Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy while you are just flying past: HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE.

Home Field AdvantageHome Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you're looking for a great read during Pride month, look no further... I loved this queer rom-com that turns the whole cheerleader/quarterback romance trope on its head.

In Atherton TX, football is life. So when their late quarterback Robbie is replaced by a girl (who knew Jack Walsh was really Jaclyn Walsh?!!), the team and the cheerleaders are ready to revolt. Even worse, Jack is actually better than Robbie--Atherton is poised to finally win! But the players don't want to listen to a girl, and the cheerleaders despise "wasting" their traditions on one. This makes it hard for Amber McCloud, whose dreams (and college scholarships) are tied up in being cheer captain next year. How can Amber rally the cheer team--and the football players--when everyone hates the new QB? Especially when it seems like she may be falling in love with her?

I absolutely adored this book! I am a total sucker for sports books and movies, and this had it all! Sports drama, references, and romance--I couldn't have asked for anything more. But even if you don't love football, don't shy away from FIELD--it's such a fun and sweet read while still covering serious topics such as coming out and homophobia. Amber is struggling with staying closeted in her tiny Texas town (it doesn't help that her best friend is quite religious) and Jack, while sort of out by default, must deal with how hated she is by her new school when all she wants to do is play football. There's a wonderful supporting cast, including Amber's boyfriend (go with it) and mom.

Honestly, most of this book just made me smile. It's wonderful. I loved how it introduced and dealt with important subjects and gave us an incredible queer romance. I highly recommend this one! 4.5+ stars.

I received a copy of this book from Wednesday Books and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Monday, June 27, 2022

I'd like to think the best of me is still hiding up my sleeve: FLYING SOLO.

Flying SoloFlying Solo by Linda Holmes
My rating: 4+ of 5 stars

Laurie is back in her Maine hometown, tasked with cleaning out the home of her late great-aunt Dot. Her parents are too far away and frail and none of her brothers are up to the task. Laurie feels she owes it to Dot, who always had time for Laurie--her home a quiet refuge from her own noisy abode. Dot's place is jam packed with pictures, knick knacks, and memories. Laurie is drawn to a wooden duck she finds tucked away; the person hired to help clear out Dot's belongings tells her it's worthless, but when the duck disappears, Laurie wonders why anyone would take a meaningless duck. Soon she's drawn into a bit of mystery--both to track down the duck and to learn exactly why it meant so much to Dot.

I really enjoyed this book because, in true Holmes' fashion, it was a quirky and different read. Laurie is back in her hometown after a canceled wedding, trying to find her footing again, and she has a lot of strong feelings about remaining independent while being in a relationship and/or finding love. In high school, she dated Nick, now the beloved hometown librarian (is there anything more dreamy than that?), and, of course, the two meet up again when she returns to clear out Dot's house. But Laurie has her walls pretty firmly up--can a wooden duck bring them down?

SOLO does an excellent job of honoring Dot (who reminded me a lot of my own grandmother of the same name) and the role she played in Laurie's life, offering a safe place to go, and the fact that Dot was a pioneer--a solo woman not afraid to be on her own. It explores the nature of relationships and family in quite a nuanced way.

And the tale of the duck, is, for sure, often crazy and wild, but fun too and often even sweet. Sometimes Laurie's focus on it seems a bit much, but the way it unites her, Nick, and her best friend is really enjoyable, and we learn a lot about Dot, too.

Overall, this is a fun read, but also an emotional one. 4+ stars.

I received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Monday, June 20, 2022

Too bad you had to have a better half: CAN'T LOOK AWAY.

Can't Look AwayCan't Look Away by Carola Lovering
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Molly Diamond is a twenty-three-year-old aspiring writer when she reluctantly agrees to go out with friends and sees the lead singer of a band, Jake Danner, up on stage. It's love at first sight and before she knows it, the two are locked in a sweeping but sometimes tumultuous romance. Ten years later, Molly finds herself married and raising her daughter, Stella, in the wealthy suburb of Flynn Cove... and married to someone who is not Jake. Lonely, she befriends a woman, Sabrina, who attends one of Molly's yoga classes. But she'll soon learn Sabrina has a reason for showing up at Molly's class--and it all has to do with Jake.

First of all, I'm not sure this book should be marketed as a mystery/thriller. There are some dramatic pieces as we try to unravel Sabrina's role, but very little is left for the reader to figure out. This is almost a romance, or at least a story of people trying to find their way and find themselves. Don't go in expecting some grand mystery and a bunch of twists and turns (there are a few, but they are more character-driven).

AWAY reads like a weird soap opera and, honestly, it's hard to turn away from its pages. In that way, it's strangely captivating, even if a little melodramatic at times. I flew through it, because I was fascinated to find out exactly what went down with Molly, Jake, and Sabrina. The characters aren't exactly endearing (besides Molly's new husband and her cute daughter). Molly comes across as a bit self-absorbed and unable to stand up for herself. Jake takes selfish to a new level. And Sabrina... well she's just special, let's say that. But they do make for some crazy reading! The book also honestly looks at infertility (trigger warning for miscarriage discussions).

There is a lot of angst and pining for Jake (who, as stated above, is not worthy of any of this) in this book. If that's not your thing, I would skip this one. If you enjoy some romantic suspense, it's a quick read, though probably easily forgotten once finished. 3 stars.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Found the part of my heart that won't take no for an answer: I KISSED SHARA WHEELER.

I Kissed Shara WheelerI Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

Chloe Green's sights are set on valedictorian. Her one obstacle: Shara Wheeler, daughter of her uber-religious high school's principal and the girl everyone in school idolizes. Then, a month before graduation, Shara unexpectedly kisses Chloe in an elevator and vanishes. Chloe goes on a search for answers, learning that she's not the only one Chloe kissed. Obviously there's her boyfriend, Smith, the high school quarterback, and then her neighbor, Rory, who has been crushing on Shara for years. The three learn Shara's left behind a bunch of clues via letters, forcing the unlikely trio to work together to track down Shara and perhaps learn more about themselves and each other in the process.

I wasn't quite sure how I felt about this one while reading it. Every McQuiston book is a special occasion and rare treat, but SHARA started off very slowly for me. It was hard to get lost in the story--mostly because I really didn't care much for Shara or Chloe at the beginning. Shara was missing, but honestly, she seemed like a jerk and I felt like telling Chloe, "good riddance." But even Chloe didn't always seem to show her best side, coming off a bit self-centered as she ditched her loyal friends in the quest to hunt down Shara... why?

But, this YA romance picks up as you read on, with a big thanks to its wonderfully diverse supporting cast. Smith and Rory truly made this book for me, which took me by surprise. They were unique and funny, but often tender and sweet characters, and I fell for them more quickly than the ladies! The theme of friendship runs stronger in SHARA than romance, which I really liked. It also tackles being queer in a religious atmosphere (Chloe attends a Christian high school) head on and with total passion, and you'll find yourself cheering in places. This is a wonderful book for queer kids looking for their place in the world and attempting to work out their identity.

Overall, this isn't my favorite McQuiston, but I enjoyed seeing her take on the YA world. It's powerful in places and sweet in others. 4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press / Wednesday Books and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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