Meet Cute

Well, between re-watching Game of Thrones episodes, studying for an exam for grad school, and obsessing over new Taylor Swift album theories, I still managed to finished reading Helena Hunting’s latest release, Meet Cute!

I’ve read quite a bit from Helena Hunting already – parts of her Pucked series, and the Shaking Up series, and The Good Luck Charm – all of which I really enjoyed, so I’ve been really looking forward to this book!

This is a standalone novel – we follow Kailyn, currently a lawyer, previously a massive fangirl of former actor, Daxton Hughes. They have an adorable meet cute in law school, and eventually become friends. But then Dax betrays Kailyn and they go their separate ways after graduation. Years later, Dax suddenly becomes the guardian to his kid sister, Emme, and Kailyn is conservator of Emme’s trust – so she’s there to help Dax navigate his new role. This is the perfect recipe for Kailyn and Dax to reconcile and fall in love. And any meet cute that begins with “You’re Daxton Hughes. I love you!” is just pure gold.

I will be honsest, from the synopsis that I initially read about the book, I was expecting a little more Hollywood with filming and premiers and all the other cliches in a Hollywood romance. This wasn’t really the case as Dax ditches his acting roots for a lawyering job, and once I got over that switch in my mind, I really enjoyed that it made the book seem more realistic.

I thought this was a fairly standard romance book and I did find myself predicting the general direction the book was going – of course these hi jinx are likely going to be played out, of course the aunt winds up being a problem. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading a book like this! Plus Helena Hunting has an amazing way of layering in humor and it was definitely those lines and moments that had me laughing out loud.

“Does Emme wear thongs?”

“She’s thirteen.”

“That doesn’t mean anything these days.”

Oh the horrors of underwear shopping for your little sister. There were enough moments like these that balanced out the more… expected plot points. Other honorable mentions include Dax finding his mother’s collection of sex toys and Kailyn requesting Dax use breath mints (I DIED laughing at these exchanges, the pettiness!)

While the circumstances for Dax’s new guardianship are rather sad, Helena Hunting does a good job of balancing it out with her special brand of humor, and focusing on building the relationships between Kailyn, Dax, and Emme. So it does have the light-hearted moments alongside the more – it keeps the story grounded in reality for me which I kind of prefer.

Also, I was low key obsessed with the Taylor Swift mention in the epilogue! #swiftieforlife

Overall, I thought this was a great, quick read. Maybe this wouldn’t necessarily happen in real life, it felt real enough for me and a really enjoyed falling in love with Kailyn and Dax!

Addicted to You

My first review! I’m starting with Addicted to you by Krista and Becca Ritchie – since meeting them at Apollycon partially inspired me to start reviewing again, it seems only fitting to kick it off with their first book.

Krista and Becca are two of my favorite authors in the whole universe. Their books are so different from everything else I’ve read and I love that about them. Krista and Becca are more focused on character development rather than plot. That’s not to say that these books don’t have a plot – but sometimes it takes a back seat to let the actual characters shine. I can’t tell you how many friends-to-lovers books I’ve read, but Addicted to You takes the cake because of Lily and Loren and the whole cast of characters in this book.

Lily Calloway is a sex addict.

Loren Hale is an alcoholic.

They enable each other and lie to their families about being in a committed, long-term relationship – all while secretly harboring real feelings for each other.

This book is not filled with wishy-washy “should we or shouldn’t we.” It’s about Lily and Lo admitting their true feelings, and then dealing with these feelings while also balancing their addictions – and sometimes they don’t succeed.

I loved all the side characters too! Lily has three sisters and they are also named after flowers! Rose and Daisy play some big roles and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them when they showed up on page. Then there’s the tutor, Connor Cobalt, who’s also an old friend of Rose and the foul-mouthed track captain, Ryke Meadows. These six eventually become the central focus of the series – and I accidentally started somewhere in the middle of the series – so it was really exciting to go back and see their origins!

There is so much character development in this first book – and while, yes there is a plot to this story I found myself just getting caught up in the characters and wishing that they were real. There were big moments for them (that pushed the book along), but also the little moments too, and I treasured reading about both.

Lily’s a sex addict, so one might presume she’s extroverted, out-there, and brazen. WRONG. She is timid and shy and turns beet-red when the attention is on her, and it’s really only when she’s actually having sex does she feel more comfortable in her body. I’m also rather shy person so I my heart ached reading about what Lily does to remedy her situation.

Loren, while described as having model-good-looks (literally), is so quirky himself, another refreshing twist. Of course, his drinking problem pushes everyone away to the point that he has no other friends besides Lily, he has a nerdy love for comics – but only Marvel, never dare to bring up DC comics in his presence. I loved that Lily wasn’t just the quiet best friend of the most beautiful and popular boy on campus. These characters broke all the molds for me and I thought it was so refreshing!

Overall, I just thought this was an amazing book and a perfect introduction into the world of the Addicted series. This is a different take on romance – focusing on maintaining a relationship, with the added challenge of battling addictions. I loved everything about this book and I highly recommend reading!

Apollycon 2019

I’m back! Still working on my writing up reviews for the last few books I’ve read, but in the meantime, I wanted to talk about Apollycon! It’s still book related and it was such a fun time so I wanted to share my experiences with you.

Like I said in my introduction post, I decided to return to blogging and reviewing after coming home from Apollycon 2019. For those who don’t know, Apollycon is a giant reader event featuring Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult authors. It lasts four days and includes author panels, multiple signing events, and a brunch and Q&A! I’m still trying to finish up a few more reviews, but I’m excited to start posting, and since this event was such a motivator, I wanted to write about my time!

This year it was hosted in DC which is super convenient since I only live about 45 minutes away, and didn’t have to make arrangements to stay in the hotel where the event was hosted. Also, there were different tiered tickets, so you didn’t have to attend all four days. I went the cheap route, and only went for the Saturday signing events (so my tickets were roughly $50).

I can’t remember how exactly I’d heard about the event, but I follow a lot of the author pages and have seen people talk about it in the past. At some point, I decided to take a closer look at the list of attending authors, and noticed that Sarah J Maas and Krista and Becca Ritchie would be going. As you’ll realize from my future reviews, these are some of my favorite authors in the whole world, so I was kind of desperate to go.

Back in October, I actually had the opportunity to see Sarah Maas the day her last book in the Throne of Glass series released. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the tickets that allowed me to meet her after the event and get a personalized signature. So when I saw that Sarah would be at Apollycon, it felt like the universe telling me to go for it again, so I convinced my book-lover friend to clear her schedule in March and bought the tickets as a Christmas present to myself.

However! One of the measures they put in place for this event was line control for the really popular authors. The event handed out numbered wristbands for each of the “pre-ticketed” authors, and the first 200 people to request the wristbands for each author got one. During the actual signing, they would call out the numbers and as long as your number was less than the biggest number they called, you could get in line at any time. After the 200 people got through the line, then the authors were fair game for the rest of the event. Of course a good portion of the authors that I wanted to meet (Krista and Becca Ritchie, Kristen Callihan, Colleen Hoover, Elle Kennedy, and Helena Hunting) were all pre-ticketed authors. It was a little stressful and a lot chaotic trying to get all the wristbands for the authors I wanted to meet.

But it was definitely worth it – I got to meet Sarah Freaking Maas. Sarah was only at the session for the last hour, and we were only able to get one book signed by her (plus only candid photos). But it was still magical to be able to talk to the woman who has caused so much joy and pain in my life over the last four years. She was so kind especially since I basically gushed and I’m sure she’s heard it all before. And I got my favorite of her books, A Court of Mist and Fury, personally signed!

Also during the first session!!! I got to meet!!! Krista and Becca!!!! This was probably the greatest part of the morning! I made sure to wear my sweatshirt that said “The Thrill Of It All,” a quote from one of their books. I told them about being part of their Patreon and loving all their books and at the end we got pictures, and they both hugged me (which I’ll note did not happen with the couple of people who were in front of me – I’m telling myself I was special) and I almost cried.

The second session started at about 2:30pm. As neither my friend or I had large numbers for our pre-ticketed authors we opted not to sit on the floor in line for an hour, and instead found a cozy bench nearby and pulled out a couple books to read. This was kind of a special moment, because an organizer for the event walked past and LOVED that we were reading our books. She took our picture to share on the Facebook page – and later I geeked out because some pretty well known authors like Penelope Ward and Wendy Higgins liked the picture!

I won’t lie – the first session had all my unicorn authors, so really the second session didn’t totally hold up. But it was still wonderful meeting more amazing women! I’ve been reading all of their books for years and years and it was really special to be able to tell them how much their words meant to me! The highlights were definitely when Kennedy Ryan asked “Do you do hugs?” (Heck, yes lady) and Rebecca Yarros told me she was happy to reply to my fan mail I sent years ago after her latest book had been released!

I only had two complaints about the event. First, the bookstore: they did not restock the bookstore between Friday and Saturday. There was a signing of Friday and a lot of people bum rushed the store and bought all the available inventory for certain authors. I understand that it’s hard to transport a lot of books over several days, but perhaps half the books could have been set aside for the people who were only coming on Saturday (which was a significant portion).

My second complaint was about the wristbands: what they did was write 1 through 200 on each set of wristbands, and dump each individual wristband in the folder – so when I got my wristbands, even though I was one of the first 25 people in line, my pre-ticketed numbers weren’t any smaller than 85. My suggestion would have been to leave the bands stuck together and just tear them off as each person requested them, that way everyone got a wristband in numerical order and not randomly.

Aside from those details, I had a magical time at Apollycon. It renewed my love for books and has inspired me to come back here and write about it. And I got to thank so many authors for the impacts they’ve made in my life – maybe you won’t be able to attend this specific event, but I strongly encourage readers to try to attend at least one event like this near you. It was amazing experience that I hope I can enjoy again in the future!


The Blogging Begins

*waves hello* Thanks for joining me on this blog!!

Who am I?

I’m Haley and I love to read! I love to talk about what I read! I love to gush, rave, and share my love for all the books I read! Of course, since my poor family, friends, and coworkers don’t always share my enthusiasm for reading, I’ve opted to share my thoughts on this blog. I’m hoping that since you’re here, we share a love for amazing books, swoon-worthy romances, and most importantly, happily ever afters!

What is this?

Well, if you missed it above, this a blog devoted to reviewing romance books, in both young adult, new adult, and adult genres.

Why am I blogging?

Well, I spend most of my days at work, in a biology lab. I’m surrounded by scientists all day who don’t exactly share my love for young love. I do have a few friends who I can gush to, but here I can reach a wider audience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped and started this journey. But a week ago I came back from Apollycon 2019, which was an amazing experience, and it’s revived my blogging spirit.

I’m a giant sucker for books with a happily ever after. I love that feeling when my heart skips a beat and then promptly melts into goo. As a blog with the initials HEA, expect me to gush about a lot of HEAs.

When will I be posting?

As I’ve mentioned, it’s been stop and start with this venture, so I’m taking the time to be a little more prepared. Writing more posts ahead of time, so when I’m crazy busy, it doesn’t fall to the wayside. I’m aiming for weekly posts, but I tend to get distracted by life or reading more books, so sometimes I may forget to actually sit and write about what I read. But I’m ready to make the effort!

*Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings! Hopefully, between all the love I have for these books and my long-winded thoughts, you’ll consider giving these books a chance, and fall in love like I did!*

low angle photography of library
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