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Book Review: Tweet Cute

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
(Out tomorrow!)

I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley for an honest review. **This review is spoiler-free.**

Summary: Pepper, a high-achieving senior, is the princess of the Big League Burger franchise. Her parents the owners are rolling out a new grilled cheese sandwich and tap Pepper to help with their Twitter presence.

Her classmate and nemesis Jack comes from a small family deli in Brooklyn. He helps with the family business, too — including their social media. When Big League Burger’s new grilled cheese recipe seems to have been stolen from Jack’s family’s deli, he fires the first shot across Twitter. A tweet war begins.

As the two duke it out publicly on Twitter, they are also unknowingly chatting with each other — and falling for each other — on an anonymous app that Jack built. Will they figure out that their spicy memes are the witty repartees of two people flirting?

Okay, this was really cute. A bit cheesy, but cute. Take You’ve Got Mail but make the bookstores into sandwich shops and add teenaged drama, and you’ve got Tweet Cute. I always love this trope of public enemies / private lovers, and this book didn’t disappoint in that regard.

Much like the Grandma’s Special sandwich, this has a lot of layers. Pepper is dealing with her parents’ divorce and her sister’s absence after she’s gone off to college. She’s also stressed with college applications, homework, and balancing the corporate-owned Twitter account (because the person Pepper’s parents have hired has no idea how to do her job). On top of all of that, she’s chatting with an anonymous student that goes by the moniker Wolf, with whom she’s catching feelings.

Jack has his own issues: feeling like the “stupid twin” in the shadow of his golden-brother Ethan, he feels like he’s destined to inherit his parents’ deli because that’s all he’s good for. He created this app for students to chat anonymously among each other, and is sort of feeling things for someone named Bluebird, but he’s also kinda attracted to the snarky, scholastic swimmer Pepper that he likes to torment so much. And he’s pissed that this Big League Burger seems to have bitten his family’s sandwich recipe!

But also! This story has a lot to do with social media, its presence in our everyday lives, and how it affects youths of today. The tweet war leads to other hits that highlight Pepper and Jack, like Youtubers condensing what’s going on with #CheeseGate, a foodie website moderating a tweet contest, and photos of the main characters going viral. It made me really glad I didn’t go to high school when social media was a thing.

It’s a touch long. The drama drags out. Will they or won’t they? Obstacle after obstacle are hurled at our heros. A few side plots were sewn up a little quickly. It’s not a story that takes itself too seriously, and it does very little with diversity (I think one friend, Pooja, is a person of color, and Jack’s twin Ethan is gay, but the rest of the cast is straight and white). But ultimately, this was a cute romcom that I think people will hunger for. Four stars.

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September Wrap-Up

September stats:

Books read: 9
Number of re-reads: 1

Ratings of the books I read:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 0
No rating: 0

Rejoice, all! I had a good reading month, with a surprising number of great reads.

Five-star reads

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele | Just. Really good.

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August Wrap-Up

August stats:

Books read: 7

This was a lackluster month, to be honest. I liked a lot of the books I read, but I didn’t love any of them. And coupled with many that I couldn’t rate for various reasons, I didn’t feel satisfied with many of my reads. In ascending order of how much I liked them…

The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk | This was an impulse buy at a store and I wish I’d loved it more! The story follows three teens who are dealing with death: one character’s twin has died of cancer, another character’s friend has died suddenly by car accident, and the third character’s ex boyfriend died by suicide. The premise is that they learn to cope after the deaths by embracing music, but I was disappointed that their lives barely intersected, despite the fact that the same band was the thread that ran through them.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos | This was a literary fiction novel about lower-class women being paid well to be surrogates for the wealthy, in the near-future, as we follow an immigrant, Jane, who is a member of The Farm. I wish this had been commercial, rather than literary, fiction; the concept was great but I never felt the story grip me.

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July Wrap-Up

July stats:

Books read: 9

Ratings of the books I read:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 0
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3
No rating: 2

I know, I skipped May and June of my wrap-up. I’m probably not going to retroactively fix that. 

Four-star reads

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens | I was set to write a nice review about this book, but a few days after I finished reading it, this article was published… so I feel weird about recommending this.

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out 2019

I did this post last year in June and thought it’d be interesting to do it again. Even though we’re OVER halfway through the year (it’s nearly August?! how did that happen??) I thought it’d be worth it. Just to ease back into blogging after my accidental hiatus…

(If you’re wondering, no, writing is not going well right now.)

One: Best book read so far this year

Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

I did NOT expect to love this as much as I did. But this memoir was absolutely bonkers in premise (Jessica, an amateur violinist, toured with a quartet and a conductor and faked their concerts — by playing an altered Titanic soundtrack) and also touched on many points about life as a Millennial woman that made me feel SO SEEN. I highly recommend it.

Two: Best sequel read so far this year

I actually haven’t read any sequels so far this year! I’ve started a few series but have not continued them.

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Where Have I Been?

A photo I took of my friend/model Abigail

So I guess it’s a bit obvious that I’ve been MIA from this space for the past 2+ months. I don’t know if people actually check this blog or not (I don’t have much of a following here — or anywhere) but if you did care, or wonder, here’s what’s been going on…

A TL;DR: chapters of my life closing, mental health, creativity sparks sadness

As I’ve mentioned before, I own a wedding photography business. Lately, it hasn’t been going very well, bookings-wise. In 2017, I figured that a lot of people were going to scale down their weddings, get married sooner, cut out extraneous expenses, because of what happened with our last election. But now I see that, while a lot of my photographer colleagues were also feeling the pinch, the ongoing issue was me. I was not hustling. I was not happy. I was not… thriving.

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Book Review: Red, White & Royal Blue

red-white-royal-blue

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Goodreads)
Rep: Bisexual/gay rep, Latinx/white lead

I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley for an honest review. **This review is spoiler-free.**

Summary

First Son of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz, creates a publicity snafu when he accidentally brawls with Prince Henry of Wales at a royal wedding. Damage control dictates that the two men have to play it off like they’re friends — even though Alex can’t stand Henry, that uppity MFer — and they are thrown together for a long weekend and photo op in the UK. Unlikely as it may be, Alex and Henry begin texting at all hours and learn what is underneath each other’s hard veneers; soon, they fall in love. But while Alex’s mother is working on her presidential reelection campaign, and Henry can’t come out due to strict royal regulations, Alex has to wonder: is this love worth the sacrifice? How can they have their happy ending when so much is riding against them?

I didn’t know I needed this book until I read it.

I have so many thoughts about this book, but the biggest is that I didn’t know I needed this until I read it. Yes, it’s adorable; yes, it’s hot. But also, it’s so hopeful.

From the trope of enemies-to-friends-tolovers done well, to heartwarming side characters and intriguing side plots that bring the full breadth of the story to life, I loved almost every second of this book. There is so much juggling going on, but Casey McQuiston executes it all flawlessly, especially the realistic and touching budding friendship to romance between Alex and Henry. They were full of adorable, sweet moments, and also fraught moments of pain and confusion that made me wonder how they were going to make it.

I also loved Alex’s relationship with his sister June and his on/off again relationship with the VP’s granddaughter Nora; Henry’s complicated relationships to his family, including a stuck-up Philip in line to the throne and his wild/misunderstood sister Beatrice; Henry’s flamboyant fashionista friend Pez… The relationships between all of the family members, which is convoluted and complicated but rooted in caring and love, and family friends and enemies in politics, all felt real and believable.

I like this timeline

My only issue with the story was that the timeline took a while to figure out. I expected this story to be in the near future, perhaps 2024, but it actually takes place now. In some alternate universe, Ellen Claremont won the 2016 election as a Democrat and moved her son and daughter into the White House, and the reelection campaign takes place from 2018-2020. The royal family of England still has the Queen (this time, Mary) as the matriarch, but the rest of the family tree is different: Henry’s mother was a princess who married a commoner, and the three heirs are different from the current royal family.

I think I read in the author acknowledgments at the end that she started this book in early 2016 and then had to reevaluate where to take it after our last presidential election. So it’s packed full of hopefulness, to the brink of idealism. I almost wish that the author had fabricated a regal line to dress up, because — practical as I am — I spent too much time figuring out the edges of what was in the real world now vs. what was made up or embellished for this story. It seems to me that switching the timeline would have been easy and would have also saved me some mental gymnastics as I tried to figure out when everything took place. This is why I deducted half a star.

The added bonus of being a Texan

I think everyone who reads this book will be so thrilled at the amazingly-written romance between Henry and Alex, which is established well before the halfway mark, so this is not a spoiler by any means. Their love is amazing, their families’ responses to their relationship is believable, and the tension throughout as the secret risks exposure gave me lots of feelings.

But.

I feel like, as a Texan, I have to talk about the absolute uplifting back story of Alex becoming the FSOTUS (which is not a spoiler either). Alex’s other home is in the Hill Country near Austin, where I live. The author successfully encompassed the feeling of the liberal-blue of Austin and the surrounding conservative-red of rural Texas. Her description of how Ellen, nicknamed the Lometa Longshot from a small town in Texas, rose to the highest seat in the country was so inspiring — I wanted it to be real. Her nuanced view of politics in Texas, especially that of Ellen winning in 2016 by getting enough electoral votes from all the big states but lost her own state — felt believable.

For those readers outside of the US, or even outside of Texas, I’m sure this side plot about Ellen’s political career won’t feel as poignant as it does to me. But it plays a big part in a large chunk of the story, and it was cathartic in a personal way for me.

I want to see a real world where an Ellen Claremont, divorced mother of two, formerly married to a Mexican-American congressman, Democrat, and general good person could win the presidency. I want to see a world where two high-profile guys can fall in love across international lines and hold onto that precious feeling for as long as they want, without fear of repurcussion.

This was a great read. 4.5/5 stars.

Red, White & Royal Blue will be out May 14.