The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: ★★★

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

Review:

Thank you to Christina Lauren, Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This wasn’t my favorite Christina Lauren ever. As sad as it is, the last two have just been meh for me. There’s some winners with these authors and unfortunately, there’s some that don’t live up to the “Christina Lauren” expectation.

I’m not sure entirely what wasn’t my favorite about this novel. I think it was just a mixture of things. The pace of the book..the characters..I can’t really just pinpoint one thing.

The beginning of this book focuses mostly on the Tripps and it was a little slow to get through. When I got to the middle of the book, it definitely picked up for me. Then, it progressively got slower towards the end. I feel as though the ending seemed slow, but also felt rushed.

The relationship between Carey and James didn’t feel developed enough throughout this novel and that’s why I think I had the hardest time with it. I loved when their romance began, but other than that, it seemed very forced and I had a hard time reading their relationship that I wasn’t sure was even based on a underdeveloped chemistry.

Overall, I hope that two of my favorite authors can make another book come to life soon. Their last couple books haven’t been the best in my eyes, but I won’t hesitate to read their next novel.

March & April 2020 Reads

Number of Books Read: 22
Avg. Rating of the  books: 3.86/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 5/22
*five star ratings are bold

  • Confessions of a Naughty Nanny by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #6)
  • Kiss Me Not by Emma Hart (Kiss Me #1)
  • Kiss Me Tonight  by Emma Hart (Kiss Me #2)
  • Kiss Me Again by Emma Hart (Kiss Me #3)
  • Moonlight in Vermont by Kacy Cross
  • Ten Days Gone by Beverly Long (A.L. McKittridge #1)
  • A Country Wedding by Leigh Duncan
  • You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks
  • Love Locks by Cory Martin
  • Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
  • Beach Wedding Weekend by Rachel Magee
  • Love by Chance by Kacy Cross
  • Sunrise Cabin by Stacey Donovan
  • Nothing But Trouble by Amy Andrews (Creedence, Colorado #1)
  • The Trouble With Christmas by Amy Andrews (Creedence, Colorado #2)
  • A Forgotten Murder by Jude Deveraux
  • The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne
  • Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth
  • The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren
  • A Simple Wedding by Leigh Duncan
  • Royal Savage by Victoria Ashley (Savage & Ink #1)
  • Beautiful Savage by  Victoria Ashley (Savage & Ink #2)

So, I took some time off with these two months. Well, mostly April. I only read two books in April because I hit a rut (of course during quarantine), but we’re back now! Here’s to a happier time reading in May!

The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne

Thank you Harlequin Books for allowing me to participate in The Sea Glass Cottage Blog Tour! I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Rating: ★★★★

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured in a car accident, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness.

Review:

This was my first RaeAnne Thayne novel but definitely not my last!

This book was all female, mostly all of the time. There were many female characters, Liv, her niece and her mother, with whom she has a stressed relationship with. Sometimes, I would think this would be too much drama going on, but I think RaeAnne Thayne did a phenomenal job with the writing to keep the reader interested.

Like I said, there was a lot going on. If this was separated by character and chapters, it would’ve for sure been way too confusing. However, it was just an overall story about these characters and it was like watching a soap opera in my head. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. It was as they say, “like a train crash, you want to look away, but you can’t.”

There are a lot of emotions in this book. It’s crushing and heartwarming all in the same book. RaeAnne Thayne did a wonderful job making sure all of the characters were heard in the same way. I didn’t feel as though I knew more about one character than I did another. Also, the story is a lot about overcoming obstacles whether they are physical or mental. I really enjoyed that aspect of this novel.

Lastly, RaeAnne Thayne did a great job with the talk of drug abuse in this novel. This is a really sensitive topic with the society we are in. As someone who has lost individuals to this epidemic, I felt as though RaeAnne Thayne handled this with care. She really did make this feel as though we were looking at this story through Caitlin’s eyes. Losing someone to this is soul-crushing and I really felt that with Liv’s niece.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Sea Glass Cottage. There was a lot going on, but I think it was really good. I will for sure be giving RaeAnne Thayne another read!

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See below for an excerpt of The Sea Glass Cottage!

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Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Rating: ★★★

You Can’t Stop Watching Her.

Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-vlogger, with three young children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold.

Until the day she’s no longer there.

But one day she disappears from the online world – her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to her?

Review:

Thank you to Charlotte Duckworth, Crooked Lane Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book’s synopsis definitely grabbed my attention. Being in a society that is essentially run by social media, these types of books really show the dangers of what can happen in real life. However, a lot of these books are coming out, especially within the last few years. After reading them all, they all start to sound the same mystery wise. Someone disappears, they have a social media presence..yadda yadda.

I didn’t hate this book. I really didn’t. I thought learning about Violet and what happened to her and why she deleted her social media without a trace was pretty interesting. I just think that the background details just were kind of meh. I didn’t feel any specific way towards that, but I did enjoy the thrilling aspect of it. This honestly could’ve been classified more as a thriller than a mystery in my eyes.

My favorite part about this book was that two fans were trying to figure out the mystery of what happened to their favorite Youtuber. Usually, watching the news or reading a story about it, if something happens to someone with a social media presence, it’s a crazed fan that did something to them. Don’t get me wrong, these two were definitely obsessive over Violet, but it was nice to read something that wasn’t like the others in that aspect. I really liked the difference of story there.

The difference in point-of-views had me a little confused at times. Throwing Violet’s husband in there to separate things was very smart on Charlotte Duckworth’s part because I was able to distinguish the multiple feelings of this story.

Overall, this was interesting but it didn’t WOW me. The writing was alright, there were definitely some attention-grabbing parts, but I just didn’t have the best time with this novel. The conclusion was just alright, but if you’re looking for a fast-paced story to read while you’re staying inside, this is a good one that’ll take up a day!

 

The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★

Willa Parker, 646th and least-popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and Willa has no intention of fitting in. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit in. When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel Remy spinning right out of her grasp.

Review:

When I read the synopsis and first started this book, I thought it had a lot of promising qualities that really could have me interested. The cover is what really got me. Harper Teen really put out a beautiful cover on this one. As I got in to it, I really had issues with a lot of things going on and I frankly feel like this book failed to deliver. I will say I read this book all the way through to see where it was going to go. I did find that there was a story, but it was in the beginning and then about 60% in and then it fell off again. This one was a struggle.

The main thing I had an issue with about this novel was the writing. The writing was short and to the point, and while that’s not always bad, I felt like I was reading a book that had been transcribed from a reading or audio. There wasn’t much detail, I feel like I was thrown back and forth a little, and I had to restart pages because I was just plain confused. I don’t think that the trope was bad or even that the story was bad, but I think the way that it was explained was a little confusing to me.

On the other hand, I will say that Remy was the most exciting part of this book. I loved every part of her. I was very interested to see where her story was going to lead which is where the book finally started to pick up for me.

I gave this book two stars because Andrea Portes does have some underlying dark tones in her book. I really think she handled them with care. I am someone who really can’t do substance abuse or drug abuse in books, but she did well with this and really took care of her readers when it came to that.

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite YA. I did struggle a lot with the writing and wish it was a little more in-depth instead of short and choppy. I would definitely give Andrea Portes another chance and hopes that the writing is a little different in the next one.

 

 

 

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ★★★★

Summer love…gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairytale ending, and to complicate the fairytale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right? Right.

Review:

Thank you Sophie Gonzales, Wednesday Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease.

Right from this description alone, I was hooked. Simon, Clueless and Grease??? Three things I love? I knew that this book was going to be a good one.

I was so invested in the beginning that I could not stop reading. Every word was being permanently written into my brain because the description that I read was spot on. It was so diverse, so interesting and so entertaining that I didn’t want to put it down.

When I hit the halfway mark, I had no idea what happened. I was sitting there thinking..am I going to have to put this book down? It slowed down to the point of confusion. I was so hoping that the book was going to pick back up to the speed it was when I first picked it up.

After I hit that little patch of slow, it did (thank god) pick up and I was able to fly to the end with enjoyment. After finishing and reflecting, this book was a solid four star read for me. I was so thankful to give it a higher rating because it did pick back up after starting so strong.

I just loved the characters. Ollie and Will were such good characters that I wanted to really dive deep into their lives. This story is told in first person through Ollie and at some points, I wish that we had a duel narration in Will’s head as well. Maybe for another time or book!

I loved the romance in this book as well. For a young adult novel, sometimes it’s either too sweet or not sweet enough, but this one was really good in that sense. The angst and the romance were a perfect ratio throughout the novel, especially towards the end.

“It’ll get easier. That’s the beautiful thing about the universe. It puts you through trials, but it never gives you anything you can’t handle. We grow from these things.”

Sophie Gonzales did a wonderful job with this book and I’m excited to see her books in the future. If they’re anything like Only Mostly Devastated, which is EXACTLY how this book will leave you, then I’m very ready to drop every other book I’m reading in this moment to read hers.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.

Review:

Thank you Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen, St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

These two authors are truly a dynamic duo to the book loving world. I’ve read their previous collaborations are thought they were pretty good. I don’t like to compare, but this one was my least favorite.

The characters were definitely interesting, but I felt like I had a hard time keeping track of them all. There were sisters, Cassandra and Jane, and Shay who were the main parts of this story, but I found myself wanting to know more about the background characters than the main. I could really keep the stories of Cassandra and Jane straight, while the other details and information got lost somewhere in the back of my brain.

I think that the thing about this novel is that it has a really good idea and story, but it took too long to get out there. By the time I reached half way through the book, I was still questioning some things and had to stop and think about whether or not if I should even bother going the next twenty-or-so percent if I didn’t get anything by then.

My favorite part of this novel was Shay’s data. Now, I’m not someone who is really interested in statistics or statistical data, but Shay made it really interesting. I really appreciated learning some cool things throughout this novel even though I didn’t get much out of the story. Like…what?!

The average person will walk past 16 killers in the person’s lifetime.”

Again, I love these two writers when the collaborate. I think they have amazing imaginations and I think that their books make for amazing movies if they are made in to them. This novel just didn’t have that WOW factor for me this time, but I won’t hesitate to pick up another one of their collabs in the future!

Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls

Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: ★★

A film-obsessed romantic rewrites the script to understand why his “picture-perfect” love story crashed and burned in this wonderfully clever debut.

Ellie had the quizzical eyebrows of Broadcast News-era Holly Hunter and the neon-red hair of Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At least, that’s what caught Nick’s attention when he met her on the night of 2008’s historic election. A cinema devotee and lover of great love stories, Nick always fancied himself the Tom Hanks of his own romantic comedy, and when sparks flew with Ellie that night, he swiftly cast her as the Meg Ryan of his story. For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job as a film projectionist: wholly, earnestly, cinematically.

But now Ellie has moved out, convinced “the fire’s gone,” and Nick is forced to sift through his memories to figure out where it all went wrong. The fallout from Ellie’s declaration that she “doesn’t love Nick the way she used to” throws him back into recollections of their first night together. Their shared jokes, her wry smile, the “hope” that filled the night air–his memories are as rose-colored as the Hollywood love stories he idealizes.

That night was a perfect meet-cute, yes, but was their romance as destined for a “happily ever after” as he’d thought? Is he really the rom-com hero he believes he’s been? Or did this Harry let his Sally down? Peppered with references to beloved movies, Love, Unscripted explores how even a hopeless romantic can learn that in real life, love isn’t, and shouldn’t be, like what we see in the movies.

Review:

Thank you to Owen Nicholls, Ballantine Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

There are three timelines that Love, Unscripted feature. The first timeline is the presidential election night in 2008. This is where Nick and Ellie meet for the first time. Then, the second timeline is current time where Ellie and Nick are broken up and Nick is trying to figure out what went wrong. The third and final timeline is the in-between, like what happened during their relationship throughout the years.

This book had a lot of promising qualities, but I really struggled throughout.  The timelines really threw me off and I think I would’ve had a better time with it if there were only two. I understand the concept of having different timelines so we can grasp every detail and really learn their story. However, I found the three timelines to be confusing and it could’ve been done better.

The drag of this book is what made me give the rating I did. I’m not someone who usually has that hard of a time getting into a book, but this time was different. I think half of it has to do with the fact that I’m not interested in politics at all and the other half was that I could not get into the characters. It was very slow and the characters didn’t have that much of a development. There were moments of “maybe I can get into Nick” and then I was thrown back to the night of the election or somewhere in the past.

There were honest parts of this book where you see Nick’s down spiral, but I struggled a lot with his character. Like I said, there were quick, fleeting moments of possibly liking Nick’s character, but I had a hard time with him because he becomes very jerk-ish to everyone and it just makes him very unlikable.

Overall, as someone that loves movies and read the synopsis of this book, I thought that this book was going to be very different. I loved the idea of it and it had a lot of promising qualities, but it just was not for me. It was a good start for Owen Nicholls in fiction, I’ll definitely check his books in the future.