly intrigued. Similar to Hoang and Shen, I will forever be a Helena Hunting fangirl. I love her writing so much because she is able to combine the perfect amounts of humor, angst, and romance. This story was so charming and I found myself just finishing it in two sittings. You first meet Kailyn and Dax when they meet in law school. Dax was a former actor that Kailyn loved as a teenager and their "meet cute" was definitely her fangirling. Despite this, Dax and Kailyn form a type of rivalry/friendship, but that all changes when he 'betrays' her. They meet years later when Kailyn is hired to help to be Dax's sister, Emme, with her trust. Things also get further complicated when a tragic accident leaves Dax as the guardian to said sister. They find themselves reconciling but also dealing with an aunt who believes she deserves custody of Emme over Dax. I really liked that Kailyn wasn't just someone there for Dax, but she became a really important person for Emme as well. They built a relationship too and you can see both Dax and Emme really fall for Kailyn. You see both Dax and Kailyn come to terms with what they want out of their lives. Kailyn has been working on trust funds but has always found herself drawn to family law, and Dax realizes that plans he had for himself kind of have to be restructured because he's now a father figure to Emme. Their story was incredibly sweet and Dax is just so awesome. I loved seeing them fall in love with the current versions of each other, but also they have a history so it was great to see that addressed as well. I'm pretty sure he had me swooning over him from the very first chapter. I loved this book so much and it just reminds me again why Helena is one of my favorite authors ever. If you haven't read anything from her before, what are you waiting for? This is a good one to start with as it is a standalone! :) 

Available for purchase:
Indigo/Chapters - Kobo - Amazon - Kindle - Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader's copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.