Holdout by Jeffrey Kluger

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Since most recently reading and loving “Project Hail Mary”, I’ve been going for all the space-themed books!

Thank you Dutton for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Walli Beckwith is a model astronaut. She graduated at the top of her class from the Naval Academy, had a successful career flying fighter jets, and has spent more than three hundred days in space. So when she refuses to leave her post aboard the International Space Station following an accident that forces her fellow astronauts to evacuate, her American and Russian colleagues are mystified. For Walli, the matter at hand feels all too clear and terrifying for her to be worried about ruining her career. She is stuck in a race against time to save a part of the world that seems to have been forgotten, and also the life of the person she loves the most. She will go to any length necessary, using the only tool she has, to accomplish what she knows is right.

This was a mix of mystery, contemporary, and a touch of science fiction. There is a good amount of science in it, but not nearly as much as Project Hail Mary and not nearly enough to steer non-science lovers away from this. The one thing that shocked me the most was how political it was. A little too much for my liking, especially for having it advertised as a science fiction novel. Not a bad read, but not something I would pick up again.

3/5 Stars

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie

Sometimes I read too many thrillers, and I just need a good romance to lighten the load.

Thank you Little Brown and Company for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Megan Givens and Tom Prescott are heading into what is supposed to be their magical wedding weekend on beautiful San Juan Island. But with two difficult families, ten years of history, and all too many secrets, things quickly go wrong. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner they vow to call the whole thing off—only to wake up the next morning stuck together in a time loop. Are they really destined to relive the worst day of their lives, over and over? And what happens if their wedding day does arrive?

You had me at time travel with this one. I truly am a sucker for time travel books, no matter what! This was so adorable, I loved every moment of it. I fell in love with the writing, the characters, the groundhog day plot, the humor, the whit, you name it. This would also be a super great movie, just saying! This is your next perfect summer read.

5/5 Stars

A Touch of Jen by Beth Morgan

Sometimes, a good title and even better cover art is all that a girl needs to pick her next read. Especially when the title has the same name as you do.

Thank you Little Brown and Company for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure  service workers, are not particularly happy together. But they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. In and outside the bedroom, Remy and Alicia’s entire relationship revolves around fantasies of Jen, whose every Instagram caption, outfit, and new age mantra they know by heart. Imagine their confused excitement when they run into Jen, in the flesh, and she invites them on a surfing trip to the Hamptons with her wealthy boyfriend and their group. Once there, Remy and Alicia try (a little too hard) to fit into Jen’s exalted social circle, but violent desire and class resentment bubble beneath the surface of this beachside paradise, threatening to erupt. As small disturbances escalate into outright horror, we find ourselves tumbling with Remy and Alicia into an uncanny alternate reality, one shaped by their most unspeakable, deviant, and intoxicating fantasies.  Is this what “self-actualization” looks like?

A toxic Instagram crush creates one heck of a monster in this wild ride! Is this a romance? Is this fantasy? How about science fiction? Is it comical? I don’t know how, but it’s all of the above and Beth did a great job at that! This book is so unique and makes it a must-read! There truly is no other story like it. It’s addicting!

4.5/5 Stars

A Lot Like Love by Jennifer Snow

How can you go to the beach without a good romance novel in hand? I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to do so!

Thank you Entangled Publishing and Books Forward for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: When Sarah Lewis inherits a run-down B&B from her late grandmother in coastal Blue Moon Bay, the logical thing to do is sell it and focus on her life in L.A. But when she learns that interested buyers will only tear it down in its current state, she feels a sense of obligation to her grandmother to get it back to the landmark tourist destination it once was…even if that means hiring the best contractor for the job, who happens to be her old high school crush. Wes Sharrun’s life has continued to unravel since the death of his wife three years before. Now with a struggling construction company and a nine-year-old daughter, he sees the B&B as an opportunity to get back on his feet. Unfortunately, despite trying to keep his distance, his daughter has taken a liking to Sarah, and his own feelings are tough to deny. As they spend more time together painting, exploring a forgotten treasure trove of wine in a basement cellar, and arguing over balcony placement, the more the spark between them ignites. But will saving the B&B be enough to convince them both to take a second chance at love? 

I don’t always pick up romance novels, but when I do, this is the kind of book I want to be reading! It was absolutely perfect in every way. The character development was phenomenal and made you feel real emotions for these characters. This book just had the perfect plot formula for romance lovers all around. Highly recommend reading this one this summer!

5/5 Stars

Wendy, Darling by AC Wise

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I’ve really been enjoying in dabbling with retelling of classic stories as of lately. This may not be a retelling, but I find that stories that pick up after classics are even cooler! This book dives into the world after Peter Pan.

Thank you Titan Books for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: For those that lived there, Neverland was a children’s paradise. No rules, no adults, only endless adventure and enchanted forests – all led by the charismatic boy who would never grow old. But Wendy Darling grew up. She left Neverland and became a woman, a mother, a patient, and a survivor. Because Neverland isn’t as perfect as she remembers. There’s darkness at the heart of the island, and now Peter Pan has returned to claim a new Wendy for his lost boys… 

This is a feminist twist on what happened to Wendy in Peter Pan. I always felt that this would be Wendy’s future based on watching the movie as a kid. This book painted a much darker picture of Neverland, and it was really good. It’s a twisted view, but done oh so well. I absolutely loved this grown up Wendy the warrior and survivor! She’s an idol! This tale was maybe a bit more terrifying to read than I had imagined it would be, but still comes highly recommended.

4/5 Stars

How To Mars by David Ebenbach

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After recently reading Project Hail Mary and absolutely falling in love with space books all over again, I wanted to try my hand at reading some more.

Thank you Tachyon Publishing for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: For the six lucky scientists selected by the Destination Mars! corporation, a one-way ticket to Mars—in exchange for a lifetime of research—was an absolute no-brainer. The incredible opportunity was clearly worth even the most absurdly tedious screening process. Perhaps worth following the strange protocols in a nonsensical handbook written by an eccentric billionaire. Possibly even worth their constant surveillance, the video of which is carefully edited into a ratings-bonanza back on Earth. But it turns out that after a while even scientists can get bored of science. Tempers begin to fray; unsanctioned affairs blossom. When perfectly good equipment begins to fail, the Marsonauts are faced with a possibility that their training just cannot explain.

Woops – this was nothing like I thought it would be. It’s drama-filled and focuses way more on that than anything else. If you like reality TV shows and want to dabble in the world of science fiction, then maybe this book is for you. The cover art is pretty awesome though!

2/5 Stars

Anne of Manhattan by Brina Starler

Coming back today with another classic modern re-telling!

Thank you William Morrow Books for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: After an idyllic girlhood in Avonlea, Long Island, Anne has packed up her trunk, said goodbye to her foster parents, Marilla and Matthew, and moved to the isle of Manhattan for grad school. Together with her best friend, Diana Barry, she’s ready to take on the world and find her voice as a writer.When her long-time archrival Gilbert Blythe shows up at Redmond College for their final year, Anne gets the shock of her life. Gil has been in California for the last five years—since he kissed her during a beach bonfire, and she ghosted him. Now the handsome brunette is flashing his dimples at her like he hasn’t a care in the world and she isn’t buying it. Paired with the same professor for their thesis, the two former competitors come to a grudging peace that turns into something so much deeper…and sexier than either intended. But when Gil seemingly betrays her to get ahead, Anne realizes she was right all along—she should never have trusted Gilbert Blythe. While Gil must prove to Anne that they’re meant to be together, she must come to terms with her old fears if she wants a happily-ever-after with the boy she’s always (secretly) loved.

Are you an Anne of Green Gables fan? I have a feeling those that really love the classic may not be a fan of this one. Anne in the original novel is very innocent and down to earth. In this novel, she’s more hardworking and found in a more romantic relationship. The writing is really well done. It’s a fun summer read nonetheless!

4/5 Stars

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

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As I have mentioned previously on my blog before, “The Great Gatsby” has official entered public domain as of this year, meaning re-tellings are now up for the taking. I was so thrilled to be able to take an early look at this one before it’s public release today. It’s especially a great book to start with celebrating Pride Month with!

Thank you Tordotcom for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Immigrant. Socialite. Magician. Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her. But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how. Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

I’ve been sitting on this review for quite some time. I’ve had such a hard time writing it! I have many feelings about this book. First off, it’s absolutely beautifully written. The prose is breathtaking. On the other hand, I thought this was extremely close to the original story. While yes, it’s a retelling, it had elements that made it unique in it’s own way that I wanted WAY more of. The fantasy/magical touches to this book were minimal and I think a touch more would’ve put this book on a whole other level for me. If you aren’t a Great Gatsby fan, this may be a hard pass for you. If you want to read a story written like a dream, you’ll want to pick this up right away.

3/5 Stars

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley

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I grew up 30 minutes away from the Chesapeake Bay, so any book that takes place in the same area is an automatic must-read for me!

Thank you Berkley for my gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Piper Parrish’s life on Frick Island—a tiny, remote town smack in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay—is nearly perfect. Well, aside from one pesky detail: Her darling husband, Tom, is dead. When Tom’s crab boat capsized and his body wasn’t recovered, Piper, rocked to the core, did a most peculiar thing: carried on as if her husband was not only still alive, but right there beside her, cooking him breakfast, walking him to the docks each morning, meeting him for their standard Friday night dinner date at the One-Eyed Crab. And what were the townspeople to do but go along with their beloved widowed Piper? Anders Caldwell’s career is not going well. A young ambitious journalist, he’d rather hoped he’d be a national award-winning podcaster by now, rather than writing fluff pieces for a small town newspaper. But when he gets an assignment to travel to the remote Frick Island and cover their boring annual Cake Walk fundraiser, he stumbles upon a much more fascinating tale: an entire town pretending to see and interact with a man who does not actually exist. Determined it’s the career-making story he’s been needing for his podcast, Anders returns to the island to begin covert research and spend more time with the enigmatic Piper—but he has no idea out of all the lives he’s about to upend, it’s his that will change the most.

Don’t look any further for the perfect beach read. This book is charming, emotional, and enchanting! You’ll cry tears of sadness and joy all in the same breath. A beautiful story of love and friendships. A beautiful story of humanity at it’s best. And to all my friends and family back home reading this review, it’s based off of Smith Island, so you just have to pick it up this summer and read it! 🙂

5/5 Stars

Version Zero by David Yoon

David is just one of those auto-buy authors for me. I was beyond thrilled to spend a weekend on the water reading his newest adult debut coming out this week! 

Thank you GP Putnam’s Sons for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Max, a data whiz at the Facebook-like social media company Wren, has gotten a firsthand glimpse of the dark side of big tech. When he starts asking questions about what his company is doing with the data they collect, he finds himself fired…and then blackballed across all of Silicon Valley. With time on his hands and inside knowledge about the biggest tech companies, Max and his longtime friend—and sometime crush—Akiko, decide to get even by…essentially, rebooting the internet. After all, in order to fix things, sometimes you have to break them. But when Max and Akiko join forces with a reclusive tech baron, they learn that breaking things can have unintended—and disastrous—consequences. And those consequences will ripple across the world, effecting every level of society in ways no one could have imagined. 

If you have read and loved his young adult novels, this may set you back a bit. It was definitely very different than his other novels, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. This fits the adult fiction genre well, but was a bit hard for me to get into. I’m not sure if it’s the style it was written (the chapters are written as versions of software systems), or if it’s how the novel started (we are introduced to a lot of characters at once), but I wasn’t as hooked as I have been in David’s previous novels. The silicon valley style satire throughout the novel was entertaining for sure. It really is the middle of the line for me. It reads a little like a roller coaster, fast paced in some parts and slow around the corners in others. It really makes you think twice about all the things you’ve given to social media without really knowing. Not a bad read, I think this will be talked about a lot this summer. A great book club book!

3/5 Stars