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.

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins Leadership
Rating: ★★★★

“I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.

Review:

“Grown women don’t need to ask permission.”

Rachel Hollis came out with Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be and I immediately got my hands on it. I was so in love with her positivity that when Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals was announced, I knew that I had to go for it.

There is something about the way that Rachel Hollis speaks. I listened to both of her books as an audiobook which were narrated by her. She speaks to your soul and there’s no doubt about it.

There were some things in Girl, Stop Apologizing that I loved, but also that I wasn’t a fan of. Some of these things range from self-love to bragging about her life (which I get, but it sometimes felt overdone).

I loved the fact that Rachel really discussed appreciation and support of others. Something that I always have struggled with is disappointment when it comes to people’s support/appreciation of me.

“Are you a shadow of who you’re meant to be because someone in your life doesn’t fully appreciate you?”

This quote especially resonated with me and it felt like she was speaking just to me. Letting yourself change and be in the shadows because of who supports/appreciates you is stupid and Rachel really lets you know it.

Now, to the thing I didn’t like. Rachel Hollis is a wealthy woman. We all know that. She is married to a wealthy man. That is also known. In her debut novel, we got to really see her life and what happened while she was growing up, getting married, becoming a mom, etc. In this book, I feel like there were many times where she discussed things relating to being rich and it made it unrelatable for me.

Girl, Stop Apologizing was not as good as her debut novel, but I really did love a lot of the content that Rachel Hollis discussed. In her next book, I hope she focuses more on motivational and spiritual things instead of her not-so-subtle gloating in her books.

Please Send Help by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin

Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ★★★

In this hilarious follow-up novel to the New York Times bestseller I Hate Everyone But You, long distance best friends Ava and Gen have finally made it to the same time zone (although they’re still over a thousand miles apart).

Through their hilarious, sometimes emotional, but always relatable conversations, Ava and Gen are each other’s support systems through internships, relationship troubles, questionable roommates, undercover reporting, and whether or not it’s a good idea to take in a feral cat. Please Send Help perfectly captures the voice of young adults looking to find their place in the world and how no matter how desperate things seem, you always have your best friend to tell it like it is and pick you back up.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Gaby Dunn, Allison Raskin, and Wednesday Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“Every day IS a day. Wow. Is this my next tattoo?”

Please Send Help is the second book of the I Hate Everyone But You Series by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin. These two ladies sure do know how to make you laugh.

Something that I loved about I Hate Everyone But You was that it was funny. Some of the stuff that was said in this one had me laughing out loud. It was a pretty unfortunate situation, but lead to hilarious quotes like this:

“I’m honestly not sure where to begin here. You know how there are certain moments and experiences that really stay with you forever? I REALLY hope today was not one of them.”

Their wit and sarcasm displayed throughout this book is A+. I feel like Gaby and Allison had to just be actually responding to each other and that’s how they are in real life.

There were a few things that I wasn’t so sure of in this sequel. I feel like in the first book, I was able to connect with the characters because we learned about them over their exchange of emails and instant messages. In this one, some time has passed, but I feel like there were some misleading signs of development.

Also, something in this book that was not shown in the first, there were a lot of manipulative tendencies throughout the characters. I know many people who fancy that in a book, however, I am not one of them. I understand that it’s a young adult novel, and they are …young …adults, but I feel like these problems were for sure older than they were.

I would definitely recommend reading this sequel if you read the first one. I feel like you could also read this book as a standalone, there’s not much that you miss.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★★

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.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Christina Lauren, & Gallery Books for a free copy of The Unhoneymooners in exchange for an honest review!

The Unhoneymooners was my third Christina Lauren book that I have read. After finishing this new release, I can surely say that the dynamic duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings is becoming one of my favorite authors. My favorite things in all of the books I’ve read by them is the fact that they write love so well. Do not wait to read this one.

It doesn’t take me much to connect with a character. Usually, it’s right from the first few sentences whether I know if I am going to enjoy the characters or not. From the first minute, Olive was a character I connected with. Her attitude and her love of food (I really associate with this) is something that I really enjoyed throughout the entire novel. Also, something else I really love throughout a book is character development. I feel like Olive was the queen of character development. Every different thing that happened in this book, she took differently and it was really refreshing to see the maturity come to life.

I read a ton of romance novels, and one of my favorite themes is enemies to lovers. I feel like this might be in my top 5 of enemies to lovers. The resentment and comments between both Olive and Ethan were hilarious and feisty. From calling each other different names to just being overall spunky, these two had a undeniable connection. I’ve read a ton of enemies to lovers novels and it’s true for me to say that Ethan and Olive’s connection was one of the best I’ve ever read.

Something I absolutely adore about enemies to lover novels is I know what is going to happen. Some might find that uninteresting to keep reading the same plot, however, I know that in my heart that every single book with this plot is different. Is there angst? Is it a quick realization? Is it a slow burn? Is it their friends that show them that their good together or do they figure it out on their own? Those are only some of the possibilities. Christina Lauren really hit the nail on the head. I feel like everything I just listed was in The Unhoneymooners. It was the perfect amount of everything rolled into one perfect book.

Overall, I am ecstatic that I read this quickly and within the first month of the publication date. I love the fact that I can tell everyone about this book and to read it as soon as possible. I felt every part of this book from start to finish, and I believe that each part was so perfectly detailed to where I felt every emotion. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up right away.

We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards

Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: ★★★★

“Theo’s always been impulsive. But telling Paige how he feels? He’s obsessed over that decision. And it’s time. Tonight. At the party on the riverbank, under the old walking bridge, site of so many tales of love and death.

Paige has had a crush on Theo since they first met, but she knows her feelings are one-sided. She’s trying to move on, to flirt. A party at the river is just what she needs. Except a fight breaks out, and when Paige tries to intervene–Theo’s fist lands in her face.

All Theo and Paige want to do is forget that fateful night. But strange events keep drawing them back to the bridge. Someone, something is determined to make them remember…and pay for what they each did.”

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley & Sourcefire Books for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

We All Fall Down was a pretty interesting young adult novel. I definitely had my attention grabbed from the beginning. I love the unrequited love, especially if the characters don’t know if it’s unrequited. It’s all a slow burn, and it grabs my attention every time.

I think this book had five star potential. I really liked the development and how their troubled pasts really shaped how this book turned out. I was pretty curious on how it would be when I reached towards the end. However, I think that this book lost me a couple of times which is why I gave it four stars. There were times where I had to stop and go back and think “huh”. Books like this generally intrigue me, but with this one, I didn’t totally understand one-hundred percent.

I really liked the concept of how this book was towards the end. It was a question of: is this a paranormal story or what’s even going on here? I loved that it was making me think in ways that a book hasn’t made me think in a while.

I’m excited to read Natalie D. Richard’s other books now. This was my first novel by her, but for sure not my last!

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: ★★
“Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…”

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley, Marieke Nijkamp, & Sourcebooks Fire for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book to be honest. I read Marieke Nijkamp’s other book, This Is Where It Ends, and was beside myself about how good it was. When I saw that she had a new book out, I immediately requested it. I am saddened to say that Before I Let Go disappointed me. I know that I shouldn’t ever compare books, but I loved this author’s other book, so I thought it was going to be great.

The first thing that bothered me about this book was the characters. The characters had me begging to have something more to them…some type of development or backstory, but I didn’t get my wish. Corey, the main character, seemed to be the one that had the most interesting factors, but I can’t even say I enjoyed it fully because it was a back-and-forth blame game the entire novel. Owning up to mistakes is an important lesson that can be taught through a novel, but this was overly done throughout Before I Let Go.

I feel as though the story and the mystery of this novel was under developed as well. I kept reading and reading, waiting for something to be given to me, and eventually it was. However, I feel like the excitement was not there for me because of the slow-burn buildup about how it was the fault of the town relating to the death of Corey’s best friend Kyra.

Overall, it was definitely not a book for me. I read other reviews and still gave it a shot, and it is safe to say that I was pretty disappointed.

Pure Hollywood by Christine Schutt

Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Publisher: Grove Atlantic
Rating: ★★

In 11 captivating tales, Pure Hollywood brings us into private worlds of corrupt familial love, intimacy, longing, and danger. From an alcoholic widowed actress living in desert seclusion, to a young mother whose rejection of her child has terrible consequences, a newlywed couple who ignore the violent warnings of a painter burned by love, to an eerie portrait of erotic obsession, each story in Pure Hollywood is an imagistic snapshot of what it means to live and learn love and hurt.

Schutt gives us sharply suspenseful and masterfully dark interior portraits of ordinary lives, infused with her signature observation and surprise.

Review:

These tales were interesting, but not my cup of tea. I think that half of me went along with the words in these stories, but the other half was confused by the writing. Some sentences I had to go back and read again because I was thinking that I had the wrong word. To me, it looked like some words maybe were repetitive so the author had to use a synonym to make sure it didn’t repeat too much. I think that these actions caused the writing to simply not flow for me. If I have a hard time with a flow of a book, it’s almost always a do not finish situation. However, I just powered through this one to see what each story entailed.

Some of the stories were alright, some of them were just plain dull. I think that this dullness was a contributing factor of the flow of the writing. If there’s nothing interesting going on, and the words don’t make sense, it seems that the dullness would be escalating per story. It was sometimes a struggle to get through. I hate to be so brutally honest, but I was glad that the stories were so short that I could finish them quickly.

I hope next time Christine Schutt just puts her thoughts out on paper without having to change her wording. It was confusing and just difficult to read. I would definitely give her another chance in the future to see if there are differences on how it could be better.