Since my blog began three years ago, I wrote monthly recaps with mini reviews of all the books I read that month. The beginning of the year was very busy for me and I fell behind…and by the time I was out of school I had a hard time trying to catch up. Well now it’s the end of November and I still haven’t posted my monthly reviews. To make up for it, I’m featuring all of the reviews from the first half of the year (aka January through June) today!
You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando — 4 stars
You Won’t Know I’m Gone by Kristen Orlando — 4.5 stars
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann — 3.5 stars
Say You’ll Remember Me by Katie McGarry — 3.5 stars
The Black Angel Chronicles starts out as a fun spy novel but turns into a thrilling adventure at the end. You Don’t Know My Name follows Reagan, who has been trained by her top secret spy parents, as she’s getting to make an important decision—follow in her parents’ foot steps or choose her own path. There’s lots of high school and romance drama at the beginning, but switches up to more spy-y adventures at the end. I highly recommend this series for fans of Ally Carter’s I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You.
You Won’t Know I’m Gone is a fantastic follow-up to You Don’t Know My Name. It begins six months after the end of the first novel. Reagan is about to face a trial for her actions in Colombia and is a shell of the girl she used to be. However, Reagan needs to earn her spot back at the Academy and become an official Black Angel. I loved that Reagan is facing consequences due to her actions (both physically and mentally) and the new characters added in this book. Read my full review here.
Let’s Talk About Love is a cute love story full of important representation! If you don’t know already, the main character is a biromantic ace, black woman and the rest of the cast is filled with POC and LGBTQ+ characters. I struggled a little with the writing style itself, but I know many others have loved and enjoyed this novel. Read my full review here.
Say You’ll Remember Me is a departure from both of Katie McGarry’s previous series. One of the reasons I love Katie McGarry novels so much is because of how complex the main characters are and the different themes and topics she weaves into her stories. I am so glad that Katie has returned to storylines like the ones from the Pushing the Limits series. I highly recommend Katie McGarry’s novels for fans of contemporary romance that are looking for swoon-worthy reads that deal with darker subjects. Read my full review here.
Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia — 4 stars
Dropkick Romance by Cyrus Parker — 4 stars
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One by Amanda Lovelace — 4 stars
Broken Beautiful Hearts is the first Kami Garcia book that I have read! I’m really glad to have started with a story that is very close to her own personal experiences, which you can read more about in this essay. While I had difficulty getting into the book at first, I still really enjoyed reading Broken Beautiful Hearts and appreciated the way Kami handled a tough subject. Fans of Katie McGarry’s novels will love Broken Beautiful Hearts! Read my full review here.
Even though I am not the biggest fan of poetry, I knew I needed to read DROPKICKromance since Cyrus Parker is married to Amanda Lovelace, author of the princess saves herself in this one. Parker’s debut poetry collections is full of healing, honesty, and vulnerability. He excellently weaves words together to create an emotional ride for the reader as he takes us through two relationships—an abusive one and a healthy one.
After reading and loving the princess saves herself in this one last year, I knew I would need to read Amanda Lovelace’s next poetry collection. The witch doesn’t burn in this one is full of so much anger and intersectional feminism. It is feisty and fierce, and it is perfect for the #MeToo movement.
Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington — 5 stars
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins — 5 stars
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli — 4.5 stars
Love Songs & Other Lies is told through alternating POVs and timelines—Vee and Cam’s story is revealed and timed perfectly and I loved seeing what characteristics were different in their older selves and what aspects stayed the same. The settings change in each timeline as well and I loved the small Michigan beach town as well as the major cities visited for the tour. Overall, I adored Love Songs & Other Lies and it will be making a home as a new favorite on my bookshelf. Full of love, heartbreak, and music, this is one debut novel you do not want to miss! Read my full review here.
I read Isla and the Happily Ever After for the second time right before I visited New York! I loved seeing the ups and downs of Isla and Josh’s relationships again. Their story stands out to me since they get together at the beginning of the novel whereas Stephanie Perkins’ other couples (and really most YA contemporary romances) get together at the end of the novel. The different cities (Manhattan, Paris, and Barcelona) featured in the story were brought to life and made me feel as if I was in them myself!
So I actually saw Love, Simon before I read the book, but I rushed to the bookstore as soon as I left the movie as I needed to have more of the story! I sped through Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda as I loved it so much—I read the entire book in a day which hasn’t happened in a long time! The voice is funny and pacing kept me engaged. Read my book vs. movie comparison here.
A Prom to Remember by Sandy Hall — 4 stars
A Prom to Remember is Sandy Hall’s fourth novel, and it’s just as cute and character filled as her previous books! While so many characters can be confusing at times, I love the way Hall intertwines their stories and creates distinct personalities. Even though the POVs focus on Cora, Paisley, Henry, Jacinta, Otis, Lizzie, and Cameron, the secondary characters are just as much a part of the story as the main characters and I enjoyed seeing the friendships overlap. Be sure to check out my full review where I also feature a character guide I created to keep track of all the different relationships!
The Game Can’t Love You Back by Karole Cozzo — 4 stars
Airports, Exes, and Other Thing’s I’m Over by Shani Petroff — 4 stars
The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles — 1 star
Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley — 5 stars
I was an athlete in high school so I love reading sports romances, especially when that sport is baseball. Add in enemies to lovers, one of my favorite tropes? Instant buy. The Game Can’t Love You Back is fun and competitive! I loved switching between Eve and Jamie’s POVs and watching them go from hating to each other to feeling something more. Miranda Kenneally fans will love this sports romance!
Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over is a fun, fast-paced read. What made this novel fun was everything Sari had to go through to get home. Honestly, it would be a nightmare to be in her shoes (literally she’s in heels the entire novel), but it was definitely interesting watching everything go wrong and I was definitely curious about what would happen next. Read my full review here.
Honestly, I found The Kissing Booth to be very problematic. Noah is so controlling of Elle and it is not romantic whatsoever. Their relationship is so toxic and it was hard to read the book. Also, Elle had absolutely no agenda in the book (at least in the movie she was on the soccer team and co-president of the Dance Club) so it felt like the book was going nowhere (the book is over 400 pages so this is a VERY BAD THING). Lastly, I was peeved by a few setting errors that would not have been in there if the author had done a little research. The book obviously takes place in California (where I’m from), but errors, like the sun not even setting until 9pm in April (which it doesn’t even set that late during the summer here) for example, really took me out of the story and annoyed me. Read my book vs. movie comparison here.
Love Scene, Take Two is Alex Evansley’s debut novel with Swoon Reads. The first half of the novel is from Teddy’s perspective and takes place over a long weekend at Bennett’s house. The second half of the novel then switches over to Bennett’s perspective and takes place six months later on the movie set. The switched perspective surprised me at first as I was not expecting it. It worked especially well because Teddy’s POV takes place while he’s an outsider in Bennett’s world (at her house on the lake) and Bennett’s POV happens on the movie set, which is most definitely Teddy’s world. Love Scene, Take Two is a fun, flirty, fast-paced summer read—perfect for fans of Famous in Love! Read my full review here.
Save the Date by Morgan Matson — 5 stars
Royals by Rachel Hawkins — 4 stars
Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein — 3 stars
I absolutely adored Save the Date! It’s fun and family-oriented and filled with all the growing up/end of era feelings. The book takes place over three days as Charlie’s sister gets married at their childhood home before their parents sell the house. As the youngest, Charlie is beyond excited to have her older brothers and sister back together for one last hurrah. Things do not go exactly as Charie had planned, though, and disaster upon disaster keeps hitting the wedding. I loved the family dynamic and how each person played off of each other and had their own personality. Read my full review to see why Save the Date has made its way onto my all-time favorite books list!
Royals is such a cute, funny, and entertaining story! I absolutely love royal stories, so I was so excited to read Rachel Hawkins’ Royals (especially since the Royal Wedding had just taken place) and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Daisy’s narration was hilarious and Miles was a totally swoon-worthy love interest. Oh and there’s fake dating, which is one of my favorite tropes! I highly recommend this one for rom-com fans!
Chemistry Lessons is a fun story featuring a STEM heroine! Maya is bound for MIT in the fall, following in her late mother’s footsteps in becoming a scientist. By far my favorite part of Chemistry Lessons was how many women in STEM it featured! Most of the scientists and students in the lab Maya is working in are women plus Maya comes from a family of female scientists! While I myself am not in any of the STEM fields, many of my college friends are and I often hear about their struggles. I loved how this book showcased so many STEM women in such a positive manner, and I really enjoyed that we got to see everything that went into Maya’s experiment. Read my full review here.