Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith

I received this book as a part of the Winter 2020 Harlequin Trade Publishing Blog Tour for Inkyard Press! Thank you to Eric Smith, Harlequin Books, Inkyard Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Rating: ★★★

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

Review:

I think this book was written very well. I’m not sure if the genre was for me particularly. However, I think that the young-adult gaming lover is going to find a new love in this book. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about the gaming community, but I don’t think that it affected my review in any way.

First, I really enjoyed the characters. They were very much themselves and did not really care about how people felt about it. They were funny and nerdy which made the book as good as it was. They were unapologetically themselves and that was something that Eric Smith wrote really well. Divya was really one of my favorites in this book. She was so determined to make sure people saw that she wasn’t going to succumb to any pressures that were put onto her online. I loved the fact that she was able to be read just as she was in the synopsis. It’s one of the main reasons why I picked this book up.

Also, I really like that this book tackled a lot of serious topics like gender inequality and racism. It was very interesting to see Smith’s point-of-view and how he interpreted it through his words. I liked how the characters developed through these topics as well. There was a good amount of development which I always love.

There wasn’t a lot wrong with this book. It just didn’t wow me. It was slow for me at times. It could be the fact that I’m not a gamer and couldn’t really keep up with the references, but the book was written very well. I didn’t fall in love with this book, but I think there are going to be plenty of people that will.

 

 

No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald

Publication Date: January 10, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Rating: ★★

Everyone knows a girl like Sloane. She was always The Single One. She never brought a plus-one to weddings. She was the woman you’d set up with your single cousin. She joined ballroom dancing classes to meet men and was the queen of online dating.

But then she met Myles. Perfect Myles, with denim-blue eyes and a dazzling smile that melted her insides. She’d finally found The One.

Except she didn’t imagine that Myles’s idea of Happy Ever After would include Sloane battling an overflowing laundry basket, buying birthday cards for his family, and ironing his Calvin Klein underpants.

Then Sloane finds out that Myles has a secret.

The fairy tale is well and truly over. Her heart is blown to smithereens. Eating her weight in Ben & Jerry’s and large Meat Feast pizzas can only get Sloane so far before she has to make a decision… Can she learn to love herself more than she loved the love of her life?

Review:

Thank you to Sophie Ranald, Bookouture & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I read the synopsis of this novel and was immediately interested. It was described as laugh-out-loud and I felt like the blurb given was very misleading. I think that the very end has some moments that were amusing, but I’m not sure that I laughed out loud once.

This book ended up being more somber than funny. I wouldn’t mind that in the slightest bit if I wasn’t expecting funny. If it was advertised as a secretive, sad novel, then I’d be all for it.

Sloane was a kind of likable character to the point where by the end, I could almost see me her being friends with her in a real life scenario. Throughout the novel, I had a hard time with the characters overall. There were some side characters (especially Vivienne) that I thought had better progression than the main characters and that made me have a negative reaction to this book.

There were a good amount of realistic points made and that’s the reason why this book got a two-star rating from me. I could resonate and think of real life scenarios that would really happen and I thought that Sophie Ranald did a good job with that.

Overall, if this book was described differently, I would’ve known what I was getting into. Having this book described as “laugh-out-loud” was simply misleading and it was a pretty heavy book to get into. I would definitely give Sophie Ranald another try as this was my first read by her.

 

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

Review:

This book made me sad. Not for the plot, but because normally, Christina Lauren’s reads are four-to-five star books in my opinion. This one just fell flat and I’m sad because of it.

I read before that this book was not going to be like their other ones. Normally, Christina Lauren’s books have me bursting into laughter while swooning over the romance. Twice in a Blue Moon was very, very different. I’m a huge fan of reuniting and friends-to-lovers, but there was just a lot wrong.

There was barely any development and conflict for the amount that was going on within this book. It’s supposed to be a fourteen-year difference and I looked at the characters like they should be pretty different than they used to be. Tate did change quite a bit, no longer a girl that lets everyone walk over her and becomes assertive. However, I still feel like there wasn’t enough of a development to allow a better rating.

Sam and Tate were unlikable characters and I’m not sorry to say that. I’ve read most of Christina Lauren’s novels and these characters did not have any of the charm or wit that the characters usually possess. The connection wasn’t really there and even it seemed that the smutty parts (which is so good in their other books) really wasn’t all there. It seemed as though once something started to get going, it just ended abruptly and moved on to the next part of the story.

I just love Christina Lauren so much that they have my heart and high ratings. Their stories and words just flow so beautifully usually, and that’s why it pains me that I didn’t like this book. If I had to put Twice in a Blue Moon into one word, it would be forgettable.

We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding

Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Amulet Books
Rating: ★★★

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Review:

Thank you to Amy Spalding, Amulet Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I’ll be completely honest and say that the cover was the exact reason I picked this book. I like LGBT and best friend battles in young adult novels, but the cover is what really got me. The curiosity of what makes these two best friends separate is what pulled me in through the beauty of the front of the book.

I thought We Used to Be Friends was very realistic. I think that Amy Spalding did a great job taking the reader into the background to watch everything unfold right along the characters. The plot was very refreshing as it was something I haven’t really read before. I really do believe that this was an honest story and you really got to see the truth behind friends growing apart, no matter how long they’ve been friends for. It’s a very real thing.

The only reason why I had a little trouble with this book was the timeline and the characters. The timeline is shown at the beginning of each chapter. Make sure to pay attention to this, very closely, or you will be confused. I had to go back a few times to remind myself if I was before or after “senior year” and how long it had been month-wise. James’ story is told from the end and Kat’s is told from the beginning. It was kind of hard to follow along.

With the characters, I feel like it was a little complicated because I became frustrated with some of them. I really enjoyed the dads in this book, but the main characters were tough on me. I had a really hard time with Kat and James. They were pretty interested in making sure each other knew that they had issues with the friendships but never really took the blame on themselves. I understand that they’re young and that’s how life works when you’re young, but I feel as though I couldn’t see the growth behind them because of that.

Lastly, I think that the ending was a little too much… left for interpretation? The ending definitely is up to the reader. When reading, I wish it had more of a direct ending instead of an ambiguous one where we have to think and decide what it is.

Overall, I think that if I were a couple years younger, I would’ve liked this book more. It’s definitely a high school (or fresh-out of) story. It’s definitely a book that I would read again and recommend to those with children in high school or high school students.

 

Meet Me On Love Lane by Nina Bocci

Find the full series review here.

Publication Date: December 10, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★

Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

Review:

This novel was if not as good but maybe even better than the first. However, if you haven’t read the first, On the Corner of Love and Hate, it can be read as a standalone. You’ll get a better understanding of the characters if you read the first in the series.

The story was extremely heartwarming and just such a cute small-town romance. Henry was my favorite part about this book and I loved being able to connect with him as a character. His character was good in the first book and I was so happy to see he got his own book, he really deserved it! Even though this was a romance about Henry and Charlotte, the other main character, it was so much more than that.

This story is very emotional because Charlotte can’t remember much from her childhood. It was extremely relatable that she blocked out things because it’s truly like your mind goes on flight or fight mode. She had traumatizing things happen and she blocked them out to the point where she can’t remember important things like who Henry even was to her. This book was great just because there were multiple things going on.

This was a rediscovery of who Charlotte was and how she developed throughout the years. You could see her struggles as well as her triumph. The way that she advanced throughout this book was just a testament to Nina Bocci’s writing style. She was able to write about multiple things at once and it all made sense. It was a beautiful story of finding and falling in love with yourself.

Overall, Nina Bocci needs to continue writing. Her books are beautifully written and can easily speak to her readers. I loved how heartwarming this book was and I can’t wait for the next installment.

 

Little Bookshop On the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

I received this book as a part of the Harlequin Book Tour for Romance & Women’s Fiction! Thank you to Rebecca Raisin, Harlequin Books, & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Rating: ★★★

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.

Review:

This was as typical as it could’ve been. A tooth-rottingly sweet bookstore romance. I really like Christmas based romance stories especially during that time of year. However, this one fell a little flat for me.

What I didn’t know when I requested this book was that it was the second in a series. I looked it up to see if this could be read as a standalone and it said that it could. However, from personal experience, I’d read the first book in the series, The Bookshop on the Corner. Since I didn’t read the first one, I felt like there was a good amount missing about a backstory. I was curious on why Sophie chose Paris, etc. You might not need to read the first one and enjoy it, but in my opinion, I think that it would be better if you did.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Sarah’s character. Her development wasn’t shown and it appears that she is a doormat for most of the book. People walk all over her throughout this novel and at some point, it does get old. I felt like skipping and scanning to just get through that part multiple times. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again with some breaks of Sarah going out in Paris.

The flow of this book was very up and down. I felt like it was definitely repetitive, but I also feel like there were times where I was confused about the time periods. It seemed as though the time was flying and all of a sudden, Christmas was upon them and the story was pretty much over. I thought maybe it would’ve been better like that to make up for the repetitiveness of the story, but it just made me feel more confused about it.

There was plenty about this book that could be considered lovable, but it was a little tough to get through it. The enjoyable moments were as the heroine walks around Paris and gives me a complete visual of what I would see if I were in her shoes. On the other hand, I wish I read the first book before this one. There’s a good amount of backstory that happens off the pages that probably could be found in the first book of this series. This was enjoyable, but the writing could have definitely been tighter.

 

A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison

I received this book as a part of the Winter 2020 Harlequin Trade Publishing Blog Tour for Inkyard Press! Thank you to Kelly deVos, Harlequin Books, Inkyard Press & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Rating: ★★★

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Review:

There was a lot about A Love Hate Thing that I enjoyed and a lot that I was just so/so about.

To start, Trice was a character that I was very much able to feel emotions for. His story was extreme and tough to hear, and I’m glad that I was able to see his development throughout the story. On the so/so side, I could not get into Nandy’s character at all. Her development wasn’t enough for me and even by  the end of the book, I still could not see her as a character I would like to know. By the time we started to see any type of interest between Nandy and Trice, I was over her and her attitude, so I couldn’t get into that aspect in the slightest.

I think that the story was definitely believable and could’ve been authentic. The differences between Nandy’s world in Pacific Hills and Trice’s world in Lindenwood were shown perfectly and I really could understand where they came from in both zip codes. I think Whitney Grandison did a fantastic job blending the people and both cities to show what was good and bad about both.

The thing that I wished we had more of was a background. We got a lot of background regarding Trice’s story and why he is the way he is. However, I look at Nandy’s character and since there is no background about why she is this way, it makes her almost automatically unlikable.

Lastly, I think that the writing could’ve been a little better. I understand that this is a debut novel, and I’m not knocking it for that. I’m just saying that in this book, there should’ve been a little bit more of an editing process or something like that. There was a point where it skipped a month I believe and I feel like there was this big chunk of storyline that I missed because of that.

Overall, I think that there were things that A Love Hate Thing that were good, but things that could’ve been a lot better. I think that this was a good debut novel to start with and it’ll only get better from here!

Books Read in 2019

In 2019, I read 168 books! My goal was 75 books this year, and it’s safe to say that I crushed that goal. Below is a list of books that I read in 2019 with their ratings!

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: ★★

Two people. One house. A year that changes everything. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling, but grand, Notting Hill house-share with four virtual strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor, at a Christmas dinner hosted by her landlord. They don’t kiss, but as far as Jess is concerned the connection is clear. She starts planning how they will knock down the wall between them to spend more time together.

But when Jess returns from a two-week Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else—beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his.

Review:

I feel gypped.

I picked this book up because I wanted a book to put me in the holiday mood. I had been seeing this one all over my Instagram and was hoping that it would be the one to put me in the spirit. Well, like I said, I feel gypped. This wasn’t really a Christmas read, at all.

There was a lot about this that could’ve had potential, but fell so flat for me. First things first, I wish that this was even a little bit wintery or Christmasy because that’s what the cover shows me. The synopsis advertises “December”, “Christmas vacation” and “Notting Hill” so I thought that I was picking up a Christmas book. However, it’s barely mentioned at all.

Next, the characters seemed almost unlikable to me to the point where I wanted to skip through and get to the end. I felt like their romance did not show any chemistry and I had a hard time looking at them together. The mutual pining was too much and I wish something was done sooner. I am all for a slow burn, but this was almost ridiculous. I wanted to grab them and shake them and just get it over with already (since we all know how these books end anyway!).

I feel like there was too much going on, almost like there were different stories thrown into one book with one premise. There were a lot of different characters and a lot of different things going on to the point where I was confused at some parts.

Finally, I am someone who is obsessive over roommate novels. I love them so much to the point where I’ve started a Goodreads shelf devoted just to that specific genre. But when the roommates are intimate with other people for nearly the entire book, it’s just overkill at that point.

The only thing that I really enjoyed out of this novel was the details of Notting Hill and London. Being from the United States and never having been “across the Pond”, it was nice to read and feel like it would be an enjoyable experience to go visit there one day.

Overall, I would skip this one if you’re looking for a book to get you in the holiday mood.