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!

August 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 28
Avg. Rating of the 28 books: 3.89/5
Five Star Ratings: 9/28
*Five Star Rated Books are bold.

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #5)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #6)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #7)
  • 25 Reasons to Quit Worrying by Dre Baldwin
  • Kiss Me In New York by Catherine Rider
  • American Fire by Monica Hesse
  • The A-List by D.P. Lyle
  • The Secrets of Self-Growth by Various Authors
  • 18 Hours to Us by Krista Noorman
  • Beg, Borrow or Steal by Susie Tate
  • Four Day Fling by Emma Hart
  • Miss Fix-It by Emma Hart
  • The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
  • A Practical Guide to Emotional Intelligence by David Walton
  • Advice From a Jilted Bride by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #2)
  • Birth of a Baby Daddy by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #3)
  • Operation Bailey Wedding by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #3.5)
  • Gratitude Daily by Nataly Kogan
  • The Note by Teresa Mummert
  • How to Change Your Mind by Adam Brown
  • The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper
  • When the Light Went Out by Bridget Morrissey
  • Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
  • Husband Material by Emily Belden
  • In Zach’s Arms by Kori David (Once a Marine, Always a Marine #1)
  • Lily’s Outlaw by Kori David (Once a Marine, Always a Marine #2)
  • Finding Dani by Kori David (Once a Marine, Always a Marine #3)
  • Shelby’s Secret by Kori David (Once a Marine, Always a Marine #4)

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

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

Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster.

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

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

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

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every Dog Has His Day by Jenn McKinlay

Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Berkley Books

A stray kitten and a rambunctious poodle bring together a small-town bachelor and a single mother in the latest romance set in Bluff Point, Maine.

Bluff Point brewery owner Zachary Caine wants nothing to do with commitment. His wild bachelor lifestyle suits him perfectly—until a foster kitten named Chaos makes him a reluctant hero. Now he’s BFFs with the kitten’s two little girls and finds himself falling for their gorgeous mother, who couldn’t think less of him.

Divorced mother Jessie Connelly wants nothing to do with men like Zach. He’s sexy and charismatic and bad news, just like her ex. But her girls adore him, and he’s doing a good job filling in for their deadbeat dad. Then a snowstorm brings out the best in both neighbors, who, it turns out, have more in common than their mutual attraction…

So when Jessie’s past threatens her and her girls, Zach is determined to do whatever it takes to protect them—and live happily ever after with this family he has made his own.”

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Jenn McKinlay for allowing me to read a copy before the publication date in exchange for an honest review. 

This book is listed as #3 in the Bluff Point series, but I read it as a standalone and understood everything.

This was an adorable contemporary romance. If you are a lover of a cutesy romance and animals, I would absolutely recommend this book to you! The chemistry in this book was enough to make me swoon, so as an avid contemporary romance reader, read this book!!

The first thing that I really enjoyed about this book were the characters. I loved the two little girls in the beginning. They were so cute and innocent. When I got further into this book, I realized that I had fallen in love with Zach’s character. He was adorable and capturing from the beginning. There were a few times where his character pulled on my heart strings. His home life was interesting to learn about. I’ve rarely read a book with a foster child, so it was great to learn about the experience.

The chemistry between Zach and Jessie was very hard not to notice. Jenn McKinlay did a great job with showing just how well these two worked together. From the beginning, I was rooting for them. I liked how just like in every relationship, there were points of angst and it shows that even in romance novels, not every relationship is perfect.

Again, contemporary romance lovers,  read this!! I couldn’t say it enough that you will fall in love with this story. As an animal lover and romance reader, this was easily a great book. It’s short, sweet, and has a great narrative. I would love to give Jenn McKinlay’s other books in the Bluff Point series a read!

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Publisher: Atria Books

Find this book here:

Rating: ★★★★

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.”

Review:

This book has a lot of different conversations about mental health, so if you struggle with depression, etc., I would take care of yourself when reading this book.  

Colleen Hoover has definitely become one of my favorite authors. Every book I’ve read by her is fantastic and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on “Without Merit”. Since I’ve read her before, I know that her books always deal with tough topics and it’s one of the many reasons I love her. This book was not an exception. I honestly think this book had more tough topics than the others that I’ve read by her. There were times where my heart broke for the characters because of what they were dealing with. It wasn’t just one character dealing with issues either, it was every single character in this book.

The main thing that I noticed about Without Merit was the fact that I wouldn’t say this book is classified as romantic. Every single book I’ve read by Colleen Hoover has been a heartbreaking romance. This book was absolutely a switch up from her usual. This is a great thing as an author to surprise their readers, but I’m not sure I fell in love with this story as much as her others because of this. Was there romance in this book? Definitely. It was more mixed-in than the main plot. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good to switch it up, but personally, I love Colleen Hoover’s angsty romance and I’m sad there wasn’t really any.

The characters were probably my favorite thing about this book. There were so many different point of views because it is about a family through the eyes of the main character, Merit. It was really interesting to see which family member had which problem and how they were currently dealing with it. The characters through the end were pretty crazy. They each had their own troubles and when it all comes to a head, it was great to see who reacts which way.

I think what was different about this book for me was the fact that this book didn’t grasp me right away like her others did. Usually by the first paragraph, I’m hooked on what will happen next which makes me interested in the entire book. I noticed that I had a hard time grasping right away with this one, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just different than what I was used to with her. Colleen Hoover gives so much information in the first few chapters. With her other books, the story starts right away and we find out who the characters are throughout the narrative. This book told us a lot right away.

Overall, I liked this book, but it wasn’t my favorite CoHo. I gave it four stars because once I got started, I really couldn’t put it down. After the first few chapters, the story really gets going and it was an interesting twist on Colleen Hoover’s usual narrative. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the future.

 

 

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Publication Date: August 5th, 2014

“When Tate Collins meets airline pilot, Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are our out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her. Never ask about the past. Don’t expect a future. They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it all. Hearts get infiltrated. Promises get broken. Rules get shattered. Love gets ugly.”

Review: 

Wow. This book broke my heart, mended it back together, and repeated this cycle throughout the entire book.

I’ve read Colleen Hoover before, and she just gets it. She gets feelings and emotions, and she makes the reader feel along right with each character. In every Colleen Hoover book I’ve read, I’ve cried on more than one occasion. I’m a very emotional person when it comes to books and movies, but if her books don’t make you feel anything, I think there might just be something wrong.

This story is something unlike anything I’ve ever read. It was raw and emotional. The originality of this story is why I liked it so much. It felt real because of the reactions and demons that each person held onto. I’ve read stories with angst and heartbreak, but this was enough to make my chest hurt for a few hours.

Miles, Miles, Miles. I want to bring him up because he was my favorite character in this book. He went through so much in his life and learns how to deal with it. Even though in life, it’s hard to figure out what to do and when, but it was great to see that he could try and figure things out. I’m glad I got to read something like this. It was pretty motivational.

There were so many things that I loved about this book. If I had to list them all, this review would easily be over the necessary amount of words. I would give this book higher than 5 stars if I could.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Publication Date: August 9th, 2016

“Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome; 2) A person’s undoing; 3) Joshua Templeman. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgedly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assisstants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude. Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached a boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.” 

Review: 

Josh and Lucy are one of my favorite book couples of all time. There were so, so many things with this book that made me absolutely swoon. 

Josh and Lucy are co-CEOs of a publishing company. Everyone loves Lucy and everyone is afraid of Josh. She is lovely and bubbly, and he is quiet and stern. The only thing in common that Lucy and Josh have is the fact that they’re gunning for the same job as Official CEO. Since everyone knows that their friendship is anything but sunshine and rainbows, Josh and Lucy agree to spend some time together in order to be professional. Things aren’t always as they seem. 

Lucy is one of my favorite characters from a book. She grew up in a small town where her parents own a strawberry farm, but she needed to leave in order to fulfill her dreams of working at a publishing company. She met Josh on her first day, and they didn’t like each other ever since then. This was so realistic to me. Small town, big dream, and an annoying coworker. This seems like a very possible scenario for the average person. I think that made me like this book even more.

The Hating Game was full of chemistry. Sally Thorne has this specific writing style that really makes you feel their chemistry and how well Lucy and Josh actually work together. Their friendship was angsty, and I am a sucker for some harsh love. 

This was such a great debut novel. I can’t wait for her next one. There were really great things this story has to offer. If you haven’t yet, read this book!

Rating: ★★★★★

Once Should Be Enough Series by Nikky Kaye

(#1) Once Should Be Enough
Publication Date: August 17th, 2016

“”I think I hate sex.”

Betting on sex with your hot best friend is not the best way to get over a secret crush.

When I confessed to my cocky friend Will that I’d never had a happy ending, he bet me a thousand bucks he could give me one. I find sex pretty ‘meh’, so once should be enough to say “I told you so,” right? Easiest money I’ll ever earn.

But I didn’t know he meant trying everything once, and now he’s raising the stakes…

This 25,000-word spicy new adult romance novella has no cliffhangers and only happy endings (more than one). It can be read as a standalone, but it also has a sequel, DON’T THINK TWICE.

Get ready for friends with more benefits than a platinum card!”

Review:

Wow wow wow wow wow. Super, super steamy. Cassie and Will make a bet. Will is extremely cocky and knows he can do it. Cassie is not so sure.

The characters in this book were very alike to what they seemed like in the synopsis. They both have certain quirks about them, and just like the synopsis, she’s quiet and he’s cocky.

There were a few things about this book that didn’t hit all the way home with me. There were some parts where I thought “…huh?”. Therefore, I had to drop it a star. However, the writing style flowed beautifully and I enjoyed it. This book could be classified as a standalone, but I am glad there is a sequel because I think it would make it that much better.

Rating: ★★★★
(#2) Don’t Think Twice
Publication Date: February 10th, 2017

“WILL
Cassie is more than a friend with benefits, and I love helping her overcome her shyness in the bedroom. Now our teaching assistant has his eye on her too and all my primitive instincts are taking over. Maybe I’m being a bit possessive, but what have I got to lose?

CASSIE
I told Will that once should be enough, but he’s determined to make me scream over and over again… I feel truly sexy for the first time in my life, but with a new wager on the line I’d better think twice before falling for my best friend.

This 35,000-word sequel to the hot new adult romance novella ONCE SHOULD BE ENOUGH can be read as a standalone–but you might want to sit down (on a towel). If you like your romance swift, sharp and sizzling, then DON’T THINK TWICE!”

Review:

After reading the sequel, I was extremely happy that there was a sequel in the first place. There was so much that could happen after the first one, and it was very, very good. I can say the same thing about this one as the first one. It was very steamy, maybe even steamier than the first one. This story is more friends-with-benefits to lovers as the first one was more friends to friends-with-benefits. I was extremely happy with the outcome.

Again, like the last book, there were some parts that didn’t totally win me over. The characters and the writing style were great again, but there were somethings missing.

I’d recommend these two to someone who really enjoys contemporary romances with a good bit of sexiness. The chemistry was very well done in both and I enjoyed them very much.

Rating: ★★★★