Tag Archive | chick lit

Review: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

the-secret-of-a-heart-note-stacey-leeAn evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

4 Drink Me Potions

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**The Secret of a Heart Note comes out December 27, 2016**

If you want a story filled with a diverse cast of characters and a little bit of magic thrown into your every day lives, then The Secret of a Heart Note is the book for you.

Mimosa, or Mim as she liked to be called, was a very intriguing protagonist. She was different (obviously, what with her special nose that could scent practically as well as a bloodhound), but she still held those same desires of any teenage girl her age. I liked that she was relatable yet still so interesting to read about due to her unique abilities that run through her family.

The world building, including the history of aromateurs and their ways, was fascinating and I very thoroughly enjoyed the quotes from aromateurs past at the beginning of each chapter. Even though she lived in California, a very familiar location that should not come as a surprise to anyone for the setting of a contemporary novel, the whole world felt so different when described through Mim’s eyes (or should I say, through her nose?). Stacey Lee really went into detail about the different scents for different emotions, and the ingredients that go into the makings of their love potions. The in-depth details of how their concoctions even work, and the rigorous rules they must follow in their line of duty to their special olfactory abilities was fascinating. I was thoroughly pleased to gain such insight into how it looked like being in Mim’s life.

Because, after all, it wasn’t all so easy being her. ‘Cause apparently, an ancestor cursed them from falling in love at the risk of losing their noses.

Beyond the world building that was superb, I really enjoyed the diverse ethnicities and cultures that were represented in the characters. Mim’s best friend was Samoan, one of their main clients was African American, and a star soccer player was Asian. It was great. I have never seen such representation in the YA genre before in one book. I normally don’t mind so much, but being Asian myself, I’m very proud of Stacey Lee trying to be so inclusive in her writings. I look forward to reading some of her other works because they seem to follow this same pattern. If you like seeing diversity in your books, I’d definitely think this story (and author) is for you!

The only problem I had with the story was, oddly enough, the romance. I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Frankly, I didn’t care much for the love interest, to the point that I’ve even forgotten his name. Sure, I felt bad for Mim when there were misunderstandings because high schoolers of course would not understand what it means to empathize with those who are different. When their relationship got rocky (’cause of course it would), I just felt really sad for her, but I couldn’t bring myself to care as much as I would if I had thoroughly enjoyed the two of them together. Don’t get me wrong, this book was lots of fun and portrayed themes that were important. The romance was obviously a huge glue in the story as it’s a story about falling in love, after all. I just wish the love interest had a bigger personality that didn’t bore me.

Needless to say, I am very glad to have found this story. Lee is being added onto my list of authors to read more from, and I think you should give her a try too. Be sure to check this book out when it hits stores!

Overall Recommendation:
The Secret of a Heart Note was my first Stacey Lee book, and it’s opened my eyes to how a well-done story about falling in love, with a diverse cast and a hint of magic and fun, should look like. With every person holding a unique scent made up of many different scent notes, Mim and her family hold the unique ability to hone in on these to make potions to guide people to love. A very unique idea that was marvellously written with a witty and humorous voice, this novel is sure to entertain. If only the central romance had held more of my interest, this book would honestly have been one of the best of the year for me.

Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

by-your-side-kasie-westIn this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

4.5 Drink Me Potions

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**By Your Side comes out January 31, 2017**

Rating: 4.5 stars

You know a story is amazing when you zip through it so fast that you don’t even realize you’re almost to the end until you’re practically there. I thought By Your Side would take me longer to finish, but oh boy, was I in for a surprise! This is a contemporary novel that you should definitely pick up in the new year.

Autumn is the most relatable girl I’ve had the pleasure of reading about this year. Yes, I may love strong characters and those girls who do things I wish I could do as well as they do, but sometimes, you just need one of those girls who seem to understand you intrinsically.

Autumn is that girl for me.

She has anxiety attacks and that is really relatable to many young women, me included. But she is strong and tries her best to not let it deter her from living life. Being trapped in a library by herself that is barely staying warm over a long weekend, I’m sure most people would find it hard to remain calm too. (Of course, being that the building IS a library….it might be the best place to be in if I were to choose a building to be stuck in)

The boy she ends up being trapped with is a bit stereotypical. A hardened young man who is going through the foster system and a rough childhood, Dax is the picture of seriousness. But Autumn’s witty (and sometimes sarcastic) comments are like minor victories when they bring out a tiny smile or amused look on his face.

Their romance was beautiful. It was never rushed and totally done right. Kasie West is a genius when it comes to writing romances that make you wish the characters get together faster, but pull you in anyway as you anticipate nervously. This one was no exception. It was a glorious slow-burn process that had you hooked from the beginning. Their friendship was slow too, as Dax didn’t do commitments or attachments. He wanted freedom over anything else. He was just waiting for that time to come. Meanwhile, Autumn was hoping for a relationship to come about, although maybe with the wrong guy.

This story is beyond the simple plot of a girl and a boy being trapped in a library together and falling in love. It’s about falling for someone even when you least expected it. It’s about learning more about yourself, taking care of yourself sometimes even when others need you as well. It’s about courage in sharing our hardest secrets and hoping others will still look at you the same.

By Your Side is one story you don’t wanna miss in 2017. It’s the best yet of Kasie West’s stories. I can’t wait to see more.

Overall Recommendation:
I’m a huge fan of Kasie West’s works, but By Your Side blew me away. With a seemingly simplistic plot revolving around two very different teens stuck in a library together for a long weekend, this story is so much more than that. Autumn is such a relatable protagonist and her friendship (and later, romance) with Dax is honest and full of trust. This is what a relationship should look like in real life and in stories! How can you not root for these two through their journeys of self-reflection and love? You definitely must add this to your 2017 to-read list!

Review: Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton

diplomatic-immunity-brodi-ashtonRaucous parties, privileged attitudes, underage drinking, and diplomatic immunity…it’s all part of student life on Embassy Row.

Piper Baird has always dreamed of becoming a journalist. So when she scores a scholarship to exclusive Chiswick Academy in Washington, DC, she knows it’s her big opportunity. Chiswick offers the country’s most competitive prize for teen journalists—the Bennington scholarship—and winning will ensure her acceptance to one of the best schools in the country.

Piper isn’t at Chiswick for two days before she witnesses the intense competition in the journalism program—and the extreme privilege of the young and wealthy elite who attend her school. And Piper knows access to these untouchable students just might give her the edge she’ll need to blow the lid off life at the school in a scathing and unforgettable exposé worthy of the Bennington.

The key to the whole story lies with Rafael Amador, the son of the Spanish ambassador—and the boy at the center of the most explosive secrets and scandals on Embassy Row. Rafael is big trouble—and when he drops into her bedroom window one night, asking for help, it’s Piper’s chance to get the full scoop. But as they spend time together, Piper discovers that despite his dark streak, Rafael is smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous—and she might have real feelings for him. How can she break the story of a lifetime if it could destroy the boy she just might love?

3 Drink Me Potions

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Diplomatic Immunity comes out September 6, 2016**

I will admit, reading this book about wannabe journalists had my blood boiling at times. It might just be some odd bias, or it could have just been Piper’s callousness, but her desire to get whatever she wanted over what may happen as a result of her story just made me wanna poke her at times.

Let me start from the beginning.

Piper comes from a family that’s facing money problems so her only way of getting into college was obviously by way of a scholarship. Having won the chance to study at a prestigious school that happens to cater to a bunch of diplomatic families’ kids gave her the brilliant idea that her featured story would be some expose on the antics they throw without having to face the consequences. ‘Cause they’re rich. And ’cause they’re DI kids.

Don’t get me wrong. I thought the plot summary sounded fun because this is basically what was written there. But having to read through Piper’s thoughts as she kept persuading herself that she could do this, write something objectively on people she encountered day after day without feeling like this could all go so wrong, I couldn’t handle it.

And the subject of her attentions? Rafe was indeed something. He played up the antics, looking for danger and not seemingly too worried about the consequences of such actions. I didn’t particularly like him all that much in the beginning either. He was the clichéd bad boy who had a deeper sensitive side that would slowly open up to our protagonist.

Of course, that’s what happened. Okay, I sound kinda snippy and I guess I am a bit, but the last 30% of this book made up for the rating. There were very romantic moments set up by Rafe that made me wish I had a Rafael of my own. That’s why it bugged me that Piper could go and continually deceive him even though he could be rather sweet and vulnerable towards her.

Diplomatic Immunity follows a rather predictable storyline, a storyline that I normally would really enjoy, but at the end of the day, its execution could’ve been better. And maybe Piper could’ve been a tad less annoying.

Overall Recommendation:
Your typical girl meets boy kinda story, Diplomatic Immunity just adds a bit of extra flavour because it involves the kids on Embassy Row. Piper Baird was a little too aggressive in her means to attain her goals which made the story harder to swallow when you’re annoyed with the protagonist. It eventually gets a bit better as she finally grows a conscience – I mean, realizes her mistake – and that’s where the entertaining bit of the book comes in. Overall, it’s like any chick lit kinda novel, being mildly entertaining without sticking out a whole lot in its genre.

Review: Her Accidental Husband by Ashlee Mallory

Series: The Sorensen Family #2

her accidental husband -ashlee malloryPayton Vaughn’s trip to Puerto Vallarta for her friend’s wedding was her big escape from her ridiculously overbearing mother–oh, and that little matter with her cheating fiancé. Now, her flight’s been cancelled, and she’s crammed into a tiny car with the gorgeous-but-irritating best man.

Viva la road trip from hell…

Cruz Sorensen doesn’t have time to babysit some spoiled socialite, even if she is the future daughter-in-law of the man who could change the fortune of his family’s company. He has no business getting to know her better—not even for all the tequila in Mexico…until they wake up with grande-sized hangovers as man and wife.

Now Payton and Cruz must decide if they’ve reached the end of their journey…or the beginning of a new adventure.

4 Drink Me Potions

Her Accidental Husband features two people who have made big appearances in the previous novel, Her Backup Boyfriend. I had seen these two as a potential match even then, and preferably, I enjoyed their story a little more.

Payton fits the stereotype of a rich, socialite girl who has everything yet feels restless. However, I totally sympathize with her as she’s got a dragon for a mother. Controlling, conniving and completely intolerable until you let her get her way. Payton’s better than that. She’s actually a brilliant girl who wanted to study law and chose her own friends, like Kate, not based on their trust funds and bloodlines.

Cruz is also another well-known member of the Sorensen family. He’s quiet and brooding, the typical guy to offset the more bubbly personality of his potential match. Although their characters were a little stereotypical, I still enjoyed who they were and how they interacted with each other. Stuck on a road trip through Mexico to reach a wedding that’s important to them both, they learn that there may be a very fine line between love and hate.

The one downside to it all is the completely unnecessary misunderstandings that pile up nearer to the end. Whether it be her fault one second or his fault the other, it felt like they just kept missing the other, not totally understanding what the other meant when they said or did something out of hurt or complete ignorance of the consequences. It dragged it out a little too much in my opinion. I felt that Mallory could’ve made the ending more sweet and less abrupt (like the epilogue she threw in) if she cut out one or two of the misunderstandings that kept the couple apart.

All in all, it was a sweet and adorable story about two people who couldn’t be more different but found they had more in common than they thought.

Overall Recommendation:
Her Accidental Husband was a sweet and amusing story following two familiar characters who thought they despised each other on a very long road trip through the beautiful backdrop of Mexico. The premise has been done before and the characters lean a little more into the stereotypical, but the way the story was conducted kept it fun and enjoyable as we watch them turn their less-than-happy feelings for each other into love. Minus the excessive misunderstandings between them that occur nearer the end of the book, this story makes for a lovely summer afternoon read.

Review: Her Backup Boyfriend by Ashlee Mallory

Series: The Sorensen Family #1

her backup boyfriend -ashlee malloryOne little white lie leads to more than she planned…

Straight-laced lawyer Kate Matthews always plays by the rules. But when her ex gets engaged and a big promotion is on the line at work, she blurts out that she has a new boyfriend. And now that she’s proved she “has a life” outside of work, everything is perfect. Except for one teeny little detail—there is no boyfriend. And now Kate’s liable for her little white lie…

Dominic Sorensen is hot, charming, and very definitely not Kate’s type. But not only does Dominic want to help Kate renovate her home, he’s also willing to play “boyfriend.” All he wants in return is a little pro bono work for his sister. Now instead of Mr. Right, Kate has a delectable Mr. Fix-It-Right—and some unbelievable sexual chemistry. And if falling for Dominic is a breach of contract, Kate is guilty as charged…


3.5 Drink Me Potions

I admit, the fake boyfriend trope fascinates me. It’s like, if you act it enough, you just start to believe in these feelings and situations. And I find it kind of cute that people can come to care for each other in this way.

In this story, Kate has suffered from watching her ex get engaged with someone else in her law firm. Struggling from heartache and also the pressures of becoming someone by making a junior partner in her work, she’s one stressed out character.

However, the plot isn’t all seriousness. It gets balanced out by the hilarious antics with her new Mr. Fix-It, Dominic, who also happens to be her neighbour’s nephew. Together, they hatch out a plan to get their families and work off their back about their love lives in order to get what they want.

But you know, as with these books, what they want eventually gets blurred and questioned.

It was a quick and easy read. I think what I loved the most was the Sorensen family. The Sunday dinners that were described really made me think about how family is very important, no matter our age. It shouldn’t be something that’s only done to pacify the parents. And Dominic being willing to bring Kate into that wonderful family dynamic showed her what she was missing from her childhood. Becoming someone important and “good enough” isn’t the most essential thing life.

All in all, it was a fun read and I got what I wanted from it, though it may not be as memorable.

Overall Recommendation:
Her Backup Boyfriend was a sweet and charming novel on the essentials of family and love. Kate is consumed with work, trying to be “good enough” in the eyes of her ex’s family as she’s not cut from the same rich cloth. Meanwhile, she meets someone who challenges those wants, who puts family first. Seeing the loving Sorensen family welcome her into their group made her question what she truly wanted in life. It was a nice read and perfect for a quiet summer afternoon.

Review: Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts

unfinished business -nora robertsWhat was she doing here? Hyattown had changed very little in the years Vanessa Sexton had been away. In some ways her high school sweetheart, Brady Tucker, hadn’t changed much either—he was still lean, athletic, rugged…But the once reckless boy had become a solid, dependable man. He’d stood her up on the most important night of her life; could she ever trust him again?

So Vanessa had finally come home, Brady thought. She could still turn him inside out with one of her sultry looks. He couldn’t believe she hadn’t forgiven him for that night twelve years ago—but he’d had his reasons for not showing up. He’d let her leave town then—but he wasn’t going to let her get away this time…

4 Drink Me Potions

Unfinished Business is the perfect summer read with the sweet re-blossoming of love in two childhood sweethearts. I like Nora Robert’s mysteries, they can be quite entertaining, but her contemporary romance stories have just as much heart in it, in a different way.

In this novel, Vanessa has a lot of baggage that she’s bringing back with her to her hometown. Estranged from her mother for the last 12 years and stressed from her career as a concert pianist, hometown life seemed to be a good pace for her to rest. Of course, things get a little crazier than she imagined with the presence of her high school boyfriend there with unresolved issues left between them. I’m glad that the story doesn’t focus on that moment where Brady stood her up, but that the problems were more due to their current adult lifestyles and reconciling that things have changed in some ways after 12 years.

Vanessa had to discover who she was before she could really be what Brady may want from her. I liked the pacing. Things slowly built onto each other as she came face-to-face with the things she kept denying to herself, and the questions she couldn’t ask before. And at the heart of it all is a love story between two people that greatly cared for each other in their teens but have found a second chance for a more mature relationship.

Overall Recommendation:
Unfinished Business is as the title suggests, a story of two people separated by the years with unresolved issues. Vanessa definitely brought a lot of baggage back with her to her hometown, but slowly, she learned to rediscover who she was and not how external circumstances had molded her. This love story is sweet and filled with promise. It’s a different kind of story from Nora Robert’s mysteries, but it’s just as poignant and well done.

Review: An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber

Series: From this Day Forward #1-2

an engagement in seattle -debbie macomberAleksandr Berinksi is a Russian biochemist in the U.S. on a visa that is about to expire. Marriage will allow him to stay – marriage to Julia Conrad.
If Julia’s going to save her Seattle-based company, she needs him as much as he needs her. There’s a Groom Wanted in Julia’s life. And not just any groom!

A billboard on the side of a Seattle road is common enough – but one advertising for a bride? It’s Chase Goodwin’s solution to the problem of finding a wife quickly, a wife to bring home to Alaska.
Lesley Campbell has her own reasons for responding – and in no time she’s the Bride Wanted in Chase’s life!

4 Drink Me Potions

Let me just first say that these two stories by Debbie Macomber are some of her older ones and seemingly different from the kinds of plots she writes more after the 2000s, but there’s still something about them that make it enjoyable and applicable no matter the audience (although I do suggest you’re at least 16+).

In Groom Wanted, there was a tangible chemistry between Julia and Alek. Although it was a marriage of inconvenience but one that would help save the company, Alek genuinely seemed to have very fond feelings for Julia even in the beginning. I’m glad that Macomber differentiated that his feelings weren’t equated to love, at least not initially, ’cause that’d be way too unrealistic.

Julia, on the other hand, made me wanna strangle her sometimes. Yes, she went through a horrible ordeal with the betrayal from the man she loved that kept her from trusting in Alek and his very true feelings for her. I suppose the fact that I didn’t give up when she drove me crazy a little is a mark of how invested I was into their story. Overall, it was a very easy read that I gobbled up in practically one sitting. Perfect for a summer day (or evening until the wee hours of morning…)

In Bride Wanted, Lesley’s story was harder to digest. She too had been used and left behind by a man, making her wary about men in general. Chase needed a woman to bring back to the far unknowns of Alaska, using the most amusing way to do that. I was more amused than anything when reading their story. Definitely not as invested, although there were sweet moments here and there as well.

Lesley’s insistent love for her ex was the most annoying trait. Chase wasn’t the most romantic kind of guy. He’s very straightforward (I think you can tell by his extremely direct method of finding a wife). So between the two of them, there was some chemistry but it wasn’t as fun to read when I just wanted to knock some sense into her and to tell him to maybe woo her a little more.

Overall Recommendation:
Both stories were overall cute and had its moments. These were situations where marriage was something they needed for their own reasons, but not because of love. As a hopeless dreamer myself, finding love after the fact is a wonderful storyline to watch unfold. Macomber executes the stories with heated passion that slowly builds and people who find that they did indeed marry for love after all. Groom Wanted was particularly enjoyable, while Bride Wanted wasn’t far behind but the individual personalities of the characters were a little harder to manage. Overall, it was a quick and nice summer read when you feel like a good romance that ends happily.


Review: Hasty Wedding by Debbie Macomber

hasty wedding -debbie macomber

There’s more than one way to capture a man’s heart…

On the day of her best friend’s Las Vegas wedding, Clare Gilroy fears that her own walk down the aisle will never happen…until she finds herself falling for best man—and town outcast—Reed Tonasket.

After a dizzying night in the glitter of Vegas, Clare wakes to find a ring on her finger and a husband by her side. It should be everything she’s ever wanted, but can a man like Reed ever fit into the life she left back home?

4 Drink Me Potions

Um, before I start, I will say, this book was completely a guilty pleasure. It was just one of those days, ya know? Quit judgin’ me while you’re ahead, though. Just keep on moving along. I needed one of these brainless romances today and this novel sufficed. More than sufficed, really.

Reminiscent of another story with a similar plot, I normally don’t read Vegas-married romances. But I was intrigued. And even more so when it turned out our male interest is half Native American.

Clare and Reed’s romance was almost tangible. There was never any doubt about that. The crazy things that went on after their so-called hurried romance took the brunt of the story. It was kind of understandable so it didn’t infuriate me as much as other stories did (thank goodness!).

Clare was kinda innocent but she wasn’t as weak as Reed thought she’d be when confronted with the hardships of life. Meanwhile, Reed had a lot to think about. He may have thought his actions that caused so many problems were noble to him, but it really wasn’t the best for them both. Thankfully, this story touched a more solid conclusion and didn’t just abruptly end there when the two decided things were all hunky-dory. Oh no. I’m glad for that. It may not resolved too deeply into the issues that may come up when marrying someone of Native American descent, but it left us with a taste of hope that things at least could turn out well for this couple.

Altogether, for a guilty pleasure indulgence, this book wasn’t bad. If you ever have one of those days – well, look no further, I guess.

Overall Recommendation:
Clare and Reed’s fast-paced romance could be considered insta-love but it didn’t quite feel so bad since their chemistry was clearly tangible. Would this happen in real life? Heck if I know, but one thing’s for sure. This satisfied the criteria of a guilty pleasure novel for me. It wasn’t all brainless romantic craziness. It covered issues of racial prejudice as Reed is half Native American. I thought it probably was what made all the misunderstandings and problems for the married couple more bearable because it was somewhat understandable. Overall, it was an interesting read. Interesting being the key word ’cause I don’t know what else to describe it as.

Review: Orchard Valley Brides by Debbie Macomber

Series: Orchard Valley #3-4

orchard valley brides -debbie macomberNorah Bloomfield is feeling a bit unneeded these days. Her father is recovering from his heart attack, and her sisters, Valerie and Stephanie, are busy planning their weddings. But then a cantankerous Texan named Rowdy Cassidy crashes his small plane in Orchard Valley. The same Rowdy Cassidy who’d been Valerie’s boss; and who’d demanded she marry him. Now he’s Norah’s patient, and in all her nursing experience she’s never encountered a more difficult man. Or a more irresistible one! Except; is he still in love with her sister?

When Norah’s friend Sherry Waterman leaves Orchard Valley, Oregon, for Pepper, Texas, she’s definitely not in the mood for Lone Star Lovin’. But if anyone can change her mind, it’s Cody Bailman – a hardworking, good-looking rancher. Not only that, Cody has a twelve-year-old daughter who thinks Sherry’s just perfect for Dad!

3 Drink Me Potions

I don’t know why I thought it would get any better with the ridiculous antics that sometimes get between two people who are clearly crazy about each other. This novel did not really do any better, in my opinion, although I’m (oddly enough) considered a fan of Debbie Macomber (I know – don’t say it – what generation am I in?)

In Norah, I was very excited to see how the last and youngest Bloomfield sister would do as all the eligible bachelors in town seemed to have been scooped up by her older sisters in the previous books. This book both infuriated me and mildly satisfied. Rowdy Cassidy was one hard man to read. I couldn’t tell half the time if Norah should be insulted or not by his clear agitation at his feelings for her and whether or not he could truly love her.

Norah, on the other hand, was a lovely woman. She didn’t take his awful behaviour and clearly told him so. If he was in the wrong, she let him know. But she was also able to see her own mistakes and not let her pride deter her from making the compromises that were required for the sake of both their happiness.

Altogether, Norah was a quick read, but I wished the ending wasn’t so abrupt. The little epilogue helped in a sense to tie in all the plotlines from the Orchard Valley series, but even so, the 180 that Rowdy went through didn’t satisfy me.

As for Long Star Lovin’, it was interesting seeing a new destination located in Texas state. The small-knit community and very unique (or maybe I should say “odd”?) people were amusing aspects.

As for the romance, oh my goodness. I’m DEFINITELY infuriated. That man. Cody Bailman! He really has no romantic bone in his body. I would’ve been pissed if I were Sherry, who thankfully was also a very sweet and strong woman. She just wanted someone to love her, not really the romantic actions itself. Those may come when there are true feelings from the heart.

Without the comic relief that presented itself in the form of Heather, Cody’s daughter, I dunno what I would’ve done. Heather was a very interesting 12-year-old. I’m not sure even I would’ve been so bold at her age. Fearless, I’ll say. But her daring and opposite-of-shy kinda personality made her endearing and helped me control my absolute disappointment in Cody’s behaviour.

Altogether, Sherry’s story was interesting but the awful ups and downs of her relationship was just too much. It too also ended abruptly, with Cody’s 180 change even more crazy. Macomber didn’t go into depth of how this new change of heart would affect them all, or to really settle the problems that were always present. It was like BAM! everything’s good. Yay! Wedding! Kids!

What. The. Heck?

Plus, it ended with the EXACT same line as another of Macomber’s story that I’ve read last year. Running out of ideas? I’m not sure.

Overall Recommendation:
These two stories were remarkably similar and different at the same time. Norah’s story was a decent conclusion to the Orchard Valley series, with an epilogue that helped tie in everyone’s plotlines. However, her love interest was truly infuriating at times and his professed love hard to believe. Likewise, Sherry’s story also had its problem with the male interest who just COULDN’T understand romance for the life of him. It shouldn’t be that hard to do something nice if it just came from the heart. The big up-side to this was due to the eclectic and tight community in this small Texan town. Overall, I’m left half infuriated and not completely sure I’m satisfied with the abrupt endings.

Review: This is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer

this is my brain on boys -sarah strohmeyerAddie Emerson doesn’t believe in love, at least for herself. A straightlaced, brilliant girl, she’s more interested in getting an A than falling in love. But Addie is determined to prove the science of love—because Addie Emerson does believe in science.

Science tells her that “love” is nothing more than the brain’s state under the influence of certain chemicals. And by artificially stimulating those chemicals, the brain can totally be tricked into falling in love. So Addie decides to apply that knowledge—and make her classmates fall in love—to win the coveted Athenian Award for Science in her elite private school. One way to speed up the process—adrenaline—she’ll put her classmates in dangerous, high-risk situations . . . and research the fallout.

But a mysterious new guy keeps messing with her plans. And she kind of can’t stop thinking about his gorgeous brown eyes. With backstabbing competitors—including her former lab partner, the preppy, wealthier-than-thou Dex—and more than one pair of star-crossed lovers—can Addie manage to salvage her experiment and win the Athenian? And what happens if she does the unthinkable—and falls in love?

4 Drink Me Potions

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**This is My Brain on Boys comes out on May 10, 2016**

Funny, smart (mostly), and intriguing, this is not just any regular summer read from Strohmeyer. This is a book that both drew me in with its premise as well as kept me entertained.

Addie Emerson is a brilliant girl. And very socially awkward. She loves neuroscience and anything related to the brain. As a science student myself, I could appreciate her random use of neuro-related terminology. It may get a tad bit overwhelming for those who don’t necessarily appreciate such huge words and don’t really understand what all these different neurohormones are, but for me, it was absolutely perfect.

The science was mostly okay, though a couple of places I swear the terminology was mixed up. However, even for science parts that were more fantastical than real, I’m not the kind of person who gets pissed at that. It’s not meant to be a realistic science paper. This is a fun novel that focuses on a protagonist who uniquely loves science, and with a project on love . What more can you hope for? So the rest of my review focuses on all the things this book does right. If you’re one of those people who DO get annoyed at “less-than-realistic science” in a fictional book meant for teenagers, then I think you should go elsewhere right now. Like, right now.

That’s right. Don’t read further if that’s you. Just keep moving along.

Okay, now where were we? Ah, Addie Emerson. She’s naive in social attitudes and pleasantries, as well as takes every word literally (even slang and common phrases) but she has a good heart. Right off the bat, you enter her POV and see how she sees the world. It’s different. It’s fascinating. And it’s very much hilarious.

“They didn’t reject me because I’m socially awkward, did they? I’ve read plenty of books on the social behavioural patterns of adolescents. I know to keep at least forty-six centimeters between myself and others to ensure enough personal space.”

She’s a protagonist that you can stand behind. Over the span of the book, you figure out what her project is that she needs to work on to win a scholarship for college. And the fact that she’s been victimized in the past.

And hence, bringing in our second POV in the book, Kris, made the story even more fun. He’s the total opposite of Addie. They meet right at the beginning of the book and he brings freshness and worldly passions to balance out the colder, scientific end of the plot. He only wishes to make amends for what he’s done in the past, and he finds that this summer of “punishment” may have been the best thing that’s ever happened to him. His presence makes everything more complicated for Addie, and this is one chemical reaction – I mean, relationship – that I can appreciate.

The other secondary characters were maybe a bit cliche and stereotypical but that doesn’t mean they don’t bring out the fun and goodness of this story. From Dexter, the other extremely awkward scientist in this book, to Tess as a Drama Queen and actors’ daughter, these people jump out and make you wanna laugh with them or just give them a good punch in the face.

All in all, I’ve never been a huge fan of Sarah Strohmeyer’s past works but I do believe This is My Brain on Boys is one piece of work I can stand behind. It’s truly a hilarious and marvelous read.

Overall Recommendation:
Strohmeyer has outdone herself with this smart and entertaining book on science and love. Addie Emerson is a brilliant neuroscientist who fancies herself an expert on the chemistry of falling in love. With her quirky mannerisms and naivety, it’s very hard not to like our spunky protagonist. However, a chance meeting with Kris turns everything upside down for Addie and her experiment. I enjoyed the ups and downs of their relationship, especially when Addie tries to explain physical attraction with science. With pieces of hilarious prose and fun use of neuro-related terminology, This is My Brain on Boys is a perfect read for this summer, in particular for those with a tiny penchant for “less-than-real science” thrown into their novel.