Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

As is the case with so many of the books that I review, I got this at my library! I was super pumped that they had it and even more pumped that it had no wait time. 36478784._SY475_

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary takes quite the unique twist on the “there’s only one bed” romance trope.  Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

This book has been a bit hyped up and I was hesitant to start reading it as I haven’t had the best rapport with hyped up books this year. By the end of it though I was pleasantly surprised with how much I had enjoyed it! I actually rated it 5 stars!

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Tiffy and Leon were such distinctively different characters and one of my favorite things about the book was how vastly different the writing styles were between their chapters. It gave them both a unique voice and it seriously made the book for me. When there are more than one narrator in a book I will sometimes get mixed up with who is speaking and this kept them so separate that I never got them mixed up.

I think that all the branched off plot lines in this actually held weight within the story which is not often the case in romance novels. Though I would have loved to see more with Leon’s patients, Holly and Mr. Prior, just because I adored them. Each portion of the felt tied up by the end and I was left feeling satisfied overall.

The characters were unique but not overly done which I really appreciated. I feel like it’s far too easy for side characters in romance books to fall into stereotypical roles. From the beginning I was a bit worried with the introduction of Kay but she ended up being so minor that I kind of just brushed my thoughts of her to the side (I could say a lot about her but I think I’ll refrain from doing so).

One of my personal favorite parts of this book was Tiffy’s job! She works as an editor for craft books and one of her clients crochets and knits and it honestly brought me so much joy to read all those parts. DIY should be included in more books.

I also really enjoyed the romance in this. Seeing the relationship between Tiffy and Leon unfold between notes left around the flat was perfect. I’m a big fan of unconventional relationships like this! Leon has a good chance of being my new favorite love interest. He was so gentle, sweet, and caring and I quite enjoyed reading his chapters (this is definitely not always the case when it comes to dual perspectives with males and females). He was so respectful and just genuine, loved him.

Minor spoilers ahead in terms of trigger warnings and discussing those plots points:

As a warning there is a stalking abusive ex in this book and if you are at all triggered by stuff like that I would probably pass on this book. I felt that the author handled this quite well and this is coming from someone who has been in an emotionally abusive relationship similar to the one Tiffy had been in. By putting her in therapy I felt that was one good step forward but I also felt like this didn’t completely lean in to the whole “love can fix everything”. Tiffy was still uncomfortable with falling into a new relationship but still felt more secure with her new relationship. I don’t know, it just felt good to me.

This was such an unexpected joy to read. It had me feeling all warm and fuzzy by the end and I really want to get my own copy so that I can read it whenever I want to. If you’re looking for a sweet slow-burn with a very happy ending, I would definitely recommend this to you!

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Review: Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff

PSA: If you can’t write a book without using a character’s mental illness to advance the plot (when that isn’t the central theme of the book) then maybe that isn’t the book you should be writing 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff is categorized as a medical suspense/thriller about “a mother’s worst nightmare, a chance at redemption, and a deadly secret that haunts a family across the generations.” I was provided a digital review copy of this by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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First off, this really isn’t a thriller. The entire plot is laid out in the synopsis and nothing was incredibly shocking or thrilling. It was definitely suspenseful at times but wasn’t that gripping in that sense. The book started off really strong and I was greatly enjoying my reading. I love it when people decide to fuck with Mother Nature and then ultimately get screwed (probably why Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies). The ethical aspects of this and the medical stuff was interesting enough but I definitely felt like I had to suspend my disbelief for a lot of what happened. I felt like the characters were all stereotypes and while it definitely wasn’t the worst thing, it just made it even more predictable and a little boring. The ending wrapped everything up with a nice tight bow and I just felt like it was rushed to make it to the conclusion.

This book was short (288 pages) and read really quickly and I would have probably rated it 4 stars had the choice not been made to use Claire’s (the main character) mental illness in order to advance the plot. Like I already wasn’t a fan of it in the beginning but I was going to chalk it up to her just being anxious and still grieving the loss of her first child. But then she got “bad” again and the whole thing culminated in her ending up in a mental health facility which I think had absolutely no relevance to the plot. Literally anything else could have been written for her to be doing in order for her to be away from the house long enough for Jillian to infiltrate and do her dirty work. But no… Also if authors can’t learn the difference between “delusions” and “hallucinations” I’m going to file a complaint and start a riot. These are not the same things. A delusion is a thought, it’s a very strong and unshakeable belief in something that is not true or is completely impossible. A hallucination, in very brief description, is experiencing something that isn’t there and can affect any of the senses. I feel like I should start an entire series on mental health representation in books because I’ve encountered some really, really bad takes recently.

Anyways, I just wanted to share a few quotes from the portion of the book where Claire was in the hospital:

“The schizophrenics are the noisiest; they jabber the most, in different tones. The psychotics are the quietest, but the scariest.”

I notice she’s backed up two steps, in case I try to grab the pen and stab her. The staff never get too close to a wild animal in a cage.”

Pretty soon after that, she’s also apprehended by “guards” and then injected with medication in order to knock her out. Like way to just bring all the mental hospital stereotypes into play right here! This is so unrealistic, like in all my times in hospitals I’ve only ever seen one person get a shot and that’s because they needed a stronger dose than a pill could provide. As is the fact that she was released from the hospital that she was “voluntarily” staying at after her episode in which she was taken down by the guards. That’s not how that works. That’s not how any of that works. Shit, I get that Claire didn’t think she was “crazy” but don’t take down everyone else. Patients are people too. We’re people too. And the fact that the author wrote this section like this was incredibly insensitive and it really hurt me. This is why I don’t share my own mental health and hospital history with people because that’s the kind of representation we get in books.

Please, authors, I beg of you, stop writing mentally ill characters as a means of driving your plot. Stop writing us as crazy. Stop making us the villains. Just stop. It hurts. It makes me sad. It’s not fair. You can do better.

So after reading that part of the book I felt really disheartened. I finished the book because it was easy reading but it never redeemed itself. I ultimately rated it 2 stars and will not be recommending this.

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Review: A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean

I am a sucker for a good World War II historical novel. I love learning about any part of history but I’ve always found my biggest interests in WWII. So when I saw a new WWII based novel on NetGalley, I requested an ARC right away and they graciously provided me with one. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a huge historical fiction mood when I got it so I only just now got around to reading it (shame on me 😦 ).

But once I did sit down to read A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean I ended up completing it in two sittings (probably would’ve been one if I hadn’t had to train someone at work). I think my favorite thing about historical fiction books are when they do capture your attention to the point of not wanting to put the book down. Many historical fiction books are dense and poetic and not that easy to get into at first but gradually pick up speed and intensity as it goes on.

Most of this review is going to contain spoilers because I don’t feel like I can adequately discuss my thoughts without spoiling the book… So I’ll do a quick nonspoiler review now before I dive further into my thoughts on this book.

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Here’s a quick summary:

A Fire Sparkling follow dual timelines during “present day” 2011 and Europe in World War II. Gillian returns home after heartbreak to spend time with her father and grandmother and discovers that her grandmother has been hiding a huge secret from her family for most of her life.

That’s a really bad summary but that’s essentially all the story is.

This book was a very easy read, it was not full of complicated prose or very poetic at all. So if you are new to the historical fiction genre, I would recommend this. If you are a fan of the trope where an old person reveals a huge life secret in their old age, I would recommend this. If you want a very (in my opinion) light historical fiction novel that is full of twists and turns, I recommend this.

If you have extensive knowledge of World War II and are well versed in historical fiction and want a really deep and realistic story… Don’t pick this up. This story just seemed so unrealistic and the twists and turns that the plot took made me dizzy. The characters all felt pretty flat to me as well and I wasn’t a fan of Gillian whatsoever and I rated the book 3/5 stars.

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You are about to enter a spoiler zone, leave now if you don’t want to get spoiled!!!

Y’all… I have no idea what to think of this book. It felt like the author had like a checklist of historical fiction World War novels and just checked off every item as she added them to the plot. Spies, lost loves, resistance infiltrating enemy forces, an old person revealing their entire lives in their old age… It was exhausting. There were so many twists that this book took that it straight up gave me whiplash!!

Now, I saw it coming that the Nazi was Gillian’s true grandfather. The author literally said that the earl that was the supposed grandfather had dark hair and eyes while Edward had blond hair and blue eyes (and look I know it was possible, but was highly unlikely, I do understand basic biology) and I just figured that Vivian had had another miscarriage and April gave up the baby due to one situation or another. I definitely didn’t see the twist coming that Vivian was April but in the end, okay, super dramatic but it works.

In terms of the actual historical story in this. It was decent, that was the part of the book that I actually liked. It gave me whiplash but it kept me interested and in the end, that’s what mattered. For the most part, it just felt very generic and typical of a World War II historical fiction novel. Pretty much all of the characters were flat and I wasn’t particularly attached to any of them. I would have loved more development with Jack especially considering he was the “great love” the grandmother’s life.

The “present day” timeline was annoying. I hated Gillian as a character. She clearly was supposed to have some big healing story arc by accepting her mother’s death from a decade before but I felt like she was an entirely pointless character and her story was atrocious? Like, okay, let’s have a character heal from a past trauma… But was it really necessary to this book? NOPE! Her story could have easily just been “oh, I’ve been through a breakup (or even been single this whole time) and just decided to come home and visit” and then BAM there’s grandma’s story. Her story with the cheating just added to the plot soup. Literally so many storylines and none of them were 100% developed. This could have been 3-4 books with the amount of stuff that was going on. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t attached to any of the characters and I felt absolutely no sympathy or empathy for Gillian which to me, clearly shows that these characters weren’t well written.

One little gripe before I get to my last point… OMG the amount of times the author described an emotion being felt in the belly. I should’ve kept a tally. It was like once a chapter. Drove me crazy. Use other descriptors, please and thank you.

There was one thing that really made me mad, like steaming mad, and that was the ending. I’m sorry but making the Nazi a part of the resistance? No. Just honestly why? That’s a total copout to make the guy look “good”. Sorry, no, I don’t care that he was part of the resistance. You don’t get that high up in the ranks without doing atrocious things. It’s unforgiving. The author really tried to redeem this guy and I absolutely hated that. I could probably rant for a good hour about how frustrated this made me feel but I’m just going to say that this was a poor choice and I would have preferred for it to have ended differently.

I went with 3 stars for my rating because while it was plot soup and had a bad ending and not so great writing, I did enjoy it overall. And maybe I could hyper analyze and change my rating but there’s not really a point. I think this would be a fine book for people who want to read historical fiction but can’t handle the super dense and heavy books that usually flood this genre.

Now, if you’ve stuck around this far, thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great weekend!

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

“Broken people don’t hide from their monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten.”

When I say that this is the book that I have been waiting my whole life to read, I don’t say that lightly. Like there are some books that you read and you enjoy and you move on from and then there are books that open your mouth and crawl down your throat and into your soul… This book crawled into my soul and stuck its tendrils in every nook and cranny and I’m not sure if I could expel it if I tried.

I am…. Very emotional right now. Genuinely cannot stop thinking about this book. Wow. Wow. Wow.

So I read Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia this week. I had heard of this book a few times before now, but I never actually knew what it was about. I knew that it had been compared to both Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman; both of which are books that I related to immensely. It was on the shelf at my library when I was there last weekend so I decided to finally check it out.

Here’s the blurb for the book on Goodreads:

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

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I started off with this book not really having any high expectations of the story. Of any sort of these fandom-centered books, Fangirl was still the one that I hold nearest and dearest to my heart. But after reading this, well, that’s all changed.

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I rated this 5/5 stars and I will make my claim here that I genuinely do not think that any book that I read for the rest of the year will top this one. This is- and I cannot stress this enough- my new favorite book.

So I’m going to do this review in two parts. An objective part, which I’ll do real quick first, and then my own personal review in the secondary part.

Eliza and Her Monsters hits on so many aspects of living life as someone who is very online. There are great storylines, good character development, an adorable first romance, intense backstory, this was a familiar story and yet so unique… The mental health representation is spot on and the fact that the author portrayed therapy visits and actually put a character on medication. *Chef’s kiss* For anyone that has grown up in a fandom, grown up loving books or comics or been part of an online community, I highly recommend. It weaves together both the good and bad parts of being online and really highlights the inner strength that it takes to be able to get up and move forward when you really, really don’t want to be around anymore.

This is also a great book that talks about passions and the choices that young people have to make in deciding whether to go on to further education, what to do for work, how to decide what we really want to do for our future. I think it is so important to see books where young people don’t follow the “traditional” path of going to college right out of high school. Not everyone needs to follow that path and it’s important to know that we have options.

On a personal note, this book struck a chord with me that no book ever has before. There were so many parallels within this story that coincided with events in my own life that on more than one occasion I had to set the book down and take a lap around the store that I work at because I was getting overly emotional. (Like I genuinely felt like I was reading my own story and it was the creepiest and most emotional thing I’ve ever felt).

I have never related to two characters more, never seen myself in a book the way that I saw myself in Eliza and Wallace. It tore me in two and then slowly glued me back together. I can’t even say that this is a book that I needed back in high school because genuinely, this is the book that I needed right now. I want to tell everyone to read this book but at the same time I want to keep it to myself because this story felt so personal.

Oh gosh, I’m getting emotional again. *deep breaths* Okay!

So there is a trigger warning for suicide in this book, and while I’m glad I didn’t know about that going into my initial reading, I also know that I probably would have saved myself from a less extreme panic attack when reading the scenes in which this trigger is relevant.

Again, 5/5 stars. Already bought my own copy of this and will probably be rereading before the end of the year.

If you want to pick up your own copy (which I highly urge you to do) here are some links for you:

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Review: Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan

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I recently received an ARC of Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan from NetGalley in order to review.

Before I get into my thoughts, here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

It’s 1992, and there’s a rumor spreading in Baton Rouge…

When it comes to being social, Athena Graves is far more comfortable creating a mixtape playlist than she is talking to cute boys—or anyone, for that matter. Plus her staunchly feminist views and love of punk rock aren’t exactly mainstream at St. Ann’s, her conservative Catholic high school.

Then a malicious rumor starts spreading through the halls…a rumor that her popular, pretty, pro-life sister had an abortion over the summer. A rumor that has the power to not only hurt Helen, but possibly see her expelled.

Despite their wildly contrasting views, Athena, Helen and their friends must find a way to convince the student body and the administration that it doesn’t matter what Helen did or didn’t do…even if their riot grrrl protests result in the expulsion of their entire rebel girl gang.

In this day and age, this book and the topics within it are just as important as they would have been back in 1992 when this book takes place. However, I found that the way this book was executed fell very short of any expectations I had of this book. I am very aware that I am not the target audience of this book. I’ve recently turned 23 and very much don’t fit in to the young adult age range anymore but I still feel like this book was bad. From my own context of reading this, I could understand why it might appeal to a younger audience however I personally could not find it in myself to appreciate any part of it.

I’m also going to preface this by saying that in my review I will not be talking about the actual debate of pro choice or pro life. Just the way that this book handles it.

I’ve decided to rate this book 1 star.

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***This review contains minor spoilers***

The feminist aspects of this book did not come across the way that I feel like they were intended to solely because the main character, Athena, did not seem to convey why she felt the need to believe the things that she did other than the fact that her Riot Grrl heroes felt that way. This can easily be explained away by her being a teenager because teenagers very easily blindly believe things (I mean I know I did!) but she has the ability to explain why the people she trusts feel the way that they do. So much of Athena’s inner dialogue was her saying sexist things and then backtracking because she “shouldn’t think like that”. There’s no real motivation to her beliefs, she’s still very much sucked into the popularity contests of high school and she falls on the “not like other girls” spectrum at her Catholic school.

The entire book dealt with issues that Athena’s sister, Helen, was encountering but was all told from Athena’s perspective I’m assuming because Helen didn’t have the same beliefs as Athena did so that’s why Athena was chosen to force feed us her thoughts. I really felt like that this book should have been from Helen’s perspective, even if she was pro life. I think that it could have been an interesting character arc for her to go from being strictly pro life to seeing the reasons why people might be pro choice and possibly even changing her beliefs.

I think all of the characters in this book were flat. They were all stereotypes that played into a dramatic high school story. The mean girls, the jocks, the cute boys, the outcasts, etc. It played at being diverse but things like the fact that Sean (Athena’s best friend) was a star football player but hid his love of comics really played into the “everyone must fit their stereotype” line. Sister Catherine was my favorite character in this whole book and she hardly played a big role at all which was really disappointing. I felt like she was also the most realistically portrayed. The guidance counselor character literally made me want to scream. I cannot believe that there was a character that demeaning and malicious written in to this book… Same with the lady that worked at the “fake abortion” clinic. I am well aware of how much fear mongering goes in to pro life campaigns but I can’t imagine why the pro life characters in this book needed to be so graphically rude. Or the locker scene, oh my dear lord the locker scene literally made me sick to my stomach with rage.

Before I can get too angry, like I’m trying really hard to keep my thoughts straight here… But I just think this book lacked empathy. Athena was one of the most unempathetic characters ever. I understand that she’s a teenager but if this book is supposed to center around her younger sister being bullied because of rumors surrounding an alleged abortion I just think it’s in poor taste that the first 100 pages of this book revolve around a crush. I felt like Helen was the only character who really “grew” throughout the book and I wish that she would have been the main character instead of Athena.

In the end, I feel like the message in this book had the potential to be something really good but I spent the entire book getting more and more frustrated over everything. The overall plot wasn’t even revealed until 100+ pages into the book because the first quarter was filled with fluff about crushes and typical school drama. This also had an incredible lack of empathy towards any character. There was so much cruelness from multiple characters that it physically hurt to read. And if that was the point to try and bring shock value into getting teenagers to believe in being pro choice, well, then I guess this book did that? I wish I could say that I wanted to recommend this but I can’t.

 

Book Review: Filter This by Sophie White

Hey everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing my first ARC from my whole list of September releases.

The book in question is Filter This by Sophie White and here is the blurb from Goodreads:

Ali Jones is hell-bent on achieving her #lifegoals: 10,000 Instagram followers and a win at the upcoming Glossie Influencer Awards. So when she inadvertently leads people to believe she is sporting a baby bump and immediately gains thousands of followers, she realises that the Mummy Influencer wave could be her ticket to Insta-success, even if off-screen it feels like her life is falling apart with what’s happening to her beloved dad.

But then Tinder Sam, Ali’s one-night-stand, resurfaces and seems determined to take his new role as baby daddy seriously. And falling for Sam is definitely not part of Ali’s plan.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s biggest influencer (and Ali’s idol) Shelly Divine has it all … at least on paper. But beneath the immaculately curated feed, cracks are appearing. Shelly harbours a secret from her followers and, more importantly, her husband – but who will be the first to discover what she’s been hiding?

As the Glossies approach, what will it take for the women realise what’s truly important before they lose what matters most?

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So when I requested this I knew what the plot was going into it… But like I must have really not been paying that much attention because honestly if I had realized that this whole thing revolved around a faked pregnancy I probably would have passed on it. I feel very conflicted with my rating on this solely because I cannot understand how anyone could possibly be okay with faking a pregnancy for social media clout but I’ll go more into detail with that later in my review.

In the end, I’ve settled on 3/5 stars.

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I guess I’ll preface the whole review by saying that I in no way support the plot that the author put together. The faked pregnancy is a really bad take on faking something for social media, I think the worst part was the fact that the main character, Ali, actually let her one night stand believe that he had knocked her up. That is so incredibly manipulative and gross and I hated that part of this book more than I can put into words.  FAKING A PREGNANCY ISN’T CUTE. LYING TO THE MAN THAT THINKS HE KNOCKED YOU UP IS MANIPULATIVE AS HELL.

In other terms of things that I didn’t like about this plot:

  • Ali’s drinking problem. There are so many pieces of media in which heavy drinking is portrayed as much less of a problem than it is. Binge drinking is a really toxic behavior and it shouldn’t be played off as a typical young person thing in the way that it is.
  • This book isn’t going to be timeless. It’s full of modern pop culture references and does nothing to mask that fact. I know that social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but I feel like it’s hard for all of these books that focus in so much on what is going on *right now* to be relevant in a few years time.
  • There were many chances to go in depth about losing a parent early due to illness and also to postpartum depression and yet NEITHER of these plot points were ever discussed beyond surface level. Both Ali and Shelley (the character that has the secondary viewpoint of the book) had the opportunity to go on big sprawling character developing arcs and yet I really don’t think either changed by the end of the book.
  • And with that there’s supposed to be a sequel. In which, obviously, Ali and Shelley are most likely going to try and redeem themselves. I just feel like that’s an excuse to leave this book underdeveloped and lacking in substance. None of the main characters meant anything to me and in fact, I really didn’t find myself invested in Ali or Shelley as people either. Very flat and surface level for the entire book.

Now the things that I liked about this book were:

  • It was funny. Like I snorted about some of the things that happened. It was outrageous some of the things the women in this book do for a simple “like”.
  • If you really think about it, this book portrays an outrageous story about women who do outrageous things in order to maintain clout on the internet. I feel like a book like this would be one that could be dissected and compared to real life in order to show just how far people will go to be popular. I find social media to be so toxic at times and I feel like if you’re reading this book in the right mindset then it illustrates exactly that. Like this book was messy… I mean in the first few chapters Ali literally put together a moldy bowl of oats in order to have a perfect breakfast shot and then promptly ate a cheesy croissant instead. I just know there are people out there that do this kind of stuff and it makes my stomach churn at the thought of needing to cultivate such a perfect life.

So is this the next great book? Oh by no means. But if you’re looking for something quick and funny to read, this could be up your alley. If you’d like to purchase a copy of your own you can get one at this link.

 

 

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Last night I finished reading Sadie by Courtney Summers. I’d seen it a few times in various BookTube videos and was intrigued by the cover, 100% a judging the book by the cover situation, and checked it out from my library’s digital collection.

This book is written in an unconventional format told in two perspectives. One perspective is that of a podcast, titled “The Girls”, unfolding the story of Sadie and her sister Mattie as the host gathers more and more information. The second perspective is of Sadie herself, one of the missing girls. I’m a really big fan of stories that have odd formats, it makes it more intriguing to read and so when I saw that this was partly told through a podcast format I was even more excited to read it.

I for one, went into this book knowing nothing about the plot and I find that for mystery/thriller/crime type books that’s really the best way for me to go. If I know too much about the story I find myself trying to predict every twist and turn and end up ruining the book for myself. However, if you do want to know what the book is about here’s the blurb from Goodreads 🙂 –

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

After reading it, I decided to rate it 5/5 stars. There were very few bits that I found myself disliking and I honestly really enjoyed how it ended. I know that there were a lot of people taking off entire stars from their reviews because it was such an open ending but I felt like it was perfect. We don’t always get the endings in life that we want, nor does that happen in books. It felt more realistic to me than if we would’ve had some big happy ending. I felt that justice was served and that was really what Sadie had set out for to begin with. I’m trying to keep this vague to keep from spoiling it too much.

Content warnings for: pedophilia and sexual abuse, assault, murder

I think that this book did a really good job of showing just how hard it is to survive in small towns where no one ever seems to really succeed. That class difference can cause so many issues and is extremely painful to read about. It was really hard to read about how hard Sadie tried to provide a good life for her little sister. How hard she worked to protect her over her lifetime and it broke my heart even more as I read further into the story and found out more and more about the backstory of Sadie and Mattie.

If you are a fan of audiobooks I would recommend picking this one up. I read that it was a full cast audiobook and with the podcast aspect I think that would be a really cool way to experience that. If you’re a fan of true crime type podcasts at all I would recommend checking this book out. It was not an easy read in the slightest but it was such a good story that I know that I’m going to continue thinking about it.

This book was dark and sad and truly a story worth reading. If you’re interested in picking up a copy of your own here are a few links:

Amazon // Barnes and Noble // Book Depository

 

Review: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Fix Her Up

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey is a “romantic comedy” about Georgie Castle and Travis Ford, childhood friends that have decided to fake date to look more adult to those around them in their hometown and beyond. It’s a smutty mess and doesn’t compare to the description that’s listed on Goodreads whatsoever!! (Can you tell I’m salty about having actually read this book or is that just me?)

This book had been raved about by multiple people that I follow and then two people absolutely hated it. I had just gotten my copy from the library and decided to pick it up and see where I stood on it.

I ultimately rated it 2/5 stars because the plot didn’t align with what I went in expecting it to be, the romance felt toxic, and the timing felt completely screwy throughout the entire book. There were very few things that I actually enjoyed.

The rest of the review contains spoilers.

The plot was supposed to be a fake dating plot but there wasn’t a single part of it that felt like it was actually them fake dating. The more that I think about the more that I realize that there wasn’t a single aspect of this book that was truly fleshed out. It jumped around from one plot point to another so fast that I just got tired of reading. I ended up skimming the last 75 or so pages because I was so bored.

So much of the summary on Goodreads is about a life makeover… There was no true makeover scene, it maybe lasted three pages, if that. And that in and of itself was frustrating because it seemed like Georgie had her own style and was comfortable with that. Why change it? It was the stereotypical “girl wears not so flattering clothes so must change and start wearing sexier clothes to be appealing to literally anyone”. The girl “club” the Just Us league or whatever that they created was hardly a club. They really didn’t do anything other than sit and chat. It felt like it was just thrown in there to add some form of “feminist” tones even though they mostly just talked crap about the guys in their lives.

The timing was nonexistent. There was absolutely no transition that indicated a passing of time. It felt like one never-ending day even though I know that more time passed than that.

I found the romance in this incredibly cringey. It made me so uncomfortable that Travis spent so much of the book telling himself that he couldn’t be attracted to Georgie because of the fact that she had grown up as the the “dorky little sister”. It just felt like he was infantilizing her and it really didn’t help that he continuously called her “baby girl”. In general I find pet names really cringey but the two aspects paired together made me feel kind of gross. They didn’t even last more than a few chapters before the whole “no sex while we’re fake dating” thing went out the window. I don’t know why they didn’t just agree to be friends-with-benefits from the beginning and just ham up the romantic stuff for the paparazzi.

The romance between the side characters felt completely thrown in there too. I felt like Georgie’s brother had a very toxic relationship with his wife, he very clearly wanted kids and it sounds like she didn’t and was getting him to stay with her by stringing him along letting him think she’ll agree to have kids someday. It skeeved me out too when Georgie’s mom played “wing woman” so that Georgie and Travis could go do it in the pool house (omg the amount of public or semi public sex disturbed me too, don’t do that y’all, it’s not sexy), like her mom acted like she just wanted her daughter to get some. I can understand being supportive of the relationship but ew?

Even for the people that love smutty scenes I don’t really see any sort of redemption from them. Travis was grossly controlling and dominating and while yes there are relationships in which stuff like that works, it always needs to be discussed beforehand and safety always has to be a priority. I’m not saying that anything went out of hand or that anything bad happened but with the way that everything else was talked about (including the fact that her virginity was a main component of all the sexual stuff) it felt like Travis was borderline taking advantage of Georgie. One line that really stuck out to me was when Georgie was described as this “man’s pleasure tool”… Um no, I’m sorry but women aren’t for being used for men’s pleasure.

And how overly sexualized Travis was? Ew. He truly had no redeeming qualities. He treated Georgie like his savior which is absolutely bullshit. Women do not need to fix men. This book should’ve been called “Fix Him Up” with how much work needs to be done with Travis. It genuinely made me mad at how much Travis viewed Georgie as his “savior”. I think Georgie was young and is still in the midst of finding her footing in the world and figuring out who she is and what she wants. She’s only 23!! Also I enjoyed that she realized the potential that he clown business had by working to expand it to a full on party business but again, none of that was really fleshed out. All the side plots and side characters were so secondary to this overly sexualized lusty relationship. I hated the ending so much because it was so rushed and seriously, I get that you’ve known the guy since you were a kid but WHY are you agreeing to marry him??? And given that there really was no time frame in this I have no idea how long they fake dated but I just feel like this was the worst way that this could have ended. Way, way too soon to get engaged.

I think this book might end up being one of the biggest, if not biggest disappointments of the year. Despite going into it with slightly adjusted expectations because of the negative reviews that I saw the description itself sounds like a completely different book than what ended up in my hands. This book had the potential to be something really good and it just wasn’t. It could have been a sweet, steamy, well developed romance and all it was was a giant mess. All I want to do is send this book back to the editor and ask how the hell they let this get published as is.

I really don’t recommend this book. If you’ve read it, what did you think of it? I’m still trying to find a romance book that impresses me, but it feels like everything I’ve read has something that just grinds my gears by the end of it.

I’ll be back on Sunday with an update for Camp NaNoWriMo and shocker, it won’t be great! Have a great weekend everyone.

 

Review: The Unhoneymooners

I finally picked up a book written by Christina Lauren. They are the writing duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings (which I did not know for a really long time before finally looking at their Twitter page). The Unhoneymooners is their newest release, it just came out this year, and I decided that I might as well use this as an excuse to delve into the romance genre and these books.The Unhoneymooners follows Ethan and Olive as they take the honeymoon of their siblings (does anyone else get a little uncomfy when people start dating their siblings SO’s siblings? Like how Ethan and Dane are brothers and Olive and Ami are sisters and granted there are things that make it not so bad in the end but I just find it weird? Am I the only one who thinks this?) after everyone at the wedding falls ill. While on this dream honeymoon, the main characters run into a future boss and a former lover and now have to pretend to be blissfully married newlyweds. Olive and Ethan, enemies since the day they met, are now beginning to realize that maybe they don’t hate each other as much as they thought… And so the story unfolds.I rated it 4/5 stars and actually really liked it! But it made me think a lot about romance books and tropes within them that I found really frustrating. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has previously read a Christina Lauren book, anyone who loves a good (not overly smutty) romance, and some good ole witty banter. Now on to the spoiler filled discussion!
I really enjoyed the supportive family, I enjoy reading stories where family is so unlike my own. It warms my heart to read of family that actually genuinely cares about each other. When Olive’s cousin gave her that waitressing job it just made me really happy that she has people there who want to help her succeed and build her up. It gave her the chance to realize that she didn’t want to continue on in her career path and find something new to pursue and I liked that a lot!

In the romance aspect I really enjoyed the joking arguments. I think that it’s so much fun when people can be witty towards each other and fight in a positive way. It makes me smile. There’s a really big difference between this kind of fighting and actual fighting and it’s a really fine line to walk but I think that this did fighting really well… For the funny fights anyways.

I also really liked drunk Ethan! When he told the bellhop (or whoever it was) that he liked Olive I think I melted. My cold and blackened heart thought that that was too cute and it couldn’t handle it. I thought that Ethan and Olive were a very good match and I liked their early relationship, they just fit with each other!

Oh and I felt it on a spiritual level that Olive was a stress baker… This started for me when I was a sophomore in high school and lived in an apartment and could cook for myself for once. I did a lot of baking. Like at one point I was making apple crisp at least once a week. I just didn’t really like that she used this as her excuse for being curvy… The whole thing behind her being “curvy” and then people wondering if this was fat representation or not. Honestly I don’t know I just understand the stress baking aspect.

And with that, now I move on to talking about the things that I didn’t enjoy about this book and as a whole, looking at things that I find a little (a lot) annoying about the romance novels that I’ve read.

I really didn’t enjoy the whole cheating aspect of this book and using excuses for cheating. No one should make excuses for cheating and it frustrated me to no end that everyone was trying to side with Dane at first. Like I could understand why Ethan was siding with him at first (they are brothers in the end) but when the evidence kept stacking up against him I became increasingly frustrated that everyone continued to try and side with Dane over Olive.

They also all decided to wait until the last 100 pages to decide to call out Olive for her personality? I honestly didn’t find her as negative or pessimistic or “woe is me” as the other characters were calling her out for being. She has lived her entire life being unlucky but, to me, still has worked her butt off to do things. She went to school, lives on her own, spends time with her family, had a job… Olive was doing well with herself! I just don’t see her slight lean towards pessimism as being the only thing that has ruined her life. I myself lean towards pessimism so maybe I just related to her way of thinking more than most people would but was she really as negative as they all called her out for being?

Why, too, did they wait until this point to call her out? If it was really that big of an issue, if they really had a problem with it, why wait until they were mad at her for the Dane situation to say that her pessimism was a problem? It just felt like they needed some sort of familial drama to add to the cheating drama so they just threw that in there.

I also think that her faking the relationship was taken too far. She could’ve easily been open with her boss after leaving the spa. It would’ve helped her a lot in the end. Pretending in front of Ethan’s ex made sense, help Ethan heal a little bit after being burned by this girl, but they could’ve told Olive’s boss as soon as they sat down for dinner what the situation was and I feel like he would’ve laughed it off. It was a bit painful to read how his wife was angry at him by the end of the book because of firing Olive. I think it was entirely proper on his part to fire her for lying! It wasn’t a “oh haha how funny” moment, she revealed that she had lied to and deceived him for days without ever having the intention to tell him otherwise. He was completely in the right and to see that this drove a rift between him and his wife made me cringe.

There were also issues that I had with communication and the whole enemies to lovers trope but I think I’m going to save a lot of those thoughts for a post that I’d like to make solely dedicated to those items. They’re things that I have issues with time and time again in romance books and feel like I should dedicate more time at length to the topic and make a dedicated post to those!So overall I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I thought Ethan and Olive were cute and I loved their banter. I enjoyed the ending and seeing Ami happy again after being cheated on. And now I’ve checked out more of Christina Lauren’s books and might do a ranking post of their books like I’m planning on doing with Taylor Jenkins Reid and Sarah Dessen… Will just have to see where my reading plans take me!

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy of The Unhoneymooners, you can find it at any of these links 🙂

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Review: Radio Silence

So I read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and IT RIPPED ME TO SHREDS.

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Like honestly from about the halfway point to the end of the book I cried for the majority of my time reading. The story was just incredibly cathartic for me and I wish so much that I could have read this back in high school but I’m glad that it made it’s way to me now.

For those of you who have not heard of Radio Silence here’s a short little summary:

Frances spends most of her time studying and working towards her goal of university. That’s been her self proclaimed path since she was young. Then she gets presented the opportunity to create artwork for her favorite podcast and everything begins to change.

She meets a new friend and can finally begin to act like herself. And then the trust that had built up between them is shattered and Frances has to work to find a way to fix what has been broken and find out what path she really needs to take with her life.

I’m really bad at summaries, so here’s the link to the Goodreads page for the book.

I rated Radio Silence 5/5 stars, however, when I started this book I was unimpressed which I was kind of shocked about (but obviously in the end my entire opinion changed). I’d heard this book hyped up for months (mainly from Kat from the youtube channel paperbackdreams) and I was so excited to pick it up that I ended up reading almost all of it in a day. Like I was reading it the entire time that I was at work. I found the writing style incredibly unlikeable and I’m not sure if it just happened to change the further into the book I got or if I just got used to it but after about the first 100 pages I was paying any attention to the writing style anymore. I will say though that I feel like most of this book was written by “telling” and not “showing” and I think that’s my main gripe with the writing.

The deeper into the story I got, the more I found myself relating to Frances and the more it broke my heart. There were so many times where I almost had to set the book aside because it just brought back so many painful memories for me from my childhood up until now. I think that for anyone who has ever felt like they just don’t quite fit in would relate to Frances. And anyone who has ever gone through something that has left them questioning their entire future would enjoy this as well.

I would have loved to read more about the podcast, it seemed very Welcome to Nightvale to me! I also would have appreciated for the ending to have been stretched a bit more, I felt like there could have been points in the middle that would easily have been taken out in order to accommodate for more closure at the end. I just wish I could have seen a bit more happiness come out of an otherwise incredibly emotional book. Again, though, I think it was only this emotional because I felt like I could have been living a mixture of Frances and Aled’s lives. I related so much to this story that I feel like I don’t know how to talk about it without starting to cry about my own life experiences.

Anyways, there’s a decent amount of representation (bi, asexuality, one of the podcast characters is agender, the main character is mixed race) in this book but I feel like most of it is essentially mentioned in a sentence or two and then we just move past it. Like I was super excited for asexuality rep and then there was one paragraph about it at the very end and that was it. Although if I force myself to think about it, these kids are 17-18 years old and honestly who isn’t still figuring stuff out at that point? So I kind of get there being so many brief instances of explanation because I know at that age I sure as hell wouldn’t be talking about being asexual to anyone.

Again, I would highly recommend this book to anyone: teens, young adults, and even adults. I definitely though urge teens and young adults to pick up this book. Especially if you have ever experienced the push to try and take a path that you have questioned. Especially if you feel like you have ever been the odd one out. And especially if you have ever had the experience of meeting someone who you can be truly you around and then losing them because that story line is the one that killed me the most.

If you’re interested in picking this up I’ve added some links to places that you can purchase the book here:

Amazon (this is an affiliate link!)

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

And if any of you have read this book, what did you think of it? I’d love to chat with you about it!