Contemporaryathon TBR | Round Five


 Dates: September 23rd – September 29th
Liveshow: Saturday 28th 6pm PST / 9pm EST on Chelsea’s channel

➽ 1.) Read a 2019 release

Birthday by Meredith Russo

➽ 2.) Read a contemporary with yellow on the cover

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

➽ 3.) Read a diverse contemporary

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson

➽ 4.) Read a contemporary with an illustrated cover

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

➽ 5.) Read a dark / hard-hitting contemporary

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

➽ 6.) Read a contemporary with plants on the cover

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau

➽ 7.) A contemporary beloved by a member of the book community
Bloom because of Riley
Emergency Contact because of Monte
Emergency Contact because of Romie
Chloe Brown because of Myonna
The Only Thing Worse than Me is You because of Jane
The Last True Poets of the Sea because of Chelsea
Birthday because of Madalyn

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The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

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ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

“Deciding to spend your life together shouldn’t be a surprise”

I loved The Wedding Date earlier this year, and when I found out that this was going to star one of the side characters I knew I couldn’t resist putting in an ARC request. This was a joy to read, from the first page to the last. Both of Jasmine’s books have been so intelligently, beautifully, and masterfully crafted.

The Proposal is an ownvoices novel that follows a woman who is completely blindsided by a marriage proposal at Dodger Stadium. Yet, before the camera crews come in to make a terrible situation even worse, she is saved by a stranger in the stands, and his sister.

Nikole Paterson – Black, freelance journalist, and the woman who just got surprise proposed to after only five months of dating her partner.

Carlos Ibarra – Latino, pediatrician, the stranger in the stands that we already were introduced to in The Wedding Date.

And we get to see these two build a friendship, and maybe something more, after everything went down at Dodger Stadium. Neither one of them are at a point in their life where they are willing to start something new, but they have each other’s backs and prove that they are there for one another.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Nik and Carlos with my whole heart, but Nik’s friends almost stole the show for me in this novel. Dana is an actress, black, and a lesbian, and has the freakin’ cutest f/f side romance ever. Like, please, I need a full-length novel right this second. And Courtney is a cupcake shop owner, Asian, and plus sized. And I think I had a smile from ear-to-ear every time she was on the page. Seriously, Nik, Dana, and Courtney are the definition of friendship goals and it was a joy to read.

But probably my favorite thing in this book were the seamlessly woven important themes. There was also such a subtle, yet loud, message about how easy it is to not realize you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. And sometimes you don’t start to realize until you are completely secluded from your friends and family. Yet, it also shows that there always can be ways out, even if you have to wait a while, and that it is never too late once you realize when someone is being abusive.

There was also such a beautiful discussion about how important it is to reclaim your safety after you have been violated or felt that it was threatened. Throughout this story, we see Nik take those steps, and it just meant a lot to me, personally. I also loved how she had friends helping along the way.

The reason I did end up giving this four stars, and not five, was because I felt like Carlos acted a little questionably at the end. Trust me, it pains me to say, because I do love him so much. Yet, with the way he and Nik met, you would think that he would understand how she would react to a (quicker) repeat. I’m trying to be vague, but his actions just left me side-eyeing a little at the end, and just dampened my enjoyment overall.

Yet, I still loved this book, and I think Jasmine Guillory is such an impressive author. I can’t wait to read any and everything she writes. The romance world just needs more books like The Proposal and The Wedding Date! I completely recommend this one!

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for public humiliation, racist comments (always in a negative light and challenged), talk of past emotional abuse, brief assault (slap on the butt), talk of past loss of a loved one, brief mention of child abuse, brief mention of past miscarriage, and pregnancy complications.

Buddy Read with Lilly, Stephanie, & Leigh! ❤

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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“You found me in a constellation.”

Friends, I loved this story. And if the ending was a little different, this would have been such an easy five star read. I love books centered on creators on the internet. While reading this, I was constantly reminded of one my favorite books of all time, Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. Which, I’m not really sure if here is any higher praise than to be compared to that book.

But basically, this book is all about putting yourself out there, carving yourself a little home on the internet, and feeling like you belong, even if your life offline isn’t the easiest to understand. And this book follows two characters very invested with the same fandom

Eliza Mirk – AKA: LadyConstellation, creator of one of the biggest webcomics online, Monstrous Sea.

Wallace Warland – The new boy that just joined Eliza’s school halfway through senior year. Oh, and Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer.

“You wrote back…”

Eliza and Wallace’s paths inevitably cross, and he begins to share with her the fanfiction transcribes of the webcomic she has secretly created. And these two meeting offline was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve read all year, even though Wallace has no idea just how much Eliza is invested in this fandom. I think there is just something so beautiful about how accepting and understanding they were of the times that it’s hard to talk, or that it’s almost too much to talk. Honestly, seeing them write back and forth together, side by side, gives me more feelings than I have words for. But I loved it and thought it was so very beautiful.

This book is a love letter to the power of healing that friendships can truly have. Yet, also the healing power of fandoms and celebrating your love for something with others. The magic of finding a person you can be yourself, your true self, no masks, no fakeness, no lies, it’s something that I can’t put into words. But seeing Eliza and Wallace experience that was perfection.

But this is a story about art and how sharing your art is truly like sharing a piece of your heart. And this book really talks about how scary that can be! Yet, also how your art can inspire so many others’ art and it really can create such a beautiful cycle.

And not to bring up Radio Silence constantly, but this book also touches upon how school isn’t for everyone, no matter what people try to make you think. That there isn’t some magical step program of getting good grades in school that will lead you to an amazing university on a full-paid scholarship, which will obviously lead you to the perfect job where you will become filthy rich and experience nonstop happiness! People have so many paths they can choose from, and so many paths that are right and wrong for them. And that’s beautiful and that’s okay.

“She drew so many monsters that she became a monster herself.”

Overall, I loved this book. Fandoms and having an online presence are things that I think I’ll always enjoy reading about, because it’s something very close to my heart. I will say that Wallace’s behavior at the end of this book, and the reason why he wanted Eliza to overcome it all, was just off-putting. But besides that, I loved this book. It made me soft, and warm, and ever so thankful to every single person who reads my reviews and interacts with me. Seriously, you all make me feel so blessed every single day and bring me more happiness than I can measure.

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Content and trigger warnings for suicidal thoughts, talk of past suicide, panic attacks, abandonment, minor bullying, talk of past loss of loved ones, grief depictions, and depression depictions.

❤ I read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

Check, Please!: #Hockey (Check, Please!, #1-2) by Ngozi Ukazu

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This ARC was given to me by my beautiful friend Lilly from Lair of Books!
(Thank you so much! I love you!)

You all, this was the cutest. No, scratch that – Bitty is the cutest! And this graphic novel was nothing short of a joy to read! Hockey games, behind the scenes practices, a slow-burn attraction, an adorable romance, the most heartwarming main character ever. I mean, what else could you really ask for? Ngozi Ukazu has given us such a bright light of pure sunshine!

So basically, this is a published version of a very popular webcomic that so many of my friends have been following and adoring for so very long. It stars a boy named Eric Bittle, AKA: Bitty, who is leaving his southern home to go to college in the north to play hockey, and he is gay and not yet out! He is also a very talented ice skater, but he has a little improving to do on the ice with hockey. And this book is broken up in two parts that are following him during his freshman year and sophomore year at Samwell University.

Bitty also makes video blogs where he talks about everything that’s going on his life. We get to slowly see the seasons change, and Bitty change as well during his vlogs. And he especially likes to talk about the captain of the hockey team, Jack, who he is pretty sure dislikes him, even though he is constantly helping him improve on the ice.

“Never fall for a straight boy.”

But we also get to see Bitty interact with the rest of his team: Ransom, Shitty, Holster, Chowder, Nursey, Lardo, and Dex (ew)! And Bitty builds some really beautiful friendships. Shitty (Lord, I will never get used to typing that name) is such a sweetheart who was so accepting and wonderful. Easily my favorite side character and my favorite brewing side romance with a certain someone.

I also loved getting to see Bitty move into the team house his sophomore year and really embrace his love for cooking. While his team also embraces their love for eating his baking. Seriously, seeing him build friendships and bond with others was so pure and so wonderful.

Lastly, I really want to talk about Ngozi Ukazu’s banter and how it is so perfect and so realistic. I legit tried to read this in public, and I was smiling so big and giggling out loud while sipping my coffee. The dialogue is on a tier above most graphic work out here, and the art is so beautiful and lovely on the eyes, too. I am in awe.

Overall, I just thought this was adorable perfection. The only reason I’m giving it four stars is because I feel like the story just started to really begin right before it ended. But the slow burn m/m romance is very precious, and I will scream from the highest rooftop that Bitty deserves the entire world forever and ever. I have such high hopes for junior and senior year! This is easily the best sports graphic work I’ve ever read.

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Content and triggers warnings for underage drinking, panic attacks, hazing, and a lot of sexual content comments (mostly about hooking up with girls).

❤ I read this for Contemporary-a-thon!


Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

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“Even girls made of stars are captives, bound at the wrists and traded like property. Even girls made of stars aren’t asked, aren’t believed, aren’t considered worth the effort unless they can offer something in return. Even girls made of stars buy into those lies sometimes.”

Friends, I wish I could put this book into everyone in the entire world’s hands. This book is so powerful, so heartbreaking, so important, and just so beautifully crafted. But before I really even start this review, I want to preface that this review is going to talk a lot about sexual assault. And even though I implore you to pick up this book if you are able, this is a very dark book at times. Major content and trigger warnings for rape, sexual assault, physical abuse, pedophilia, bullying, depiction of grief, trauma, PTSD, and anxiety attacks. Another thing I want to touch on is that I was very surprised that this book surrounds two sexual assaults, not just the one you are originally led to believe. So, I don’t want any of you to be lulled into a sense of safety to only be hurt later on.

Girl Made of Stars is a haunting book that I wish wasn’t so perfectly done. I wish this book wasn’t so realistic. I wish this book only made me cry because of the fictional content, and not because this is the actual world we live in. But in these pages, we follow a young girl named Mara whose brother is accused of raping one of her best friends. And we get to see how this rape impacts this entire friend group. Yet, we also get to see how it impacts Mara’s family, Mara’s school, and the entire community

Mara – The star of this book. Mara is also bi and has panic attacks.
Owen – Mara’s twin brother, who seems perfect and is very popular.
Charlie – Realizing they are nonbinary, Mara’s best friend, and also Mara’s ex.
Alex – Owen’s best friend, and Korean-American.
Hannah – One of Mara and Charlie’s best friend, also Owen’s girlfriend.

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. out of 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free.*

“This. This is why I never said anything. Because no one ever believes the girl.”

And we are teaching young girls to not speak up with our actions in this broken cycle of not believing them in a world that already chooses, over and over again, to not believe them. And it’s so fucking heartbreaking. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a relationship with the person. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex before. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. It doesn’t matter what you’ve said before. It doesn’t matter any circumstances; if it’s not consensual then it is rape. Rape culture is so real, so apparent, and so very much thriving in 2018.

You can love a person and still know and say that what they did was wrong. And this is a concept that we constantly cannot understand in this world. This book was extremely hard for me to read, because my brother is my best friend in this entire world, and imagining being in Mara’s situation just completely gutted me over and over again. But loving someone doesn’t give them a free pass, and I think everyone needs to be reminded of that. If you say you will believe rape victims, then you have to believe all rape victims. You don’t get to pick and choose. And I beg you to start believing. And for anyone who needs it: I believe you.

Yet, this is a story about healing and reclaiming your body after it has been violated against your wishes. There is no right thing, no right amount of time, not even any correct word combinations that will help. Sexual assaulters take so much more from the victim that people realize, and it’s something that never goes away. But it can get better, and you have to do what is right for you, at your own pace. And this story really is a love letter to that.

“Some parts of me are gone. Some others have come alive, woken by the need to fight, to matter, to be heard. Some parts are wary, others angry, others heartbroken. But I’m still me. I’m still moving.”

This book also does such a beautiful job talking about respecting people’s pronouns, gender, sexuality, and when and how they choose to come out, regardless of identities they’ve already came out about. Gender and sexuality can be so very fluid and always deserves to be respected. Everyone’s experiences are so very different, and only the individual knows what is best for them.

Overall, this was one of the hardest books for me to read all year, but I truly am so thankful that I was able to read it. I recommend this to anyone who is in the right headspace for it. And even though this was a hard book, it’s also really beautiful. I also loved the F/NB romance so very much in this one. Mara is one of my favorite characters in all of literature. And I will read every single thing Ashley Herring Blake writes forever. This is a heart-wrenching, flawless, masterpiece.

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*Statistics from RAINN. They are completely confidential, and available 24/7 if you need to talk to someone. Call 800.656.HOPE at any time.

Buddy read with Shai at Cade Under Books & Yusra! ❤

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1) by John Allison & Lissa Treiman

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“Why are… boys… like this?”

This was a really fun, slice of life, college graphic-novel. And I think I liked it a little more because I always get nostalgic this time of year for college and dorm life. But this graphic novel follows three girls, who share a dorm, and are best friends.

Daisy – kind of geeky, likes ASMR, is queer. (basically me.)
Esther – hot, and extremely funny, goth. (basically ideal dating material.)
Susan – smart, and kind of grumpy. (basically the star of this volume.)

Ed – friend of the trio, with a major crush on Esther that’s pure.
McGraw – new to the university and has a mysterious past with Susan.

And we get to see these five character deal with drama, sickness, a gross article that rates girls at the university, and a birthday! But we also get to see them discover a lot about themselves over the course of these four chapters! And we also get to see their friendship grow and become even stronger.

And my favorite thing about this bind-up of the first four single issues was that each issue stands completely on its own. Yet, all four come together to help create a beautiful overarching story. Plus, this was just a lot of fun to read. Also, I didn’t know that this is set at a university in Brittain, so that was a fun treat, too!

Overall, I think this is really fun and the art is really cute, but it didn’t wow me the way I expected it to. This entire series is so beloved in the book community, but I think this could very much be the start of something amazing! I totally plan to continue on!

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❤ I read this for Contemporary-a-thon!


Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

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ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

“I never believed in fate until you”

Fight or Flight is an enemies to lovers romance starring two people who met during a layover in an airport under the worst of circumstances. I’ve read a few books by Samantha Young and I’ve enjoyed every one, but this one had a few aspects that really did have me side-eyeing.

Ava Breevort – Interior designer. Boston local. Grieving the loss of someone who used to mean a lot to her and is currently trying to fly back to Boston after attending a funeral.

Caleb Scott – CFO for an up and coming tech company. Visiting from Scotland. And currently at the airport and realizing that he is going to be stuck in the US for longer than he anticipated.

And I said this was an enemies to lovers story, so they obviously hate each other… at first. But they soon realize that the only way for them to stop thinking about each other is to get whatever it is out of their system. But only for one night. But after that one night, they realize that it might not be enough. Yet, both of these characters have built such walls around their hearts because of things that happened to them in their pasts. Plus, Caleb is stuck in Boston for a little longer. And he gets to see Ava for who she really is, and he gets to slowly meet the found family she has created for herself. This is really a story about fate and how sometimes unexpected things can really completely change the outcome of lives; for the better and for the worse.

“You win when you realize that anyone can hurt you, even those you never expect it from. Once you know that … you’ll never be knocked off your feet long enough to lose.”

This book was completely addicting, and I never wanted to put it down. Ever. No matter how infuriated I got at some of the things Caleb did and some of his gross actions. But I couldn’t write this review without talking about some of the gross things he did in this book. First off, during a sex scene, Ava realizes that he doesn’t have a condom on, and after asking him to go put one on, he kind of hesitates and goes for another stroke and…. *throws up forever* I can’t, friends, I really can’t. Next, he totally villainizes a woman for having an abortion. Like, there are a lot of aspects you could villainize this woman for; lying, using him, whatever really, but villainizing her for having an abortion just makes me sick to me stomach to read. Nothing, and I truly mean nothing, gives him a say in what any woman does with her body, ever. And lastly, this book is for sure an enemies to lovers storyline, but Caleb says some really horrible things to Ava about her appearance and judging her because of it. And I get it, sometimes we all have stereotypical thoughts about people at times, but Caleb turns it into “you don’t have power over me just because you look good” type of shit. And I’ve personally had dudes act like that to me before, and you know where they are? In the fucking trash where they belong. Like, no. It’s unacceptable, especially for the length that Caleb continued to judge Ava.

And I’m not going to say that Ava was my favorite protagonist of all-time or anything, but I really did love reading about her for many reasons. First off, she is successful and did it all on her own, with really shitty parental figures that didn’t do anything to help her. Next, she is just caring and reaches out to help others around her. Her and Harper’s friendship was probably my favorite aspect of the entire book. Lastly, I get that Ava is that typical blonde heroine, that’s skinny but has big boobs, but the author kind of has a unique spin on it, because Ava brings up how everything is always sexualized because of her bigger chest. And, I know this seems so small in comparison to everything else that needs representing in the world, but I used to really struggle with this growing up. My mom would always make me feel terrible, even just wearing a v-neck t-shirt. But, friends, I moved away from home and realized that was entirely her (and society’s) problem, not me or my genetics that I have no control over. Basically what I’m trying to say is that Caleb makes some questionable choices in this book, but Ava really is the shining star of it.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for a lot of gross judgmental comments that rubbed me the completely wrong way, severe parental abuse, attempted sexual assault, physical abuse, domestic violence, cheating (in the past & not between the MCs), talk of miscarrying, talk of abortion, a brief and gross unprotected sex scene, slut shaming, loss of a loved one, and a lot of toxic masculinity.

Buddy Read with Lilly, Amy, & Leigh! ❤

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!