On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci

Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Nina Bocci, and Gallery Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I will say that I am not a political person in the slightest. I had a little trouble with this book because I am a little under-educated in the political world, but this book was still easy enough to understand!

This was a great friends/enemies to lovers novel! I really enjoyed the chemistry between the two main characters, Emma and Cooper. Their snide comments and just overall love had me swooning.

I almost gave this book three stars because I felt like at some points I could’ve just skipped ahead and still understood what was going on in the plot. However, the ending did GET ME .

The actual gasp that I let out at the ending had me laughing at myself. It was hilarious and not what I expected at all. I am a believer in Nina Bocci and her ability to make me laugh.

I really enjoyed this one and if you are a fan of Christina Lauren and Lauren Layne, definitely put this one on your to-be-read list!

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Publisher: Graydon House
Rating: ★★★★★

Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster.

By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers—”Hatchlings”—who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.

But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez—the only non-douchey guy at Hatch—has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Kristin Rockaway, and Graydon House for a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

How to Hack a Heartbreak was my most anticipated book this year so far. I am so ecstatic to say that it definitely did not disappoint!

This book was a reminder why I never tried or would try online dating. There is a stigma now surrounded by online dating that it’s all just for hookups. Kristin Rockaway wrote this story hilariously, like she herself has used online dating (apps, etc.) and had some of these problems arise personally. This book felt overall personal in a way, like a testament to not deal with this stuff!

The amount of time I spent laughing in this book is why I loved it so much. She made the characters very likable and able to be laughed at. When it got serious, it really felt it, but a lot of this book was upbeat and I think it really made a difference. I could connect them on a lighthearted level as well as a deeper level when things got a little angsty.

This book was also a testament to how women feel in a “male-dominated industry”. Melanie, the main character, was a coder for a company. There were many times in this book where individuals made Melanie feel like she wasn’t capable of doing her job. It happens so often in this society that I’m really glad Kristin Rockaway talked about how hard some women have to deal with it. I felt this on a personal level because I see it quite often.

I absolutely loved the friendships in this novel. It’s so refreshing to see a character have some friends to rely on during a hard time in her life. A lot of the time in novels, it’s “whoa is me”, “I’m so alone”…, but I feel like this book really showcased the importance of friendship and being there for each other.

Finally, I think that the overall story is so good in this book that you just can’t put it down. Melanie creates a website for women to write about their horror stories that they experienced on a dating app. Jerk Alert was a hilarious and amazing idea. I wish it was a real thing so I could sit, read, laugh and enjoy the stories!

The Retreat by Sherri Smith

Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Forge Books
Rating: ★★★★

Four women.
Four secrets.
A weekend that will change them forever…if they survive.

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fianc�e invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends–one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship–Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.

Review:

Thank you to Sherri Smith, Forge Books, and NetGalley for a free copy of The Retreat in exchange for an honest review.

This story focuses on four women- Katie, Carmen, Ellie, and Ariel. It goes through describing each of their lives while describing what is currently happening at a “getaway” weekend retreat. From reading this, you see that all four women have starkly different ways of life and the things that they’ve been through. The best part was the secrets that each woman was trying to keep under wraps.

The characters in this book was my favorite part. They were all severely flawed and all had things they wanted kept hidden. They were so easy to hate, but I really enjoyed learning about their stories and why they were at this retreat. I read the end of the book in one straight shot because I needed to know what was going to happen based on the BOMB that is dropped on you in the first chapter.

The unpredictability was out-of-this-world. I loved the twists and turns when they were warranted. The only reason why I didn’t give this book five stars is because it was a lot. It was pretty tiring having something happen every other page.

However, I will say, the ending…PHEW! Totally unexpected and well worth the wait! I actually gasped out loud when I read over the final piece of dialogue. This was one of the endings that I think will stay with me. One word to describe this book: riveting.

2019 Reading Challenge: 75/75

Well, that was fast! As of July 15, 2019, I finished my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Below is a complete list of the 75 books I finished with their ratings!

Average Rating: 3.5/5
Days Taken To Reach Goal: 197

The Prenup by Lauren Layne

Publication Date: July 11, 2019
Publisher: Headline Eternal
Rating: ★★★★★

My name is Charlotte Spencer and, ten years ago, I married my brother’s best friend. I haven’t seen him since.

Charlotte Spencer grew up on the blue-blooded Upper East Side of Manhattan but she never wanted the sit-still-look-pretty future her parents dictated for her. Enter Colin Walsh, her brother’s quiet, brooding, man-bun-sporting best friend, and with him a chance to escape.

He’s far from Charlotte’s dream guy as but they need each other for one thing: marriage. One courthouse wedding later, Charlotte’s inheritance is hers to start a business in San Francisco and Irish-born Colin has a Green Card.

Ten years later, Colin drops a bombshell: the terms of their prenup state that before either can file for divorce, they have to live under the same roof for three months.

Suddenly this match made in practicality is about to take on whole new meaning…

Review:

wow. wow. wow. wow wow wow.

I have not read a book that wasn’t an audiobook in a day in alonnnnnng time. This book deserves all of the love and awards. The Prenup is definitely, wholeheartedly, my favorite book of the year so far.

“Life is short. I just don’t really see the point in wasting any more time than necessary being angry or fearful.” 

To start, what even was this story?! Get married and not see each other for ten years? What!!! I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much is because it’s not a book I really read before. Plus, Lauren Layne wrote such a phenomenal book with the love, angst and detail. I could close my eyes and picture everything she wrote in my head.

Next, I feel like Lauren Layne could write anything on a piece of paper and I would cherish it forever. Her quotes spoke to me and I have never even been close to any situation that she wrote about in this book! When I tell you that this book was written phenomenally, take. my. word. for. it! 

Colin and Charlotte are my favorite characters that I have endured in a book in a very long time. I connected with them so well and hated everyone that gave them trouble. I actually sucked my teeth when there were things going on like I was the one being offended. The development throughout this entire book was fantastic with the characters.

I will recommend this book to anyone. I mean it. Take the time out, put your current book on hold, and read this one until it’s finished. You will thank me, I promise!

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

Publication Date: August 9, 2018
Publisher: HQ Books
Rating: ★★

The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

Review:

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Sophia Money-Coutts for a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I am one that loves romance, fluff, happy-endings and every possible romance plot that a book could have. I’ve read enough of them to know what makes a good one and one that doesn’t fit in my idea of a good one. This, unfortunately, is one of those circumstances.

I will start off by saying that there were some lines in this that were absolute zingers. These one-liners had me laughing out loud sometimes. However, with a lack of pace, this was the only thing I really could enjoy in this novel.

I couldn’t really enjoy Polly, the main character. Every time I thought that I’d make a connection with her, it was squashed by something she said or did. I struggled through her story because there was barely any development and sometimes she was just plain awkward. Also, the writing was a little different as the author is British and has a lot of different terms than I do (which is not always bad, but particularly this book was pretty British).

The word that I would use to describe this book would be forgettable. I don’t like using that word personally, but it’s really ringing true with this book. There was nothing in this book that made a lasting impression on me unfortunately. This was very fluffy, so if you like fluff and British books with a bit of humor, this might be for you!

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Rating: ★★★

Crush: a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

Review: 

I am honestly shocked.

When I read The Hating Game, I was so in love with the writing, characters and just overall premise that I gave it an easy five stars. When I read about 99 Percent Mine, it sounded like something that I would enjoy. It sat on my TBR until I finally caved and picked it up. I didn’t want to look at reviews or ratings because I didn’t want to expect highly of this book compared to the Hating Game. Of course, it’s Sally Thorne, I wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

There was something missing from this book. I love me a slow burn, but this was like outrageously slow. I kept reading… and reading… and then BAM! finally something happened. Then, I got pretty interested to see where it would go. I was going out-of-my-MIND to see that I was already at the end of the book. It’s not a surprise that you can gather what is going to happen in this book from the synopsis or even the first few chapters. However, things could’ve happened sooner to make this more enjoyable.

I did really enjoy the details and angsty feelings that I got after this book took a turning point. I was actually waiting and flipping through these pages to get to the end to see what was going to happen. I like when a book can do that for me! It makes a higher rating in my book, to be honest.

Overall, 99 Percent Mine just proved to me that you can’t compare books by the author. Every single author has these moments. It also proved to me that Sally Thorne is a fantastic writer and definitely can still grab my attention, no matter what point in the book I’m at. I would still recommend this book to those who like chick-lit/dramedy novels.

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Corvus
Rating: ★★★

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of – but that’s just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable – until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before the facts get twisted against her.

Review:

“This town convinces you’re better than you really are.” 

When I first read All the Missing Girls, I made it a point to get my hands on the next Megan Miranda novel to hit the bookshelves. It was so interesting and a completely different concept than what I have read before. I read The Perfect Stranger and I felt like it lacked the necessary oomph to make it into a fast-paced mystery. Again, unfortunately, I struggled with the newest Megan Miranda novel.

Just like the beginning of The Perfect Stranger, this book had so much promise of being a book that kept my attention. I was very interested in the plot and it seemed very suspicious/spooky/made you think. However, as I went on, I struggled with every page that I turned. Sometimes, I found myself saying, “I’m only how far along?!”

In my opinion, I think this novel would’ve been a real page-turner if there was some sort of development. There was no development in really any of the characters, not even the main character, Avery. It was a tale of something happened a little while ago and now that time has passed, we resurface everything and try to find new conclusions. If the storytelling was a little better and there was something bigger behind this story, it would’ve easily been a five-star novel.

I think that Megan Miranda had all of the necessary things she needed in this book, but just did not execute them properly. The foundation to have a five-star novel was there for me for sure. However, with a less-than-appealing development throughout the story, I had a really hard time.

Lessons in Love by Belinda Missen

Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Publisher: HQ Digital
Rating: ★★★★

Falling in love is never easy…

Eleanor Manning is finally leaving behind her glittering but empty life in the city (and her soon-to-be-ex-husband) to return to the comfort of her childhood home in Apollo Bay.

She’s landed a lovely new job in her old primary school library and a flatshare with her bubbly best friend, Penny. So yes, she’s well and truly learnt her lesson when it comes to love…

But then she meets gorgeous teacher Marcus Blair and Eleanor’s self-imposed rules fly out of the window! Surely she can resist him long enough to keep this fling no strings attached?

Perfect for fans of Carole Mathews, Mhairi McFarlane and Carrie Hope Fletcher.

Review:
Thank you to Belinda Missen, HQ Digital and NetGalley for a copy of Lessons in Love in exchange for an honest review.

“Why don’t you, you know, stand up for yourself?” 

This was my first Belinda Missen novel, but surely not my last! She had a wonderful way of writing that had me swooning and laughing out loud. Also, the drama !!! had !!! me !!! going !!! crazy !!! The thing I liked the most about this book was the empowerment aspect as well as the plot as it is not really heard of.

Eleanor Manning moved after leaving her husband who cheated on her with her best friend. She moved in with her cousin to get a fresh start. She gets a job as a librarian at her childhood school and is ready to get things done. Here is where we cue *man enters and swooning commences*.

Eleanor and Marcus’ connection is unmistakable and the author really made sure of that. Their banter, insults and overall cuteness makes their connection evident. However, when she starts to see her ex-husband in him, she shies away, which is expected.

The only thing I had issues with in this book was how long it took for things to happen. Of course, I love a slow burn and when angsty things happen. However, I felt like I was already closer to the end of the book before things started to resolve itself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just wish it happened a little bit sooner.

Overall, I definitely will read Belinda’s other books. They are cute, fun, and laugh-out-loud funny. This is for sure a winning novel on my list.