Tag: Contemporary Romance (page 1 of 66)

BOOK REVIEW: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

BOOK REVIEW: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnikThings I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Things Chloe knew: Her sister, Ivy, was lonely. Ethan was a perfect match. Ethan’s brother, David, was an arrogant jerk.

Things Chloe should have known: Setups are complicated. Ivy can make her own decisions. David may be the only person who really gets Chloe.

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own, so Chloe and David have to tag along. Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen-yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

 

Shockingly enough, this was a book I had passed over because of a couple minuscule details I picked up on in the synopsis. But, seeing as how I have a very particular set of books that work for me nowadays, upon further inspection, this book looked like it was right up my alley. I mean, come on: Douchey guy, arch nemesis (pretty much the whole school’s, to be fair), being pushed together in a selfless act for their siblings…I just couldn’t help but balk and give this one a try. Though, I should have stuck with my first instinct.

“No, thank you,” she says as David catches it neatly in his free hand.
“I insist,” David says, and whips it back at them. It can’t possibly hurt anyone—I mean, it’s a bag of chips-but the gesture is violent, and they both cower away from the Lay’s with little noises of distress. .

Lately I find that I’m so picky that it’s beyond obnoxious. Almost nothing fits my tastes but what I literally have no time to read. Like, say, Victoria Schwab’s latest release. COME TO ME. But, alas, I refuse to ruin something because of time restraints that I know I’d love normally if I had time to read it within a few days. But, if I were to pick up my favorite genre at this time, YA Fantasy, I’d be ruining every book I attempted to soak in. So, here I am, trying to navigate the YA realistic fiction waters with blinders on.

David has one of those bland faces that would get him off for murder because not a single eyewitness would be able to describe him. They’d all be saying stuff like, “Oh, you know . . . hair that’s kind of brown . . . not that straight, but not curly either . . . His nose? Just kind of normal, I guess . . . Dark eyes, probably brown . . . Average size . . .” Meanwhile he’d be off killing a bunch more innocents. And they’d come interview everyone at our school, and we’d all be, like, “Yeah, I’m not surprised. Guy was weird.

^^^ Okay, this is actually one of those moments I laughed out loud….

Yes, sure, this is a favorite genre as well, but when you don’t have the same dialogue with all your GR friends [you used to] and don’t get to scroll the feed for common interests or things that pique your curiosity, you’re constantly stuck looking at the ‘books similar to’ section-and let’s face it: That’s basically a big pile of ‘less than.’ Not often do I find a winner in this section. But here I am, stuck looking and surfing and perusing these dumb attempts to grab suckers who actually think these books have anything in common with a book they adore and aren’t just cherry picked by GR. I never ever did this before because I had all the friend advice possible, guiding me through all the winners each and every time I was looking for an awesome read. Now, here I am, settling in amidst the bottom feeder section….who’s the sucker now?

“Okay,” she says. “Just not bowling. I don’t like bowling.”
“It’s because you’re not very good at it.” Ethan pats her shoulder consolingly. .

But I’m not totally being fair-I guess some of those comparisons are astute and I’m being a bit of a pessimist these days because I just. Can’t. Find. The TIME. To read and review-and it makes me sad. And, ya know, this book wasn’t half as bad as I’m making it out to be. I’m just always looking for that ‘wow factor’ now, and I’m trying to accomplish this with minimal effort-it just doesn’t work that way and I know better. You have to really pay attention and research to find new favorites-they don’t just fall into your lap. (Unless you have great friends like I do/did who are always telling you what you’d love every time you finish a book)

Ethan glares at him but opens his mouth, and David shoves the rice in. Ethan chews and swallows. “It still hurts.”
“You shouldn’t have eaten the chili pepper,” Ivy says. “Everyone knows they’re hot.”
“I didn’t mean to!” Ethan roars at her, spraying chewed-up rice across the table. “It got in my mouth on accident!”
“Chilis can be sneaky,” I say.
“Tricky little beasts,” David agrees. “You can’t trust a chili.”
“Bell peppers, though—they’re trustworthy.”
“The really evil ones are those little shishito bastards,” David says. “Some of them are hot, and some aren’t. You can’t tell until you bite into one. How is that fair?”
“It’s not,” I say. “It’s not fair at all.” .

But enough whining-this book was pretty cute, in concept. I loved the guy in this story (I already can’t remember their names, and it’s only been a couple weeks since I finished this…not a good sign), but found his character was a bit underdeveloped. Or, rather, he was unexplored. He was this mean guy at school, snarking at everyone’s opinions like he was God and knew all, but then all of a sudden he makes exceptions for our MC. Now, this might be me acting a tad selfish- I love assholes in books, and he just showed how nice he truly was too soon for my taste. I wanted a bit more asshole, a little less ‘now you see me for who I am’ so early on in the book… Not that he even said any such Disney type line, but you get it (I think). So, in a way, it was too quick a change of heart-for both characters.

I can’t decide if the world would be a better or worse place if everyone was as honest and literal as these two. Better in some ways, I guess, but maybe a little harsh? 

But what I’m not saying is that obviously we see a little more change in our MC because we are in her head (boring as it is), so it’s a bit more forgivable. With him, we are just like, WHAT? THAT’S IT? BE MEAN TO HER A LITTLE MORE! I think the feminists of the world might not like that statement…I’m sounding a bit crazy. But I am who I am, so oops. Let’s move on.

“Come on,” I say, and shove him toward the exit. “Let’s go. But admit you were wrong about that whole kissing in public thing. It’s not such a crime.”
“It is when I’m not the one kissing you.”
“Were you jealous of James? Even back then?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “Not exactly. And you guys were pretty annoying. I was sincerely disgusted by you”
“Thanks.”
“But I’ll admit that if I’d been standing where he was standing, I’d probably have had a different view of the whole thing.” 

I didn’t mind the big discovery and the exploration of different…tastes…but I just thought it was handled so oddly-I think this is perhaps just my opinion, though, so take that as you will. It seems like others really enjoyed the secondary character’s adventures, so I stand alone here.

One thing I WILL stand firm on, though, is the shortness of the chapters-I hate this. I have NEVER liked this. And I never will. I kind of thought it made for a disjointed story and mixed it up to the point I didn’t even feel like I could immerse myself into the book-one minute we’re getting somewhere, and then it’s abruptly onto the next chapter. Not a fan. And the characters, or at least our main girl, were written a bit juvenile and a touch vapid-in a ditsy, not easy to relate to way. And I found the way our main guy’s brother was handled/treated was off-handed and not handled the way it should have been…It was just thrown in there and not explored as much as I think it should have been. And his family (And her boyfriend for that matter). Give me a break. Keep your money, cuz I’m not buyin’ it. Just…so odd, if you ask me. So, I think these are by far my largest problems with this book.
Had these details been more fleshed out, I would have had a much larger respect for the story and I wouldn’t have been so nitpicky-but when you can’t help but skim and roll your eyes and continually think-THAT’S IT?! Then there is something wrong.

This review was odd, had stunted writing, and was more like a list of reasons I liked and disliked everything-but who am I trying to impress? I disliked this story and it was handled poorly. IT HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL. Sooo much wasted potential. Perhaps if a little more effort had been put into the story, I’d have written a more fleshed out review. But, as it is, I don’t give a damn. Oh well.

***Upon further review looking back at the quotes I’d chosen when I read the book [before writing the review], I did think there were a lot of cute moments and I laughed out loud a lot. The main character was actually kind of a funny smart-ass….so…..snaps to her. Also, David (ahh that’s his name, lol) was so sweet-I already said this, but he really was. And his brother was really funny. So, just a positive note to add to my surly review. What’s funny is, I was in a GREAT mood when I wrote the original review…and right now I’m in a HORRID mood….yet I’m being nicer. Curiouser and curiouser….

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BOOK REVIEW – Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2) by Lauren Layne

BOOK REVIEW – Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2) by Lauren LayneGood Girl (Love Unexpectedly #2)
by Lauren Layne
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.

Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.

Prejudices. We all have them.

We can deny it all we want, and perhaps you’re Mère Thérésa, but I’m not free of them. That doesn’t mean that I’m judging people according to them, and I mentally slap myself more often than not, but they exist. I started this novel with a shit tons of them : I’ve read many reviews for Good Girl in the past year and apart from a selected few (yes that’s you Chelsea, yes you were right, alright alright alright), they made me expect an awful male-lead, a doormat heroine and an ill-conceived plot.

So you can imagine my shock when I realized that… It wasn’t what I was getting. Far from it, actually.

Prejudices. Both Noah and Jenny are full of them.

“I deserve nothing less than a slap right now, and I’m well aware of it.”

– Noah Maxwell, ladies and gentlemen!

Seriously though… Noah’s not the Bluebeard I expected? At all? Flawed as hell and absolutely infuriating, sure, prejudiced and sometimes mean-spirited, but that doesn’t mean he’s a complete asshole. God, I’ve read far, far worst and these pricks were competing for the book boyfriend of the year on here. Noah’s not even really mean. The most horrible things come out of his mouth, especially in the beginning, that I’ll gladly admit, but he’s aware that he’s going too far and he apologizes? So? I wouldn’t go as far as saying that he’s my type, but come on now. He calls himself on his shit. How is he different from say, Josh from I’ll Meet You There, who was beloved by so many?

Plus he calls double-standards out, and that’s still way too rare for me so excuse me if I wanted to high-five the guy. He might be kinda hot too, but don’t take my word on it (he totally is).

Also, why nobody told me that Jenny was able to hold her ground? The girl’s no damsel in distress.

“You know that feeling you get sometimes? Well, okay, rarely. That feeling when you meet a stranger’s eyes and something inexplicable and intense sizzles between you?
That.
That’s what happened between me and Noah Maxwell, at least on my end.
And then…
And then he had to go and open his mouth.”

See, to some extent, I understand why many readers dismissed her as a doormat, because she’s easy-going and oddly persistent in her quest to see the good in Noah. Yet she respects herself. She puts a stop to their interactions when he’s being a jerk. She doesn’t let go of her desires, whether sentimental or professional. Why are we so ready to dismiss strength when it’s not expressed in the way patriarchy taught us it should be? There’s endless strength in optimist and kindness, and one does not need to fit a certain mold to be strong, dammit. I love a kickass female-lead as much as the next person, but that does not mean that we don’t need to see different portrayals of women.

“Her gaze narrows slightly, and I expect her to get pissy that I’ve just outed our sexual status in front of Finn, but instead she leads forward, running a nail down the front of my shirt. “I think we’re a little confused about who seduced whom, princess.”

As it is, I could never find in me to despise her. She’s way too likeable for that.

Now, as I’m sure you know, there’s a difference between not hating and loving. There’s nothing groundbreaking in Good Girl and as often with contemporary romances, I have a hard time giving 3+ ratings out because I feel like I’ve already read a version of them a million times already. So, what does it take to go to 4 stars?

1) Hilarious internal monologues and well-written dialogues, which are Lauren Layne‘s biggest strengths – as are her final grand gestures, just admit it already.

2) The dog! I wholeheartedly recommend the dog. Dolly was perfect to diffuse the tension, because how am I supposed to go all angsty-angsty when I’m laughing out loud at the dog’s antics? Huh? More seriously, it’s so rare for a pet to feel like a real character, fleshed-out and not merely a bone thrown here and there. Trust me, you cannot forget that Dolly’s here, all the way, and that was so damn refreshing!

3) The chemistry, and how much the author makes me root for the characters : for a long time, that’s where the story fell short for me. I could feel Noah and Jenny’s attraction, I wasn’t bored, but it was certainly lacking something for me to believe in their connection. I didn’t quite understand what they saw in each other, and during the first half, on that aspect Good Girl missed the mark for me, keeping my rating at a 3 : I enjoyed my read all right, but it wasn’t enough. The sex scenes were hot, the banter was fun, but I wanted more. If Jenny’s life interested me, I sure didn’t care about Noah’s whatsoever, except for his friendship with Finn. It didn’t help that I found the plot points regarding his ex-fiancée completely unnecessary. However, it did get better : I thoroughly enjoyed the last 30% and that’s why I’m rounding up my rating to 4 stars ; both Jenny and Noah took my breath away and made me smile so big I can’t ignore it. I read the last scenes clutching my kindle, grinning like a maniac, and now that’s what I want when I read romance novels.

► I’ll get more of that, now and thank you. Flaws and all.

BOOK REVIEW – The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen Callihan

BOOK REVIEW – The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen CallihanThe Hook Up (Game On #1)
by Kristen Callihan
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love.

Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?

Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…

Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely.

That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning.

All’s fair in love and football…Game on.

What I liked
Drew was surprisingly decent and kinda cute? Can I have a Fuck Yeah?
The sex scenes were pretty hot, I’ll admit ;
The characters finally got some layers during the second half ;
Compared to most new adult novels, the writing was pretty good – not that it’s saying much, because eh, there’s a lot of crap out there.

What I didn’t like
I’m just gonna warn you that the first 20% are filled with insta-love/lust of epic proportions – prepare yourself to roll your eyes something FIERCE ;
I’ve read too many romances to stand another Let’s fight and break up for absolutely no reason drama feast – we didn’t go into Anna’s self-esteem issues in depth so it made it very hard to understand her attitude?
I’m sorry, but Iris and Anna were terrible friends in my opinion, and I never got the impression that they even cared about each other ;
There was a distinct Not Like Other Girls fuckery going on and I just can’t stand that shit, okay? Anna did say that most women were awesome, though, hence why I didn’t rage ;
I’ve said that the sex-scenes were hot but unfortunately they were also very repetitive and I might have stifled a yawn several times ;
This is probably on me and my propensity to read romance novels lately but the you are my home felt so cheesy to me, I couldn’t help but laugh ;
The plot was really long-winded, so much that I had to check the percentages and frown on a hourly basis?
I’ll probably forget the whole thing very soon ;
Actually I think I’ll have a hard time to remember it tomorrow ;
What am I even talking about right now? Is that a book review?

Bleh. Go on with your life, you’re not missing anything without The Hook Up. Now I need to read great books because my average rating is a bitch.

BOOK REVIEW: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

BOOK REVIEW: Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

 

*New Mommy Review #2*

Maybe Walt Whitman was right. We all really do contradict ourselves and contain multitudes. How do we even figure out who we really are?

I’m not going to lie-I’d much rather be writing about a book I’ve read closer to this moment, but if I don’t go back and write reviews for all the books I’ve read-and loved-in the past few months, it will make me CRAZY (Well, crazier than usual…). Alex, Approximately was one of those books that you read quickly-but not like your typical YA contemp-you don’t just read it and cut through it and, once finished, never look back. No, this book was one of those that you devour, inhale every word….and just, I don’t know, exhale slowly in a contented breath. It’s a book that not only makes you giddy and happy, but makes warmth radiate from the inside out. It fills your heart with something akin to true love-believable true love-and you can’t quite let it go.

“Bailey, I spend most of my days looking at you through that tiny square screen up there. I’m just grateful to be in the same room. And the fact that you’ll even let me touch you at all is the freaking miracle of the century. So whatever you want or don’t want from me, all you have to do is ask. Okay?”

Now, I’m not a moron. The chances of this book happening in real life are nill and none-I just meant that the progression of the romance not only felt natural, but light-hearted and full of something I’m not sure I feel very often anymore when I read. And, fun as this book was, it was heavy in all the right places.

But despite all that . . . look what he did. Look what he did. For me? And he’s sitting here, in pain, falling apart, and all he’s worried about is that I’m sorry I gave him my number and don’t want to go out on a date with him?

In true YA fashion, though, it wasn’t without it’s pitfalls. Let’s be honest here: Not many girls would miss the obvious signs that Porter Roth was, in fact, online Alex. It was clear as day. And I did think that if there was a problem with this book, it’d be Mink. She was a tad naive for my tastes…but I never felt full-on annoyance, which seems to be a recurring theme lately on all the books I choose to pick up. With what little time I have to read, I’m sure not as forgiving as I used to be.

A couple of yards before we hit the ground, he speaks up in a voice so quiet, I can barely hear him. “What I said the other day about you having champagne tastes?” He pauses for a moment. Mr. Reyes is smiling, waiting to unhitch our bar. “I just wanted you to know that I like the way you dress. I like your style. . . . I think it’s sexy as hell.”

And Porter-I just loved him so so much. Sweet, funny, a tad asshole-ish….but absolutely loyal to the core. He gets his heart broken. He would do anything for Mink. He even has the sweetest apology scene. And, ya know, he can be a tad alpha-male which, hey, I love me a good ‘defending my lady’ scene -*whispers* There were 3 (holds up the non-existent but ever useful three finger emoji). PLUS, he is a tad wittier than our dear main character-I’ll say that much…though, he got a little clearer sign, I’ll admit.

He kisses my forehead. “Know what I’m scared of?”
“What?”
“That I like you way too much, and I’m afraid once you get to know me, you’re going to realize that you can do lots better, and you’re going to break my heart and leave me for someone classier.”

And I seem to be LOVING this type of book right now (is it a trope? I don’t want to toss that word around unnecessarily)-the one where people meet online or in letters (Punk 57, Letters to the Lost, Eliza and Her Monsters, and others I’m forgetting like a moron) and then meet in person, hit it off, and don’t realize they are the same person. I can’t help it-I’m a hopeless romantic and these seem to be hitting all the right buttons for me this year. Note: 2017, the year of the YA Romance cyber stalkers. See: Chelsea totally buying into this melodrama-and LOVING IT.

If we’re meant to be, and he’s the person I imagine him to be, then things will all work out fine. He’ll be wonderful, and by the end of the summer, we’ll be crazy in love, watching North by Northwest at the film festival on the beach, and I’ll have my hands all over him. Which is what I spend a lot of my free time imagining myself doing to his virtual body, the lucky boy.

And, frankly, I liked Bailey’s voice. She was funny, sarcastic, and I found that I related to her quite a bit when it came to her sarcasm. She was snarky and quick-witted. Whadya guna do? 😛

…”Like a horse, you know?” He holds his hands up on either side of his eyes. “You plow ahead, and you make a lot of progress that other people wouldn’t make, but you can’t see what’s happening on either side of the road. You have blind spots. You ignore things that are right next to you. Your mom did that all the time.”

I had so much to say about this book when I first finished-I had a whole review plotted out in my head, I was so anxious to let my thoughts be heard. But, as it is…TIME. TIME TIME TIME. But, and maybe this is a tad cliche, I think it truly says something when I read a book, have no time to write a review, and STILL come back a month (or more) later and attempt to post one. Obviously this book meant something to me, and obviously it was worth coming back for. Maybe that says the most of all.

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BOOK REVIEW: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

BOOK REVIEW: Just Listen by Sarah DessenJust Listen by Sarah Dessen
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

*New Mommy Review #1* (Meaning: Not great, but at least I’m getting some thoughts out there…)

In all honesty, this book started out so great. I was comparing to one of my all time favorites, Some Girls Are, almost immediately. But where SGA got more intense as it went along, JL fell apart, for me, as it continued.

I lost interest in our main character, was beyond annoyed at her childish reasoning for each situation where she simply only had to say ‘just give me a minute’, and, ultimately, I just got bored. I loved Owen, but even he wasn’t enough to save this boring and anti-climactic story. Hell, I couldn’t even put him in my unforgettable male leads shelf because he was in it so little. Sigh.

Frankly, the same thing happened with her other book I read-it was going so well and then the author just veers the story completely away from what I would have done and, frankly, it’s obviously a case of ‘this author just isn’t for me’.

Pretty writing, albeit a bit stale, and fleshed out characters you want to know more about…I just couldn’t love this story. When things finally started to get interesting she ran away. And, hey, just not enough Owen (IE not for me).

Oh well. Better luck next time…though, it probably won’t be a book by this author.

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