The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Photo of a Kindle with The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Photo of a Kindle with The Grace Year by Kim LiggettThere are very few books that I find physically challenging to read – in fact, I could probably count them all on one hand. To have such a physical and emotional reaction to a book is unusual for me, but The Grace Year really made me stop and think (and at times physically recoil from the book). However, while the book was phenomenal for the most part, there were certain aspects of the story that really defeated the message of the entire book that I could have done without.

SURVIVE THE YEAR.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

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The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

A huge thank you to Ballantine Books for the Advanced Copy via Netgalley!

I read One Day in December almost two years ago and it immediately became one of my favorite romances ever. It gave me gut-swoops (that thing where a book is so cute and romantic that your stomach gets brief butterflies) and surprised me with it’s depth. Needless to say, I was very excited when I got approved to read Josie Silver’s second book, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird on NetGalley. This book wasn’t what I expected, but it turned out to be a poignant novel about life and death, and what it truly means to live and move on.

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade and Lydia thought their love was indestructible. But she was wrong. On Lydia’s twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants is to hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life—and perhaps even love—again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

Lydia is pulled again and again through the doorway to her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston

This book will make you want to: a) binge the entirety of a long running sci-fi show, b) go to a comic convention, c) fall in love with a mystery person via text, or d) all of the above. Nerdy books are my kryptonite – add in a Cinderella retelling, and you’ve pretty much created my dream book. With that in mind, I was almost hesitant to read this book, simply because it almost seemed too good to be true. Thankfully, it surpassed my expectations and was an excellent example of a novel that absolutely nails nerd and convention culture while also not using existing source material – plus the romance was über-cute and adorable.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

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The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

This was the second book I’ve read by Jasmine Guillory – her other book, The Proposal, was featured as one of Reese Witherspoon’s book club picks, as well as a Book of the Month subscription pick. Luckily, all of her books can be read as stand alone books, as they just share a few secondary characters with each other. I have to say, this book was very different than The Proposal – it’s much more traditionally romantic. While this isn’t the most original rom com book, it’s certainly a fun ride.

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

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Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

After recently reading Dumplin recently, I immediately put my name on the waitlist for Puddin’ at the library. The first book was great – it focused on self love and being true to yourself. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to read this follow up – set in the point of view of Willowdean’s friend Millie – a bad ass who was unapologetically herself. I’m happy to say that this book lived up to Dumplin’ and more.

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

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