Book Review

Book Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 440 pages
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?

VERY CHARACTER DRIVEN.

This was very different than the previous four (maybe five?) Dessen novels I have read. Not in a bad way, just different.

This was heavily character driven and was a bit of a long book. It took a bit to get into because I didn’t know when it really began. I kept looking for a love story that I didn’t see. Once I realized that this was going to much deeper levels than that, I was able to get on board.

NOW, not to say there wasn’t a little bit of romance. Saylor does meet someone, and things end well. It isn’t the forefront of the novel though. The big focus is on Saylor and her growth over the summer. After a family tragedy she grows up not really remembering having spent any time there when she was younger. Her time spent on the lake allows her the opportunity to learn about her mother’s family. She’s able to reconnect with so many people and learn through them about her mother and more.

Saylor changes a lot over the course of the novel and helps her Dad do the same. He was a bit more stubborn (because of grief) and she is able to help him release the tension he had been carrying way too long. At times I would be upset with her Dad because I couldn’t grasp WHY he couldn’t relax a little. By the end, the rest of the story is out and we’re able to understand the decisions at play.

Lots of lasting re-kindlings with family are made and has given Saylor back apart of her life she didn’t realize how much she needed.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: mentions of a boat crash (off screen) and a sailing boat capsizes
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, drug abuse, off-screen heroine overdose, underage drinking, loss of a loved one

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

HEART-WRENCHING.

I liked this book, but it was not my favorite by Christina Lauren.

This was so quick to fly through. I really enjoy love stories that flip back and forth in time. The hype and anticipation that builds waiting to find out what really happened that one night that ruined it all. YES. It makes the book fly by and this was no different.

Even as soon as Elliot and Macy saw each other it was like whoa, that’s my lobster (Friends fans anyone?). The fact that they both immediately realized their attraction and childhood love was still there ripped my heart out. WHY DID YOU LEAVE FOR 11 YEARS. Seriously, all of the emotions.

These characters were flawed and layered in so many ways. It made this romance stand out and brought the entire story to life. I thought Elliot and Macy were well thought out, and even the side characters added just the right touch.

The reason for their initial issues was a little eh. I didn’t love it and it kind of made me mad because it was a bit cliche. I’m glad they were actually able to communicate (FINALLY) and solve the issues from that night. So many things went wrong and it pulled at all of the heart strings watching young love be dashed.

I looooove Elliot. He was so sweet. He refused to give up on his first love and I’m impressed he held out this long to only be waiting for maybe a chance moment of running into Macy. He was continually thoughtful and endearing and I couldn’t get enough of him.

This book had a bit too much casual discussions of sex, and descriptions of sex for me. It’s a total personal opinion so don’t be deterred if you don’t mind this level of detail! I know we all have our own comfort level.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, mentions of masturbation, casual sex, some detailed love scenes
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 528 pages
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 73rd, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

A FUN SUMMER READ

a Bookstagram friend recommended this when I was looking for distracting books that I could be wrapped up in. I loved that this totally came through and I found myself flying through it.

I loved all of the dogs in here because I personally used to work with dogs so I felt all of this on a personal level. I thought it was unique too as I haven’t seen that be part of a plot before. I honestly think it would be the perfect summer job to walk dogs! HOW FUN.

The love story was cute. I was invested in it from the start and loved Clark. He was sweet, and nerdy and I would definitely be into a fantasy writer. Their interactions were absolutely precious and I had no problems loving them. I wish they both communicated a little better with each other, but overall I actually loved that it wasn’t enemies to lovers (my generally favorite trope). This was a summer fling kind of romance and YES. I am all over it.

Andie’s friends on the other hand were realllll annoying at times. That and the fact that for a contemporary I felt 500+ pages was too long were my only issues. Some random pieces of her friends lives were almost playing too big of a part in the story, and then it kind of ended weird? I understood where her friend was coming from, but was also reallll confused.

Andie had some Daddy issues that caused her to spiral at times but I liked her character. She was a lot more emotionally aware as a teen than I expected, even when she made some mistakes. She had to bounce back from a lot as she tried to navigate her summer and what was more important. There was a strong take on communication and re-connecting with family. I appreciated and enjoyed watching Andie and her Dad both work at their relationship.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: lots of kisses & make-outs, discussion of “bases” and going all the way but no actual depicted love scenes

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆   
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

THIS DUO DOES IT AGAIN.

I finished this book IN HOURS. That’s how much I loved it. Oh it was so cute y’all.

There were moments where I actually found myself laughing out loud at the antics that Olive would find herself in. The poor girl is always the unlucky twin and her stories show. But, over the course of this book she had a lot of growth as she realized she also possessed the power to change her course and not always assume she would draw the short straw.

Ethan was precious. I loved all of his interactions (and that massage scene you guys!! – the angst was real throughout this entire book) He and Olive made this amazing pair. This book could have been even longer and I wouldn’t have complained one bit. This is less enemies-to-lovers than it appears though. The whole reason she has an issue with him is a misunderstanding. Goes to show, communication is key.

I had heard that this one was less steamy than their other novels. I found it to be a perfect amount. I personally don’t love when the books feels like only sex, so by dialing this down I got a lot of great banter, sweet-heart moments and more plot.

I struggled with Ami because I felt she should have trusted her twin more (and Dane is seriously, the worst). Their plot line only really added to the conflict between Olive & Ethan.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses, a little-detailed love scene, a few more that are mostly fade to black
  • Trigger warning: cheating spouses

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Length: 388 pages
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

THIS. WAS. STELLAR.

Tear-shedding (yes, one scene totally had me shedding a few tears), heart-stopping, and utterly devastating, this book took me to some high highs and some low lows. I’m still speechless thinking about it.

I started off really not loving Calla. She was materialistic, vain, selfish and more. I dearly hoped she would have a turn around in this book, and I’m so happy she did. Calla became more lovable as a character to me and all I wanted to do was give her a hug. She went through a lot in 400 pages.

The story itself, focusing a lot on her Dad left me crying y’all. I know I already mentioned it, BUT IT HAD TO BE SAID AGAIN. I don’t generally cry reading. Granted, it was 2 AM so being really tired probably contributed, but still. There was one scene in there that I *can’t* handle. I loved watched Wren and Calla figure out each other and actually open up. There wasn’t heavy drama between them. It really focused on remembering how important family is and soaking up any time you get to have them. The awkward first encounters turned into deep conversations where they had a chance to know about each other’s lives.

Now, we know I have to talk about the romance. OHEMGEE. Jonah. My rugged space cowboy Jonah. I was totally impressed with how this was done. There was so much angst I could barely stand it. It was amazing. Fantastic banter that left me chuckling (and a few good pranks that made me squeal). Sweet, loving moments where all the emotions came out. All of it. Tucker turned the span of a few weeks into this magical romance that makes me so happy I picked this book up.

While I still don’t want to fly on tiny planes. This book also gave me major wanderlust. I wanted to be in Alaska. Seeing these gorgeous sites in my mind wasn’t doing it justice. The beautiful writing made it feel like I was really in this small towns and rugged landscapes.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a mildly detailed love scene and others more glossed over
  • Violence: plane crash
  • Trigger warnings: divorce, terminal illness (cancer), loss of a loved one

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: August 9th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Nemesis (n.) 
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

ASDFGHJKL; SO CUTE I HAVE NO WORDS.

I get it. I TOTALLY GET THE HYPE for this book. Y’all. This & Josh and Hazel in the last few weeks? I’m on a contemporary romance roll.

My favorite portions of a romance book is the banter. I LIVE FOR BANTER. Witty and amusing lines that make me laugh and say: you know you love each other. Lucy and Josh were top notch at this. I thought it was clever and cute to have them play games the entire book as they really got to know one another.

The sexual tension was off the charts. It was so intense and all I could do was flip page after page (causing me to stay up til 2:30 AM…) to find out what would happen next. This story immediately grabbed my attention and it was easy to keep going.

I obsessed over the fact that Josh has loved Lucy from day one. Saying he had one more weekend to win her over? Y’ALL *cue hand over heart, smitten look*. Never being the nice guy? IT’S OK JOSH. LUCY’S GOT YOU. The way she threw down to back Josh was a solid way to put a cap on some things.

One thing that did bother me was Lucy’s obsession with how good Josh looked. She was relentless in commenting on it and it got a bit old. I also did not need to keep hearing about his serial killer eyes. That was a tad weird. I get it, he’s gorgeous, but I felt that could have been dialed down (especially because she commented to herself how she was saying this too often!?) Josh was also a biiiiit intense at times. Lucy would comment on being afraid of him, and I don’t think anyone should feel that way about a partner.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: quite a bit
  • Romance: kisses, innuendo, some almost love scenes, and a detailed love scene

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 421 pages
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars? 

CUTE & PREDICTABLE.

I am a total mood reader. I’ll look at the books I have in hand and choose purely based off of what I’m looking for. In this case, it was a fluffy, predictable, romance that called my name. And this is one of those cases where, predictable is good and welcome.

This group of high school kids absolutely annoyed me to no end. Luckily, the only two I liked happened to be the main characters, Zorie and Lennon. I was actually excited when they ended up on their own because I was completely invested in their story of friends/lovers to enemies and back again.

I also appreciated that this book had positive anxiety rep. I personally struggle with anxiety and really felt for Zorie and how she coped with it. One of the best parts was how Lennon never faulted her for this. He continually checked on her, helped her plan to smooth her fears, and ohemgee Lennon became my favorite immediately.

While I was rooting for them to get together, I think it went a tad overboard. I was amazed that somehow within 18 hours (give or take) they went through a whole sleeve of condoms and called the time sexlation. Cool, cool, cool, cool, and all, but mmm, a bit of a nope for me. If I take out that piece though, the witty banter/flirting and coming to terms with what separated them initially was solid. Nothing felt rushed and everything was laid out as it should be.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Romance: discussion of kisses and the fact so-and-so had sex and that they want to have sex || descriptive make-outs and a somewhat detailed love scene(s)
  • Language: quite a bit, including a homophobic slur
  • Violence: physical and verbal
  • Trigger warnings: suicide, loss of a parent, cheating spouse, homophobia, anxiety and depression