Category Archives: Books I Received From The Publisher

The Gravity of Us

Finished The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.”

This is such a sweet, fun book. It centers around journalism (which I love) and science (which I…love much less). It’s a earnest book, and I mean that in the best way. It wears its heart on its sleeve (pages?) and is one of the best love stories I’ve read in a long time. Best of all, it deals with mental health issues (Leon has depression and Cal has some anxiety). I love the way that pop culture is dealing with this now. It’s not any different from having diabetes or any other disease.

Cal and Leon are a great pair. They bring out the best in each other. It’s a little Instalove, but I was absolutely charmed by them.

Recommended.

You Are Not Alone

Finished You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.”

I’m a huge fan of the thrillers that Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen write. They’re impeccably plotted, full of twists that catch me by surprise but that are so obvious in hindsight that it’s embarrassing that I didn’t catch on quicker. They tell us everything we need to know, after all, but they do it in a way that we’re distracted by something else.

This is an excellent example of that. If Shay had any ounce of self-preservation at all, she would’ve run from Cassandra and Jane. But they seemed nice and they seemed to really care, and that’s enough to sucker a lot of different people. (No judgment, Shay—I definitely see how you were lured in.)

I can’t wait to see what they do next. Either way, I’m preordering it.

Yes No Maybe So

Finished Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

YES
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.”

This was exactly what I needed today. With the world the way it is, sometimes it’s hard to stay optimistic and hopeful. If you feel that way, too, this is the perfect book to read.

I loved Jamie and his passion for local politics and the way that Maya became involved and soon super into canvassing. They have an easy friendship and their banter (and shared love of The Office) quickly turns into more, at least on Jamie’s part.

There are some weighty topics (racism, obviously, but other things, too) but that doesn’t keep this from being a fun and absolutely delightful read.

Highly recommended.

In Five Years

Finished In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. I received a copy from the publisher. This will be released on March 10.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day—a striking, powerful, and moving love story following an ambitious lawyer who experiences an astonishing vision that could change her life forever.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.”

I love Rebecca Serle’s books. Her YA is amazing, and I absolutely adored her adult debut, The Dinner List. This one is my favorite, though. By A LOT.

The blurb will have you think that this is a love story, and it is. But it’s not a romance, per se. The central relationship here is between Dannie and her best friend, Bella. Their friendship is the longest one either of them have had (they’ve been friends since they were seven) and so they know each other better than anyone else has or could.

I love stories about friendships and this one is likely my new favorite, full stop. It’s absolute magic (also, sweet, funny and, at least in parts, heartbreaking).

Highly recommended.

Music From Another World

Finished Music From Another World by Robin Talley. I received a copy for review. This will be released on March 31.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.”

So first you should know that this book ends in November 1978, but before Harvey Milk’s assassination. (That’s history and it’s not a spoiler.) I loved this book but I had an incredible amount of anxiety as we got closer to November because I knew what was coming.

And I really loved this book so much. I was born in 1980, so this is not that much before my time, but my teenage years were so different. Ellen came out when I was in high school, and I remember watching that episode live and feeling like we were in a whole new world. While Ellen was probably the first really beloved person to come out, I think every gay person my age-ish would agree that we owe a huge debt to Harvey Milk. (Do kids today know about him? I hope they do.)

And Tammy and Sharon definitely do. Tammy especially, because her life would be in real danger if people knew she was gay (her family is very religious and they would definitely kick her out but probably also send her to conversion therapy).

It’s so scary to think of how different things would be now if Anita Bryant and her kind had been more successful than they were. Even so (and this book feels very realistic and unsettling to me) there’s also a very real sense of hope. It’s obvious that the world is moving forward; the only real question is how long it will take. That’s something I still think about. We’re moving in the right direction, I think, but the progress feels so slow sometimes.

Either way, this is an amazing story and Robin Talley has written another phenomenal book. Highly recommended.

Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing

Finished Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn Scotch. I received a copy for review. It will be released on August 4.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Politics is a test of wills in a sharp, funny, and emotional novel about truth and consequences by the New York Times bestselling author.

Cleo McDougal is a born politician. From congresswoman to senator, the magnetic, ambitious single mother now has her eye on the White House—always looking forward, never back. Until an estranged childhood friend shreds her in an op-ed hit piece gone viral.

With seven words—“Cleo McDougal is not a good person”—the presidential hopeful has gone from in control to damage control, and not just in Washington but in life.

Enter Cleo’s “regrets list” of 233 and counting. Her chief of staff has a brilliant idea: pick the top ten, make amends during a media blitz, and repair her reputation. But there are regrets, and there are regrets: like her broken relationship with her sister, her affair with a law school professor…and the regret too big to even say out loud.

But with risk comes reward, and as Cleo makes both peace and amends with her past, she becomes more empowered than ever to tackle her career, confront the hypocrites out to destroy her, and open her heart to what matters most—one regret at a time.”

I’ve been a fan of Allison Winn Scotch’s for years now, for so long that I don’t remember not loving her and her books. This one might be my favorite yet.

I love politics and political stories, and there’s some of that in this, but it’s more about Cleo herself. Cleo keeps a list of regrets, primarily so that she can learn from those mistakes. “Don’t drink bourbon,” for example, and I think a lot of people probably have one type of alcohol that they can’t drink anymore after overdoing it. (Moment of silence for me and martinis.)

And then Cleo decides that what she’s going to do is actually fix those regrets. (Well, to be fair, Cleo’s campaign manager Gaby decides that for her.) And what happens next is both delightful and very, very relatable. (I experienced a very, VERY strong secondhand wave of mortification at one of them.)

This book is a complete delight. I can’t wait for everyone to read and talk about it. Highly recommended.

The Voting Booth

Finished The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert. I received a copy for review. This will be released on July 7.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From Stonewall Award-winning author Brandy Colbert comes an all-in-one-day love story perfect for fans of The Sun is Also A Star.
Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?
Duke Crenshaw is do done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.
Only problem? Duke can’t vote.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change?but some things are just meant to be.”

Brandy Colbert is one of my favorite authors and I love the way that her stories are both fun and meaningful. I absolutely love Marva, whose driving goal is to make sure that people are registered to vote (and then that they actually do) because it’s the easiest way for any one person to make a difference. And so when she accidentally hears Duke not being allowed to vote, she swings into action and makes it her mission to ensure that he does actually get to cast a ballot that day.

But there’s a lot of other stuff to deal with, too. And that’s what saves this book from just being another “issues book.” (And no judgment there; I love issues books.) But this has so much going on, and it’s a complete joy to read. (As all of her books are.)

Keep Moving

Finished Keep Moving by Maggie Smith. I received a copy for review. It will be released May 5.

Summary (from Goodreads):

For fans of Anne Lamott and Cleo Wade, a collection of quotes and essays on facing life’s challenges with creativity, courage, and resilience.

When Maggie Smith, the award-winning author of the viral poem “Good Bones,” started writing daily Twitter posts in the wake of her divorce, they unexpectedly caught fire. In this deeply moving book of quotes and essays, Maggie writes about new beginnings as opportunities for transformation. Like kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken ceramics with gold, Keep Moving celebrates the beauty and strength on the other side of loss. This is a book for anyone who has gone through a difficult time and is wondering: What comes next?”

Once I saw this was compared to Glennon Doyle and Anne Lamott, I knew I wanted to read it and I was not disappointed.

This is basically a series of pep talks, but it’s also a lot more beautiful and profound than that might sound. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed is my favorite book ever, but this is a great follow up read, too.

I don’t think everything will apply to everyone, but there are a lot that will apply to any given person. I’m so glad this book was pitched to me; I absolutely loved it. (I don’t want to share any excerpts because it feels like the worst kind of spoiler.)

This is a very real contender for my favorite book of the year, and yes, I know it’s only January.

Highly recommended.

Chirp

Finished Chirp by Kate Messner. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From acclaimed author Kate Messner comes the powerful story of a young girl with the courage to make her voice heard, set against the backdrop of a summertime mystery.

When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she’s recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she’d rather forget.

Mia’s change in scenery brings day camp, new friends, and time with her beloved grandmother. But Gram is convinced someone is trying to destroy her cricket farm. Is it sabotage or is Gram’s thinking impaired from the stroke she suffered months ago? Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram’s farm? And will that discovery empower Mia to confront the secret she’s been hiding–and find the courage she never knew she had?

In a compelling story rich with friendship, science, and summer fun, a girl finds her voice while navigating the joys and challenges of growing up.”

This book packs a lot into a hair under 230 pages. I love Mia and her family, especially Gram. I’ve never been particularly tempted to try crickets but I kind of am now. (Probably the garlic and sea salt, but maybe maple? Probably barbecue.)

I also love Mia’s friends. They’re smart and lovely people, and I especially love the way that they all cheer each other on. They’re not even competitive or frenemies and it’s a good change.

As could be expected from Kate Messner’s books, this is a fun and good story that is an excellent time. (Expect some hard moments and maybe a few tears, but it’s all worth it.) Highly recommended.

A Good Neighborhood

Finished A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door―an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.

Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he’s made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn’t want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.

Told from multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.”

I’ve read Therese Anne Fowler before, but that was her historical fiction about Zelda Fitzgerald. This is an entirely different book (though just as compelling and well-written). This story feels very timely and is also all too plausible. I want to read her other historical fiction, but I also hope that she keeps writing contemporary fiction because she has a real gift for it.

It’s hard to discuss without spoiling so I’ll give you a prediction instead: this is the book that everyone’s going to be talking about, and it’s one of the times that it’s really worth all the hype and comparisons (I’m guessing it’ll be compared to Big Little Lies most often). Make sure you read it before it’s spoiled for you. Highly recommended.