Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★

1. Daniel Mayrock loves his wife Jill…more than anything.
2. Dan quit his job and opened a bookshop.
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. Dan is scared; the bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble. He’s ashamed.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances—he wants to become someone.

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. Of living in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker, and his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press & Matthew Dicks for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Twenty-one Truths About Love is about a man named Daniel who quit his teaching career to open a bookstore. He’s going through a lot with his marriage, losing money and more when he finds out that his wife is pregnant. To help him cope with his life, he makes lists in a diary that displays all different types of areas in life. He figures out what he needs to do and his finances and how he will make it all work. Things are rough for Daniel, but you see just how his mind is working through the lists he creates.

There was a lot to love about this book. Daniel, as a character, was hilarious and had a lot of funny moments in his lists. With this character, you could see the changes in him. He tried to be funny when his life was “falling apart” and it was easy to see that. It reminded me of how we really are as humans. We put on this show of how we are alright on the outside when we are struggling on the inside. I think this is an important reminder for the author to point out, and I’m appreciative of Matthew Dicks doing so.

The book itself got a little tiring in the list format. It’s unique and I was definitely interested in the list aspect of it, but after a while, I got a little bored of it. It was a lot of numbers and titles and it was kind of hard to get through by the end.

The other issue that I had with this book was that I began reading this book because of the synopsis that Daniel was the owner of a bookstore. I feel as though the author only referenced books a couple of times and barely talked about Daniel’s bookish side of life a handful of times.

I think that this novel would be very promising if there were some paragraphs thrown into the mix with the lists. As someone who worked in a library for 10 years, I would’ve liked to see more of Daniel’s bookstore life. However, I understand that this was about Daniel and the journey he had on becoming a father, etc. If you are a lover of general fiction, I’d pick this one up!

 

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Publisher: Putnam
Rating: ★★★★★

For fans of The Hating Game, a debut lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about two unhappily engaged people each trying to force the other to end the relationship–and falling back in love in the process.

Naomi Westfield has an Instagram-perfect life, including the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family every bride dreams of being a part of. They never fight, complain, or disagree. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And they are miserably and utterly sick of each other.

Tired of contorting herself to fit the ridiculous standards demanded by Nicholas’s family, Naomi wants out of the relationship. But there’s a catch: Whoever calls off the engagement will have to foot the enormous bill for the wedding. When Naomi finds out that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of wills to see who can annoy the other into surrendering through pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves. They’re having so much fun getting on each other’s nerves that it starts to feel like something else entirely. As Naomi discovers hidden feelings for Nicholas buried under three years of simmering resentment, she wonders if he feels the same way. Suddenly, the countdown to the wedding that may or may not come to pass feels more like a race to mutual destruction–and Naomi doesn’t want to be left alone at the finish line.

Review:

Thank you to Sarah Hogle, Putnam Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

“His eyes are so black, I think I can see hell in them.”

This book is officially my child. I want to hold this book, squeeze all of the contents in this book, and read it over and over. I had no idea of such a concept, but this is definitely one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read. I took my time reading every word, and yes, it made it a longer read for me, but I really grasped everything that Sarah Hogle was writing.

This story starts out with an engaged couple, Naomi and Nicholas. They try to show that their relationship is picture perfect around their friends, but when they get behind closed doors, all bets are off. It’s really a game of who will end the engagement first. The problem is, whoever ends up ending the engagement, has to pay for the wedding items they already purchased (which was an enormous bill). With only three months until the wedding, Naomi and Nicholas do whatever they can to get each other to call off the wedding. By these childish games and showing their real selves to each other, they start to see who is actually who and how much fun they have together. A true lovers to enemies to lovers. Absolutely amazing.

“I tried to keep him at a safe distance where he could only see the decent parts of me, and it made us both miserable.”

In the beginning of this novel, it just seemed relentless. The almost childish games that Naomi plays with Nicholas. I didn’t know what was going to happen, as most of the mental problems were with Naomi. It seemed almost as she was picking on him, which I didn’t think I would approve of and like this novel for it. HOWEVER, when Nicholas starts going back at her, phew this novel became hilarious. Some of the stuff that they would do was laugh-out-loud funny. You could feel the annoyance and stress through every page. I think that this definitely is one of my favorites because of all of the different emotions you feel yourself as the reader. Comedy, Romance, Cringe-worthy moments, ARE YOU KIDDING ME moments, both happy & sad moments. It was just an amazing ride from start to finish.

I don’t care if you aren’t a fan of romances, you need to read this book. I literally could not put it down. I kept reading and reading and when it was over, I was actually sad. It’s been a long time where a novel has made me feel sad because it was over so I knew that this was one of my favorites ever. A great story and a great debut by Sarah Hogle!

Husband Material by Emily Belden

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

Sometimes love is unpredictable…

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Emily Belden & Graydon House for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The first couple sentences of Husband Material will get you. It has that immediate shock value and you’re left thinking “excuse me?!“.

Charlotte Rosen is a coder with a hot social media analytics company. She works hard and it shows an idea of what it might be like to be in a field that has a predominantly different gender. She has a roommate that has really no idea of her past. Within the first few sentences, you find out a lot about Charlotte and the biggest thing is that she was married, and that her husband had passed away. When her late husband’s ashes show up at her front door five years after his passing, Charlotte’s entire life gets uprooted, so you think. When a major secret comes out to Charlotte about her late husband, things really get crazy for her. While dealing with all of these things, will she find love along the way?

This book had a lot of promising qualities. The interest of what was going to happen was definitely there for me. I think that the premise was something that I had never read before and that had me interested. The synopsis was why I requested it in the first place. There were a lot of good things that had me excited for this publication, but as I read on, there were a lot of things that I couldn’t really grasp either.

I think one problem that I had was that this novel was classified as a contemporary romance. I live for contemporary romances, so I was excited to see where the romance was going to be from this synopsis. In my opinion, the romance fell a little flat for me. I think there were sweet moments with angst mixed in which is one of my favorites. However, my heart felt as though things were a little rushed and crunched in towards the end. I am someone all for a slow burn, but this was extremely slow. I would’ve liked it more if things happened a little sooner. Also, I feel as though the romance was a little off. It felt a little stilted and made me question what was going on. There was zero steam, which I usually don’t mind, but with the romance-o-meter off, it didn’t make me feel my best about this novel.

I also had a problem connecting with Charlotte. I understand that I have never been through such a situation, but I feel like I had a hard time understanding her actions. There were some things that Charlotte did that frustrates me, and in some circumstances this might be good, but I didn’t find it giving me any positive, stimulating feelings. She was pretty unreliable with her actions. You definitely want to go through the pages and grab her by the shoulders to shake her.

Lastly, I will say that I found the author to be hilarious. There were some parts of this book that had me laughing out loud. It’s rare that a romance novel would be so funny, but I’d definitely consider this as a romantic comedy with some drama!

If you are a clean comedy, chick-lit lover, I’d recommend this book to you! I’m definitely interested in more Emily Belden novels just from the laughs!

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★★★★

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Review:

Okay so… I am absolutely obsessed with this book. It was my favorite young adult read of the year thus far. As a girl from Philadelphia, I needed this book in my life and I didn’t even know it.

It starts off with Emoni Santiago, a teen mom to a little girl named Emma, who loves to cook. She lives with her grandmother (her Abuela) and is a senior in high school. From the very beginning, you see that Emoni does everything for the two people that mean the most to her, but wants to have a successful career in the culinary industry. When a program comes to her high school, she signs up for the class immediately. With this class, there’s an opportunity to take a trip to Spain to learn more about the culinary arts and Emoni wants to go. It may seem impossible at that moment, but she wants to do everything she can to get on that trip.

When a boy in her culinary class starts to pursue her, Emoni doesn’t know what to do. He wants to be in her life and she doesn’t know what to do because of her past and current life. She worked, took care of her baby girl and her grandmother. Nevertheless, he persisted and Emoni found herself falling for him. This honestly was my favorite part of the book. Emoni found her feelings and really grew this part. She realized what was best for her and how things would turn out. Also, even though I am a massive romance novel buff, her love interest wasn’t the main focus of this book. Making this novel about her growth and showing herself what’s truly best for her and her child was the best part. This is why it got such a high rating from me.

Another thing that this book did so beautifully was give the perspective of a teen mom. They always get a bad reputation and Emoni really let herself PREACH all of the stereotypes and how wrong they were. She was a proving character that worked hard at a young age to provide what she needed to.

Lastly, let me just say, being from Philadelphia – this book will hold a special place in my heart. When hearing the terms “Center City”, “jawn”, “Oxford Circle” and more, I began to really swoon over this book because it held such an emotional connection for me. Elizabeth Acevedo really did her research because the terminology was phenomenal and I felt right at home.

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

At once a twisted psychological portrait of a woman crumbling under unimaginable pressure and a razor-sharp satire of the contemporary art scene, FAKE LIKE ME is a dark, glamorous, and addictive story of good intentions gone awry, from the critically acclaimed author of I’ll Eat When I’m Dead

What really happened to Carey Logan?

After a fire decimates her studio, including the seven billboard-size paintings for her next show, a young, no-name painter is left with an impossible task: recreate her art in three months-or ruin her fledgling career.

Homeless and desperate, she flees to an exclusive retreat in upstate New York famous for its outrageous revelries and glamorous artists. And notorious as the place where brilliant young artist Carey Logan-one of her idols-drowned in the lake.

But when she arrives, the retreat is a ghost of its former self. No one shares their work. No parties light up the deck. No one speaks of Carey, though her death haunts the cabins and the black lake, lurking beneath the surface like a shipwreck. As the young painter works obsessively in Carey’s former studio, uncovers strange secrets and starts to fall–hard and fast–for Carey’s mysterious boyfriend, it’s as if she’s taking her place.

But one thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?

Review:

I have to say, I don’t know much about modern art or the art world. There was something about this book that taught me quite a bit, but also left me feeling like I wanted to learn more. Even though I didn’t know much about what was happening surrounding the art world, it didn’t give me a sense of confusion. I feel like I personally enjoyed it more because I was learning and reading an interesting novel.

There were some turns in this novel and I think that they were all handled efficiently. The characters were a big part of the twists that you find. There’s a big sense of the narrator stepping into Carey Logan’s shoes, but what I appreciated was that they kept their own identities. I loved the fact that Carey Logan and the narrator were two separate people and that the art talked about in this book is kept apart and they are both equally important.

The thing that I liked the most about this book was that I pretty much knew what the major twist was going to be. Some might be upset or mad that they knew what was coming. However, I felt really satisfied when everything become upended and then came back down to be tied all together.

I originally classified this novel as a thriller as that’s what it was claimed to be. However, I think this has many different genres. Women’s fiction, mystery, contemporary, all wrapped into one novel. If you’re looking for a fast-paced mystery and looking to learn, I’d recommend this book!

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★★

Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare.

As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.

Review:

There isn’t a Kasie West book I haven’t read.

Every time I pick one up, I don’t even need to know what’s going on. I can gather it from the first few sentences and that’s why I love her books so much. I love the fluff in all of her books because she writes it so flawlessly. This book was interesting and threw me for a little bit of a loop. I didn’t expect to hear a story about teens on a movie set. It was cool to see the behind-the-scenes perspective.

I really enjoyed the characters. Lacey (what a GREAT name for a main character, haha) and Donovan. They were very similar and easy to like. They were stubborn, sweet, and driven to be better all the same.

One thing that I could complain about was the speed of this book. I feel like I was sitting in traffic that would open a little bit and then slam on its brakes. It was fast paced and then would dramatically slow down to the point where I was questioning if I wanted to skip over that part.

The other thing that I couldn’t really get into was the amount of sabotage that this book had in it. It kept me entertained in the beginning to see who it was going to be, but when nothing kept happening, I was beginning to get frustrated. I was wondering and wondering and it got old fast.

Overall, Kasie West books are always winners to me. If you are a young adult genre lover, then you need to read her books. There’s a lot of them so buckle down!

When the Light Went Off by Bridget Morrissey

Publication Date: June 1, 2019
Publisher: SourcebooksFire
Rating: ★★★

Five years after the accidental shooting of Marley Bricket, her friends, who were there the day she died, reunite when a box of letters from Marley is found in her former home. The discovery leads them on a scavenger hunt that reopens old memories, wounds, and betrayals, and leads them to question what they thought they knew about Marley’s death.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bridget Morrissey & Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book is classified as a young adult mystery novel. If you are going to read this book, I’d suggest realizing before you start, know that this is not a thriller. I felt like it should’ve just been classified as a contemporary young adult fiction. It’s more about dealing with grief and the horrible tragedy that a group of friends had to endure.

There was a lot going on in this book. Something for me was my inability to like the characters all that much. I feel like there were some parts where I enjoyed seeing what was going on in their mind. However, a lot of the time, I didn’t really enjoy them. I think that Olivia’s obsession with Marley was uncomfortable and unhealthy.

I think that this story had a lot of meaning behind it, especially after I read the acknowledgements. There was a lot happening where people had to deal with grief in a group and dealing with it alone. The writing was just okay, but I definitely got the message the author was trying to portray.

Overall, this book wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. I’d still recommend this book to those who like young adult novels, especially those dealing with grief at a young age.

July 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 27
Avg. Rating of the 27 books: 4.04/5
Five Star Ratings: 9/27

  • Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
  • After We Fell by Anna Todd (After #3)
  • After Ever Happy by Anna Todd (After #4)
  • Before by Anna Todd (After #5)
  • The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coots
  • 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
  • I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting
  • No Place Like Here by Christina June
  • Left Hanging by Cindy Dorminy
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • By Your Side by Kasie West
  • The Friend Zone by Abby Jiminez
  • Bossman by Vi Keeland
  • The Prenup by Lauren Layne
  • P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
  • The Retreat by Sherri Smith
  • Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
  • The Ex by Alafair Burke
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #1)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #2)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #3)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #4)
  • How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway
  • On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci
  • Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell
  • Maybe This Time by Kasie West
  • The Seduction Expert by Saya Lopez Ortega

 

The Seduction Expert by Saya Lopez Ortega

Publication Date: July 26, 2019
Publisher: VSP Publishing
Rating: ★

She’s the seduction expert.

Women contact her to take over their love lives. She steps in when they’re lost, she’s supposed to succeed where they failed. She handles their single status, their relationships, their breakups, and very often their partners’ affairs. Her job is a life priority, she spends most of her time at the office or between two flights in business class and the fact of having a sports car that can reach one hundred kilometers in less than six seconds often make her feel like a superheroine in service to women.

Anyway, take her card.

You’ll see, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barts.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, VSP Publishing, and Saya Lopez Ortega for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this book because it immediately gave me The Devil Wears Prada vibes. The genre was listed as Contemporary Romance and Iknew I just had to read it. I went on Goodreads and saw that it had a lot of great ratings (I’ll get to this later in the review), so I was very excited. I began reading and… well I don’t even know what to say. This was not a romance at all. I’m not even sure what it could be classified as. I actually read the whole thing because it was short, and I understand that it’s a series, but what the heck was that ending?!

Let’s just start here – the main character is supposed to be a woman that helps other women with their love lives. What I found was a woman that was just a straight up bully. She was rude and just overall was unlikable. I couldn’t stand her, especially towards the end. She was extremely manipulative and not a symbol of feminism, which is what I think the author tried to portray her as.

The chapters were short and choppy which had me questioning if this was a novella or not. The writing felt forced and very terse. I was able to read it within an hour/two because it was really short and each page was a new chapter. There was no depth to anything in these chapters. I read them as what they were – just words on a page. Like I said before, I have no idea what to classify this book as. She has a boyfriend but then there’s drama and then there’s more drama and it just is a weird circle of something new each page. I couldn’t get into it at all.

Now, as for the reviews that were 5 stars and how this book is so highly rated on Goodreads:

I believe that VSP Publishing did something shady and had private accounts on Goodreads go on and rate this book 5 stars. All of the accounts that I clicked on were private or had little to no Goodreads activity. Every reader, that I’m friends with or has actual Goodreads activity, all rated this book 1-2 stars. When I googled this book, other blogs had this book also at 1-2 stars.

Next, I saw in other reviews of actual readers that VSP Publishing sent emails separate from NetGalley with a request of not putting low ratings on the Goodreads page and on their blogs. I personally didn’t receive this email, but that’s still really low of a publisher to do something like that to avid readers and to people who really care about books.

Here is a review from a blog that I follow dating back to May. Her review starts as: Let me start off by saying The Seduction Expert has over 500 reviews on Goodreads and most reviewers give it a gushing 5-stars. So keep that in mind when I say that I absolutely hated this book. 

There is something wrong here and I think it’s because something happened on Goodreads that shouldn’t be allowed. If you see this book or this publisher, run. It’s unfair for authors that really put the work in and accept negative reviews as motivation to learn and do better for the next one. Criticism is needed, whether a person likes it or not. It’s to help, not to hurt. Overall, this book and this situation is a mess. Stay away.