BLADE OF SECRETS by Tricia Levenseller

Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.

Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims’ secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.

Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.

A teenage blacksmith with social anxiety accepts a commission from the wrong person and is forced to go on the run to protect the world from the most powerful magical sword she’s ever made.


Title : Blade of Secrets
Author : Tricia Levenseller
Format : Audio
Narrator : Emily Ellet
Duration : 8 hours, 53 minutes
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : May 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Unusual protagonist
Anxiety representation

I knew absolutely nothing about Blade of Secrets before I started it and so I was happy to be drawn into an unusual tale with an unusual protagonist for fantasy. Ziva was a smithy with powers, unpredictable ones but she also had anxiety with a range of symptoms. I was all woah to seeing that in fantasy and in a good way. I really appreciated Ziva being a strong female but not diminished by her anxiety, she was still a strong and gifted character.

The story centred on two sisters with virtually no other family but this tale brought a bit of a found-family trope which I liked. This troop of Temra, Kellyn (hellooo), Patrick and the Secret Eater were pretty interesting to read about. They went from smithy to on the run and I was here for the story developments.

There was plenty of banter, fun capers and peril. I am 100% invested in these weapons and I want all the Secret Eater info. There was definitely a slow burn element to budgeoning relationships and the end left me wanting more. I am looking forward to book two.

The narration was great, the different gendered dialogue worked well and felt convincing. The characterisation captured the colourful crew well.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for the review copy.

LORE by Alexandra Bracken

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.


Title : Lore
Author : Alexandra Bracken
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 545
Genre : Contemporary YA Greek Mythology
Publisher : Quercus Books
Release Date : January 5, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

Headlines:
Like a super hero film but YA/greek mythology contemporary
Complex, full attention required
Gritty with a few brutal moments

Lore was a clever concept, greek mythology brought into the modern day NYC with the kind of fast pace that reminded me of a Marvel or DC movie. Lore was a descendent of Medusa’s bloodline and every seven years, there was a fight amongst ancient greek gods (kinda). It is a really complex plot that is slowly unfurled for the reader. What helped me with the complexity was being willing to go along with the story even when I didn’t quite know what was happening or why.

I was interested from the early pages, I liked the characters of Lore, Miles, Castor and Van. There were a crop of nasty characters and I enjoyed Lore’s strong feelings about other families and gods. The story never once lost pace and because it was complex, I’d advocate a one book approach and keeping going with the read to keep the plot straight. There was lots of action, fighting, some strategy, quick thinking and a bit of gore.

Sometimes you just have to survive to fight another day. Even I knew those were bad odds.

I was pretty grateful we read this for bookclub because I learnt a few more things I hadn’t picked up on in our discussions and we helped one another with plot points we hadn’t quite grasped. So it’s definitely not a perfect read but it’s still worth your time and investment. I think it would make a great film.

OFF THE RECORD by Camryn Garrett

The behind-the-scenes access of Almost Famous meets the searing revelations of #metoo in this story of a teen journalist who uncovers the scandal of the decade.

Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she’s equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She’s got this.

Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie’s world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn’t know whether she’s flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she’s in over her head.

One woman’s account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn’t step up, who will?

From the author of Full Disclosure, this is a moving testament to the #MeToo movement, and all the ways women stand up for each other.


Title : Off the Record
Author : Camryn Garett
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date : May 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

Oof, I feel pulled in a lot of directions right now, and hope I manage to do an okay job at explaining my thoughts with this one. But I think, not unlike another contemporary I’ve read this year (likely more than one, actually..) the main issues I had with Off The Record is that I think it’s just trying to do too many things.

While reading this book I had actually forgotten what the main plot point was going to be because I felt like it just took too long to get there. Which naturally made the catch-up, the acceleration of it all, that much more.. frantic. Balancing this whirlwind adventure after having won a write-in contest to interview an upcoming actor, catching feels, making friends, battling anxiety, body issues, slowly realizing said friends had experienced something terrible, being convinced to write about it in addition to the profile on the actor, have a romance, bond with a sister.. there are a lot of spinning plates.

In addition to all that, there’s also some good discourse over separating art from artists, which is something I know we all struggle with; more and more each day.

I don’t necessarily think anything beyond the romance really suffered for being rushed (Marius was such a soft lovely human but to be honest I wasn’t really convinced by the connection) but there’s also the suspension of disbelief over how quickly all the pieces fell into place for the big climax.

Sadly I also don’t think I liked any of the characters. No one was awful beyond the villain of the piece (though the main sister dynamic was tough for the majority of the story) but I was reading for the story, even oddly paced as it was, more than the characters. I’m not sure why I didn’t like anyone; not even Marcus, despite his soft loveliness — but I definitely felt for them. Josie’s anxiety overwhelming her, the mixed feelings about her weight and acceptance of her body, I could connect so well to both. But there was just.. something. I can’t put my finger on it.

The subject matter of this story is very relevant and important — and, of course, trigger warnings surround the whole issue so please be conscious of that — and despite my mixed overall feelings I definitely recommend people still pick this up.

Also, as always, you should take my review and my rating with a grain of salt. Though none of my criticisms touch on anything non-plot specific, please prioritize #ownvoice reviews over my own.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – MAY 18, 2021

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake by Alexis Hall is a single parent Great British Bake-Off-style romance by the author of last year’s Boyfriend Material.

Off The Record by Camryn Garrett is a behind-the-scenes access of Almost Famous meets the searing revelations of #metoo in this story of a teen journalist who uncovers the scandal of the decade.

Mister Impossible is the second release in Maggie Stiefvater’s Dreamer Trilogy, which spins off of her Raven Cycle series, and we’ll just pretend we didn’t forget to include this on our Anticipated May Releases post. Facepalm.



Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below! 

ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE by Alexis Hall – double review!

Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory.  Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.


Title : Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake
Author : Alexis Hall
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Forever/Piatkus
Release Date : May 18, 2021/August 5, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★/ ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I definitely had warmer feelings about this story overall than I did about my last few Hall reads but unfortunately most of those warmer feelings kind of depleted over the course of the story. Not because of the events as much as because of certain characters.

When this story focused on some of the secondary cast, specifically Lauren, Harry, and Anvita, it was a great bantery blissful time. When we were in the bake-off segments with the ensemble in addition to all the filming hijinks? Delight. When we were dealing with Alain, or sometimes Rosaline herself? Ugh.

I don’t really want to reveal who Rosaline ends up with, especially for those #TeamNoBlurbers who won’t read the summary, or for those who might not infer from the synopsis how it all goes down, but. I’m very happy with the end result. It was just quite the journey to get there. And I’m not quite sure Rosaline deserved him, full stop, but also because the way things just fall into place is well.. convenient. For her.

Notably, another thing that dampened my enthusiasm about this story, was that it falls into a common and recent trend of feeling like a very “teachy” kind of book. Lots of discourse about gender stereotypes, important dialogue about biphobia, classism, and more, but not only does it handle that.. it also sorta beats you over the head with it. Both in how it’s challenged but also the frequency. Lumped into this were the circumstances of Rosaline’s life, her daughter, and so many horses died in the telling and overtelling of that plotpoint. But what made it worse was how inconsistent, and flipfloppy, even Rosaline told it.

Overall Rosaline was just a very flawed character, which is fine, I just wish maybe it had been showcased differently? For all that Alain was a dick, I understood his reasons (except for that one part; that one part is completely not understandable). I didn’t understand when Rosaline was also a dick (but I think maybe one specific area I couldn’t get was very British-specific in regards to classism that I just don’t think we have in my part of the world; at least not in this way). I didn’t understand her appeal. She had great friends but.. I don’t think she, herself, was always a good friend. We see everyone constantly stepping up for her and rarely does she return the favour. I realize this is her story, not anyone else’s, but it feels unbalanced, in a way.

There’s definitely a lot to recommend within the pages of Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake. I think a lot of people will like this. It is definitely an easier, more mainstream read, than Boyfriend Material (which I realize I’m biased against, so, I mean, grain of salt). But I can also see people who loved that book also loving this. Mostly I’m just happy that my experience with the other might have been an outlier because for all that this wasn’t a win, it wasn’t quite a fail, either. In the century that is 2020-2021, we take what we can get.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4.5 star review

4.5 stars

Headlines:
Brit Bake Off vibes
Banter for days
Charmed to the hilt

If I could describe my reading experience of Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake in one word, I would say charming. The characters were just simply a delight to sink into. They were messy, flawed but they were also incredibly endearing and a bucket load of funny.

I’m 100% a ‘Bake Off’ fan so this reimagining of a British TV Show in a similar vein was always going to speak to my fandom and it delivered completely. I loved the baking scenes in the competition alongside the behind-the-scenes elements. I grew to love Rosaline as a character, to cheer for her crawl out from the weighty expectations of her parents and she was doing a great job of the mother-juggle. Her bi-sexuality was such an issue for some people and this book really explored other people’s perceptions, expectations and some rather hideous elements to that.

“It’s me. I’ve done it. I’ve made a penis. I’ve made an enormous bread penis. Someone always makes a penis. And this year it’s me who made the penis.”

The two guys of the piece, Alain and Harry really altered my allegiances and expectations along the way. A lot of what happened with them was unexpected in the main and I loved how that story played out. Amelie, Rosaline’s daughter was a super-intelligent and outspoken eight year old but I did enjoy her character.

This book bantered me from front to back, I highlighted so much that it would take an essay to share them all but you won’t be disappointed at the dialogue and Rosaline’s inner monologue. As with all Alexis Hall’s offerings, everything about this book was quintessentially British and I love his style of bringing different British types of characters, accents and speech to the page.

And Rosaline tried very hard to keep her face ungifable.

I’m pretty enamoured with this book and I can see myself returning for a re-read. This story is definitely on my contemporary 2021 favourites line-up.

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the early review copy.

HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING by Denise Williams – double review!

reposting this as it’s now a double review!

A Take from Two Cities

One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her…

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HERE WITH ME by Samantha Young – double review!

Settled in the tranquil remoteness of the Scottish Highlands, Ardnoch Estate caters to the rich and famous. It is as unattainable and as mysterious as its owner —ex-Hollywood leading man Lachlan Adair—and it’s poised on the edge of a dark scandal.

After narrowly escaping death, police officer Robyn Penhaligon leaves behind her life in Boston in search of some answers. Starting with Mac Galbraith, the Scottish father who abandoned her to pursue his career in private security. To re-connect with Mac, Robyn will finally meet a man she’s long resented. Lachlan Adair. Hostility instantly brews between Robyn and Lachlan. She thinks the head of the Adair family is high-handed and self-important. And finding closure with Mac is proving more difficult than she ever imagined. Robyn would sooner leave Ardnoch, but when she discovers Mac is embroiled in a threat against the Adairs and the exclusive members of the estate, she finds she’s not yet ready to give up on her father.

Determined to ensure Mac’s safety, Robyn investigates the disturbing crimes at Ardnoch, forcing her and Lachlan to spend time together. Soon it becomes clear a searing attraction exists beneath their animosity, and temptation leads them down a perilous path.

While they discover they are connected by something far more addictive than passion, Lachlan cannot let go of his grip on a painful past: a past that will destroy his future … if the insidious presence of an enemy lurking in the shadows of Ardnoch doesn’t do the job first.


Title : Here With Me
Author : Samantha Young
Series : Adair Family #1
Format : eARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 506
Genre : Romantic Suspense
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : May 11, 2021

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Broody v ballsy
Sinister escalations
Feisty female lead

I love a good romantic suspense read and Here With Me reminded me very much of a Nora Roberts read in that genre. I think that’s a pretty high accolade. This was a long book but it didn’t feel it.

The meeting of a Bostonite and a Scot on a highland estate was the premise for this read but there was a rich plot of Robyn’s estrangement from her dad, Mac and some sinister goings on at the exclusive club that Lachlan owned.

Lachlan was the right level of brooding with character depth and Robyn was such a great, confident and feisty character. I loved Robyn’s attitude towards Lachlan and how their antagonism grew into something more.

The suspense plot was good, with periods of tension but not constant. To be fair, I guessed the person behind the things happening on the estate early on but it didn’t affect my enjoyment. I am here for more from this series and I curious as to whether they will all be suspense. Here With Me will appeal to On Dublin Street fans even with the suspense added in, the characters have a similar vibe.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Having never read anything by this author before I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had seen friends really enjoy this series and thought hey, my library has it, why not. And while we started off a little rocky with some inconsistent details that my brain refused to let go of, despite the fact that it was pretty silly, and I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with the love interest, Robyn quickly won me over; and honestly she’s the reason I enjoyed this so much.

We love to see a strong, badass, kickass, capable, woman — but one who doesn’t also fall into the pitfalls some authors lean into by also making her emotionally closed off or invulnerable. Robyn was very well rounded, very open with her thoughts and feelings and communicated them well, and honestly I don’t think Lachlan deserves her. But I did warm to him over time; Young gave him some realistic reasons for the way he was but.. he still didn’t make a great impression and did still frustrate me at times as he continually stumbled over things, screwed up, and had to make amends. Again and again. But. I respect how the author made him challenge himself and his emotional response to some things (I’m thinking of one particular instance) even if half the time his family had to kick his ass to get it all moving in the right direction.

I did guess who was behind the big whoddunit it of the story pretttyyyy early on and I want to make a comment about something kind of obvious that was a huge red flag clue but I don’t want to hint or spoil at anything for anyone else so I’ll zip it. So that was a little annoying to live through b u t I also appreciate that we got to see how frustrating it can be for investigators when clues don’t add up in a neat way, you’re fooled by what’s right in front of you, and cases drag out. There was no quick solve here and that did feel pretty realistic.

I’ll admit one thing I really dislike in a story is getting a backstory via internal exposition and then immediately having it explained in dialogue as well; it’s one thing to have it come up a chapter or two before and then it’s expressed in dialogue later but Young often had it back to back and I was a bit annoyed by that. I don’t know if that’s a style choice or it just happened to show up in this one. Not my favourite.

This book, and likely the series, is made up of some pretty complicated and complex dynamics; in both sibling and parental relationships and I did enjoy some of it but others kind of drove me batty. I’ll be interested to see how the second book plays out considering I feel zero compassion towards the new leading lady (though I’m sure she’ll be made out to have reasons for her actions) whereas I have plenty for the love interest. So maybe my bias will switch out for that one? Who knows.

Here With Me is definitely a little over the top in some ways, a bit dramatic, but there’s a backbone of really good emotional beats and discussion around family and forgiveness that, as mentioned, was carried by a great leading lady. I might not be awarding top marks but I devoured this (not short) book in one sitting so maybe that says enough.

FIVE ON OUR TBRS

We meant to do this a few times a year but it’s been longer than we thought since the last post, so here we are showing what’s risen to the top of our TBRs and has us buzzed.

We’ve found that breaking down our TBRs can be something that inspires us to pick up reads hidden or briefly forgotten. ‘Five on my TBR’ is something that we have done a few times on bookstagram and we got it from someone else, but eeek, we’ve no idea who. We thought it’d be nice to have a running occasional feature where we pick five on our TBRs and you tell us yours.. and no doubt that will cause some adding to tbrs!

Micky’s five


A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
The Split by Laura Kay
Viper by Bex Hogan
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo


So, what the hell Micky with King of Scars? My excuse is Rule of Wolves is out now and I can binge the two. ACOSF is waiting for hype to die along with my arc list so I can finally get to it. As you can see I have a mix of newer and older releases which I’m happy about, we all have a backlog after all. Do we share any excitables?


Hollis’ five

The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May
The Ippos King by Grace Draven
How To Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

This blog series has been really successful for me! For someone who does not follow TBRs.. I’m, well, surprised. Once again, I’ve kept two from the last post, which seems to be a trend for me, as I absolutely intend to get to the Lewis and the Lam & May.. when the sequels release in August. Yes, surprising no one, I’ll be bingeing! The Draven is overdue but after my buddy’s lacklustre experience with this hugely anticipated release, well, I’ve put it off. But it has to happen. We’ve waited too long for that book to drag it out any further. The Williams is a recommendation from my buddy, see her review here, and the Pearson is a spinoff from a series I’ve just recently completed as part of my five series to finish in 2021 goal!


Tell us the top five books on your TBR! Do any of ours make your lists?

THE LOOK OF A KING by Tom Dumbrell

Two young men.
One with a dark past, the other with a bright future.

Cyrus is a storyteller frustrated by the mundane trappings of village life, while Prince Augustus struggles to meet high expectations after an upbringing of royal privilege in the bustling capital. As both try to forge their own paths, a royal assassination unexpectedly closes the gap between them. The nation of Easthaven is thrown into war with their oppressive neighbours, and so begins a conflict from which neither can walk away.

Will a young prince finally measure up to his destiny? Will a storyteller create a legend of his own?

Cyrus and Augustus’s lives may seem worlds apart, but perhaps they aren’t so different after all…

The Look of a King is a fast-paced, adventure fantasy for readers aged 12+. It is perfect for readers who enjoy the pacing of books like The Hobbit, but with the unpredictable ruthless quality of Game of Thrones, where nothing is as it seems. Readers have described The Look of a King as ‘enthralling’, ‘engrossing’, ‘fantasy without the waffle’. The book will suit reluctant or time-poor readers who want a book that is easy to pick up and dive into with movie-like action. Book II: No Place for Peace – coming October 11th, 2021.


Title : The Look Of A King
Author : Tom Dumbrell
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 262
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : March 6, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Historical in a fantasy world
Coming of age in war time
Identity

The Look of a King was a fast and engaging read. It was historical, in a fantasy world but not a magical world. It had some themes I really enjoy like found family, familial relationships and all that happening during a time of great unrest and war in this world.

The protagonist Cyrus was very likeable, humble and lacking in self belief but due to the circumstances of the story, there was a lot of character growth. Cyrus was a young man, finding his way in the world, finding a personal route in life until holy twist on a stick, things happened.

Talking of twists the story had a smattering of them, none of which I saw on the horizon, so that kept me glued to the story. There were some great side characters, those to cheer for and those not so much. The two sides of the coin could not have been more different despite outward appearances and ugh, I did not like one character in particular.

I would say that this book is definitely a grower, it didn’t start with a boom but it got me on board in a few chapters. I’ve ended it really wanting to know what’s going to happen with the double crossing, double-faced characters and with those I’m rooting for. Tom Dumbrell has written a great debut with care; it’s definitely worth checking out.

Thank you to the author for the gifted copy, this did not affect my honest review.

COOL FOR THE SUMMER by Dahlia Adhler

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.



Title : Cool For The Summer
Author : Dahlia Adhler
Format : eARC
Page Count : 272
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Wenesday Books
Release Date : May 11, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 



Hollis’ 3 star review

If you’re looking for a cute summery romance that happens to feature a girl torn between the guy she’s crushed on for years and the girl she met, and discovered previous unknown parts of herself with, over the summer, you should definitely pick this one up. This would be a great way to kick off the season of beach-y reads.

How do you tell people who’ve listened to you babble about your crush on a guy for a thousand years that whoops, you spent the summer fooling around with a girl?

What keeps this from being a love instead of a like is that certain parts did feel a little rushed (which makes sense as this isn’t very long) and while I believed in the unexpected romance between the girls, and also could totally understand the protagonist’s longtime crush on the boy, I didn’t quite buy into him suddenly sitting up and noticing her after so long. And I didn’t quite buy.. something else, that I realize might be a bit spoilery. This isn’t going well to explain my reasons but suffice it to say some parts of how this was set up and executed was so well done, others.. less so.

How do you tell your closest friends, when you only have one year left before you all head off in new directions, that they don’t know you as well as they think? How do you have that conversation when it means facing that you didn’t know yourself as well as you thought you did?

Additionally, I think I only actually liked our main character? I didn’t dislike the romantic interests, or anyone really, but she was the only one who felt really well rounded. I loved how she discovered a new sense of herself (beyond her sexuality) when she was put into a situation away from her home and longstanding friends. I loved how she started seeing herself from the outside and how she felt hampered by that view but would also think about the friendships and relationships had defined so much of her life. Not in a negative way, I loved the reflections she had about her very different friend group, but I really liked the introspection, of trying to figure herself out. Again, I really liked Lara.

Cool For the Summer is a quick fun read that also has a bit of YA-appropriate steam. Between the bi-questioning, the very different kinds of love interests, and the Grease vibes, this is definitely worthy of being on your radar.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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