The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

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

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

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

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

Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 2020 Reads

Number of Books Read: 12
Avg. Rating of the 12 books: 3.5/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 2/12
*five star ratings are bold

  • The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
  • We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding
  • The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones
  • I Wanna Text You Up by Teagan Hunter (Texting #2)
  • The Upside to Being Single by Emma Hart
  • No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald
  • Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey (Hot & Hammered #2)
  • The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
  • Good Guy by Kate Meader (Rookie Rebels #1)
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
  • Caught Up in a Cowboy by Jennie Marts (Cowboys of Creedence #1)
  • You Had Me at Cowboy by Jennie Marts (Cowboys of Creedence #2)

 

Started out the new decade & year with 12 books! I was surprised at some of them, like No, We Can’t Be Friends by Sophie Ranald & The Upside of Being Single by Emma Hart, which only received two out of five star ratings from me.

Here’s to a book-filled February!

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.

 

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.

 

December 2019 Reads

Number of Books Read: 19
Avg. Rating of the 19 books: 3.63/5 stars
Five Star Ratings: 3/19
*five star ratings are bold

  • Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn (Ice Knights #1)
  • Awk-Weird by Avery Flynn (Ice Knights #2)
  • Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters
  • Full Support by Natalee Woods
  • The Perfect Comeback by Kacey Shea
  • Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
  • Falling For My Brother’s Best Friend by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #4)
  • Demise of a Self-Centered Playboy by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #5)
  • We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
  • A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison
  • Getting Down by Helena Hunting (Shacking Up #1.5)
  • Hooking Up by Helena Hunting (Shacking Up #2)
  • From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne (The Wedding Belles #0.5)
  • Ridorkulous by Mary Frame (Dorky Duet #1)
  • The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin
  • Meet Me on Love Lane by Nina Bocci (Hopeless Romantics #2)
  • The Trouble With Cowboys by Victoria James
  • The Accidental Girlfriend by Emma Hart

 

Finished out the year with 19 new books! Cheers to a lot more five-star reads in 2020!

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★★★

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page.

Review:

When I started How to Walk Away, I was sucked right in. I was recommended this novel by a bookish friend, and let me just say – I was not disappointed. This was a well deserved five-star rating for me.

This novel is about how fast things can change. In a split second, Margaret’s life was flipped upside down. It’s a journey about Margaret’s life in this novel and what she will do when helping herself. It’s a question of if she will fall with it or rise above it.

“They say your life flashes before your eyes, but it wasn’t my life as I’d lived it that I saw. It was the life I’d been waiting for. The one I’d never get a chance to live.” 

The characters were so wonderful to read. I felt like I was included in there and was watching everything unfold right in front of my eyes. I could really feel their pain and heartache and felt the inspiration that they all had to achieve their new goals after such a traumatic event.

I loved the story as well. I was tearing up one second and busting out laughing the next. The writing was spectacular and I read Katherine Center’s newest book right after this one because I wanted to see how amazing both were. Katherine really, really has a way with words.

The thing I appreciated the most was that I feel like Katherine Center didn’t try and romanticize a tragedy. There was a lot of emotions throughout this book and I didn’t feel like the romance aspect was overpowering in the slightest. I’m someone who loves a good romance novel, but I feel like this didn’t have that as its priority. This was a fantastic, empowering novel that I want to keep with me forever!

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.

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