My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
After absolutely loving Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren, I knew I needed to pick up another one of their books. Enter My Favorite Half-Night Stand. 

In this story, Reid and Millie are best friends. When an opportunity for a fancy event requiring plus-ones arises, they immediately decide to go with each other. But then they end up sleeping together, and suddenly the chance to go to the event as just friends is out the window. When one of their other friends suggests a dating app for all of them to find dates, Millie and Reid are reluctant but go along with it. And when Reid matches with Catherine, Millie's secret profile, things get really complicated really fast.

This story was definitely cute! I loved the relationship dynamics, not just of Millie and Reid, but with all their other friends: Ed, Alex, and Chris. I also loved how they were all working in academia as professors and researchers. This book was interspersed with pseudo-multimedia in the form of dating app messages, online chat messages, and text messages which was a nice touch. I also really appreciated that this story addressed family dynamics, especially with a sick and elderly parent. This is a hard topic to address, and the authors did a good job of showing how difficult this can be.

I'm not generally a fan of "romance" and smut makes me squirm, but this book was very tame and the sexy bits were done well (and not too frequently!). 

I will say I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Josh and Hazel because it was super predictable. It was very easy to tell what was going to happen so even though it was adorable, there were times where I just wanted to skip to the end since I knew how it would all play out. That being said, I did still really like this read and can't wait to pick up another Christina Lauren book. The Unhoneymooners is next on my list!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Last Tango in Cyberspace by Steven Kotler

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I've always enjoyed sci-fi, and to be honest I don't read enough of it. That's why I was so excited to try this one. Last Tango in Cyberspace by Steven Kotler is a unique and unusual mashup of science fiction, adventure, mystery, animal rights, and a look into the human condition.

Lion Zorn is an em-tracker. He can sense empathy, which allows him to get a feel for the future. When this skill gets him a high-paying job with a major company, Lion finds himself immersed in a world of drugs and ecoterrorism. What is this new drug that is popping up making people free animals from cages and commune with them in the wild? Why is someone's taxidermied head hanging on the wall of his home? And how is all this connected to Arctic, the company Lion has been hired by?

This was such an amazing read! I was nervous at first because it was heavy from the beginning, as many sci-fi reads tend to be, and I was having a hard time grasping overall concepts for the first few chapters. I quickly got a hang of the writing style and figured things out though, and was completely enthralled with the plot and the world that Kolter has created. 

It addressed a lot of important topics in addition to having a fantastic plot. From animal rights and ecological issues, to how humans constantly find a new way to rebel and culture shifts, to the giving and taking of rights and melding of cultures, this book was a great look at how society advances and both the good and bad things that come with that advancement. I would definitely be pleased if there was a sequel to this read!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this read! Last Tango in Cyberspace by Steven Kotler is out now!

A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas

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This suspense novel absolutely drew me in with its gorgeous cover. A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas is a suspenseful drama that follows trauma psychotherapist Ruth. After her son Tom goes missing, she is assigned a patient, Dan, that reminds her so much of him-appearance and all. Desperate to help Dan as she was unable to help her son, she struggles to keep the rigidness in place that she normally exhibits with her patients as the professional lines start to blur. 

I thought this book was fine, but I was kind of hoping for more. The thriller element didn't really come into play until towards the very end and until that point the plot moved fairly slowly. Much of the story was more emotional, focusing on Ruth's grief, the relationship she has with her family, and how these things impact her work as a therapist. A lot of pieces of the story didn't come together until the very end, so throughout most of the book I was wondering why they were relevant. I'm glad I finished it as the ending was worth it, but there were many times I struggled to keep going.

I was very engaged by her patient Dan, and found it interesting how he referenced so many movies throughout his treatment. I also liked the added dynamics from Ruth's relationship with her daughter, ex-husband, and trusted adviser. 

Being that this book does center around trauma therapy, there are some triggering elements mentioned, such as rape, suicide, self-harm, child disappearances, and sudden death.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Pamela Dorman Books for a copy of this read! A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas is out now!

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

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I don't think I quite knew what I was getting myself into with this book, but I definitely didn't hate it. In at the Deep End by Kate Davies follows Julia as she realizes she might in fact be a lesbian after realizing that sex with men is always terrible for her. This book was definitely explicit, so be aware if you are taking a copy of it with you into public! 

Julia throws herself headfirst into the world of lesbianism, experimenting both sexually and emotionally with women and finding herself more satisfied than ever before. When she meets the alluring Sam, she falls head over heels, but there is one problem...Sam doesn't like being monogamous. And she might also be more than a little controlling.

This was an excellent read for pride month! It was rewarding seeing Julia find herself and achieve happiness for the first time in a long time. I loved the supportive friend group that Julia had throughout the story, and I wish I had more people like that in my life! I also really loved that Julia had a super commonplace job as a civil servant. She wasn't in fashion, or an executive, or anything fancy...she was just an average woman, and I think that made it easy for readers to identify with her. I also really liked the side stories happening in the book.

I think we have all dated a Sam at some point or another...someone that makes us furiously happy one minute then puts off red flags all over the place the next. We don't want to lose those moments of happiness, but also have to decide if all the negatives that come with it are worth it. You know the relationship isn't really healthy, but it's just so hard to leave. This might be challenging for some to read if you have had a Sam (I know I have) and have traumatic memories associated with that relationship.

I was super satisfied with the ending! I did take off a star because some parts just made me squirm. I was proud of Julia's sexual liberation, but sometimes it was just a little too much to read about if you aren't typically into explicit literature. I think the point could have come across just as well with a little less graphic detail.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an ARC of this read! In at the Deep End by Kate Davies is out now!

Literary Book Gifts Writing Gloves

I was so excited when Literary Book Gifts reached out to me asking if I wanted to try out their Writing Gloves. I am always cold, my hands included, so a product that allowed me to be a little warmer while still maintaining full functionality of my hands to type was super appealing.

The gloves themselves are SO soft and comfortable, and are made from a blend of cashmere, cotton, polyester, and microfiber. They are tight enough to stay on and not be a bulky hindrance, but also won't cut off your circulation. I do have very small hands, so they were a bit big for me, but I can see them fitting the majority of people perfectly. 

 The gloves come in 13 different colors, ranging from neutrals to super colorful. I chose charcoal, which is a dark grey color, since I didn't want them to clash with anything. They allow your thumbs and fingers to stick out, not inhibiting your ability to type in any way. This also allows you to still use your touch screen devices as well! They are excellent quality and feel like they would hold up for a very long time, even with daily use.

Even if you don't have to type regularly, these would be great for tons of other activities as well, like crafting, writing notes, or even as everyday winter gloves when you wanted to keep your fingers free! There is a bit of sticker shock with the price, since they retail for US $52. If this is something you can see yourself using every day though, I think it could definitely be justified.

Thank you so much to Literary Book Gifts for sending me a pair of gloves to review! If you would like to purchase your own pair, you can find them here. They also sell other bookish merchandise, like totes and tshirts! I really want to get my hands on the Moby Dick tshirt and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland tote!

Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I'm normally not a big fan of historical fiction, but being that this was a Woodstock-era, hippie book, I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately it fell flat for me. Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser is a YA historical fiction that follows Lucas, a recent high school graduate who is trying to dodge the draft for Vietnam after getting rejected from college. Not only is he draft-dodging, but his girlfriend has moved away for the summer and hasn't really written. Lucas has to struggle with his love life and his potential military future, all while tripping on drugs and dealing with his chaotic family.

It was really hard to push through this one. It just dragged for me. The only parts I really enjoyed were the letter correspondence and the times that Lucas was with Tinsley. The Woodstock portion of the book definitely let me down, and I was sad to see it was only a short piece of the story. I thought Lucas was a really annoying character and wasn't doing anything productive with his life. I kept wanting him to get it together and he never really did. I wasn't particularly fond of most of the minor characters either.

I would probably categorize this book more as New Adult than YA. There were definitely drug references, as well as mentions of suicide and a lot more sex scenes and references than I was anticipating. 

I honestly am surprised I finished this book. I had high hopes for it since I love this era, but unfortunately it really let me down. It looks like it has great reviews on Goodreads, so it appears I'm the opinion outlier on this one!

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for an ARC of this read! Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser is out now!

Lip Balms I'm Loving

Everyone talks about making sure your lips are hydrated during the winter so they don't get dried out and chapped, but no one really emphasizes the importance of lip care in the summer as well! Today I wanted to highlight some of my favorite lip products that I've been keeping in rotation lately.

skyn ICELAND Berry Lip Fix: This product I got as a sample in my Ipsy bag, and I'm so glad I did because I don't think I would have ever discovered it otherwise! It is vegan and cruelty-free, which I love. This product contains wintered red algae to help reinforce the skin barrier to repair and hydrate, and the berry smell is the perfect scent without being overpowering. 

sara happ The Lip Slip One Luxe Balm: This is my go to when I want a little extra glam with my lip balm! This balm gives your lips a great glow with a little shimmer. It's a very luxurious product, and it's not tested on animals! Since this one is a thicker, stickier product, it does need to be worn alone. I also recommend the sara happ Lip Scrubs!

Sun Bum Sunscreen Lip Balm: If you're out in the sun a lot, you definitely need to pick this one up! All of Sun Bum's products are cruelty-free, gluten-free, and vegan. This lip balm has SPF 30, along with aloe and Vitamin E, so you know your lips are protected from the sun's harsh rays. My favorite is the Key Lime scent!

NARS Orgasm Afterglow Lip Balm: This is another great lip balm to wear alone. In the iconic Orgasm shade, it contains antioxidants and a hydrating complex to nurture your lips with a subtle color payoff. Plus the packaging is gorgeous!

Nivea Milk & Honey Lip Care: This is the balm I slather on before bed every night. It is a little greasy, so I only use it at night to ensure that my lips are soft and hydrated when I wake up in the morning!

So there you have it, all of the lip balms I've been using and loving! Do you have a lip product that you've been swearing by lately? I'd love to know!