Review: “You’d Be Mine” by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine (Erin Hahn)

Title: You’d Be Mine
Author: Erin Hahn
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Imprint: Wednesday Books
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
TW: Grief, trauma, alcoholism, drug use, parental death, mentions of suicide
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Teen country music stars find love in this sweet YA romance by debut author Erin Hahn.

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.
But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic deaths, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.
Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

I love music and I love stories. Combine those two elements together and you have me practically eating out of your hands. So you’d understand my excitement over Erin Hahn’s debut You’d Be Mine.

And it was a treat to read.

Summer, music, the sweetness of first love – You’d Be Mine has it all. I can’t remember the last time I fell in love so quickly with a YA contemporary. It completely reeled me in with its first few pages and had me swooning by chapter four. All of these was largely due to the story’s main characters, Annie and Clay.

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Annie and Clay were interesting characters. They were different from one another with their contrasting personalities and temperament, and yet they were still similar. Both had some serious emotional baggage – Annie with her parents and Clay with his brother. These unresolved issues and the different way they dealt and coped with them kept Annie and Clay from really acting on their obvious attraction. At the start, at least. The two young country stars, getting to know each other more and growing closer during their summer tour, eventually getting together close to the end.

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I really enjoyed reading this book. The sweet, satisfying ending of course factors in, but it was more than that. You’d Be Mine tackled grief and trauma, and the different ways people handle these two issues. Clay turned to alcohol to numb the pain of losing his grandfather and brother almost simultaneously. He was close to the edge, driving himself to his own destruction. Annie, meanwhile, became too careful, setting strict rules and boundaries for herself wanting to steer away from the path her parents took. These – their grief and trauma – was a big part of Annie and Clay’s story, and Erin Hahn did a great job tackling this element of their characters. It was realistic but was still handled with great care and sensitivity, something that I hugely appreciate as it opens up avenues for discussions in relation to these to very real issues.

YBM Quote #2

This was a character-driven story – Annie and Clay doing most of the labor with supporting characters adding more color and nuance – but it did not take anything away from the plot. It was still fun and sweet. The glimpses into the inner workings of the country music scene were definitely intriguing. Other readers got A Star is Born vibes from this book, and while I agree it did have that going for it, I was more reminded of two of my old time favorites – Nashville and ­Hart of Dixie – which was a nice surprise for me.

With characters you’d cheer for and a swoony romance, You’d Be Mine is the perfect summer read for YA contemporary lovers. Trust me, this book will definitely give you that funny butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling just by reading it. Erin Hahn may just be a new auto-buy author for me. I’m definitely going to look forward to any other future works of hers.

Author Q&A (2)

Erin Hahn

ERIN HAHN spent the first half of her life daydreaming in a small town in northern Illinois. She fell in love with words in college when she wrote for the campus paper, covering everything from drag shows to ice fishing and took way too much liberty with a history essay on the bubonic plague.

She started writing her own books when her little sister gave her shade about a country music-themed Twilight fanfic. By day, Erin gets to share her favorite stories with her elementary students. By night, she writes swoons. She married her own YA love interest whom she met on her first day of college and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Michigan, aka the greenest place on earth and has a cat, Gus, who plays fetch.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | YouTube

First Line Fridays: “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” by Anissa Gray

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Happy Friday!

Today I’m going to be sharing to you the first couple of lines from my most recent read The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls.

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Althea
You do a lot of thinking in jail. Especially when you’re locked in the box that’s your cell. Mine is about as big as the walk-in closet I had back at home, but in place of leather bags and slingbacks and racks of clothes, I’ve got bunk beds, a stainless-steel sink-and-toilet combo, and a compact, padlocked cabinet. The cabinet’s where you keep your valuables, like family pictures, commissary and letters, including the one from your daughter that’s not addressed to you. The letter that, truth be told, you just can’t bring yourself to read, so you’ve got it tucked inside the Bible that belonged to your dead mother.

I just finished this book a day ago and I’m still thinking about it. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls was an emotional read, and a great debut at that. But, having read this right after I finished Tara Conklin’s The Last Romantics, it kind of fell a bit flat to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was an exceptionally written novel, the problem’s on my end. I’d talk about this more in my review, which I’m hoping to get posted within next week.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls releases next week, February 26.

Have a happy weekend!

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Rachel

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Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Connections in Death” J.D. Robb

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Hey there! Welcome to this week’s installment of CWW. Today I’m going to be sharing the latest installment of a long-time running favorite series of mine.

40122012Title: Connections in Death
Series: In Death #48
Author: J.D. Robb
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Homicide cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are building a brand-new school and youth shelter. They know that the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads—and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering—whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.

Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap, and Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison—and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.

Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…

This is already the 48th installment of the In Death series, but it still excites me. It’s like getting to meet a friend you haven’t seen a while and catching up with them, that’s how it feels for me.

Nora posted an excerpt of this book on her blog Fall Into the Story. If you’re interested, here’s the link to that preview.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

What book/s are you excited for this week?

 

Review: “A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts” by Therese Anne Fowler

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Title: A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts
Author: Therese Anne Fowler
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

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ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

 

Author Therese Anne Fowler shines a light on one of the Gilded Age’s most fascinating and misunderstood women in her newest fictional biography, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts.

In 1883, the New York Times prints a lengthy rave of Alva Vanderbilt’s Fifth Ave. costume ball – a coup for the former Alva Smith, who not long before was destitute, her family’s good name useless on its own. Marrying into the newly rich but socially scorned Vanderbilt clan, a union contrived by Alva’s best friend and now-Duchess of Manchester, saved the Smiths – and elevated the Vanderbilts.

From the outside, Alva seems to have it all and want more. She does have a knack for getting all she tries for: the costume ball – no mere amusement – wrests acceptance from doyenne Caroline Astor. Denied a box at the Academy of Music, Alva founds The Met. No obstacle puts her off for long.

But how much ambition arises from insecurity? From despair? From refusal to play insipid games by absurd rules? – There are, however, consequences to breaking those rules. One must tread carefully.

And what of her maddening sister-in-law, Alice? Her husband William, who’s hiding a terrible betrayal? The not-entirely-unwelcome attentions of his friend Oliver Belmont, who is everything William is not? What of her own best friend, whose troubles cast a wide net?

Alva will build mansions, push boundaries, test friendships, and marry her daughter to England’s most eligible duke or die trying. She means to do right by all, but good behavior will only get a woman so far. What is the price of going further? What might be the rewards? There’s only one way to know for certain…

I’ve always been a history nerd and with it comes my love for historical fiction, but I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t know much about America’s Gilded Age and the families who ruled it like royalties – the Astors and Rockefellers, and, of course, the Vanderbilts. So, naturally, when I saw this book available on NetGalley, I immediately requested it wanting to know more.

And this one didn’t disappoint.

Written in the third person and in the style of an Edith Wharton novel, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts is a well-researched, informative and entertaining fictional biography focused mainly on Alva Belmont and her years as a Vanderbilt.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Alva Smith – who later on became Alva Vanderbilt when she married W.K. Vanderbilt in 1875, then Alva Belmont when she married Oliver Hazard Belmont in 1896 – was a fascinating woman. She’s a contradiction: head strong and confident, driven, ambitious, and a forward thinker even in today’s standards, but at the same time she’s insecure and so full of doubts and fears about herself, her family and their place in society.

Alva is a tough woman in a time when society expects women to stay in the background, arm candies to their rich and powerful husbands. It was just so easy to like her, though, by all means, she did do a whole lot of things with questionable reasons (pushing, almost to the point of forcing, her daughter Consuelo to marry the Duke of Marlborough for one). But that’s just one of the things that make Alva, Alva.

A lot of Fowler’s main character’s concerns may not be relevant to us now (Societal standing be damned) but some of Alva’s struggles like not letting her philandering first husband and his overbearing family (especially her sister-in-law) walk all over her still hits home. Truly, I cannot imagine myself living in her time. Put in her place, I might just punch someone, cause a big scandal and live as a pariah my whole life! My personal thoughts aside, I appreciate how Fowler was able to humanize this deeply interesting woman who lived more than a hundred years ago for a modern-day reader like me. She felt closer – reachable – and it was this that made this book enjoyable for me.

The book, the way it was written, may not work for everyone though. The dialogues may sound too formal, some parts moving too slow at points, but I think these are all justified given Fowler wrote this novel emulating the style of writing particular to that period. One thing I wished this one had more though was Alva’s involvement with the Suffragette Movement. While the end of the book and the long (but informative) author’s note tackled it, I still wanted more and couldn’t help thinking how much more interesting it would be to read about Alva’s part in the movement in story form.

That said, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts is still an engrossing read. I enjoyed this one a whole lot, learning as I read. I definitely recommend it to readers of historical fiction.

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About the Author:

72904080THERESE ANNE FOWLER is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Raised in the Midwest, she migrated to North Carolina in 1995. She holds a B.A. in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing from North Caroline State University.

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Blog Tour + Review & Author Q&A:”I Do Not Trust You” by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

37638243Title: I Do Not TrusYou

Authors: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: September 11, 2018

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

Get it:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million | Powells

(ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley)

A teenaged girl and a young man become an uneasy allies as they set on an epic quest in writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz’s newest offering I Do Not Trust You.

Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust him.

Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?

I went into this book almost blind. It was my first time reading anything from Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns (not unless you count watching Roswell), so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. But this one surprised me in a good way.

I Do Not Trust You is what you will get if you throw Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider into a blender and add in a dash of The Mummy (the original one, okay, the one with Brendan Fraser). With an intriguing plot filled with adventure, danger, mysterious groups and vengeful ancient gods, this book will reel in readers from the first page up to its last.

The two main characters – Memphis, or simply “M” and Ash – are both bring different things into the story. M, having grown up in various archeological digs with her archeologist dad and doctor mom, have acquired an extraordinary knowledge of ancient history and dead languages. She’s awesome in a fight, too. Ash, meanwhile, brings in a bit more mystery into the story. A part of a cult worshipping the ancient Egyptian god Horus, he bankrolls their adventure and uses what he knows about the mythical god and his nemesis, Set.

It was interesting to read how M and Ash work together. They want different things with M wanting to rescue the father she thought had died in a plane crash and Ash being tasked by his group to retrieve an ancient map which points out where pieces of a mystical statue of Set are hidden. They start out forging an uneasy alliance out of necessity, but, by the end of the book, the two have earned each other’s trust.

The globe-trotting M and Ash’s duo undertook to retrieve the Set pieces was another aspect of the story that I loved. Oh! All those places! It was, essentially, a fun scavenger hunt. Still, the authors were able to incorporate bits of history and culture into the story’s narrative in a way that flowed well. It was just awesome!

The book had a couple of flaws, though. The way Memphis quickly puzzles together the clues they find is sometimes unbelievable. I get it, she grew up with an archeologist father and she does know her stuff. Still, I just find it too easy of a way out for both characters, though it does move the story. Also, that abrupt ending! I’m sure I won’t be alone in this opinion. It was sort of open-ended and it left me hanging.

Overall, I Do Not Trust You is an entertaining read. Readers will find adventure within the pages of this book by the truckload. I’d recommend this to YA fantasy and mythology fans.

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blog tour i do not trust you (1)

I was lucky to have a chance to ask Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns about their new book I Do Not Trust You. Read on to find out what inspired them to write the ancient battle between Horus and Set, and how they work as co-authors.

Rachel: You’ve been writing as a duo for a long time now. How do you make it work with Laura living in New York & Melinda in North Carolina? Who writes what and so on?

Laura & Melinda: Even when we both lived in New York City, we’d mostly do our work together on the phone or over email. Because we’re lazy, is what we’re saying. We both prefer to stay at home and spend our days in pajamas.

We work out plots and character arcs in hours-long phone sessions. Once we have those, we take turns outlining. We’ll email the draft outline back and forth with notes to each other until we’re happy with it. (These days we use a shared document, because technology is good.) When one of us gets stumped, usually the other can fix the problem. After the outline is finished, we split it in half and each of us writes one half. Then we revise it, over and over, taking turns. The trick is that we decide in advance what the voice should be, how each character should sound. We know each other’s writing so well that we can match the tone pretty well, and anything that doesn’t match gets edited when we put it all together. Neither of us is precious about our writing–we are as comfortable changing each other’s words as we are changing our own. It all comes down to trust.

R: Your upcoming book involves some mythology, Egyptian mythology to be exact. What made you decide on weaving it into M’s and Ash’s story?

L & M: No lie, we attempt to weave Egyptian mythology into whatever we can! One of our earliest discoveries about each other was that we both loved the book The Egypt Game when we were kids. Usually, though, the stories we write don’t leave much room for Egypt. But this book was about a treasure hunt of sorts, and our minds immediately went to Egyptian artifacts. (Fortuitously, our editor is also an Egyptian mythology fangirl. One of the many things we love about her.) The Horus and Set story seemed a natural, since it involves the goddess Isis searching for the scattered pieces of her husband’s body the same way our characters were searching for scattered pieces of a statue.

R: Lastly, could you summarize your book using 3 emojis?

L & M:

🗺     ðŸ“œ     ðŸŒ‹

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About the authors:

LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows Roswell, 1-800-Missing, and The Dead Zone. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

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Special thanks goes to Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz for giving me their time for this Q&A, and Brittani Hilles at St. Martin’s Press for helping me with this blog tour.