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Good Morning, Love by Ashley M. Coleman

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

For fans of My (Not So) Perfect Life and Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating, a disarmingly fun debut novel follows Carlisa Henton as her life comes undone after a chance meeting with a rising pop star.

Carlisa “Carli” Henton is a musician and songwriter hoping to follow in her father’s musical footsteps. But, biding her time until she makes it big in the music industry, she works as a junior account manager at a big-name media company to cover her New York City rent. Carli meticulously balances her work with her musical endeavors as a songwriter—until a chance meeting with rising star Tau Anderson sends her calculated world into a frenzy. Their worlds collide and quickly blur the strict lines Carli has drawn between her business and her personal life, throwing Carli’s reputation—and her burgeoning songwriting career—into question.

A smart, timely, energizing romance, Good Morning, Love shows us what the glamorous New York’s music scene is really like and takes us into the lives of a rising but somewhat troubled R&B star and a promising protégé who knows her job better than she knows herself.

With fresh and honest prose, Good Morning, Love examines the uncertainty of being a new professional looking to chase a dream while also trying to survive in a world that’s not always kind to ambitious women.

Goodreads Summary

I can still remember when I learned the difference between a driven, confident woman vs a man. This novel has so many layers to it, but one of the subjects that I feel it touches on very well is how a woman like Carli can be viewed in a world where being a professional woman means that any misstep is heavily penalized. I liked Carli as a person. She has goals and values her achievements. When the author chose to throw a love interest in the mix I was a little disappointed that the book didn't focus solely on Carlie; however, I grew to like the somewhat antagonist feel of the relationship between Carlie and Tau. Their relationship is not one that I'm used to reading about in this genre. I felt like it was a bit like You Tarzan, Me Jane and it was unexpected for me. 

The plot itself didn't have a particularly fast pace, but I enjoyed reading this book over the course of a few days. The scenes were well-thought out and there wasn't too much fluff in the novel despite having a love story at its center. I suppose I would have liked to see a little further development with their relationship and I had a bit of trouble connecting with Tau initially. The ending surprised me; I thought that the reader would get to learn a little more about what ended up happening to Carlie than they did. Overall, this is a lovely book to take with on an airplane or on the way to the beach. 

3 1/2 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow

I Killed Zoe Spanos meets The Cheerleaders in this haunting mystery about an island town with a history of unsolved deaths—and a girl desperate to uncover the mystery behind it all.

Luca Laine Thomas lives on a cursed island. To the outside world, Parris is an exclusive, idyllic escape accessible only to the one percent. There’s nothing idyllic about its history, though, scattered with the unsolved deaths of young women—deaths Parris society happily ignores to maintain its polished veneer. But Luca can’t ignore them. Not when the curse that took them killed her best friend, Polly, three years ago. Not when she feels the curse lingering nearby, ready to take her next.

When Luca comes home to police cars outside her house, she knows the curse has visited once again. Except this time, it came for Whitney, her sister. Luca decides to take the investigation of Whitney’s death into her own hands. But as a shocking betrayal rocks Luca’s world, the identity Whitney’s killer isn’t the only truth Luca seeks. And by the time she finds what she’s looking for, Luca will come face to face with the curse she’s been running from her whole life.

Goodreads Summary

I was surprised by how much I liked this story. Parris, a decadent island only available to the elites of the world, was really fun to think about. I thought the world-building was really in-depth and detailed; I could practically visualize the setting in my mind and picture the characters walking around this idyllic little world. Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect. Every once in a while an unexplained death or disappearance takes place and the victim is always a young female. Luca's life has been touched twice by this "curse." First, she lost her best friend to an unusual drowning and then her sister is the victim of a sad murder. Luca resolves to discover the true cause behind these deaths even as she feels the curse coming for her. 

Luca's character was intricately written. She was flawed in her own way, but I found her one of the few "heroines" that I truly enjoyed consistently reading about. I admired her dedication to her family and friends and her determination to try to make things right for them. She has some trouble with her anxiety, depression, and self-harm/doubt thoughts, but the book doesn't fixate on her mental issues. Instead, Luca's mental health struggles are depicted more realistically and the character has developed coping mechanisms. She also enjoys a romance with the girl who moves into her best friend's old house. The romance is the light-hearted, sweet, and innocent part of the story. It felt almost untouchable even amongst the mystery and murders. 

The author managed to make the intrigue behind the so-called curse a slow reveal. There were portions that I still think about and definitely didn't guess ahead of time. I really liked the thought process that went into the plot and I'm looking forward to reading more from Rebecca Barrow in the future!

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

We Made It All Up by Margot Harrison

Celeste is the talk of the town when she moves to Montana from Montreal, but the only friend she makes is Vivvy, the heir to the town’s name and a social pariah. Inspired by a passion-fueled school incident, they begin writing a love-story fan fic between the popular guy and the school stoner, one that gradually reveals Celeste’s past. While their bond makes Celeste feel safe and alive again, Vivvy keeps prodding Celeste to turn fantasy into reality. When they finally try, one drunken night on a dark mountainside, Celeste is the one who ends up kissing golden boy Joss. And Joss ends up dead.

Celeste doesn’t remember the end of that night and can’t be sure she didn’t deliver the killing blow. Could she still be that scared of getting close to a boy? Secrets are hard to keep in a small town, and even Vivvy seems to suspect her. Exploring the winding passages of the cave where Joss died, Celeste learns he had his own dark secrets, as does Vivvy. The town isn’t as innocent as it appears.

Goodreads Summary

This book seemed more October-ish than an April read to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not used to reading "fan fiction," much less fan fiction written about people around me. In this novel, Celeste and Vivvy write fan fiction about their classmates that quickly blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. The world-building in this book is superb. The author uses a "now/then" format with time stamps to ensure the reader can follow along with the plot and build anticipation up before that fateful day when their classmate dies. I found myself actually nervous for the eventual recounting of that day as the time stamps drew nearer. 

I love books that focus on female friendship. Admittedly, this friendship is a little different, but Celest and Vivvy have a strong and intriguing friendship that grows deeper as the book progresses. It's nice to take a break from books that focus on teen romance. I was very surprised by the ending. Some of the ending is probably more predictable than I was able to guess at; however, the bulk of the rationale and detail behind what really happened is like a slow unspooling of a really long mystery. I felt like the author had put a good deal of thought into the plot and ending and resolved a lot of loose threads for me at the end - so much so that I forgot about some of the loose threads that didn't feel entirely resolved or resolved all too quickly. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle

Hitch meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this witty and romantic teen novel about a self-professed teen love doctor with a popular radio segment who believes he can get a girl who hates all things romance to fall in love with him in only three dates.

Prince Jones is the guy with all the answers—or so it seems. After all, at seventeen, he has his own segment on Detroit’s popular hip-hop show, Love Radio, where he dishes out advice to the brokenhearted.

Prince has always dreamed of becoming a DJ and falling in love. But being the main caretaker for his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and his little brother means his dreams will stay just that and the only romances in his life are the ones he hears about from his listeners.

Until he meets Dani Ford.

Dani isn’t checking for anybody. She’s focused on her plan: ace senior year, score a scholarship, and move to New York City to become a famous author. But her college essay keeps tripping her up and acknowledging what’s blocking her means dealing with what happened at that party a few months ago.

And that’s one thing Dani can’t do.

When the romantic DJ meets the ambitious writer, sparks fly. Prince is smitten, but Dani’s not looking to get derailed. She gives Prince just three dates to convince her that he’s worth falling for.

Three dates for the love expert to take his own advice, and just maybe change two lives forever.

Goodreads Summary

This was one of my favorite reads of April. It's rare to find a book depicting Multiple Sclerosis; while reading, I had the distinct feeling that the author in some way had personal experience with this nasty disease. Although the book centered more around Prince's personal growth, I found his experience as the primary caretaker of his disabled mother and how the obligations for his younger brother fell to him to be entirely relatable. 

Prince was quite literally a prince of a character. He is helpful, kind, and patient; he seemed "older" than his given age, but the sorts of problems he's dealt with in the past few years can age a character. Dani was a shy and quiet character; her experience with some serious problems at a party that she attended was heavy subject material, but entirely realistic for the age group. I really loved these two characters together. They meshed easily and helped make this book a quick read. The overall subject material ranged from heavy to comedy (with a focus on the heavy material such as parental illness, sexual assault, parental abandonment, etc...).  The author did a wonderful job of detailing these two teenagers' experiences of growing up in a difficult world. I loved the light-hearted, innocence behind their budding romance. I really appreciated the setting of Detroit; there aren't enough books taking place in this city. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ