November Wrap-Up/Mini Reviews

I read a grand total of three books in November!! So I’m going to turn this post into more of one of my mini review posts than my typical wrap ups!

First book that I read was Bunny by Mona Awad

Bunny

Here’s the synopsis:

Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one.

But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.

The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.

This is probably the strangest book that I’ve read this year and it definitely did not disappoint. While reading this I could see how this book could quickly divide opinions, it is very strange both in the way it is written as well as in the plot. It started off a bit too slowly for my own taste and I almost put it down but ended up deciding to try and stick it out to see if it would turn around. And boy oh boy did it turn around.

The way this book dove into this cult like hive mind was fascinating. Animals within this book aside, I think that was my favorite part. The way it went so quickly from the main character thinking of herself as a singular person to referring to a whole group as the singular person. I don’t even know how to describe it, it was addictive and totally sucked me in. The ending of this book was confusing unfortunately and I wasn’t a huge fan. I found myself getting more bored the more confused I got and while, again, that middle section was stunning I couldn’t help but be disappointed by the rest of it.

I think that if you are interested in macabre stories then this could be up your alley. It is intriguing and a story that is definitely not soon forgotten. As they said in the synopsis, this book is all about the imagination running wild and I have to say that if you read this and let your own imagination just go for it, it’s an even better reading experience. I rated it 4/5 stars!

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy, here are some links:

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

The second book I read in November was My Favorite Half Night Stand by Christina Lauren

My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Here’s the synopsis:

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

This is my third Christina Lauren book and so far I have yet to absolutely fall in love with any of their books. I still have plans to read Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating at some point because quite a few people that I share reading tastes with say that is their favorite Christina Lauren book.

I think the only reason that I ever finish not great romance books is because of how easy and quick they are to read. I read this entire book in one go after work one day. This book wasn’t *bad* but I just felt nothing. I wasn’t invested in the characters and was torn on a lot of opinions in this. When it comes to romance, almost the entirety of my rating comes down to the chemistry between the main couple and how invested I am in the outcome of their story. I truly didn’t care what happened to Millie so in the end, I really didn’t care about the overall arc.

The story itself began quite intriguing and I loved the banter and friendship of the group but I didn’t really love how it seemed that Millie was written as a girl unlike other girls who can only be friends with guys. Like don’t get me wrong, I loved the friend group, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Millie. Yes, she was emotionally stunted but I think that her chapters held this a little bit too much and kept me from being invested in her development.

At the end of this I felt that everything tied up conveniently, which is usually what I love in romance, but it was just too convenient. And considering that the gala that was the main driving force for the plot of the book didn’t even occur in the end it just made me feel pretty meh.

There are also a lot of things that I really didn’t appreciate about the romance itself but I don’t really want to air that on here, like I am always one for a good, solid happy ending but coming from someone who was once in an extremely similar situation to this… Happy endings don’t normally happen. I was frustrated and emotional and really just didn’t like this book as a whole. I rated it 2/5 stars.

Since I tend to be in the minority in rating Christina Lauren books, you can check it out for yourself:

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

The final book of the month was The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware.

The Turn of the Key

Here’s the synopsis:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

This is the second Ruth Ware book I’ve read and once again, the atmosphere that she can create in a book is stunning. Unfortunately, I thought the plot was very basic and while there was a twist that I didn’t really see coming, most of this story was predictable and dare I say boring? I felt that the ending was far too abrupt and when I realized that I had hit the acknowledgments page I literally said, “wait, that was it?” It felt like there were too many loose ends and not enough closure and while I’m all for an open ended story, this wasn’t open ended in a way that made sense. Yes, things were concluded but I found myself wanting more.

I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters and I think that’s the problem that I have with the two Ruth Ware books I’ve read so far. I quite enjoy the atmosphere, but the characters fall flat which leaves me disappointed in the story as a whole. The technology aspect of the book was almost completely pointless which I was kind of sad about because I was hoping for an even more evil DCOM Smart House story but it was a pretty cut and dry thriller. When people pitched this as a thriller with technological themes I was pumped and let me say that if that’s what you think this book is, it’s not. The technology in this could be completely taken out and the story would be the exact same.

In the end, I also got a lot of Lock Every Door vibes from this book so I couldn’t help compare it to that, which is one of the few thrillers that I’ve absolutely loved, so I’m not sure if that also played a part into the lackluster feelings I had for The Turn of the Key but it could be. In the end, I enjoyed this more than The Death of Mrs. Westaway so I rated it 3/5 stars but at this time I don’t think I’ll be reaching for any more Ruth Ware books any time soon.

And now the links, in case you, unlike me, are a fan of Ruth Ware books:

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

And with that, I am finished with my wrap up for November!  Pretty lackluster but always happy to share my thoughts.

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