ARC Review: The Girl from Widow Hills


Title: The Girl From Widow Hills

Author: Megan Miranda

Release Date: June 23, 2020

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 336

Rating: ★★★★

[Goodreads Synopsis]


ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was another thing I learned back then: A story about you doesn’t necessarily belong to you. It belongs to the writer. To the witness. To the teller.

And no one knows what it’s like to become a story than Arden Maynor. Known as the girl from Widow Hills, Arden became a story on the public stage when she disappeared for three days at the age of 6. Prone to sleepwalking, Arden was swept away in the night by a terrible storm without a trace. For days, the town looked high and low without a clue as to where she went. When hope was all but lost, Arden was found alive three days later clinging to a storm drain.

On the heels of her miraculous recovery came notoriety as she was first recognized from the media, and then from her mother’s book. With the fame came fan mail, stalkers, and wild conspiracy theorists. Desperate to escape the lime light and tired of having her story written by others, when Arden turned 18 she changed her name to Olivia and disappeared from the media altogether.

Avoidance has worked well for Olivia, right up until she starts sleepwalking again. And it’s just as dramatic before – she wakes up standing over a dead body. And not just any body – this is a body she recognizes from a lifetime ago, when she went by Arden.

As Olivia’s past and current life start to collide, things she’d rather not remember and memories she’s hidden away come rushing to the surface. Catapulted once again into the center of the media’s spotlight, this time Olivia is determined to write her own story, and discover what happened all those years ago once and for all.

You become the stories you tell-I’d learned that much from my mother. The truest type of story is the kind you tell all alone, to yourself.

This book definitely had its ups and downs for me. The beginning was a little slow, and I didn’t connect all that well to the characters. About halfway through it picks up quite a bit, and I enjoyed the twists and turns that came along with the faster plot. I love when I get plot twists that are shocking but still in the realm of possibility, and this book delivered in spades. And the last 25% of the book? I was all set to give this a comfortable three stars, but those last 50 or so pages bumped it up an entire star for me! So far I’ve really enjoyed Megan Miranda’s books, and this one was no exception. I don’t want to say more here because spoilers are RUDE, but I can’t wait to see where this author goes next.

*All quotations are taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication.

The Girl From Widow Hills released on June 23, 2020.

August TBR


Ok this post is actually a plea for help – I don’t HAVE a TBR for August. Like I mentioned in my first post after hiatus, I’ve really reduced the amount I’m requesting/accepting from publishers. That means my TBRs have a lot more wiggle room, as I don’t have a ton of ARCs to read and review by a deadline.

The good news is this means I get to mood read as much as I want.

The bad news is this means I actually have to figure out what I’m in the mood for.

I know I’ve mentioned this before as well, but each month I also try to read at least one BOTM book sitting on my shelf, and one backlist book (each year, I pick 12 backlist reads – here’s my 2020 list). I’m ahead on BOTH of these lists – I’ve read 10 BOTM books and 8 backlists books, so I am truly free to read whatever I want this month.

Here’s where you come in: I NEED SUGGESTIONS. Tell me the books I have to get to immediately in the comments.

What are you reading in August?



July Wrap-up

Ok, I’m actually glad I’m late on posting this one, because I snuck two books in on the very last day of July. I ended up reading 12 books, right on the heels of 12 books in June. Could it be…I actually… found my reading mojo?? Now, if that would just extend to my reviewing mojo… Ah, well, we can’t have it all.

Here are the books I read in July:

July wrapup.JPG

  1. The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins: 
  2. Becoming by Michelle Obama (backlist, audio): ★
  3. More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (ARC): ★
  4. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas (BOTM): 
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (audio, reread): 
  6. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (Dragons and Tea July pick): ★
  7. The Shadows by Alex North (BOTM): 
  8. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (audio): 
  9. You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn (reread): ★
  10. Sweet Surrender by Maya Banks: 
  11. The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker (audio, backlist): ★
  12. Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein (BOTM): 

I honestly don’t know if I can pick a favorite book of this month. This was such a weird reading month – this may have been the most 5 star reads I’ve ever had in one month, BUT I also busted out 2x 2 star reads, which I don’t drop very often. If I HAD to narrow it down to two I’d pick The Simple Wild and Becoming.

What were your favorite reads of July?



July Haul

I know I’m posting this a little late, but honestly the month of July just completely got away from me. After this month, I’m really making an effort to lock down on hauls – I have SO many unread books I need to get to. BUT in the meantime, here are the books I acquired in July!

July Haul

  1. Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein (BOTM)
  2. The Shadows by Alex North (BOTM)
  3. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
  4. Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
  5. Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
  6. More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn

To be fair, I DID read 4 out of 6 of these this month, so I guess that’s not so bad?

How many books did you haul in July?



BLOG TOUR: More Than Maybe

More Than Maybe blog tour banner

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn! Thanks so much to St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday books for asking me to participate.


Title: More Than Maybe

Author: Erin Hahn

Publisher: St Martin’s Press – Wednesday Books

Pages: 336

Release Date: July 21, 2020

My Rating: ★★★★★

[Goodreads Synopsis]


Are you there, God? It’s me, Smitten.

All right you guys. You may remember me singing praises for Erin Hahn’s debut last year, “You’d Be Mine” – I participated in the blog tour for that book as well, and it made my top 10 releases of 2019. And with how much I loved that Johnny and June YA love story, I was waiting on the edge of my seat for this one. PLUS, y’all know how much I love to support Michigan, and this book is set in Ann Arbor (although it would have gotten more points for East Lansing… but beggars can’t be choosers). This was probably one of my most anticipated releases of 2020. And I was NOT let down.

Have you ever had a secret crush? I think every teenager has, at some point or another, harbored a secret crush. And boy, does Luke Greenly have it bad. The object of his affections? Vada Carsewell – a well-known music blogger and total badass. Not only does Vada write a killer music blog that’s managed to catch the eye of Rolling Stone, but she also works at the Loud Lizard learning from Phil Josephs, a local rock star hero (who also happens to be dating her Mom). Vada has big dreams of working in the music industry, and she’s got a plan to get there. Not included on her list? Luke Greenly.

Luke is happy and comfortable hosting his podcast with his twin brother, Cullen. He has no desire to be in the spotlight like his father was, preferring to fly under the radar. But when he and Vada team up for a group project, entering the music world is unavoidable. While Luke worries that someone might find out about the secret song writing he does in his bedroom at night, Vada worries that Luke might find out her own secret: she’s got a secret crush, too.

Ok. First of all, I was pretty much done for before I even read this book. This ticks all of the boxes for me: adorable MCs with secret feelings, music EVERYWHERE, and set in Michigan? Automatic 4 star read at the very least. And that was before I turned the first page. And once I did, I immediately fell in love with the characters.

Luke is the adorable cinnamon roll I didn’t know I needed. He’s cute but doesn’t know it, he’s charming, and he’s crazy talented and has all this music knowledge. Also, did I mention the British accent? SWOON. I also loved seeing his interactions with his twin brother, Cullen, who has been happy in love with Luke’s own best friend Zach for several years (props for the LGBTQ rep!). The two brothers are so different but do their best to have each other’s back, while still getting into some scrapes. Also, I’m not saying I need a Cullen and Zach spin-off but… I need a Cullen and Zach spin-off.

Well. That’s it. There’s absolutely no coming back from this. Science has shown, once you start noticing constellations in freckles, you’re fucked.

As for Vada, she is a total badass. She’s an incredibly hard worker and isn’t about to let anything stand in her way: not her crush on Luke, not her alcoholic father, nothing. And I loved that about her. When it came to her future, Vada refused to take no for an answer. But I did love watching her let her guard down around Luke as they got to know each other and shared vulnerabilities. I have a feeling Vada and I would have been friends in high school.

All I know is I don’t want to borrow faith. I want something I own wholeheartedly, and I’m not in the business of buying yet.

While Luke and Vada’s love story was a big focal point of the story, I want to mention family dynamics as well. I already touched on Luke’s relationship with his brother, but I also adored Vada’s relationship with Phil. While Vada’s real father wasn’t much to brag about, Phil was anything you could ever want in a kind-of stepfather. He completely took her under his wing and has been fighting with her to help her dreams come true, and I loved their relationship so so much.

Love is the lyrics to someone else’s melody.

I adored this book. The music references were so fun and engaging – I looked up so many music videos just to get the full vibe of Luke and Vada’s messages to each other, and had a blast doing it. The chemistry was spot-on, the characters were unforgettable, and watching Luke and Vada fall for each other was so reminiscent and true to a first love, it brought me straight back to my own. And any book that can put my own heart and soul on the page so effortlessly is one worth reading again and again and again. If you love YA contemporaries, music, and swoony reads, this one’s for you.

*All quotations are taken from an ARC and are subject to change prior to publication. 

More Than Maybe releases on July 21, 2020.





ARC Review: What You Wish For


Title: What You Wish For

Author: Katherine Center

Release Date: July 14, 2020

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 320

Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis


ARC provided by St Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 “The world keeps hanging on to this idea that love is for the gullible. But nothing could be more wrong. Love is only for the brave.”

This is the third book I’ve read by Katherine Center, and I have to admit I was a little luke-warm going in. I really enjoyed Things You Save in a Fire – I gave it a solid 4 stars. But I had some definite issues with How to Walk Away – although these issues were my own and no fault of the authors. But this book, you guys. This time, Center has hit it out of the park. This was the best book I read this month, and will probably make top 10 2020 releases for me.

Meet our two main characters: Samantha Casey and Duncan Carpenter. Samantha is the elementary school librarian and loves things like colorful clothes, butterfly murals, and fun field trips with the kids. But she wasn’t always this way. When she moved to Texas a few years ago, it was to escape an unrequited love at her former school, where she can only describe herself as ‘forgettable’. Once she made the switch, she found that by doing small things that made her happy, she felt more and more like herself.

Fast-forward a few years. Samantha’s school loses their beloved principal and one of her closest friends. And who will be replacing him? None other than her unrequited love of school days past, Duncan Carpenter. At first, this seems like fate. Duncan was fun, loving, goofy, and full of color – the perfect replacement for their unique school. But the Duncan who arrives is nothing like Samantha remembers. And what’s worse: he doesn’t seem to remember her at all. All Duncan seems to care about is rules and policy and school safety, and he doesn’t seem to mind that he’s destroying the home Sam’s built for herself in the process.

Like in Center’s previous works, there’s a little more than meets the eye to these two characters. Katherine Center always manages to write books that have swoon-worthy romance and adorable moments and witty banter, but still touch on some heavy topics and tackle them in a genuine way. I don’t want to say more here, but I once again have to applaud her tact and the way she’s able to face relevant – and tough – topics head-on.

Overall, I loved this book from cover to cover. The story gripped me form the very beginning, and I’ve never rooted harder for two characters to come together. I think I read this in just two sittings, and was wishing for more at the end. There was laughter, tears, and yes, swoons. Were parts of it over the top and a little ridiculous? Yes. But this story and these characters tugged at my heartstrings the entire way, and it’s become an instant favorite. And above all, I adored the message of this book. From the first page to the last, this book encourages you to choose joy. And if there’s one thing the world needs more of these days, it’s joy. So if you need a little more joy in your day, I urge you to pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

*Quotations taken from an ARC and may be subject to change prior to publication.

 What You Wish For was released on July 14, 2020.

June Wrap-Up

I know, I know, I’m posting this a bit late, BUT at least it’s getting posted! We have been on the go so much over the past two weeks that I just haven’t gotten to it.

I hit a bit of a slump earlier this year, so I was happy to see my reading numbers creep back up a little bit in June. Hopefully that continues into the second half of the year! Now to actually write a review…

Here are the books I read in June:


  1. War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (audio): ★
  2. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix:  ★
  3. Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno (backlist): ★★★
  4. Trade Me by Courtney Milan: ★
  5. Heartstopper Vol. 2 by Alice Oseman: ★★★
  6. Legend of the Golden Raven by K. Ancrum (backlist):  ★
  7. What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin (ARC): ★
  8. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (audio): ★
  9. Heartstopper Vol 3 by Alice Oseman: ★★★
  10. Hold Me by Courtney Milan (Dragons and Tea Bookclub Pick): ★
  11. What You Wish For by Katherine Center (ARC): ★★★
  12. The Guest List by Lucy Foley (BOTM): ★

Man, four 5-star ratings in one month?? I’ll take it! By far, my two favs were Summer of Salt and What You Wish For. Be sure to check them out!

How many books did you read in June?



June Haul

For most of quarantine, I did a decent job on not buying ALL THE BOOKS. The past few months I’ve done decidedly less of a good job, BUT I will say, I think the books I chose to spend my money on this month are TOP NOTCH, especially considering pride month and the book community’s attempt to Black out the best seller list. Here are the books I purchased in June:

June Haul

  1. Heartstopper Vol. 2 by Alice Oseman
  2. A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
  3. You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson
  4. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  5. Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
  6. One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London (BOTM)
  7. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager (BOTM)

How many books did you buy in June??



July TBR


Ok, I know I said I was coming back…but I’ve done a PRETTY bad job at keeping up on posts. I mean, here I am already, late on my July TBR.

Speaking of TBRs…I’m not really DOING them at the moment. I have a few things I want to hit each month (1 book of the month book, 1 backlist book), but other than that, I’m doing a lot of mood reading lately which I LOVE. I do have a few ARCS to get to this month, although I’ve slowed down significantly on accepting those.

With all that being said, here are the books I am DEFINITELY going to read this month:

  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson – this is the Dragon and Tea Bookclub pick for July, and since I already have it sitting on my shelf, what better time to read it?!
  • More than Maybe by Erin Hahn – I absolutely LOVED You’d Be Mine by this author, and am actually on the blog tour for this one, so I will for sure be posting a review. I can’t wait to get to this one!

Anybody have other suggestions for books I HAVE to get to?? Let me know!



ARC Review: Girl Gone Viral


Title: Girl Gone Viral

Author: Alisha Rai

Release Date: April 21, 2020

Publisher: Avon

Pages: 400

Rating: ★★★★

The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1)

[Goodreads Synopsis]


 I read the first book in this series, The Right Swipe, last year with Dragons and Tea Bookclub, and really fell in love with the writing and the characters. When I saw that Katrina was getting her own book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Let me set the scene:

Katrina King:you may remember Katrina King as Rhi’s friend and roommate. She’s an ex-model with some major anxiety, and now lives an extremely private life. She’s the best cinnamon roll in this entire series and I want to put her in my pocket and never let anything bad happen.

Jas Singh: Katrina’s bodyguard for years and years and years, and one of the few people she trusts completely. She’s also had the hots – or the ‘zings’, as she calls it – for him for ages. Too bad he’s completely professional…

In an attempt to get her mind off of Jas and try to jump some hurdles caused by her anxiety, Katrina strikes up a completely innocent conversation with a cute guy at her favorite coffee shop. When he asks her out, she turns him down, and thinks that’s the end of it. Until…

A stranger at the next table live-tweeted (and embellished) their entire interaction, and now #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl have gone viral. All at once, Katrina’s extremely private life has been thrust into the very large public eye of the internet. As she starts to spiral, Jas comes to the rescue, and offers to whisk her away to his family peach farm. A hot bodyguard and his charge, after years of sexual tension and pining after each other, stranded together at a secluded farm? What possibly could happen???

Ok so let me lead with this: I liked The Right Swipe better than it’s sequel, and I’m not sure if it’s because I liked the characters better or the storyline better – I’m suspecting both. I connected more with Rhi than I did with Katrina, and this storyline just seemed unsatisfying somehow. I think some of the complicated problems that came up were solved just too neatly and easily?? And I think the chemistry between the two MC’s left something to be desired, BUT I think the way their romance progressed was right on par with their personalities, and there were definitely some swoon-worthy scenes.

There was also some fantastic mental health representation in this book –anxiety attacks, panic disorders, PTSD, and emotional abuse were all highlighted and were major plot points. The author didn’t just mention these topics, she showed her characters battling them and finding their own ways to ask for help and struggling to deal with them.

Overall, I did really enjoy this read. I know I already mentioned that Katrina is the cinnamon roll of all cinnamon rolls, but I really enjoyed Jas as well – he kind of snuck in and stole my heart without me even realizing it. If you are looking for a quick, easy read, slow burn romance with a diverse, fantastic set of characters, this book is for you. I can’t wait to see where this author goes next!