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Books Reviews

The GrumpyxSunshine Holiday Romance That Made This Grinch’s Heart Grow: Review of The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Roy Kent from Ted Lasso and Jessica Day from New Girl ran a bookstore together? Well, you’re in luck because The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese is exactly that story.

The Mistletoe Motive
Image: Cover of The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese

Synopsis

He loathes the holidays. She loves them. She’s full of festive cheer. He’s brimming with Bah, Humbugs. Besides unreasonably seasonable names, the only thing Jonathan Frost and Gabriella Di Natale have in common is a healthy dose of mutual contempt. Well, that and the same place of employment at the city’s most beloved independent bookstore, Bailey’s Bookshop. But when the store’s owners confess its dire financial state, Jonathan and Gabby discover another unfortunate commonality: the imminent threat of unemployment.

With the Baileys’ requests to minimize expenses, win new customers, and make record sales dancing in their heads, Jonathan and Gabby conclude—barring a financial Christmas miracle—one of them will soon be cut from the payroll. Neither are willing to step down from their position, so they strike a bargain: whoever has more sales in December gets to stay on in the new year; the loser will resign. With a lifetime’s worth of festive tricks up her sleeve, Gabby should easily outsell her nemesis, except the unreadable Mr. Frost’s every move seems purely designed to throw her off her game.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Gabby’s deceptive ex won’t quit pursuing her, and her anonymous online friend suggests they take a break. Worst of all, as the pressure mounts to save the bookshop and her job, Gabby meets a new, tender side of Jonathan. Is this the same man she’s called her cold-hearted enemy?

Maybe he’s got a motive she just can’t figure out—or maybe Jonathan Frost isn’t as chilly as she once thought. Maybe Jonathan and Gabby already know—and love—each other in ways they never thought possible.

Review

I’m a self-proclaimed Grinch. There are aspects of the holidays that I enjoy (ugly Christmas sweaters for one) but overall I always end up super grumpy when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around. Usually I avoid any sort of holiday centered media but this year I decided I wanted to give some holiday romances a try. I’d seen a tweet about this novella, summarizing The Mistletoe Motive as a grumpyxsunshine couple and likening the pair to Roy Kent and Jessica Day. Now it might be because I just binged almost all of Ted Lasso and am also in the midst of rewatching New Girl but I said “bah humbug spirit, who?” and immediately bought the book. I then proceeded to read the entire thing in one sitting when I couldn’t sleep the night before one of my finals.

Jonathan and Gabby are a force to be reckoned with. The chemistry between them was instantly palpable and I knew that I was in for a fun read. I’ll admit, this book was cheesy as hell but I think that added to my enjoyment. It’s been a while since I’ve felt the type of warm and fuzzy feelings that this book gave me and I loved every minute of it. Gabby is autistic as well as demisexual and I liked seeing how these aspects of her life tied into the overall story. It was funny seeing how she was absolutely baffled by this attraction that she was feeling to Jonathan even though, from an outside perspective, it was obvious how much they were meant for each other.

Another aspect to this was Gabby’s own inner struggle with interpersonal interactions and her nerves over revealing that she was autistic to Jonathan. These nerves really hit home with me as I saw myself reflected in some of her thoughts. It can be terrifying telling someone that you potentially have feelings for about something personal that could end up changing their entire view of you. And adding in on top of that the ease with which one could misread social cues I could completely understand why Gabby reacted the way that she did time and time again throughout the novella.

The more that Jonathan and Gabby communicated with each and got more comfortable with each other, the more that my heart absolutely ached for them. This was a painful slow burn and I mean that in the best way possible. It was clear that Jonathan cared about Gabby because even though he was grumpy to the max, he would do so many little things that displayed how well he knew her. Like remembering her coffee shop order. One thing that always gets to me in romances is either main character simply remembering small things about the other. It makes me melt every single time!

Other things that I really enjoyed about this were the inclusion of hockey in the plot and the side plot “mistaken identity” of the internet love interest. I love hockey so this was just fun even though it was a really minor part of the story. I also absolutely love books where the characters are unaware of the fact that the anonymous person they’ve been interacting with online is the person that they’re falling for in real life. It’s one of my favorite tropes so I loved that this was part of this story.

Overall I absolutely adored The Mistletoe Motive. It was so cheesy but I loved every second of it. I finished my marathon one sitting read with so many warm and fuzzy feelings that I almost wanted to immediately reread it. If you’re looking for a quick read with a bookstore setting and some good old holiday cheer with a grumpyxsunshine couple I highly recommend this book. I rated it five stars.

Image: White cup of coffee photographed from above on solid bright yellow background. Overlaid on the coffee cup are five white stars

You can add The Mistletoe Motive on Goodreads here.

And if you’re interested in buying it, this is a Kobo original so that’s the one place you can find it. The link to that is here.

Other Places To Find Me

Twitter: nihilisticactus

Readerly: sideofadventure

Add me on Goodreads (or follow my reviews there), profile linked here.

For review requests/inquiries: adventuresandespresso@gmail.com

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Books Reviews

ADHD Rep, Living Out Fanfiction Tropes, and More: Review of All the Feels by Olivia Dade + A Mini Review of Spoiler Alert

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using the link I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All the Feels (Spoiler Alert, #2)

Synopsis

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, God of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.

Review

Content warnings will be included at the end of the reviews.

e-ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley in exchange for review.

All the Feels truly gave me all the feels.

This might be one of my new favorite romances of all time. I flew through this and saw so many parts of myself in the main characters that I couldn’t help but root for both of them. All the Feels follows Alex, an actor with ADHD, after an incident at a bar leads him to be assigned a minder to keep him out of future trouble. Lauren, the woman who has been tasked with keeping Alex out of trouble, is an emergency room therapist who hopes that after her previous work this job will be a welcome break. What neither of them expects are the feelings that begin developing between them and the scandal that threatens to break them apart.

I feel like I shouldn’t focus my entire review on the ADHD rep in this book but genuinely I felt so seen that I absolutely won’t hesitate to scream my praises for this aspect. The impulsivity, the rage, the rejection sensitivity. Yes, there were also all of the aspects that had to do with the inability to focus or the hyperfocusing but it really got to me seeing all of the other parts included too. Plus seeing how that played into first his friendship, and then his relationship with Lauren had me remembering so many little aspects of relationships I’ve been in in the past and realizing how much my own ADHD factored in. Seriously though, absolutely can’t emphasize enough how spot on the ADHD rep was.

In terms of the story, I liked the way it progressed. From an almost disastrous meeting to friendship to scandal and more I was loving every minute of it. All the Feels was angsty but funny and I enjoyed the dynamics between Alex and Lauren. I’m a fan of relationships where one person is constantly bugging the other and that other person tries their hardest not to give in and acknowledge it because they actually do find it funny and that’s exactly the dynamic that Alex and Lauren had. She tried so hard to keep up this no nonsense demeanor that when it would crack I couldn’t help but laugh. And when she would join Alex and they would banter it made it all the better.

Another thing that I really liked about this book was that Alex and Lauren challenged each other. They both had growing that they needed to do and I liked seeing how they both taught each other things. It was refreshing to see another book where both of the characters needed to work on themselves a bit and as I will always say, yay for book characters going to therapy!

Oh, and the fact that Alex not only reads fanfiction, but takes a stab at writing it?? Coupled with the absolute sheer joy he gets upon realizing he gets to live out the “only one bed” trope made my entire week when I first read this! I’m already contemplating rereading this before the year is over just because I enjoyed it that much. Five stars to All the Feels.

Since reading All the Feels, I did also end up picking up the first book in Dade’s series, Spoiler Alert so I thought I’d add a mini review of that before I sign off.

Spoiler Alert (Spoiler Alert, #1)

Dade has created such fun stories in this series that I can’t wait to see what sort of scenario she creates next. I really enjoy seeing how the characters connect and I so appreciate that friendship is a big aspect of these books.

I will say that I thought that Marcus and April had significantly less chemistry. It was harder for me to read their relationship as genuine because it felt more like lust instead of genuine chemistry. With that being said, I know that’s a very *me* opinion and I still completely understand why people adore this book. There was also character growth in this book and it was nice to see both characters open up to each other as the story progressed. Overall, I enjoyed Spoiler Alert and ended up giving it three stars.

I would highly recommend either of these books and will happily pick up Dade’s next book too. I think that these are so much fun and I’m so glad I picked them up!

Content Warnings (this is a combined list from both books): fatphobia/fat shaming, domestic abuse, emotional manipulation/abuse (from parents)

Now, if you’re interested in picking up a copy of either book, you can find them at the following places:

All the Feels: Bookshop // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository // Libro.fm // Amazon

Spoiler Alert: Bookshop // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository // libro.fm // Amazon

Or if you’re interested in finding a local store to shop through, you can find one through Indiebound, linked here.

And if you’re interested in connecting with me elsewhere you can find me:

On Twitter: nihilisticactus

On Readerly: sideofadventure

On Goodreads, profile linked here.

For review requests or other inquiries my email is adventuresandespresso@gmail.com

And if you’d like to buy me a coffee, my Ko-fi is linked here.

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Books Reviews

I Understand Why Everyone Loves This Book Now: Review of Radiance by Grace Draven

This post contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase using that link I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I am on such a romance kick right now, specifically fantasy romance. I’ve been struggling a lot mentally (thanks uni!) so diving into some books that give me all the warm and fuzzy feelings I could possibly want has helped immensely.

I’ve seen so many people talking about Radiance by Grace Draven recently so I checked it out from my library because I wasn’t sure how I’d end up feeling about it but let me tell you…. This was PHENOMENAL and I completely understand why everyone who talks about this book raves about it.

Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1)
Image: Cover of Radiance by Grace Draven

Synopsis

The Prince of no value
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

The noblewoman of no importance
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

Review

Radiance is a friends-to-lovers romance following Idilko and Brishen, two individuals pledged to marry one another in a strategic political move for their respective kingdoms. They’re both close enough to the throne to warrant an arranged marriage, but far enough away that their feelings were never considered before being betrothed. This was such an intriguing start to a book, these two kingdoms are vastly different, one isn’t even inhabited by humans, and I couldn’t wait to see where it went. Ildiko is human and Brishen is from a race of human-like creatures called Kai. The Kai have gray skin, sharp teeth and claws, and large dark eyes that better suit them for their nocturnal existence. I thought that this aspect of the story brought so much humor to the plot. I loved how they were both disgusted with each other in the beginning in terms of appearance and the fact that their insulting descriptions quickly turned into terms of endearment was amazing. The humor that Draven laced throughout this book really brought it to a new level from what I expected it to be. I won’t spoil anything but there are a few scenes where Ildiko and Brishen tried foods from the others kingdoms and oh boy, I actually laughed out loud reading about Brishen trying this particular human food.

Something else that I thought Draven did well with this book was the honesty that she fostered between the couple. It was refreshing and downright adorable at times. I swooned on more than one occasion while reading because I couldn’t handle how sweet Brishen and Ildiko were together. Brishen was respectful and caring and he complemented Ildiko perfectly. With the honesty that they harbored the chemistry was evident from their first on page interaction. It was such a joy to watch their relationship develop. Friends-to-lovers is such a joy of a trope to read!

Radiance is the first book in a series, the first three books are currently out. I thought that this gave a great set up to the story. I could see it being read as a standalone, however, the epilogue immediately had me wanting to pick up book two (I’ve got about a two-month wait before I can get a copy from my library). The reason that I do say that it could be read as a standalone is because it gave me everything I would want in terms of a fantasy romance. It set up the relationship and had some conflict that did largely get resolved and with the exception of the epilogue there was a happy conclusion but I am very excited to get absorbed into this world some more. Draven has written a superb romance with this book and I recommend picking it up if you’re looking for an engrossing fantasy read with a sweet couple and a healthy dose of humor. A five star read for me.

Y’all, I think that I’m realizing how much more I enjoy fantasy romance compared to contemporary romance because I can’t get enough of these types of stories. Since the stories are romance centered, the fantasy elements sometimes take a backseat but I think that’s why I enjoy them so much. I love to get immersed into these fun plots where fantastical events occur but I don’t always have the brain power to read intense fantasy tomes. I have another review that I’m hoping to post soon for The Bridge Kingdom duology by Danielle L. Jensen. Same vibes and I loved them. And with that I’ve got to get back to studying!

You can add Radiance on Goodreads at this link.

Or if you’re interested in picking up your own copy you can find it at the following:

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Audible

Other places you can find me:

Follow my reviews or add me as a friend on Goodreads here.

Twitter: nihilisticactus

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Books Reviews Wrap Ups

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.

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Books Reviews

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!

Untitled design-5

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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Books Uncategorized Wrap Ups

August Reading Wrap Up: 2019

August was a pretty good reading month! In general it was a very busy month and I’m surprised that I read as much as I did! Now that I’m back in school my reading has already slowed down but I’m hoping that I can pull out some decent posts and reviews for September.

If a book has ** next to it, that means the book was an ARC that I received from NetGalley or the publisher in exchange for my honest review 🙂

100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons**

100days

2/5 stars

You can read my full review here. It’s a shame such a beautiful cover was given to such a disappointing book. I had such high hopes but it really let me down.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai**

trs

5/5 stars

Y’all… Alisha Rai announced her next book in this romance world a few weeks ago and I shrieked when I saw the tweet. I CAN’T WAIT. The Right Swipe was so good and so heartwarming and it just made me feel all the feels. Such a diverse cast of characters and a kick ass main female lead. I found this book incredibly relatable to my own views on love and relationships and I highly recommend picking it up!

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

35230420

5/5 stars

I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. It made me feel full and sentimental. It’s full of magical realism and family and friends and feelings. I highly recommend it. Great LGBT+ representation and while it surrounded a dark topic I felt that it was all handled well and the book was just beautiful in the end. So unique and engrossing.

(TW: Rape)

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern

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4/5 stars

This was available on NetGalley and it’s by the creator of one of my favorite webcomics (My Life as a Background Slytherin) so I had to get my hands on this. It was hilarious!! So satirical about romance tropes and plots and I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions through the whole course of reading.

The only reason I docked a star was just because the pacing and plot was not always easy to follow. I got confused by the characters multiple times and there were some cases where I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Not really sure if this was the intention or if that’s just a result of it all.

Still loved it though and this comes out on September 17 if you’re interested in checking it out for yourself!

Preorder links: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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5/5 stars

Working on collecting all of Sarah Dessen’s books and rereading them as I go. I actually changed my rating from the first time I had read this book to now. Originally I had rated it 3 stars because I didn’t like the main character. Now though, I could see the reasons why I was frustrated with the main character but I think Dessen wrote this book really well with how Macy dealt with grieving and healing.

I’m pretty sure these will always be my favorite YA contemporaries. This is a good story about learning how to be yourself and make decisions that are good for you and not just following what others want for you.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

What You Did by Claire McGowan**

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3/5 stars

So I completely forgot that I had gotten approved for this on NetGalley and ended up borrowing it from Kindle Unlimited. At least I realized after the fact and submitted a review on NetGalley *face palm*.

Anyways, this was a really average domestic thriller. The characters were beyond frustrating so if you can’t look past the idiotic choices that people might make because they’re trying to preserve themselves then this might not be the book for you. There were two parallel timelines and also the perspective changed at seemingly random increments and those aspects seemed completely unnecessary. The overall plot started off really strong but went downhill to the point where I was kind of skimming to get to the end. It was really predictable but I say that about almost every thriller I read.

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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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5/5 stars

I did it. I found a good thriller (I’m referencing this post when I say this). Also I wanted to say that apparently I lied in that post because I was going through my Goodreads the other day in order to come up with recommendations for another post I’m working on and I rated a Gillian Flynn book five stars? I need to go reread that now to see what I was so hyped up about with that.

So this book was so gripping and while I figured out aspects of it over the course of the book there was one point that literally BLEW MY MIND and I flew through the rest of the book after that. I stayed up until almost midnight on a weeknight to finish this and while I highly regretted that at work the next morning it was so worth it.

If you’re looking for a book with a good twist, pick this one up and give it a try. This also had really great pacing and I never felt like it dragged which is an issue I’m having with so many thrillers I’ve read.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Poison Garden by A.J. Banner**

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3/5 stars

This book was zooming straight for 2 stars until I got to the ending. This was another pretty standard domestic thriller. While I think that if you’re well versed with the genre you might not enjoy this as much, if you’re new to thrillers I think that you could enjoy this.

The Poison Garden comes out on October 22 and I’ll be posting a review around that date where I go in depth with my thoughts for this.

Preorder links: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

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5/5 stars

This is still my absolute favorite book and it was quite an emotional reread. My best friend and I were actually together while I was reading this and she was rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and we basically both just sat there reading passages of our books back and forth to each other.

You can check out my post about my reread here.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt**

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4/5 stars

This book comes out in October and I got an ARC from NetGalley and honestly I was so excited when I saw that I was approved for it!! I absolutely love Disney and some of my favorite non-fiction books involve learning about women’s roles in big industries from the past.

My only issues with this came from confusion of the timeline but I’ll be posting a full discussion closer to the release date. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of women working in animation then I would highly recommend picking this up. I learned so many things and I was surprised at just how much work went into animation back in the day. It’s just amazing what went into those old Disney movies.

Preorder links: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan**

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1/5 stars

This book made me want to chuck my computer out the window so much. I don’t want to say that I hated the book… But I kind of hated this book. This book could have been groundbreaking in the YA community because it completely surrounds the topic of abortion which is a really heavy topic as of late but this missed the mark on numerous occasions.

I’ll be posting an in depth review with spoilers in it once this book is released. And I will say that while I can see why people would like this, I just think that it pushed the wrong messages unknowingly. Oof, just thinking about this is getting me heated. Writing my full review is going to be tons of fun. I’ve been avoiding it because I don’t want to get angry again.

Preorder links: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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5/5 stars

I really needed this reread. Also this second time around I realized that I have a lot of issues with Alex? But also I relate to him a lot so I’m just leaving my rating at 5 stars because I don’t think his opinions and actions are outrageously bad for his age.

Here’s the link to my original review of this!

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

I also did a whole post where I did mini reviews of five poetry collections which you can find here. The five books featured in that post were the ones I’ve inserted the covers of below and all my thoughts and ratings about these are in my post which I’ll link again here.

 

 

And with that, I want to know what you read in August. Anything you loved? Anything you hated? What are you looking forward to reading in September?

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A Romance Trope That I Hate: Discussing the Lack of Communication in Enemies to Lovers Books

Okay, okay, so hate might be a strong word but this trope always drive me crazy when I read it because I have yet to find a book where it’s actually executed well.

Oh, and as a heads up, this book will contain minor spoilers for:

  • Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
  • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

I am desperately searching for an “enemies to lovers” book that actually is a true enemies to lovers. Almost every book that I have read so far that claims this trope can be boiled down to, “We have never properly communicated our feelings and thoughts to each other so we obviously must ‘hate’ each other.” Sometimes I wonder if this is why I find myself drawn to Dramione (Draco and Hermione) fanfiction because they are the biggest enemies ever but always find a way to fit together so perfectly in the stories that they’re written in to.

As mentioned above, two of the books that I’ve read recently that are considered enemies to lovers are Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. I myself consider neither of these to fit under that category. I mean, in no way shape or form do I think that either of the couples in these books were actually enemies to begin with. It’s just surprising to me to see how little it takes to consider two people to be enemies.

Now in RWRB and The Unhoneymooners both pairs essentially hate each other because of one look, one fleeting moment that apparently made it obvious that one person hated the other. I mean Olive literally hated Ethan because he made a weird face when she bought cheese curds at the state fair and she made up an entire story as to what he must think of her. Like she basically accused him of fat shaming her when he literally didn’t even say a single word to her at that point in time. I can only guess what she must think of people with resting bitch face that accidentally look at her the wrong way once. I don’t want to be that annoying bitch that brings up the good old middle school statement of “you know what happens when you assume…” but I’m going to do it.

And because of the way that Olive feels, she lets herself stew in that anger and unwarranted hatred towards Ethan for absolutely no reason. It would have taken two seconds to say “What the hell kind of a face is that for?” at the time of the incident and they could have gotten that cleared up and squared away before they even left the state fair. From any point forward if Olive or Ethan either decided to act like an adult they could have easily just brought up the fact that they clearly were fighting for no reason but instead just let it stew. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for flirtatious fighting, it’s one of my favorite things, but when it comes from a source of miscommunication it just really grates on my nerves.

In RWRB it makes a tad bit more sense as to why they didn’t communicate their feelings towards each other. I mean they didn’t even live on the same continent. And the fact that Henry had feelings for Alex just kept him from doing the mature thing and actually talking to him.

To me, this enemies to lovers trope comes from a place of immaturity. It takes hardly any time at all to bring up things that are bugging you. It allows for you to avoid being passive aggressive and harboring anger towards someone that you might have absolutely no reason to be angry at! I mean look at what happened after Olive and Ethan and Alex and Henry actually talked about the inciting incidents that made them “enemies”… They realized that there was no reason to be feeling the way that they were feeling.

And this trope isn’t necessarily problematic but I just get so frustrated at the lack of communication. In both of these situations they really have no reason to begin as enemies. They just don’t talk to each other and let small matters overwhelm their opinions of someone. Does anyone else think this?

This lack of communication isn’t just an issue in enemies to lovers books though, I feel like it plagues all romance and contemporary books. I mean it has to, lack of communication always fuels that climactic moment when everything seems to fall apart before the inevitable happily ever after. And even though I love getting to that happily ever after, the older I get the more frustrated I become when people just get angry or ruin relationships because they don’t want to communicate their real thoughts and feelings. It’s beyond childish and seeing it pop up continuously in new adult and adult books just makes me wonder if ever we will all learn how to talk to each other like “adults” are supposed to.

I have a really hard time considering these books enemies to lovers because they have no warranted reasons to be enemies in the first place. I would hardly consider them enemies anyways, just dipshits who don’t know how to talk about their problems like adults should. It’s taken me years to learn how to talk to people about my frustrations instead of just bottling them up and I have to admit that I still most of the time just bottle it up and try to get along with everyone no matter what. Sometimes it’s just better for everyone involved. But in the books that I’ve mentioned here, that’s really not the case.

So again, I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this topic! And if you have any recommendations for a real enemies to lovers story I’d love to hear it so I can give it a chance.

 

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Books

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