The Last Post, Renée Carlino

**Review**

The Last Post, Renée Carlino

⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Last Post engaged me from page one, and I was desperate to love it.

But, I didn’t. I liked it.

Here’s what worked for me: I loved the writing. It was a smooth read. The concept was unique. And I liked the dual perspective. Oh and I loved that Micah had a fraternal twin sister, because I’m a fraternal twin. Though, my brother and I are nothing like Melissa and Micah.

Here is what didn’t work: Creepy dude who’s a mess sees his boss’s daughter and becomes infatuated with her. Stalks her social media and leaves her gifts of things she mentioned OR shows up where she is going to be. I get that he thought his intentions were good, but dude. No.

The Golden Hour, Beatriz Williams

**Review**

The Golden Hour, Beatriz Williams

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Oh my. What a massive web of lives (and a few little lies).

The Golden Hour weaves together the story of two women, Elfriede and LuLu. I spent the entire book enthralled by these women and their lives.

The characters were rich, deliciously flawed humans. The settings were their own characters.

But what I loved most was the prose. The writing was gorgeous and flowed like a melody. Each character’s personality came alive in the writing.

So, yeah, I kinda loved it.

The Blue Bistro, Elin Hilderbrand

**Review**

The Blue Bistro, Elin Hilderbrand

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When I finished Summer of ‘69, my first Elin Hilderbrand read, everyone, including the queen herself, suggested The Blue Bistro.

Let me start this review with a little Andrea factoid—until recently, my entire career has been in the restaurant industry. I’ve worked nearly every position inside the 4-walls and have run marketing for a handful of regional chains. Now, I’m in retail marketing, so it’s not too dissimilar.

The accuracy to which she portrays restaurant life is astonishing. The relationships between staff. The drama. The guests. It took me back.

Because of this, The Blue Bistro was a slow burn. It took me a while to get into the story and connect to Adrienne. I connected to the bistro first. Weird. I know.

As always, Elin’s writing is seamless. It’s clean and free of pretentiousness. The story is deep and human.

I have a confession to make… I judged Elin’s books on their covers. I thought they were fluffy beach romance novels. Nope. She writes deeply personal fiction with hints of love and loads of reality. I’m hooked.

Protecting Your Creativity & Hearing Feedback

As a writer, critique partners and beta readers are a crucial part of the process. Critique partners ask the important, hard questions. They point out inconsistencies or plot holes. They also serve as checks and balances against the writer’s ego.

Trust is the most critical aspect of any critique relationship. Trust that the feedback is coming from a place of support and with good intentions. As writers, we are often emotionally tied to our work and sharing it is a vulnerable process. It’s hard to put yourself and your work out into the world. When feedback comes from a voice you trust, it’s easier to hear.

In addition to personal trust, it’s important to find critique partners that understand your genre and readers. If your critique partner or beta readers aren’t well-versed in your genre and similar novels, their feedback could be good, but not relatable.

One other thing I’ve identified as important when working with critique partners is to find people in a similar head space. When you can connect to writing beyond your current work, that helps. You can build rapport as you discuss things outside of critiques.

Critique groups are an entirely different beast. Having participated in very few of these, I’ve found them to not be helpful. The mob mentality can take over quickly, leading to the group being a chorus of echos after one person comments on something they may or may not have seen or even considered. Groups are great for getting a variety of ideas, but I’ve found them to be more harmful than helpful.

As I’ve embarked on a journey to make writing a career (eventually), I’ve started seeking out more critique partners and advice. While on this journey, I’ve heard some pretty hurtful comments that didn’t actually help my process. They hurt it. Thankfully, I have a core group of readers and writers that I trust that can talk me off of the ledge when I need it.

At the end of the day, as hard as it can be to hear that your baby isn’t as cute as you think she is, it is necessary. Every writer wants to get better. But we have to be careful with feedback—it’s easy to crave, but tough to swallow—you ultimately need to trust your gut. If the feedback feels wrong, consider why it feels wrong. If the feedback consistently feels wrong, move on. Find partners and readers you trust.

Now, I’m off to take my own advice,

The Unhoneymooners, Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners, Christina Lauren
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ever read a book that’s so hyped, you’re terrified it will let you down?

The Unhoneymooners is not that book. I laughed. A lot. I swooned. I cried. Honestly, it was perfect and I need more Oscar and Eragon.😏

Christina Lauren is a gem (is Christina Lauren singular or plural? There are two authors, so I want to write it as plural but that looks odd. Help!). Their writing is seamless, flawless and immersive. I cannot put their books down when I’m reading.

On the Corner of Love and Hate, Nina Bocci

On the Corner of Love and Hate, Nina Bocci
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Adorable. Relatable. Funny. Satisfying.

There really isn’t much more I can say about On The Corner Of Love and Hate. Emma’s internal dialogue and imperfections made her likable.

Cooper is the man you love to hate, but ultimately his charm and true intentions will win you over.

I’m a sucker for romantic comedy. Add in a political campaign and I’m sold.

The Room on Rue Amélie, Kristin Harmel

**Review**

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Room on Rue Amélie, Kristin Harmel

If you read The Nightingale and loved it, you must read this book.

Rarely do I find a book where I love almost every character (and the ones I don’t love die quickly), but I really loved nearly every character.

I’m obsessed with all things WWII historical fiction and The Room on Rue Amèlie met every expectation and then some.

As per my usual, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it. Thank you Bookstagram for making me finally read this gem.

The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang

**Review**

The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
When I finished reading The Bride Test in May, I immediately added The Kiss Quotient to my June BOTM box. I have zero regrets.

The Kiss Quotient was hot, steamy and pretty much perfection. I mean, I read it in less than 48 hours. Couldn’t put it down.

As in The Bride Test, the main character is autistic. Hoang’s writing brings a face and emotion to a topic and population that we often forget feels and loves as deeply as the rest of us. She removes the stigmas and delivers real, raw human emotion.

If you love a good, solid romance with LOTS of steam and deep, important topics, I cannot recommend Helen Hoang’s books enough.

Pretty Revenge, Emily Liebert

**Review**
Pretty Revenge, Emily Liebert (7/27/19)
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
There are few things I love more than suspense novels that have strong characters and stories. The ones that don’t rely on suspense to steer the plot.

Olivia/Kerrie and Jordan/Jordana were robust, strong and deeply flawed characters. The revelations of their history was perfectly tied together and laid out.

I didn’t know who I was rooting for more. I wanted them both to “win” and come out on top.

As with most suspense novels, the ending came fast and furious and I wanted more. All the best books leave me wanting more because I’ve connected with the characters.

Thank you to Gallery books and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Summer of 69, Elin Hilderbrand

**Review**

Summer of ‘69, Elin Hilderbrand

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is the first Elin Hilderbrand book that I’ve read and honestly, I’m mad at myself for waiting this long.

I absolutely adored this book and family. I saw a bit of myself in Kate, Jessie, Blair and Kirby. Through Hilderbrand’s words, I felt their story come to life.

Summer of ‘69 is a beautiful story that wholly embodied what I imagine the late 1960s to be like. And while I’ve never been to Nantucket, I feel as though I can say I’ve been now.

I have a huge Elin Hilderbrand TBR stack and I’m ready to dive in.