Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (ARC Review)

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid shows a woman with golden skin in front of a vivid yellow background. The blurb says: "Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.  But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.  At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever."

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Ballantine Books
Page Count
: 352
Release Date: August 30, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: misogyny, sexism, ageism, loss of a loved one, mention of racism, alcoholism and injuries

Carrie Soto Is Back is my new favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid book. Honestly, this came as a complete surprise to me, but I was riveted from start to finish. I just couldn’t put it down. I never realized how much Spanish I actually understood or how much information I retained from watching tennis a lot when I was a kid, but this book was an utter delight – although I think it will work for people without any knowledge about the sport just as well.

Carrie Soto doesn’t start out as the most likable person, especially if you might harbor some resentment from Malibu Rising still, but she is a force to be reckoned with. She made tennis her entire life and when she decides to return from retirement, she is faced with relentless ageism, misogyny, sexism and just straight hostility. She never played the sport to make friends, she played it to be great and it swiftly became clear to me that there was no way I wouldn’t root for her to succeed once more.
Told from a first person POV for the most part, sprinkled with transcripts of news articles or sports commentators, you don’t just get to see the Carrie Soto the world thought they knew, but also the lonely and vulnerable person behind the tough facade. TJR just has a gift of creating very flawed characters, which you end up falling in love with regardless. They learn from their mistakes, they grow and you want nothing more for them than to get what they truly need.

While the story spans over decades, it never felt rushed or difficult to follow. We get training montages and certain scenes that make us understand what an incredible tennis player Carrie is, but I think most people will show up for the relationships she manages to cultivate over the course of the novel. Carrie has enemies and frenemies, but ultimately a very limited amount of people who really matter in her life. She was blessed with a wonderful love interest, but more importantly, there is a beautiful exploration of a father-daughter-relationship in Carrie Soto Is Back. Javier Soto is a legend in his own right and they weren’t always on the best terms, he sometimes messed up as a father, but he was there when it counted. Those two really were the heart of the story.

I don’t think this review does justice to just how invested I was in Carrie Soto’s life and success, which doesn’t necessarily look like what you would expect it to. My heart was thundering in my chest at every game she played. I was worried for her mental and physical health, while I also believed that she could do anything she set her mind to. I wanted her to open her heart to love, yet never relent to the people who told her she needed to be softer, kinder or more gracious. I wanted her to prove the entire world wrong and she. did. not. disappoint. I’m so grateful to have been on this journey with her.

Maria Sharapova celebrates her win by screaming and pumping her fists

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Fantastic and riveting!

P.S.: Yes, there are references to the likes of Daisy Jones and the Rivas. I just love the interconnectedness of these books.


Previous TJR reviews of mine:


Do you plan on reading TJRs latest tale? Are you ready to dive into the world of competitive tennis? Let’s chat!

Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid (ARC Review)

The cover for Adi Alsaid's Before Takeoff shows the silhouette of a young boy and girl looking out an airport window. The ground seems made of snow and the ceiling made of sand. The blurb reads: "James and Michelle find themselves in the Atlanta airport on a layover. They couldn't be more different, but seemingly interminable delays draw them both to a mysterious flashing green light--and each other.  Where James is passive, Michelle is anything but. And she quickly discovers that the flashing green light is actually... a button. Which she presses. Which may or may not unwittingly break the rules of the universe--at least as those rules apply to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.  Before they can figure up from down, strange, impossible things start happening: snowstorms form inside the B terminal; jungles sprout up in the C terminal; and earthquakes split the ground apart in between. And no matter how hard they try, it seems no one can find a way in or out of the airport. James and Michelle team up to find their families and either escape the airport, or put an end to its chaos--before it's too late."

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: June 7, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: racism, physical altercations, death

When I first heard about Adi Alsaid’s Before Takeoff, which was described as a sort of YA The Sun Is Also a Star meets Jumanji, I was immediately intrigued by the premise. I’m sad to say that I don’t think the execution was really for me. 

Told from an omniscient POV, I found myself mostly confused by the tone of the novel. On the one hand, you have typical banter and musings about life’s meaning only a teen could express with full angst while awkwardly flirting with their counterpart – which is totally fitting since this is a YA story. The narration underlines that with a lot of humor, sprinkled with knowledge that only the reader will be privy to, while the characters are none the wiser. However, on the other hand, the story got a lot darker and weirder than I expected, with much more permanent consequences. That, in a way, made it feel much bigger than YA and possibly more suitable for older teens on the cusp of adulthood. Ultimately, this tonal inconsistency didn’t fit the narration style in my mind.

In addition to that, I thought we’d mostly focus on James and Michelle, but we also learned about so many side characters, that I eventually found hard to keep track of. Same with the layout of the actual airport and its different gates and climates. While they added to the big picture, showing that this scenario was so much grander than the two kids, it simultaneously didn’t allow for enough depth to get attached to certain characters.

Having said all that, the world building was still something else. There was a certain randomness to it that kept my heart racing with anxiety and worry, but also glee at what might happen next. It’s a micro study of human behavior in the strangest of circumstances, and while it only scratched the surface of what makes us good and terrible as a species, it really delivered on some insightful and profound moments.

Lastly, I don’t think this book will be for everyone. Personally, I was just mad at some points (mixed with some sad), but also very confused. It’s a wild ride, that’s for sure! If you feel like it might be the right story for you – go for it! Just, please, don’t read it at an airport. Read it somewhere safe at home!

a plane taking off into a bright orange sky

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Interesting but also wildly confusing and darker than expected.


Do you think Before Takeoff might be the book for you? Do you have strange airport stories? Let’s chat!

Walking Gentry Home by Alora Young (ARC Review)

The cover for the book "Walking Gentry Home: A Memoir of My Foremothers in Verse" by Alora Young shows the profile of a young Black woman with only parts of her features in focus. The rest is blurry, disappearing and fusing with a light green and peach background. The blurb for the books says "Walking Gentry Home tells the story of Alora Young's ancestors, from the unnamed women forgotten by the historical record but brought to life through Young's imagination; to Amy, the first of Young's foremothers to arrive in Tennessee, buried in an unmarked grave, unlike the white man who enslaved her and fathered her child; through Young's great-grandmother Gentry, unhappily married at fourteen; to her own mother, the teenage beauty queen rejected by her white neighbors; down to Young in the present day as she leaves childhood behind and becomes a young woman. The lives of these girls and women come together to form a unique American epic in verse, one that speaks of generational curses, coming of age, homes and small towns, fleeting loves and lasting consequences, and the brutal and ever-present legacy of slavery in our nation's psyche. Each poem is a story in verse, and together they form a heart-wrenching and inspiring family saga of girls and women connected through blood and history.  Informed by archival research, the last will and testament of an enslaver, formal interviews, family lore, and even a DNA test, Walking Gentry Home gives voice to those too often muted in America: Black girls and women."

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Hogarth
Page Count
: 240
Release Date: August 2, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: slavery, racism, rape, domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, teen marriage, loss of loved ones

Walking Gentry Home by Alora Young is a book, or should I say memoir, told in verse. That in itself is something you don’t come across every day, never mind find a review for on my blog. I will be the first to admit that I’m no expert on the matter, so I want to clarify that these thoughts I’m trying to compile are mostly based on what the writing made me feel – and that was a lot.

I’ve tried to learn a bit about my family’s history, but there’s many gaps and missing pieces, so I was impressed by what Alora Young uncovered and managed to bring to life on the page. Not only did she find a way to give a voice to generations that came before her, but she did so with few and yet impacting words. Her verses faced harsh realities of generational pain and trauma, but also let the light of mother- and womanhood shine through. As we followed key moments in Young’s maternal ancestry, I felt the connection and ties grow beneath each one of them and me as a reader. Sometimes it was as if we read from their perspectives, sometimes it was told from Alora Young‘s POV and other times it almost felt like a collective consciousness.

I know this is quite the brief review, but I thought Walking Gentry Home was masterfully done. I felt the emotional tether throughout, even if I got mixed up with the timeline sometimes. All of it seems not just rooted in Young’s personal family history, but that of Black history in America in general. Often thought-provoking and unflinchingly honest, it is sure to linger in your mind.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Wonderful and impacting family history!


Do you often read entire books told in verse? Did Walking Gentry Home grab your interest? Let’s talk!

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub (ARC Review)

on the lefthand side is the cover for Emma Straub's This Time Tomorrow. There is not much on the cover, except for the author and title written in all kinds of muted colors on a beige background. The letters are disturbed by loops going over the entire cover. There is also a synopsis for the book stating the following: "On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice's life isn't terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn't exactly the one she expected. She's happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn't just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it's her dad: the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?"

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Riverhead Books
Page Count
: 320
Release Date: May 17, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one, mention of drug use, underage drinking, sexual encounters between minors (technically)

First, I feel like I need to apologize for being so late with my review for Emma Straub’s This Time Tomorrow. I always try to review ARCs I receive in a timely manner to make sure I can help create some buzz around the release date, but I really had to take my time with this one. This has very little to do with it not being good – on the contrary, it was gobsmackingly fantastic and I forced myself to not start another chapter several times – but rather with the fact that this currently hits way too close to home.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s work our way through this from the start to my emotional destruction.

A TIME TRAVEL LOVE STORY?

I’m sure when you hear “time travel love story” the likes of The Time Traveler’s Wife, 13 Going on 30 or the Lake House come to mind. This Time Tomorrow is no such tale. Instead it is the love story between a single parent and his daughter. It’s about the relationships we forge and neglect over time, the questions that remain unanswered and the very human urge to play with the very fabric of time if it meant to get a couple seconds more.

Told from Alice Stern’s perspective, we follow her from her 40s to her 16th birthday and back again. We get to see the consequences of her actions, but also the underlying motivation for everything – more time with her dying father. She’s a very chaotic, but relatable lead to follow and I could understand many of her choices, even if I didn’t agree with the selfishness of it all at times. I don’t know if I could live with fundamentally altering other people’s lives to gain something in mine, but as I said, I understood her motivations perfectly. A grieving heart can be capable of a lot.

THE SCI-FI ASPECT?

While I love time travel and science fiction (my Doctor Who phase is proof enough), this wasn’t really like anything I had read or seen before. To me, the take on how the time travel worked, what and how it affected things and people, felt very unique. And yet, This Time Tomorrow also felt very grounded. The present day New York City setting, the heavy focus on relationships and nostalgia rather than gimmicky machines or quantum physics and the almost meta approach of Alice’s father Leonard Stern being a renowned author of a time travel book series, made it approachable and charming, rather than confusing.

VERDICT

The author, Emma Straub, has mentioned in many interviews that this is a very personal, almost autobiographical story and I think that very much comes through when you read it. I wept early on in the book, several times throughout and then just plain through the entirety of the final part. As I said early on, it could have had something to do with it just being a little bit too close for comfort right now, but I strongly believe in books finding you at the right time. This one was another one that went straight for the heart.

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! I silently cried through large chunks of it, what other rating did you expect?


If you see a pattern in the books I read, no you don’t! Do you think you’d enjoy This Time Tomorrow? Have you read it? Let’s chat!

My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth (ARC Review)

Cover image of the book My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth, showing a girl with long dark hair in jeans and a light T-shirt holding a console looking at a slightly taller guy with light brown skin in brown pants, a white t-shirt and a blue sports jacket also holding a console. It also has the summary of the plot: Nerds are so hot. Especially battle robot building nerds.  Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn't seem to like her either.  Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they've built more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made space for each other and themselves.  This sharply funny, academic rivals to lovers romance explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty.

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Holiday House
Page Count
: 273
Release Date: May 31, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

Earlier this year, I thought that I was slowly moving away from enjoying YA books, but My Mechanical Romance has enchanted me and brought be back into the fold! It was such a lovely, fast-paced and delightful read, I basically had to hold myself back from reading it through the night (and if I hadn’t had some other responsibilities the next day, I probably really just would have torn through it in one sitting).

While there’s always something great to say about a well executed teen romance, which this definitely is, I loved that it wasn’t the entire focus of the book. Yes, we had a bit of a rival phase that slowly (almost agonizingly) developed into something genuine and sweet, but we also had so much more.
Alexene Farol Follmuth managed to capture the intricacies of a teen at the brink of finishing school. There’s so many expectations from family, friends and teachers to know exactly what you’re going to do with your life. And in all honesty, some kids do know what they want, but it’s also okay to need time to figure it out. Life is long and full of surprises and sometimes it puts you on unexpected paths. But there’s not just pressure to get into the right school or to keep grades up, but there can be so many more contributing factors to make that time extra stressful. Sometimes it’s a crumbling family life, other times it’s the world being misogynistic or racist – paired with a blossoming first love, it’s bound to cause emotional chaos! I think the balance was handled so well in this book.

THE CHARACTERS 

There’s a very clear focus on Bel and Teo, who each have POV chapters of their own. They couldn’t be more different at first glance, but sort of complete each other in the cutest way. Seeing their relationship spark and grow was such a joy.
Sometimes I did wish we had learned some more about certain side characters (like Neelam for example, who was portrayed as unnecessarily harsh), but I understood people’s motivations overall and felt like they were all three dimensional characters. I can say that, because Dash is literally my favorite supportive foodie chaos character in the whole entire story. I also really liked that the parents were included in the story and even if they weren’t always 100% present, there was a reason for that too.

THE WRITING 

I really have to give Alexene Farol Follmuth credit for writing such authentic, quirky and fun dialogue. It’s what propels this story forward and keeps you invested and engaged throughout. If you like dialogue and inner monologues more than lengthy descriptions of surroundings and looks, this really is the book for you.

In addition to that, there was also a lot of use of text messages, which I think fits the vibe but also the age group really well. Let’s face it, I mostly communicate through text with people and I’m not even a teen anymore. I can’t really picture anyone calling anyone else all the time anymore …

VERDICT

I was one of the only girls in my mathletics team and I still remember clearly how surprised some people were that I was good at math, physics and chemistry. I was also really decent, although not patient enough, in shop class, having inherited some skills from my mom (who is the handy one when it comes to my parents). My school did not have a robotics team, but it’s definitely something I could have seen myself doing. I wasn’t really the type to participate in a lot of clubs and yet, Bel’s experience spoke to me. As I said earlier, My Mechanical Romance wasn’t just a fun and quirky romance, it was also heavily focused on girls in STEM and finding something you’re passionate about despite all the pressure and discouraging voices. I really hope this brings people joy and the knowledge that they can try anything they want, no matter what other’s say, and be successful, if they put in the work.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Such a lovely book!


Fun fact: Alexene Farol Follmuth is also the author behind the pen name Olivie Blake and therefore one of my favorite book series. Read my other posts here:


What do you think about My Mechanical Romance? Can you see yourself checking it out? Let’s talk!

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston (ARC Review)

The cover image of the book "The Dead Romantics" by Ashley Poston, showing two figures lying horizontally on the letters of the title, both reading a book. Also, the description for the book: A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.  Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.   When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won't give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.   For ten years, she's run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.   Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.   Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

PublisherA button to add a book to the platform "The Storygraph"A button that says "Add book to Goodreads": Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 368
Release Date: June 28, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one

The Dead Romantics has been on my radar, and frankly on my “most anticipated releases of 2022”-list, for the longest time now – so, when I was presented with the opportunity to read an advanced copy, I jumped at the chance! The official release is still a month away, but I just couldn’t stop myself from reading it and now you will all have to contend with me screaming about my love for it for eternity.

Sometimes, books just find you at the exact right moment in your life and I would say that The Dead Romantics is a prime example of exactly that happening. I’ve had the most fun with a romance in a while, but at the same time, there were instances where I just bawled my eyes out. This isn’t simply a story about love, but also grief and family and we all know I’m drawn to grief-books like moths to light. But at the same time, nothing about this book left me sad. I’d even go so far as to argue and say that it brought me hope, all the warm feelings inside and a whimsical smile on my face once I turned the last page.

THE CHARACTERS 

Florence Day – our narrator throughout the story – is the typical small bean but mighty and messy tornado of a person that I think many of us can relate to. She’s into fan fiction, buying books despite having a massive TBR already and she loves a good love story. In fact, she used to believe in the big love, in finding that one person who might be the exception to the rule, until she got disappointed in the worst ways. And you just understand her reluctance, her despair, and then life just knocks her down some more.
Enter – Benji Andor! He’s meticulous and tall as a tree (one would like to climb) and seemingly stoic, while actually being very kind and considerate once you get to know him a little bit and he definitely wants a happy ending for Florence. I loved him as a counterpart for Florence, although I would have loved it even more if we had gotten to spend some more time with him. I feel like, we, the readers, didn’t get to know him that much, but even Florence acknowledges that several times throughout the story. Their connection is based more on vibes and actions rather than exchanging hobbies and favorite songs, which is fine, but I just enjoyed his character and would have loved to learn even more about him. It really seemed like he had quite the story of his own.

Lee Pace entering the room with one hand on the door frame looking tall and sexy while doing absolutely nothing.
This is Benji Andor for me and I have a feeling Ashley Poston would be okay with that.

Aside from our two leads, there was an array of formidable side characters, many of which were also part of the LGBT+ community. We had supportive best friends, authentic sibling relationships and the despicable ex. A stand-out for me was Florence’s dad though, because his presence could be felt on nearly every page and that stuck with me. It very much reminded me of someone I lost and how sometimes a whole town can show up for that person and their family, when things get tough.

THE SETTING

First things first, I loved the supernatural twist to it all. It never felt forced or out of place, but just like something that naturally fit the story.

But the settings in general were so special and intriguing. On the one hand, you have the funeral home and something that usually holds a lot of sadness for people filled with so much life. A thing of beauty really! And then there’s just something so fun about reading a book that takes place within the publishing industry. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it felt like an inside look and gave way to a lot of references to real life publications, which I loved.
Parts of it are in the big city, parts of it are in a small town and it all just made sense?

VERDICT

I don’t know why writing reviews for books I absolutely adore is the hardest thing ever. It might be, because I just want to do a key smash and thrust the book into people’s hands for them to read it, but that wouldn’t be very informative now, would it? I hope this gave you a bit of a clearer idea of just how charming yet quirky I found The Dead Romantics! I genuinely hope that many people will pick it up, because it filled my heart to the brink and I would without a doubt just read sequels where they help different ghosts together. I’m greedy and just want more, please!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! There’s something so incredibly satisfying when an anticipated read turns out as amazing as you had hoped.


My other reviews of Ashley Poston’s work:


Do you plan on reading The Dead Romantics? Let’s talk about that!

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley/Austin Siegemund-Broka (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: January 25, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: mention of depression, anxiety, sexual content

Even though I know that Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka wrote several YA contemporaries together before, The Roughest Draft was my first experience with their writing and it was their first foray into the adult romance genre. Right from the bat, I have to say that it felt smart, quick-witted and consisted of some really beautiful prose.

Going in, I knew very little about the author duo. However, having read the acknowledgments section as well as being informed by my friend Marie (who has reviewed the book as well, which you can check out here) that they’re married in real life made this whole book feel very meta. The characters, Katrina and Nathan, put so much of themselves in their writing and you cannot help but wonder if the authors did the same. How much of it mirrored their feelings for each other? How much is just pure fiction? I love the intrigue and layers these questions create in your mind as you get drawn more and more into their world.

While this novel was medium to fast paced, I found myself a little bit frustrated with our characters at times, which made me stop every now and then. Their fall out was built up as this huge thing and you could really see the grudge in the first chapters. After all, they hadn’t spoken in four years and hadn’t just cut each other out of their lives, but other people as well. Sometimes, the break up felt a bit too big for what actually transpired though and how easily they found their way back to each other. The hurt and miscommunication between Katrina and Nathan I could eventually understand, also why they were holding each other back, but the ghosting of other characters felt petty.

Ultimately, Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka managed to create a beautiful relationship though. It is flawed and it is perfect, it is real and pure fairy tale fiction at the same time. The kind of stuff you wish your romance was made of. The intimacy between Katrina and Nathan is truly one of a kind, but combines all the best parts of “second chance romance”-tropes as well as “best friends to lovers”-themes.
It also gave an interesting peek into the world of writing collaboratively, which interests me now more than ever, and the publishing world as a whole. As a bookworm and someone who would very much like to write and release a book eventually, this setting was one of my favorite parts of the whole novel.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Beautiful prose for a really meta love story.


Do you plan on reading The Roughest Draft? Have you read other books by the author duo? Let’s chat!

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 352
Release Date: January 11, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: depression, teen pregnancy, explicit sexual content, parental abandonment/tension, body insecurity

I have to start off by saying that this was the perfect end of the year/start of the new year read! It’s set around that time, in my beloved Seattle no less, and I just felt like all the fates aligned, especially with this being very reminiscent of my favorite Netflix RomCom Set It Up to bring this story to me. Honestly, it’s like this book was written for me.

The author preempted the story with a note on the depiction of depression in the book and how personal of a topic it was, while it may also be very different from other people’s experiences. I really appreciated having that insight before I dug in, but, from the beginning, I loved the setting (having worked in the TV world as well), the dynamic between the characters (not even just talking about the main pairing) and the themes that were presented. I could see a lot of myself in Ari and was immediately in love with her love interest, Russell. It’s not often that you get to read about a male plus-size love interest and one that is done so well no less.

In general, I found a lot of Weather Girl just laugh out loud hilarious, while simultaneously thinking that even the most over the top moments had a feel of authenticity to them. I enjoyed the great communication and could have even done without the obligatory third Act fight. However, I really have to emphasize that the fight made sense and added another point of realism. I just wanted everything to be happy, which, if you’ve paid attention to the book, is just not feasible or realistic. Sometimes, it takes time and work to get to where you want to be. Sometimes, you have to be vulnerable and take a risk in order to get a reward. And sometimes, it’s okay to bend a little for the right person. It was a lovely message.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed the whole book! I liked the pacing and the progression of the relationships, but also the challenges they had to face. In the end, I might have even wished for one or two more chapters before the epilogue. Still, this was such a satisfying read!

Fazit: 4/5 stars! The perfect way to end this year for me!


Are you planning on reading Weather Girl? Do you think this story might be for you? Let’s talk!

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: November 23, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one, parental abandonment, grief

Love, Lists, & Fancy Ships is Sarah Grunder Ruiz’ debut women’s fiction/contemporary romance novel. However, while the cover looks very sweet and fun, I’m very glad I knew going in that grief would be a central aspect of the book. As my reading list tends to show, I gravitate towards books that deal with loss and the handling of grief quite regularly, so I was pleased to see how it was dealt with here. It’s a topic that can easily become overwhelming, but while the sadness was always there as an undercurrent, there were so many beautiful and upbeat moments in the story to balance it out, so it never felt too heavy. I can confidently say that I can imagine everyone who has suffered a loss in their lives, finding Love, Lists, & Fancy Ships deeply moving and relatable.

We start off with Josephine Walker aka Jo at her job on a charter yacht. It’s such a fun setting, but what I enjoyed even more than that were the characters that gradually got added. You could feel the history Jo has with each individual as they felt fleshed out and real. There wasn’t a single person I didn’t like to read about. Nina is the kind of ride-or-die best friend one can only wish for. Alex is the kind of love interest you really want to root for, because he is kind and funny and charming and definitely also hot. He’s one of the few romantic leads where I didn’t have to constantly shake my head in disappointment about the choices he made. However, the romance doesn’t actually always take center stage, as the familial relationships with the nieces, daughters and sisters are just as important. It definitely felt like a well-rounded cast!

Jo makes it her priority to be the fun aunt, to distract everyone from the never ending sadness, which backfires on a few occasions. Still, the bucket list was a fun addition, especially when the gang got creative in how to tick off the last few items before time ran out.

The things I didn’t love so much about the book where all very me-problems. For one, I could not handle the Chris Evans disrespect. While Zac Efron gets celebrated (in an ironic way or not), Chris Evans gets described as old and gross. There’s literally only a six-year-age-difference between the two actors, but okay … guess I’m an old millennial myself at this point. Then there was an airport run, which I’m never a fan of, but most of all, I was bugged by the way Jo’s blogging experience was described. It’s very rare that a personal blog with, how can I put this, infrequent updates gets such a big following within less than a year that she’d get multiple concerned emails for not posting. It honestly didn’t feel very realistic to me, while everything else in the story had an authentic vibe.

Overall, I really enjoyed this journey! I felt close to the characters and shed tears on several occasions, while I also laughed out loud more than once. I was especially excited when I saw that my copy included a teaser chapter for a potential sequel with Jo’s best friend Nina as the narrator, set two years after Love, Lists, & Fancy Ships ends. I’d be so here for it! (And book 3 could be about Britt and RJ … just saying …)

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A really beautiful exploration of grief, without ever getting too heavy.


Have you read Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships? Do you want to? Do you like books that are partially set on boats? I’m kind of digging that, to be honest.

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (ARC Review)

Dark and Shallow Lies Cover

Publisher: Razorbill
Page Count
: 432
Release Date: September 7, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: mention of suicide and self-harm, domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse, graphic murder, death of children, hurricane/natural disaster

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve found myself drawn to darker and darker material as of late and ever since I read the blurb of this supernatural YA thriller, I knew I was going to love sinking into this world. Rich in atmosphere and magic, it still takes a while until you find your footing. While it’s a very interesting setting and concept, the beginning is a bit messy as you don’t completely understand what has been happening. Grey, our main character and narrator, is a decent guide though and introduces us to all the key players one by one … and there really are quite a few.

I think Dark and Shallow Lies did an amazing job in portraying Grey’s confusion and grief due to the disappearance of her best friend and “twin flame” Elora. Not every decision will be rational when your heart is broken and reeling, so I decided to not be too harsh on her for her constantly changing feelings towards people.
Seen as she is the only one who lives away from La Cachette outside of the summer season, it felt natural that there was a bit of distance between her and the events of the past months. However, the story focused a lot on her potential love interests as well as her dependancy and need for certain people and not so much on the other “summer children”, which would have been a bit more interesting for me. They all have different powers and are supposedly inseparable, but we were mostly told about that instead of it being shown. No matter how often they said they loved each other more and in a different way than they could ever love anyone else, they sure didn’t seem as distressed about their dwindling numbers as they should have in my eyes.

The build up of the mystery was great and left you wondering about what happened for quite a while. Sometimes you might feel like you would want a quicker progression in the case, but I was so sucked into the story, I flew through it either way and just loved exploring every new page. Ultimately, everything does make sense! When the puzzle pieces eventually fit together and everything falls into place, you can’t help but think “of course, what else could it have been!?”, which I think is always a satisfying experience. More than anything, this book seems to be a lesson on trusting your gut instinct when you think something isn’t quite right. I still wish that some aspects were explored further and I’m missing one key explanation about a certain character, but I also wasn’t massively disappointed in the end.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I decided to round up because of the atmosphere, although I think it could have dug deeper.


Do you plan on reading Dark and Shallow Lies? Are you into magical YA thrillers? Let’s talk!