TIME OF OUR LIVES by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

A boy desperate to hold on, a girl ready to let go.

Fitz Holton waits in fear for the day his single mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s starts stealing her memory. He’s vowed to stay close to home to care for her in the years to come–never mind the ridiculous college tour she’s forcing him on to visit schools where he knows he’ll never go. Juniper Ramirez is counting down the days until she can leave home, a home crowded with five younger siblings and zero privacy. Against the wishes of her tight-knit family, Juniper plans her own college tour of the East Coast with one goal: get out.

When Fitz and Juniper cross paths on their first college tour in Boston, they’re at odds from the moment they meet– while Juniper’s dying to start a new life apart for her family, Fitz faces the sacrifices he must make for his. Their relationship sparks a deep connection–in each other’s eyes, they glimpse alternate possibilities regarding the first big decision of their adult lives. 

Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future.


Title : Time of Our Lives
Author : Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 21, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I totally respect what this book is trying to do. And what, I imagine, it will successfully do for many readers. It just didn’t quite work for me.

This is such a great representation of the mixed emotions young people (I was young once!) feel going into the next stage (ie, post-high school) of their lives. The momentum that pushes them forward to escape their current situation (overbearing family, no room to be yourself, too much responsibility at too young an age, etc) and the reluctance to go too far afield (family obligations, health, anxiety, worry, etc). These characters were perfect representations of those, often conflicting though sometimes singular, feelings. I felt it.

I already know what the future holds. It’s right now that has the potential to be extraordinary.”

Where this book failed for me, I think, was I didn’t quite love the characters. I didn’t love what followed their initial meeting and connection, and how that all came about, and I was hard pressed to believe how quickly they just “got” each other. Thankfully this relationship wasn’t smooth sailing, I appreciated the arguments, the speed bumps, but overall it did kind of stretch my belief. Maybe if I had liked them more, I would’ve bought it? I don’t know. Part of me had hoped this had gone a different way, been a story that connected these characters but didn’t quite overlap.. she says, vaguely.

There’s a claustrophobia in comfort. The threads become a web, confining the person I want to be to the person I was.

There are definitely emotional elements to this story, with some suffocating but reassuring (for the character) familial roles (honestly, the first few chapters dealing with Juniper’s family made me want to break out in hives, but that’s just me) and some heartbreaking health issues when it comes to a parent. Again, like before, I could feel it. But..

But overall, no matter how great the writing, how stunning some of the turns of phrase, this was a story very character-focused, and I just couldn’t love them. The characters. Also, a certain cameo from IF I’M BEING HONEST made me so mad initially.. but that was redeemed. Had it not? I would’ve been devastated.

So this was a mixed bag, but also a strong read. These authors are definitely talented, and not writing the same story in each release (thank goodness for that), but this was also not what I got from IF I’M BEING HONEST and maybe, in part, that’s also contributing to some disappointment. Even though I said different things are great. And they are. If you’ve enjoyed this duo before, I think you’ll like this, too. Maybe not as much, maybe more. Who is to say. What I can say, though, is even though I didn’t love it, I’ll continue to read whatever they put out.

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

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – APRIL 21, 2020

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.


TIME OF OUR LIVES by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka is “a reflective, romantic coming-of-age novel that explores life after high school –perfect for fans of Fangirl and Emergency Contact.”

GIRL GONE VIRAL by Alisha Rai was the second in her latest series and took a reclusive millionaire (heroine) and her bodyguard out into the world. Great diversity and chemistry in this book.


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

GIRL GONE VIRAL by Alisha Rai

In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a live-tweet event goes viral for a camera-shy ex-model, shoving her into the spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’d been pining for.

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings [eyes emoji]

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!


One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard… 


Title : Girl Gone Viral
Author : Alisha Rai
Series : Modern Love #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Avon Books
Release Date : April 21, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

GIRL GONE VIRAL was a stronger second title in the Modern Love Series, it was all cute couple and story. I already knew that I was going to like Katrina from book one and this introverted and secluded woman had lots of mystery shrouding her but she was genuine, lovely and easy to side with.

Her bodyguard and head security guy, Jas had been with her for years and they had a caring yet professional relationship dynamic. I loved watching them interact and tip toe around their similarly fully developed feelings that they kept shrouded from one another.

The story took an interesting turn when Jas’ family came into the mix and it was a rich, funny and quirky element to the story. I liked how this prompted a re-evaluation of their professional friendship. The storyline in general was interesting with a side of predictability and ease.

GIRL GONE VIRAL was diverse to its foundations. It had good mental health representation but I would have loved to have got a bit deeper into both Jas’ and Katrina’s issues. I wanted more than the surface of how they dealt with their issues on a daily basis.

This was a story that I enjoyed but I didn’t love. I am definitely here for the series, as this was better than book one and I hope to see that upward trend continue.

Thank you to Avon Books and Edelweiss for the early review copy.

ROSEMARY AND RUE by Seanan McGuire

October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas… 

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer. 


Title : Rosemary and Rue
Author : Seanan McGuire
Series : October Daye (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 346
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : DAW
Release Date : September 1, 2009

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

A few friends have been waiting very patiently (hah!) for me to start this series and I turned down a reread to start a (as of the writing of this post) thirteen book series, with seventeen listed on GR plus a handful of novellas/shorts, to do so. That’s love right there. Particularly in this panslumpic times. Shoutout to Milana and Flavia for already enduring my commentary in the group chat after only one book.

As for the book itself, well, I liked it! It did fall into some familiar patterns, which is fine, but I did find myself comparing it to the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, which is much beloved by I, and I need to get my head to stop doing that. This was a solid opener into this fae urban mash-up and the way we are introduced to October is, well, kind of heartbreaking. Also very unique. A changeling, and low on the totem pole when it comes to fae hierarchy, she is trapped as a fish for over fourteen years, and emerges into a world she once knew but, even with the long lasting years of the fae, so many have moved on; including her very human child and fiancé. Talk about a hook!

The story evolves into a murder mystery, with betrayal, debts to cash in at a later date, tantalizing hints from potential allies.. and also some little insights into October’s background, insights she might be unaware of. Obviously with so many books already out, and more to come, I imagine not all will be revealed right away. And that’s totally cool.

My one real complaint about this is that it did seem to be leaning into the ‘everyone wants the MC’ shtick and while one avenue has very decidedly closed at the end of this book, thank god, there’s still a few more potentials lurking in the background. Well, one less, but still. Again, I imagine this will be dragged out to get the shippers into a frenzy (I have already committed to one direction and that was after, like, 20% of the first book, oy, I’m probably in for it..) but, sorry to bring this up again, I hope things go the way of the Kate Daniels series in the romantic department.

As I’m going to be deep diving into a binge, I hope to see more groundwork laid out for my (it’s way too early to be calling this, you utter idiot) endgame, and less nonsense with anyone else, but I’m also excited to see more from this world. And I can’t wait to finally get to the installment that turns this from a like into love. No pressure..

AFTER THE CLIMB by Kristen Ashley

They were the Three Amigos: Duncan Holloway, Imogen Swan and Corey Szabo. Two young boys with difficult lives at home banding together with a cool girl who didn’t mind mucking through the mud on their hikes.

They grew up to be Duncan Holloway, activist, CEO and face of the popular River Rain outdoor stores, Imogen Swan, award-winning actress and America’s sweetheart, and Corey Szabo, ruthless tech billionaire.

Rich and very famous, they would learn the devastating knowledge of how the selfish acts of one would affect all their lives.

And the lives of those they loved.

Start the River Rain series with After the Climb, the story of Duncan and Imogen navigating their way back to each other, decades after a fierce betrayal.

And introduce yourself to their families, who will have their stories told when River Rain continues.

This series was started with the help of you, my readers, during the pandemic crisis of COVID-19. The first book in this series is free, a gift to my Chicklets for their loyalty and support over the years, and a project we all banded together to produce during a challenging time. Thank you for years of kindness and encouragement. I hope you enjoy what we built together.

Please note: This book is a love letter to my readers, a project we worked on together, and as such, for the time being, will only be available right here on my website. In time, I will put it on vendors to be made available widely, but now, it’s just for you.


Title : After the Climb
Author : Kristen Ashley
Series : River Rain #1
Format : ebook
Page Count : unknown
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : April 4, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 2.5 – 3 star review

It’s been a while since I’ve given a new KA release a chance and this freebie caught my eye. Side note: I was once a fan of KA but grew out of her writing style and alpha males but I still like some of my old favourites. AFTER THE CLIMB engaged my interest quickly with a story that was all about second chances, one of my favourite tropes.

I’m not going to rehash the story for you but I am going to explain what worked and what didn’t work for me. Character-wise, I liked the two main characters a lot and this fact carried me to completion of the book. I liked the family but how KA wrote the family I will return to. The male MC was not an alpha, and the ‘babes’ were kept to a minimum. I think the blending of the family that was central to this story, was fun but also somewhat unrealistic. The second chance romance was kind of lovely and light.

Now to the writing, having read so many KA books, I do know what I am getting into but unfortunately, what happens for me, is that the writing style stops me from sinking into the story. The robotic (thank you, Hollis) dialogue style that follows a unique KA formula does not float my boat.

But he looked how he looked. And he did what he did.

There’s a lot of these nonsensical statements along the way which I think is supposed to be endearing, but I have lost my love. Back to how the family was written, the family together were chaos but the dialogue with the family together was a disaster. I read numerous pages again and again, to try and grasp what was going on. Everyone was so humourous, everyone was so quippy.

All the above said, this wasn’t an awful book. I’m actually interested in future characters because it was a good story but whether I have to chops to throw myself back into the writing remains to be seen.

You can download this free book here.

IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU by Mhairi McFarlane

Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong.

When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault.

When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault.

And when he wanted her back like nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame…

From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.


Title : It’s Not Me, It’s You
Author : Mhairi McFarlane
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 545
Genre : women’s fiction/romance
Publisher : HarperCollins
Release Date : November 6, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

At the onset of writing this review I was still hmm’ing and haw’ing over my rating for this one (but by the time you see if it’ll have a nice shiny star value up above) because sadly I’m still comparing everything to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. This had a similar ish vibe to McFarlane’s latest, IF I NEVER MET YOU, in regards to where our leading lady finds herself relationship-wise at the beginning of the book but things spiral out much differently and I appreciated that.

Compared to the usual idiots I meet, he wasn’t a git. He was pleasant. He was.. benign.”
Tumours can be benign.”
That is so fucking deep! Write that down.”

I found this one easier to connect to on the emotional front than I did her latest, and I loved the complexity she made in the story’s romantic villain (I have to quantify this because there’s an actual villain). That’s the thing about this author’s books; I’m discovering that you may not always enjoy the journey, or love every second of it, but it’s all so painfully real and genuine and complex. You can’t fault her for that. This one did err a bit into the unreality with regard to where our lady finds herself along the journey to self-discovery and reflection and it was that bit I didn’t quite love. But it did get us on the road to the end game.

Oof. One night with you and he’s turned into a love-letter writer. You must have an incredible pelvic floor.

Additionally, I also appreciated how this could’ve gone an obvious route with regards to romance but it took a left turn along the way and I like that McFarlane made us wait a bit instead of just giving us the first available option. Well done.

So, again, yes, I enjoyed, one bit even had me howling so loud and long they probably heard me in the UK, but all around love, full body sobs of sadness or joy or both? Not quite and no. It does deserve a round up, though, because ontop of everything good or great mentioned? We have yet another fantastic female duo of besties, a delightfully awkward but also beautiful family dynamic (shout out to Ralph because he’s amazing!), and one of the best love letters I’ve had the pleasure to read. Delia might not have been my favourite McFarlane heroine (Georgie4ever), but I have absolutely no regrets about reading this or spending time with these characters.

THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST by Abby Jimenez – double review!

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zonecomes an adorable and fresh romantic comedy about one trouble-making dog who brings together two perfect strangers.

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?


Title : The Happy Ever After Playlist
Author : Abby Jimenez
Format : eARC/finsihed copy
Page Count : 400
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Forever/ Little Brown UK
Release Date : April 14, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

If you read THE FRIEND ZONE, you know that Jimenez’s writing is compulsively readable and nigh unputdownable. So why I decided to pick it up at nine PM on a work night and stay up almost until midnight to finish and then write this review.. well, it wasn’t a decision, I just lived it. I don’t regret it now but we’ll speak later as to how I feel in the morning.

Additionally, if you’ve read Jimenez’s debut, you know that going into this one is going to be emotional. The events of the first book in this universe, events that directly change Sloan’s world, are a lot. And we open up two years after that event and Sloan is.. not doing well.

While we eventually get to a place where there’s a new love interest and there’s flirting and connection and sweetness, the grief doesn’t poof disappear. I really appreciated the balance that the author had between taking steps to move on — initially nothing to do with the romance — and the hesitations, the relapses, the moments that required her to pause and step back. It felt natural and not overblown and also heightened the intensity of the romance because this powerful connection had a counterweight of.. not sadness but maybe appreciation? Hard to say. But the early chapters? I devoured. I delighted.

Later there is some drama with an ex, the record label, a harsh tour schedule, and other than a few blips, I thought all the speed bumps were pretty acceptable. If you’ve read any rockstar romances, you probably won’t be too surprised with how it plays out, but this one is more wholesome than most, mostly because the characters themselves are pretty wholesome excellent humans. That said, I’m not quite sure I buy the big confessional but, again, it’s what you do in a rockstar romance, and it makes for great cinematic-dramatic style romance so, hey, whatever man. The ending is also hella cheese but HEAs are what it’s all about and it’s literally in the title, so.

So, yeah, smooth sailing all the way through? Maybe not. I can’t quite decide if this was on par with THE FRIEND ZONE or if the former was a little better, but this was still a really fun read, with characters just zany enough for comic relief (Kristen), supportive found-family friends, swoony love, a heaping portion of emotions and feels, a dog, and a big time second chance at love — not with the same guy, of course, but a second chance nonetheless.

This is definitely going to be a hit.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

Devoured in 24 hours and compulsive reading are my first thoughts on finishing THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST. This story had all the highs and crushing lows, so get ready for a roller coaster ride that had me gripping onto the safety bar.

The Sloan that we met in THE FRIEND ZONE was brought to life in this story, a shadow of her former self and still understandably stuck in a complex grief pattern of one significant date of loss to another. The grief element of this book was well written but it didn’t overwhelm the narrative; it was balanced so well. The serendipitous meeting of Tucker, the dog, Sloan and then Jason was absolutely fun. I got so wrapped up in their virtual meet cute and then their real life one.

I got lulled, lulled into chemistry for days, banter (much of which came from Kirsten) and the gorgeous newness of a relationship. So that when the rot and angst crept in, I wasn’t ready. The second half of the book had more serious tones and it was gripping but tough reading. I will say no more to the plot because you just have to read this.

I have exited the book reinforcing my fandom of Abby Jiminez’s writing and character creations. I feel like I want to go back and read these two books back to back soon because I just haven’t had enough. You are definitely going to want to read this.

Thank you to Little Brown for the finished review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – APRIL 14, 2020

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.


THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST by Abby Jimenez is the companion novel to last year’s THE FRIEND ZONE and I think many of us who lived that debut were very very desperate to get our hands on this book and see what happened to one of the secondary characters in the background of that story. And this did not disappoint.


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

THE INFINITE ONION by Alice Archer

The truth is harder to hide when someone sharp starts poking around.

Grant Eastbrook hit the ground crawling after his wife kicked him out. Six months later, in Seattle without a job or a place to live, he escapes to the woods of nearby Vashon Island to consider his options. When he’s found sleeping outdoors by a cheerful man who seems bent on irritating him to death, Grant’s plans to resuscitate his life take a peculiar turn.

Oliver Rossi knows how to keep his fears at bay. He’s had years of practice. As a local eccentric and artist, he works from his funky home in the deep woods, where he thinks he has everything he needs. Then he rescues an angry man from a rainy ditch and discovers a present worth fighting the past for.

Amid the buzz of high summer, unwelcome attraction blooms on a playing field of barbs, defenses, and secrets.


Title : The Infinite Onion
Author : Alice Archer
Format : eARC
Page Count : 439
Genre : LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : March 31, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ .5


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

I think, not unlike the title implies, this is a story you have to unravel. Much like the characters themselves undergo a shedding of layers, of revealing themselves and their secrets, there’s a journey and a process to understanding and learning.. about everything. But not unlike Grant, one of our leads, you might feel the urge to quit if you don’t like what’s happening. I was definitely tempted to — on multiple occasions. 

Initially (well, maybe, always..) I didn’t like the story or the characters. I slogged through the first 40%, putting this down every few pages, frustrated or lost, and feeling no anchor or connection to anything. I wasn’t without feeling for these characters and their struggles, both very different though they were, but they were also both such massive oblivious assholes, each in their own way, that I was uncomfortable and unable to connect for a long time. Or, rather, ever.

Having pushed through despite my reservations, or maybe because of them and wanting to see the other side, find meaning in it all, I can’t say I came to the end liking these characters. Or even the story itself. I might have hated it all a little less but the journey to get there was such a battle that I’m not sure less hate is much of an achievement. There were definite moments that felt sweet, or had the potential to tug on my heartstrings in a different context, but overwhelmingly I just feel pretty ambivalent. I did eventually “get” it, I think — the story, the reason for everything that had brought these characters to where they ended up — but I didn’t feel it. Still don’t. And maybe I didn’t really get it at all, and that’s why I don’t love it, or feel it, or even like it. 

This was a strange experience for me. The writing, the motions the characters went through, at times almost edged towards fabulism. There is an edge of dreamy nebulousness to the story and the events, this kind of Peter Pan and Neverland vibe, and it was hard to grasp and hold onto, hard to process, forever uncomfortable, and.. well, I think that’s all I have to say, really. 

I think this is a book you’ll either love and feel in your bones, your soul, or you just won’t. 

** I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. **

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo 🎧

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.


Title : With Fire On High
Author/Narrator : Elizabeth Acevedo
Format : Audio ARC
Length : 7 hours 26 mins
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : September 19, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH was the kind of contemporary YA to get swept up in very quickly. I always find that I love food-centric fiction and the protagonist Emoni, was a born-chef. She had talent but she also had a natural magic with food that made those who sampled her food feel when eating.

This was a story that depicted a tough but also blessed life of this teen, mom to a toddler, living with her grandmother and trying to successfully finish school. There was hardship but there was gratitude for the good things in her life. I appreciated that this wasn’t an overly dramatic story but still, it was gritty and real.

Emoni was not looking for a new friend but Malachi the latest student transfer into her school wanted her friendship. Malachi was the kind of young man out to prove that not every guy was a jerk. He was such a cute character but again, he was real.

The narration was rich with wonderful tonation and Elizabeth Acevado narrated her own story with heart. I would love to hear her narrate again. From a writing perspective, I enjoyed the short chapter approach and the timeline of story.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the audio review copy.