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!

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.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Publication Date: December 10, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Rating: ★★★★★

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

Review:

okay, okay, okay. let me just start by saying this is now in my top 3 Colleen Hoover books and my top 5 of all time.

Regretting You was just… I feel almost speechless about it. I started it and from those first few sentences (as always), I was intrigued on how this story was going to turn out. I read and read until I finished it. Within hours. Simply because Colleen Hoover has a way with her words unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

First, the characters in this novel were so interesting and amazing that I want to keep them in my pocket forever. Morgan and Clara? Phewwww, I wanted to jump into the book just to see what would happen in front of my face. Their angst was strong, but their love for each other was even better than anything I could’ve imagined.

The story behind this book is incredible. It had me curious from the jump and as the story went on, I fully did not expect what was happening. I was in a edge-of-my-seat feeling from the very beginning. The tears that I had, the laughs I had, I felt like I was sharing my own little journey with Morgan, Clara, Jonah and Elijah. It was a heartbreaking and heartwarming journey from start to finish all wrapped up into one. It makes you think of “what would I do in this situation?”

Finally, Colleen Hoover’s words and quotes did not disappoint in this book either. There were so many memorable things that were written that I wish I could highlight the entire book. There were a lot of instances that would be true to the reality around you and that’s a reason why she’s a favorite of mine. She always writes the truth.

“It means people who make mistakes usually learn from them. That doesn’t make them hypocrites. It makes them experienced.” 

Colleen Hoover, you’ve made me a fan of yours from the very beginning and this book will go down as one of my favorites of all time!

Day Zero by Kelly deVos

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: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Publishing

Rating: ★★★

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

Review:

Susan aka “Jinx” had a father who was called Mr. Doomsday. Jinx’s dad wrote the book The Doomsday Guide to Ultimate Survival and they spent a lot of time, tirelessly working at the drills that her father wrote in this book. Just when Susan’s mother divorces her father and she’s ready to calm down with her little brother Charles, the worst happens. Doomsday approaches and the government thinks it was Jinx’s father who triggered all of these events. It’s apparent that it’s a choice of “remember your training” or “throw everything out the window” type scenario.

This book had such a fantastic start, it had me on the edge of my seat. I read through the first 30% within an hour I believe. It wasn’t something that I had read before. A doomsday prepper turned possible doomsday …starter?! It was so intriguing to see the steps play out in Jinx’s head after years and years of having them drilled into her mind with her little brother.

After I got to a certain spot, this novel began to drag for me. It was almost like I got through some of the best parts in that first 30% and then …poof, it stopped. I kept reading because I was very curious on how this book was going to end and what was going to happen. There were points that had you wondering if this was just in her local town or was it worldwide and other doomsday thoughts that a person might have.

One of my biggest issues that I had with this novel were the characters. They seemed almost unlikable as I got further and further into it. I loved Charlie and I wanted to take him home with me. He was hilarious and had his own little spin. If book two was in Charlie’s point-of-view, I would read it in a heartbeat.

Overall, this was a good young adult novel. I would read this again and I would recommend it. Keep an open mind when reading after hitting that little wall because it might be a better of a rating for you!

Well Met by Jen Deluca

Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ★★★

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

Review:

“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.”

Well Met started out so strong for me. I loved the learning about the characters, what their situations were and where they came from. I especially loved Emily and her sister because it showed their relationship and how eager she was to help her after her accident. It gave me a warm feeling that I would do for my sister as well.

Now, I picked this up because:
1) I was seeing it everywhere on Goodreads & Instagram.
2) I saw that it was a debut author which I love to read because it’s something fresh and usually has a new type of story which I haven’t ever read. (YAY for Renaissance Faires!)
3) I am a SUCKER for enemies-to-lovers romances.
4) It was nominated for the Goodreads Best of 2019 Awards!

I am someone who likes some steam in a romance novel, but this book didn’t have that much in it and I still found it to be adorable and a great story. The only issue that I noticed with this book is that it took a little too long to get started for me.

As I was reading, I thought that the book was progressing alright. I kept reading and then realized I was a little bit past the halfway point where things finally started to progress. If it started maybe 10-15% earlier, I think that this book would’ve kept my attention to the point where I would’ve finished this book right away. I am someone who loves a good slow burn novel, ESPECIALLY when it comes to friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers books, but this burn was just a littletoo slow for me.

Overall, I think that Jen DeLuca did a great job in her debut novel. I loved the beginning of this story and the ending was very sweet as well. I am very excited to see what will come from her in the future!

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.