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)

When the Light Went Off by Bridget Morrissey

Publication Date: June 1, 2019
Publisher: SourcebooksFire
Rating: ★★★

Five years after the accidental shooting of Marley Bricket, her friends, who were there the day she died, reunite when a box of letters from Marley is found in her former home. The discovery leads them on a scavenger hunt that reopens old memories, wounds, and betrayals, and leads them to question what they thought they knew about Marley’s death.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bridget Morrissey & Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book is classified as a young adult mystery novel. If you are going to read this book, I’d suggest realizing before you start, know that this is not a thriller. I felt like it should’ve just been classified as a contemporary young adult fiction. It’s more about dealing with grief and the horrible tragedy that a group of friends had to endure.

There was a lot going on in this book. Something for me was my inability to like the characters all that much. I feel like there were some parts where I enjoyed seeing what was going on in their mind. However, a lot of the time, I didn’t really enjoy them. I think that Olivia’s obsession with Marley was uncomfortable and unhealthy.

I think that this story had a lot of meaning behind it, especially after I read the acknowledgements. There was a lot happening where people had to deal with grief in a group and dealing with it alone. The writing was just okay, but I definitely got the message the author was trying to portray.

Overall, this book wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. I’d still recommend this book to those who like young adult novels, especially those dealing with grief at a young age.

On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci

Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: ★★★★

What’s a campaign manager’s worst nightmare? A smooth-talking charmer who’s never met a scandal that he didn’t like.

When Emmanuelle Peroni’s father—and mayor of her town—asks her to help rehab Cooper Endicott’s image, she’s horrified. Cooper drives her crazy in every way possible. But he’s also her father’s protégé, and she can’t say no to him without him finding out the reason why: Cooper and her have a messy past. So Emmanuelle reluctantly launches her father’s grand plan to get this Casanova someone to settle down with and help him lose his lothario reputation.

Cooper Endicott wanted to run for Mayor, but he never wanted the drama that went with it. Now that he’s on the political hamster wheel, the other candidates are digging up everything from his past. Even though he’s doing all the right things, his colorful love life is the sticking point for many of the conservative voters. He wants to win, badly, and he knows that if he wants any chance of getting a vote from the female population, he needs to change his image. The only problem? He might just be falling in love with the one person he promised not to pursue: the Mayor’s off-limits daughter.

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Nina Bocci, and Gallery Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I will say that I am not a political person in the slightest. I had a little trouble with this book because I am a little under-educated in the political world, but this book was still easy enough to understand!

This was a great friends/enemies to lovers novel! I really enjoyed the chemistry between the two main characters, Emma and Cooper. Their snide comments and just overall love had me swooning.

I almost gave this book three stars because I felt like at some points I could’ve just skipped ahead and still understood what was going on in the plot. However, the ending did GET ME .

The actual gasp that I let out at the ending had me laughing at myself. It was hilarious and not what I expected at all. I am a believer in Nina Bocci and her ability to make me laugh.

I really enjoyed this one and if you are a fan of Christina Lauren and Lauren Layne, definitely put this one on your to-be-read list!

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!

The Retreat by Sherri Smith

Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Forge Books
Rating: ★★★★

Four women.
Four secrets.
A weekend that will change them forever…if they survive.

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s too-good-to-be-true fianc�e invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends–one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship–Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.

Review:

Thank you to Sherri Smith, Forge Books, and NetGalley for a free copy of The Retreat in exchange for an honest review.

This story focuses on four women- Katie, Carmen, Ellie, and Ariel. It goes through describing each of their lives while describing what is currently happening at a “getaway” weekend retreat. From reading this, you see that all four women have starkly different ways of life and the things that they’ve been through. The best part was the secrets that each woman was trying to keep under wraps.

The characters in this book was my favorite part. They were all severely flawed and all had things they wanted kept hidden. They were so easy to hate, but I really enjoyed learning about their stories and why they were at this retreat. I read the end of the book in one straight shot because I needed to know what was going to happen based on the BOMB that is dropped on you in the first chapter.

The unpredictability was out-of-this-world. I loved the twists and turns when they were warranted. The only reason why I didn’t give this book five stars is because it was a lot. It was pretty tiring having something happen every other page.

However, I will say, the ending…PHEW! Totally unexpected and well worth the wait! I actually gasped out loud when I read over the final piece of dialogue. This was one of the endings that I think will stay with me. One word to describe this book: riveting.

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

Publication Date: August 9, 2018
Publisher: HQ Books
Rating: ★★

The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

Review:

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Sophia Money-Coutts for a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I am one that loves romance, fluff, happy-endings and every possible romance plot that a book could have. I’ve read enough of them to know what makes a good one and one that doesn’t fit in my idea of a good one. This, unfortunately, is one of those circumstances.

I will start off by saying that there were some lines in this that were absolute zingers. These one-liners had me laughing out loud sometimes. However, with a lack of pace, this was the only thing I really could enjoy in this novel.

I couldn’t really enjoy Polly, the main character. Every time I thought that I’d make a connection with her, it was squashed by something she said or did. I struggled through her story because there was barely any development and sometimes she was just plain awkward. Also, the writing was a little different as the author is British and has a lot of different terms than I do (which is not always bad, but particularly this book was pretty British).

The word that I would use to describe this book would be forgettable. I don’t like using that word personally, but it’s really ringing true with this book. There was nothing in this book that made a lasting impression on me unfortunately. This was very fluffy, so if you like fluff and British books with a bit of humor, this might be for you!

Lessons in Love by Belinda Missen

Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Publisher: HQ Digital
Rating: ★★★★

Falling in love is never easy…

Eleanor Manning is finally leaving behind her glittering but empty life in the city (and her soon-to-be-ex-husband) to return to the comfort of her childhood home in Apollo Bay.

She’s landed a lovely new job in her old primary school library and a flatshare with her bubbly best friend, Penny. So yes, she’s well and truly learnt her lesson when it comes to love…

But then she meets gorgeous teacher Marcus Blair and Eleanor’s self-imposed rules fly out of the window! Surely she can resist him long enough to keep this fling no strings attached?

Perfect for fans of Carole Mathews, Mhairi McFarlane and Carrie Hope Fletcher.

Review:
Thank you to Belinda Missen, HQ Digital and NetGalley for a copy of Lessons in Love in exchange for an honest review.

“Why don’t you, you know, stand up for yourself?” 

This was my first Belinda Missen novel, but surely not my last! She had a wonderful way of writing that had me swooning and laughing out loud. Also, the drama !!! had !!! me !!! going !!! crazy !!! The thing I liked the most about this book was the empowerment aspect as well as the plot as it is not really heard of.

Eleanor Manning moved after leaving her husband who cheated on her with her best friend. She moved in with her cousin to get a fresh start. She gets a job as a librarian at her childhood school and is ready to get things done. Here is where we cue *man enters and swooning commences*.

Eleanor and Marcus’ connection is unmistakable and the author really made sure of that. Their banter, insults and overall cuteness makes their connection evident. However, when she starts to see her ex-husband in him, she shies away, which is expected.

The only thing I had issues with in this book was how long it took for things to happen. Of course, I love a slow burn and when angsty things happen. However, I felt like I was already closer to the end of the book before things started to resolve itself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just wish it happened a little bit sooner.

Overall, I definitely will read Belinda’s other books. They are cute, fun, and laugh-out-loud funny. This is for sure a winning novel on my list.