10 LATE SPRING/EARLY SUMMER RELEASES I HAVE PREORDERED

The humidity level is cranking up in Kentucky, and while I know the dog days of summer are ahead, I look forward to doing some great summer reading in 2021. While reading backlist books is my jam a lot of the time, I have quite a few summer releases I am super stoked for this year that I have preordered (or plan to preorder very soon), so I thought I would share that list with you!

Please not that the Amazon and Bookshop.org links below are affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no cost to you.

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION by EMILY HENRY

Pub date: May 11, 2021
Genre: Adult romance
Also by this author: Beach Read

I had the pleasure of reading this one prior to its release via Netgalley and it was such a refreshing, fun story! I enjoyed it so much and think you will too. Click the following links to read the synopsis or to preorder via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

WHERE THE RHYTHM TAKES YOU by SARAH DASS

Pub date: May 11, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance/retelling
Also by this author: none, this is her debut 🎉

Sarah Dass “works as an office administrator by day and writes stories about the Caribbean by night”. This story is based on her childhood in a seaside hotel and I need this virtual vacation! Preorder on Amazon or Bookshop.

LAST CHANCE BOOKS by KELSEY RODKEY

Pub date: May 18, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: none, this is her debut 🎉

Y’all know I am a sucker for a YA romance and ANYTHING set near/in a bookstore. Cannot wait for what should be a super sweet story to come out! Preorder now on Amazon or Bookshop.

HANG THE MOON by ALEXANDRIA BELLEFLEUR

Pub date: May 25, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: Written in the Stars

Bellefleur’s debut Written in the Stars captured the hearts of so many readers with a queer love story with the lovable grumpy and sunshine trope. Hang the Moon is the follow up to it, focusing on a different character, but likely having guest appearances from the two characters we fell in love with in her first book. Preorder on Bookshop or Amazon!

WE CAN’T KEEP MEETING LIKE THIS by RACHEL LYNN SOLOMON

Pub date: June 1, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Also by this author: Today Tonight Tomorrow, The Ex Talk

Rachel Lynn Solomon knows how to give me the warm and fuzzies and I am sure this book will be no different! Click the following links to read the synopsis or to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop!

MALIBU RISING by TAYLOR JENKINS REID

Pub date: June 1, 2021
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Also by this author: Daisy Jones and the Six, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

TJR is back with another story that is bound to sweep you away! Set in 1983, this story about “one unforgettable night in the life of a family” will be at the top of many readers’ wishlists. Click the following links to read the synopsis and to preorder on Amazon and Bookshop.org.

SUNNY SONG WILL NEVER BE FAMOUS by SUZANNE PARK

Pub date: June 1, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Also by this author: Loathe at First Sight

The synopsis of this one totally gripped me and also..there’s a chicken on the cover. For some reason this cracked me up. Click the following links to preorder via Amazon or Bookshop!

THE BOX IN THE WOODS by MAUREEN JOHNSON

Pub date: June 15, 2021
Genre: YA Mystery
Also by this author: Truly Devious series, 13 Little Blue Envelopes

Maureen Johnson is BACK with another mystery that will surely have us flipping pages so dang fast! If you haven’t read the first 3 in the series, be sure to snag the box set (Amazon has it for $17.99, Bookshop is currently sold out). You can preorder The Box in the woods from both Amazon and Bookshop now!

BLACKOUT by DHONIELLE CLAYTON, TIFFANY D JACKSON, NIC STONE, ANGIE THOMAS, ASHLEY WOODFOLK, AND NICOLA YOON

Pub date: June 22, 2021
Genre: YA Short Stories
Also by these authors: The Hate U Give, The Sun is Also a Star, Dear Martin

Six fabulous, award winning, bestselling authors come together to bring us love, humor, and heartwarming stories. This is not a collaboration you want to miss! Preorder on Amazon and Bookshop today.

RISE TO THE SUN by LEAH JOHNSON

Pub date: July 6, 2021
Genre: YA LGBTQ Romance
Also by these authors: You Should See Me in a Crown

Leah Johnson’s You Should See Me in a Crown was such a delight in the train wreck that was 2020, so I cannot wait to see what she’s cooled up with her newest release! Preorder on Amazon or Bookshop.

This is absolutely not a comprehensive list of ALL the books I am excited for, but I tried to keep it as brief as possible! Hope you found something you are excited for, too! Let me know in the comments if you did.

BABY GOT BACKLIST: 10 BACKLIST BOOKS I LOVED

Buying brand new books takes a major hit on the wallet, right? I feel that in my SOUL. One of the ways I manage not going broke thanks to my reading habit (truly a challenge at times) is reading books published prior to the current year (aka backlist books). These books have often already gone to paperback and usually don’t have crazy long library wait times. So next time you need to take a break from buying all the new releases, here’s a list of some backlist books by genre that I highly recommend!

Please note that the following links are affiliate links that provide me a small commission at no cost to you. It would mean a lot to me if you purchased through them!

This book was my first by Christina Lauren and remains my favorite by this incredible author duo! This closed door rom-com had me chuckling out loud and flipping pages with impressive speed, if I do say so myself. I even read it when I was newly pregnant and super distracted and it still held my attention! Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Adult Contemporary Fiction: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I will never stop singing my praises for this book. Its dry wit/humor coupled with an epic love story set in a bookshop is the TRIFECTA of a perfect book for me. 5 gajillion stars from me and I push it into the hands of nearly everyone I know. Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

This intricately woven story of a young Black boy who “meets” the ghost of another Black boy that was killed years before will open up SO much conversation between middle grade readers and their parents. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Adult Contemporary Fiction With a Pinch of Magical Realism: The Humans by Matt Haig

Matt Haig is one of my favorite authors of all time, and this book was the one that made me fall in love with him. Don’t immediately discount it because there’s an alien in it, folks. I promise this one will open your eyes to the beauty of humanity in a whole new way. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Young Adult Contemporary Romance: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Jenny Han crafted the perfect high school romance between Lara Jean and Peter K and nobody can convince me otherwise. I’m going to warn you – you may want to go ahead and buy the box set because once you finish the first, you won’t want to wait the shipping time for book two. To buy the first book, click the following links to get it from Amazon (sold out on Bookshop.org at the time of this post). If you want to go all in and get the boxed set, it’s here on Amazon and here on Bookshop.org.

Young Adult Contemporary: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Nobody can stomp on my heart quite like Nic Stone, and this book is the one that sold me on her work. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Adult Historical Fiction: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Get ready to be swept away into Alaska in the 1970’s. This is one of the most atmospheric, heart breaking tales I’ve ever read, and I truly wish I could read it again for the first time. Click the following links to purchase it via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Young Adult Historical Fiction: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

,

This queer historical rom com warmed my ice cold heart. I have never loved a character quite the same way I love Monte and nobody can tell me that he isn’t the most likable jerk in the book world! Click the following links to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Memoir: Know My Name by Chanel Millerhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50196744

This chilling and eye opening memoir gives an infuriating look at the inner workings of a nationally publicized sexual assault case. I loved the audio and hearing Chanel read her story. Click the following links to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

True Crime: The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Maybe don’t read this one in dim lighting during a thunderstorm, but this one gave Ann Rule’s side of what it was like to be friends with Ted Bundy before, during, and after his rise to fame for all the worst reasons. Click the following links to purchase it via Amazon or Bookshop.org.

REVIEW: ISLAND AFFAIR by PRISCILLA OLIVERAS

Click the following links to read the book synopsis Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

Well this was just a breath of fresh sea salted air! This was my first book by Priscilla Oliveras and I loved the listening experience of the audiobook.

Here’s 4 things I loved about this book:

1) The atmospheric writing – I felt the Florida heat, smelled the salty air, and could visualize the island in the best way!
2) Our male lead, Luis, was just. so. dreamy. He was kind, considerate, thoughtful and gentle – a rarity in romance characters (at least of the ones I’ve read).
3) The family drama tied into the romance story effortlessly. This book is a romance, yes, but the romance ONLY happens because of family drama. It is intriguing, tense, and believable and fun all at once.
4) The portrayal of consent between the main characters. I’m the first to admit that I prefer closed door romance, and while this one was more of a “cracked door” romance, I loved how Oliveras did not leave out any details as the characters discussed where their relationship was going – both emotionally and physically.

One thing I did not love about this book:
1) This was incredibly minor and probably only a negative for me as someone who does not speak Spanish, but the Spanish used throughout the book was a little confusing/distracting for me. I do recognize, however, that this was realistic for the characters and absolutely necessary to bring them to life. I just struggled a bit to understand what the author was trying to convey only because I didn’t understand the language!

Overall, this book was a solid 4 star read for me and I look forward to reading the second book this summer!

Content warnings:
Eating disorder
Sexual content
Cancer
Medical content

To purchase Island Affair, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org links. When you purchase this way it provides me with a small commission at no cost to you!

WHAT I’M WISHING FOR FOR MOTHER’S DAY (AND WHAT I’M NOT WISHING FOR)

We are halfway through April, and that means it’s time to start thinking about what to get for the mom(s) in your life! Mother’s Day is May 9 this year in case you didn’t know (someone tell my husband), and it’s creeping up faster than we realize. Whether you are celebrating your mom, a motherly figure in your life, or a grandma (or any variation in between), Mother’s Day is a great day to recognize the women in your life that care for you.

I don’t really do “gift guides” too often because I have a hard time thinking of what other people may want But if there’s one thing I’m an expert on, it’s being a mom and knowing things that most moms would like to have. So, without further ado, here’s a list of 7 things I would be honored to receive on May 9.

*please note that Amazon linked items provide me with a small commission at no cost to you, and I would be humbled if you purchased via these links*

1. Uninterrupted Reading Time

This seems simple and small, but as a mom who loves to read and get’s little time to do it, this feels like luxury. I’m hopeful my husband will tell me to leave and go sit somewhere and read for an hour on Mother’s Day!

2. A Styling Brush

Doing my hair is a form of self care for me, but sometimes I would like to skip a step. If I could dry AND style my hair at the same time, this would be a dream come true!

3. A Trunk Organizer

It seems ridiculous to some, but few things irk me more than the sound of things bouncing around in my trunk as I’m driving around. This would be a great, cheap solution that I honestly my just buy for myself. I may even go crazy and get two.

4. Another Pair of My Favorite Scissors

Any human that has looked for a pair of scissors in a tizzy while kids are screaming that they’re hungry knows how irritating it is when someone TAKES the scissors. I’ve hidden my favorite pair from my family because yes, I’m that petty, but I would love to have a community pair so everyone else can experience the goodness that is this pair of Fiskars. Seriously, they’re that good. I’ve had mine 10 years and they still cut like new.

5. Flowers Planted for Me

Cut flowers are great, but they die quickly. I love when someone plants my annuals for me as a Mother’s Dy gift! My husband and 4 year old will likely do this for me again this year and I look forward to seeing the result.

6. A Programmable Crock Pot

My crock pot works, don’t get me wrong. But a programmable one with a temperature probe only seems like the next logical step at this point, right? Can I level up to this degree of home chef yet?

7. Permission to buy a few books (or just buy them for me!) off my book wishlist.

And don’t shame me for the number of unread books I have in our home. Trust me, I’m well aware, but I have no shelf control.

AND NEXT, THE THINGS I DON’T WANT…

1. To go out to eat.

I know this seems confusing, but as a mama with a 4 year old and a 1 year old, sometimes the pressure that comes with keeping kids quiet and happy in a public restaurant is just not worth the hassle. If you want mom to have that “you don’t have to cook or clean” experience, consider ordering takeout and using disposable dishes (OR do the dishes for her after if you are able to be with her).

2. To make any decisions.

Sometimes I can’t use my brain and emotional energy anymore, and making decisions for everyone else? That’s a lot of emotional energy, whether or not others realize it. So don’t make me choose what I want to eat, just pick something you know I’ll like!

3. To clean up anything.

I don’t expect anyone to deep clean my house for me, but it would be really nice if everyone could put their clothes in the hamper and dishes in the dishwasher. All. Day.

That’s a wrap, folks! I hope this helps you think outside the box to make this years Mother’s Day super special.

10 OF MY FAVORITE AUDIOBOOKS

One of the most common questions I get as a mom who is also a reader is HOW the heck I read as much as I do. While I kind of hate that question, I always acknowledge that audiobooks make the biggest difference for me.

2 years ago, I rarely every listened to audiobooks, but since having my second child in January 2020, I’ve learned the beauty of stories told through my headphones while I make dinner, fold laundry, or push the stroller on a walk. That being said, I’m pretty selective about my audiobooks and what I will listen to.

Things I look for when choosing an audiobook include:

  • The narrator. This is the number one most important thing for me as a listener. If I don’t care for the narrators tone, have trouble understanding the accent, or any other reason – I won’t finish the audiobook. Some of my favorite narrators are Julia Whelan, Guy Lockard, Raymond J. Lee, and Rebekkah Ross.
  • The length of the book. For me, the sweet spot is anywhere between 9-12 hours. I also listen on 1.5x speed, so I rarely spend the full amount of time listening.
  • Books set in another country or containing multiple characters from another country have proven great on audio for me. For example, I am currently listening to Crazy Rich Asians on audio, and the narrator is doing a fabulous job giving each of the characters an accent that matches where they come from.
  • Any book that contains a foreign language is excellent on audio for me. When I read it in print, I gloss over the foreign language. On audio, I can hear it and the emphasis the author wanted on each of the exchanges between characters.

Other notes about audiobooks:

  • Because audio costs a heck of a lot, I listen via multiple mediums. I have a membership to Scribd, Libro.FM, and also use my local library via Libby.
  • If you aren’t sure that you will like audiobooks, I always recommend starting with memoirs by celebrities that interest you! I will include a few on my list of non fiction audiobooks that I have really enjoyed.
  • A good set of wireless headphones are key. I love these Sony over the ears – they’re super lightweight and don’t break the bank.

That being said, here is a list of 10 of my favorite audiobooks! Please note that the title of each is linked to the Goodreads synopsis and that the image will take you to Amazon to purchase it if you feel the need to. Again, I recommend looking into a streaming service/your local library. It is much more cost effective!

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

This story of a teenage Korean American boy just learning to get through high school while falling in love with a girl that his parents may or may not approve of!

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Alright, alright, alright – I knew I couldn’t leave this one out! Narrated by the author himself, take a ride through his life and his climb to fame.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

,

A story of a fictional rock group in the 1970’s, Daisy Jones and the Six has a full cast that will take you on a journey that will have you questioning if these events truly are figments of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s brainchild. It’s brilliant, compelling, and one of a kind.

The Track Series by Jason Reynolds

If I could pick just one off this list, I think this would be it. These middle grade novels about a track team and each of its key players are compelling, creative, and heart wrenching. And the best part? They’re squeaky clean, so you can listen to them with your 5th grader who is capable of having conversations about tough things in the world, and you don’t have to worry about them dropping a word that you don’t want to hear your young one repeat. 3 of the 4 are narrated by Guy Lockard, a voice actor who is a personal friend of the author, so these embody the story that Jason Reynolds intended to put into the world.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by the brilliant Marin Ireland, this story had me completely engrossed from start to finish. I didn’t want it to finish and also kind of want to read it again now that I’m thinking about it.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

<div style="text-align: center;"

A powerful memoir narrated by the author, this story will have you enraged, heartbroken, and feeling empowered all at once.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany Jackson

The full cast in this young adult novel tells a story from 3 perspectives about friends who are trying to solve a murder.

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

Get ready to have your heart ripped out at the stories of those who survived 9/11 and are ready to tell their stories.

FantasticLand by Mike Bockoven

A spooky story about a theme park that closes down after a hurricane blows through, leaving all of the employees to fend for themselves as they wait to be rescued. Think modern day Lord of the Flies, but in a fictional Disney World type setting.

Naturally Tan by Tan France

In his buttery smooth British accent, Queer Eye star Tan France tells the story of growing up brown, gay, and Muslim Pakistani in London. Surprisingly vulnerable and heartwarming, if you didn’t love Tan before listening, you’ll love him after.

REVIEW: LEGENDBORN by TRACY DEONN

To read the book synopsis, click the following links that will direct you to Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

Another young adult fantasy for the win in 2021! I am so happy I read this book and that I was able to get swept away into this world.

My thoughts on this book before I forget how I’m feeling….5 things I loved about this book!

1. I ADORED these characters, all the good guys at least. But I also really hated the ones I was supposed to hate and that’s a sign of a good writer, so 1000 points to @tracydeonn.
2. I ENJOYED the rollercoaster of emotions I felt while reading this book – even if it did take me 3 weeks. It’s not the book, it was me and my mental state.
3. I felt completely and utterly swept away and I was HERE. FOR. IT. This is what fantasy should be like and I never want to read anything else that isn’t this captivating.
4. The friendships in this book made me feel like I was young again – the kinds of friends that allow you to be yourself, unapologetically, and will legit fight for you. That was the energy I needed.
5. The cliffhanger! WHEN is the next book coming out?! I’m annoyed but I’m not. Annoyed that I have to wait for some resolution (#bookwormproblems) but I’m also really stinkin’ excited that it means we are getting another book.

Easy 5 stars from me and I cannot wait to read the next one!

If you would like to purchase this book, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org links. That provides me with a small commission at no cost to you and really helps me out!

REVIEW: SHADOW & BONE by LEIGH BARDUGO

To read the book synopsis, click the following links to navigate to Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

I’m the first to admit that fantasy is a new genre to me. I’ve not read a TON of it because it oftentimes leaves me feeling confused and discouraged.

Enter Leigh Bardugo’s YA fantasy.

This book had me hooked from chapter 2. I binged it, I wanted to quit all adult responsibilities to finish it, and I loved every minute of it. It’s about to be a Netflix show, too, so obviously I had to read it before I started the show!

Here are 5 things I loved about this book that earned it 5 stars and a permanent space on my shelves:

  • It was fantasy, but make it digestible. I got totally caught up in the world Bardugo created for us, but I wasn’t confused. It eased us into the universe instead of baptizing us with fire, and I appreciated that.
  • The main characters were so relatable and likable.
  • The book moved quickly. Sometimes fantasy can feel stagnant with all the world building, but this one never felt that way.
  • The character development was spot on.
  • Overall, I was just INVESTED. Not sure how else to explain it, but…READ THIS BOOK.

To purchase this book, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org links to do so. I get a small commission at no cost to you!

REVIEW: FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT by ELLE COSIMANO

Click the following links to read the book synopsis on The StoryGraph or Goodreads!

Finlay Donavan may be my new best literary friend, and I’m not mad about it. Elle Cosimano has also made it onto my auto read list, so I would call this reading experience a win, right? I laughed, I was intrigued, and I felt so seen by this novel.

Here are 5 things I love about this book:

  • Finlay’s character was a hot mess express, and I related to that on so many levels. She’s just a mom trying to figure things out – my exact job title right now – and I loved how well this was portrayed.
  • A good book isn’t a great book unless it has a rockin’ supporting cast, and I was obsessed with Vero, Georgia, Nick…all of them, really.
  • The mystery was pretty intricate without being undigestible. I never felt confused but there was still a lot going on!
  • The mix of humor and with the heavy subjects addressed made the whole thing so much easier and more fun to read!
  • The fact that it is going to be a series. It ended with a cliffhanger, yes, but that means WE GET TO HANG OUT WITH FINLAY MORE!

5 out of 5 glowing stars here. I loved Finlay so much and cannot wait to see what she is up to with the next book!

Content warnings:
Mention of domestic abuse
Murder
Death
Gun violence
Misogyny
Mention of infidelity

To purchase the book via Amazon or Bookshop.org, please consider using my provided links. This will provide me with a small commission at no cost to you!

REVIEW: FLOAT PLAN by TRISH DOLLER

To read the book synopsis on Goodreads or The StoryGraph, click the links provided!

Well, this was a fresh breath of some heavily ocean scented, salt filled air!

I am the first to admit that I don’t read the book synopsis 99% of the time before I read a book. What can I say? I like to live life on the edge occasionally!

Just kidding, my ISTJ, enneagram 1 self very much likes to be in the safe zones of life.

Anyway, back to the book. This caught me by total surprise, but in the best way!

Here are 4 things I loved about this book:

  • The portrayal of grief was so heart wrenching, touching, and from what I can imagine, realistic. I felt like I was living Anna’s sadness with her. I love a good gut punch novel, and this provided just that.
  • The atmospheric writing. As someone who is landlocked in Kentucky, USA, I love a book that can mentally transport me to the beach. This one nailed it.
  • The characters were so lovable. While I can appreciate flawed characters, I always need something to root for – this one had it.
  • The lack of problematic behavior in this love story made my heart soar. I think, so often in literature, we see gaslighting, unfair fighting, and other countless red flags, but in this slow burn romance, we see good, wholesome love.

The ONE THING I didn’t love about this book:

I needed more. Like, 25 pages. I needed more resolution, but we can’t always get what we want, right?

This was 4.5 stars for me and I love that it went straight to paperback too, making it an affordable new release! If you would like to purchase via Amazon or Bookshop.org, using the provided links gives me a small commission at no cost to you. I would really appreciate it!