Tag: Contemporary Romance (page 1 of 57)

BOOK REVIEW: What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

BOOK REVIEW: What to Say Next by Julie BuxbaumWhat to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

Two struggling teenagers find an unexpected connection just when they need it most.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

 

 “What are we going to do with you?” she asks, and my stomach clenches. Freshman year, when I would find myself in trouble at school on a biweekly basis, Principal Hoch would pose this question, which is both idiomatic and rhetorical. What are we going to do with you? Like I was a group project.
Just once I’d like the answer to be: nothing.
Just once I’d like the answer to be: You are just fine as is.
Just once I’d like the question not to be asked in the first place.

Not so long ago I read and fell in love with an amazing book by this very author. It had a secretive, fun romance that stole my heart. It was laced with family drama and new relationships. It was brimming with the realities of what happens when you move to another state and start making new friends…all while your best friend is way back where, making new friends, as well. In short: It was a story that touched on many different levels with me and I devoured it within days (again, this is great for me lately lol).

It doesn’t matter whether you call me an Aspie or a weirdo or even a moron. The fact remains that I very much wish I were more like everyone else.

So, naturally, I saw this book and knew I just HAD to read it as soon as possible-but I didn’t. I saved it, waiting for that perfect moment when I could finally pick up a book by a new promising author I loved, thinking that, of course, this book would bring forth the same amount of emotion from me as her first novel did. And, for many, it accomplished that feat. As for me? I was left wondering how this could possibly be the same author.

Your outsides match your insides better now, Kit said earlier, but she was wrong. No, now my real insides are all on the outside for everyone to pick apart and laugh at. I’m like roadkill. I’ll be looked at, examined, but I won’t even be eaten. I’m not worth that much.

Sure, it was cute enough. It was interesting. It was sweet…and it even had some of the same quirkiness that her first book did. But, that’s just it-I’m reaching here, trying to grasp onto things that don’t really exist. Yes, it had its moments where I’d gear up and think, well here we goooo!, almost immediately finding that it was going in a direction I couldn’t stand behind.

Here’s the thing about making a friend that I didn’t understand before I started talking to Kit: They grow your world. Allow for previously inconceivable possibilities.

I suppose, in part, this is my fault. I had extremely high expectations and wanted another win. I wanted to fall in love as hard as I had previously, wanted my expectations exceeded. Instead they fell flat.

Miney does that sometimes, though she accompanies it with the words Can I get a woot woot? I never oblige. I have no idea what a woot woot is.

I didn’t much care for the characters. I think this is the base of my emotions. The main girl is fine, and I think she really did like David (I loved David, naturally), but it made me more mad than happy most of the time. I almost felt like it wasn’t authentic, that she was judging him the whole time. And this is a big contradiction for me-Don’t we all judge those who are we dating? I mean, yeah, of course! But….but. Seeing as he is, well, I can’t say, I just, my feelings were hurt for him on more than one occasion. And yes, that’s the way its meant to be taken-buuuuut not always. The type of sadness I felt sometimes was off, like I was sad for the wrong reasons. Anyway, back to my point- He can’t help the way he is, and I don’t know. I hurt. I hurt a lot while reading this…and I don’t quite think this is what the author had intended.

I stop listening. No, this isn’t fixable. I see that now. Reading my notebook is like opening up my brain and exposing to the uncaring world all the parts that don’t make sense. The parts that make me a freak or a moron or a loser or whatever words people like to throw at me.
The parts to them that make me other.
The parts to me that make me me.

Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for this and normally I devour these stories. This just didn’t work for me. I didn’t like the school and how they only were nice to David once he changed his look, and I don’t believe those are the reactions he’d get for what happens half way through, and, honestly, I just didn’t believe any of it-and I’m not one that is bad at suspending disbelief, so you know its off.

Catty mean girls, bully jocks, and a girl who is going through a sad time but inspires our main man…for me, there just wasn’t enough story or enough something to keep me interested. More issues than likes, I have to sadly say this book didn’t work for me. It made me, more than anything, depressed. And I wanted so badly to love this story-the guy was just so sweet. But, as they say, a spade is a spade….I just didn’t enjoy anything much about this book. Hopefully her next will be better for moi.

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BOOK REVIEW: Dating-Ish (Knitting in the City #6) by Penny Reid

BOOK REVIEW: Dating-Ish (Knitting in the City #6) by Penny ReidDating-Ish (Knitting in the City #6)
by Penny Reid
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris:
1) She’s fed up with online dating,
2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and
3) She knows how to knit.

After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of human kind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:

Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?
But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . .
As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?

 

I won’t lie and say I just read this and remember everything…because I don’t. But looking back I can vaguely remember the main reasons I both liked and disliked this story.

Likes:

-Matt was super sweet- I really enjoyed his quirky character
-The tone of the story-fun, but not too over the top
-The cute jealousy from him
-The way he always shooed other men off
-How he was always there for her on each new adventure, no matter what-even when she asked for space lol
-His surprising, ahem, sexual prowess

Dislikes:

-Frankly, I found this a bit of a contradiction. They were trying to be so politically correct in the way they handled each other’s feelings, yet they both beat around the bush AT EVERY TURN. I realize there wouldn’t be a story if not for miscommunication, but come on. They clearly liked each other early on….JUST ASK ALREADY if you seek clarity!
-The technical robot talk
-The Knitting group. Like…okay…we know you love to knit-STFU
-The main girl-something about her annoyed me. I don’t know. Maybe she came off a bit like…too perfect?? HA look at me calling someone a Mary Sue when all I ever do is fall in love with Mary Sue’s ha
-The repetitive mistaking of what was actually going on between them. ALWAYS.
-The fact that apparently Penny Reid and I just don’t gel. Or Mesh. She just isn’t for me, I don’t think.

Perhaps the problem is I’m angry because this woman (and this could be the MC or even the author I’m referring to. Hell I don’t know!) totally has my humor but everything surrounding it is severely misplaced so I can’t even enjoy the book as a whole! And I’m sure there’s more…but honestly, I don’t care to explore it any further. MERP.

Here are all the quotes I would have used had I written a real review:

“What is the purpose of your study? To piss off as many women in Chicago as possible?” “No,” he ground out, mirroring my eye-squint. And wasn’t that just the kicker? Him. Squinting at me.

“Um, let’s see. Have you heard of dry humping professionals?” He gasped, his hand clutching his chest. “Are you shitting me?” “Nope.”

“I’m not.” I grinned as I assured him of my veracity. “And I made an appointment at an OM studio.” “What’s an OM studio?” He looked petrified. “Orgasm Meditation.”

“I’ll never say this to you again, so listen up. You’re pretty badass, Marie.” Abram interrupted my thoughts, leaning forward like he was telling me a secret. “You’re wicked smart. And cool. And drama free, which is a huge deal. Drama free is at the top of my list these days. You can be intimidating.” “Me? But I’m a Hufflepuff.”

Matt looked at me like I was cute and weird. “No.” “It’s not even a little bit hard?” I didn’t know why I was pushing. I thought I heard him mumble something like, “It wasn’t hard with her for years.” “Pardon?”

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink the water that will allow it to enter into a happy, fulfilling relationship. Maybe the horse likes being dehydrated. Or maybe you weren’t that horse’s type. Step back from the stupid dehydrated horse .

“I don’t care about celebrity clients,” Matt said, picking up my hand and tangling our fingers together. He continued to scan the airport and I thought I heard him mumble under his breath, “I only care about you.”

“You like that guy, you tell him flat out. You just lay what you want and everything out there. Don’t waste time not saying things that need to be said. He’ll always be in your mind, wrecking the possibility of things with other people, because your heart can’t move on until it knows for sure a door is closed.”

Why are you crying, Marie? I didn’t know. I honestly had no idea. Feelings? Whoremones? Maybe a nearby, but as of yet unseen onion?

His eyes moved over my face and he clenched his teeth. “Is this funny?” “Listen, just listen to me—” Abruptly, he sat up, shaking his head. A flush had appeared high on his cheeks. Jeez, he’s really pissed. . . . Yay!

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BOOK REVIEW: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

BOOK REVIEW: The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Rossby Rebecca Ross
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

Oooh man. This has some of the loveliest, most visual writing I’ve ever laid eyes upon. Like… every sentence…. every paragraph… was crafted so perfectly. I feel so inspired.

I feel like 90% of the time I come across pretty writing though, the plot is a bit lost. The good news? That isn’t the case here. Rebecca Ross managed to create an utterly enchanting world and a rich, unique storyline that had me turning pages nonstop.

Brienna is a lovely, relatable MC who is taken to Magnolia House (think of it as a small, specialized boarding school) to grow up and study ‘passions’. Normally, you have to have a certain skillset to attend such a place, but Brienna’s grandfather manages to convince the headmaster to accept her, after sharing her father’s true identity (except Brienna is kept in the dark on this matter.)Anyway, passions fall into five categories: art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge. Except Brienna can’t seem to master any of them. She knows she wasn’t admitted because of her skill, and that it had something to do with her heritage.

Anyway, she forms a bit of a… bond with one of the professors, but when the time comes for the students to leave with a patron, Brienna isn’t chosen. Feeling rejected, the headmaster offers her a deal with a mysterious lord. Meanwhile, she sees memories of someone she believes to be her ancestor but is afraid to confide in anyone.

I can’t say much more, but things get interesting as we learn of Brienna’s real heritage and how it ties in with the dilapidated kingdom in the north. She winds up in a plot to retake her homeland and thus mystery, intrigue, magic, and romance ensues! (I will say this. Romance isn’t the focus, but I was definitely sitting there most of the book thinking… JUST KISS DAMMIT. But don’t go into this just for the romance – it is definitely a slow burn subplot.)

Anyway, this was SO close to a five-star read. The only thing holding me back was I felt like things were resolved so easily in the last 30%. Like there wasn’t quiiiite enough conflict and everything kinda falls into place? And while I loved every minute with Brienna, I felt like the pacing in the middle lagged just a *touch*.

But nonetheless, I still REALLY enjoyed it and I highly recommend the read. Right now, it feels like a standalone, but my gosh I would love for another book in this world. I really can’t brag enough about how fun of a read it was, and how immersed I was in the world.

BOOK REVIEW: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW: Letters to the Lost by Brigid KemmererLetters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

 

So…I’m not going to lie-I read this before my daughter was even born. And, if you don’t follow me or my life (Which I’m sure I many many people do not), that happened in the middle of March. Yeah. I know. Shame on me. Because this book? It was SO SO good. It deserved all the pre-praise it could possibly get and I failed it. I got the ARC, loved it, devoured it, even, and didn’t get a chance to write this review (as my baby girl was born-oops (and YAY)). But, instead of giving it up because I read it so long ago, I’ve always known I’d come back and (eventually) write a review for it-I respected it THAT much. I’ll warn you, though-this is as far back as I’m going for reviews of books when I was too pregnant and too tired to write reviews. I cut it off here.

Anyway, onto the book. I’ll be candid here-When I received this I was not only shocked but…disappointed? I hadn’t really looked into this much and was not expecting to be granted access, and frankly I was behind on way too many reviews-I wasn’t being as picky as I should have been for as slow as my review output was. But the minute I finally picked this up…it immediately drew me in. And damn if I wasn’t shocked.

What starts out as a young girl working through her grief by writing letters to her mother’s grave becomes a heartfelt story about being heard, understood, and, ultimately, not so alone once a boy who works in the cemetery writes back to Juliet on her note. Understandably our MC is upset that someone invaded her personal privacy by writing back to her, but after responding through an angry rant, she and this mysterious person begin an online friendship (HA. SEE. I’m HOPELESS for these types of books) that makes them closer than ever through their shared grief. What they don’t know is: They literally are each other’s worst nightmare, in real life.

Total opposites, these two grow closer and closer, not realizing that the person they crave talking to most every day is one of their worst enemies. Dark, misunderstood Declan and popular, uppity, miss goody-two-shoes (so he thinks) have found the ultimate connection. But in real life, they continue to clash.

Declan takes every opportunity to push Juliet away when she tries to let him in. See, he is the dark, broody guy that everyone whispers about when he walks by, but she starts to run into him more and more (literally…ha) and tries to be nice, to let him in, but he isn’t having it…at least, not at first.

I can’t even begin to explain how wounded Declan is, how tough he tries to act, but he’s that total package guy who would do anything for you-just a completely misunderstood guy-but it’s not like he helps himself. Juliet tries to be nice to him continually, but he always ruins it by snapping at her, by judging her before understanding her, knowing her…but then he begins to see there may be more to her than meets the eye-and is there a connection between her and his dream girl he’s been chatting with day and night?

They both begin to see little similarities, never really knowing who they quite are falling in love with online, but don’t want to ruin what is blossoming between them at school, at Rev’s house-they like each other, but what if they lose their pen pal in the process?

I’m tired and not doing this review justice, but just, I really loved this, okay? Declan and Juliet were beyond cute-I was obsessed with them, especially Declan. He was dark and broody, but utterly loyal. He was tortured and lonely (Besides his one good friend, whom I ADORED) and just wanted a real connection, to be away from his asshole stepfather and to be understood for who he really is. He made mistake after mistake concerning Juliet, and he does pity himself a little too much (if I am remembering correctly) but he gets his shit together and he made me swoon like no other-not like I wasn’t before that, but that’s beside the point. And Juliet had her issues, too, like not seeing that some things aren’t what you want them to be, that reality isn’t always as pretty as the dream, but she was fun and sweet and relatable. And we need more YA heroines like her. She had ambition and I admired her for that-so pick this book up. I think its more than worth the read.

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BOOK REVIEW: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

BOOK REVIEW: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans WelchLove & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and ever herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

 

Sonia met my eyes in the mirror. “You know, people come to Italy for all sorts of reasons, but when they stay, it’s for the same two things.”
“What?”
“Love and gelato.”

I know I say this a lot, but seriously-What a pleasant surprise!! Seriously. There are few books that manage to surprise me, and it’s even rarer that I fall for a book set overseas. Don’t ask why and I won’t explain-Just know that there are really only two books that have successfully stolen my heart that take place outside of the US…and they are Anna and the French Kiss and The Fever series.

I will say this, though; I was MOMENTS away from DNF’ing this. Yup, you read that correctly: A book that turned out to be absolutely adorable almost slipped under my radar. I had been avoiding it for a while, but even when I did give it a try, I almost gave up on it. In the beginning, there was just too much of her alone, her with her sadness, her mourning her mother’s loss…now, come on, I’m not heartless-I realize she had to feel helpless and sad and lost, but I’m already finicky, so I was drowning in those pages.

But, right when I was about to give up, something happened. Something big. Something HUGE-Lorenzooo started sniffing around…and my heart couldn’t take it. I was hooked. Oh, did you think it was actually something huge? Pshh. Y’all know me better than that. Give me a good boy, a quirky little adventure, and some swoony moments and I. Am. All. In.

“Did I dress up enough?”
“What?”
I repeated my question. He slowed for a red light, then turned to look at me. “You look great. We’re wearing the same thing.”
“Yeah, but you look . . .”
“What?”
“Cooler.”
He tipped his head back so our helmets clacked. “Thanks.”

And that’s another surprising thing-I don’t much like frolicking. Like…scavenger hunts, mysteries, journal entries from anyone other than the two lovebirds. And, if I’m being honest here, I didn’t fall in love with it here, either. But I honestly truly loved how her and Ren found each other through her mother’s journal. I loved the places they saw, the things they did, the way they bonded and became closer because of the vivid picture her mother’s words painted. Where most stories find their momentum through all the romance, this story found it’s rhythm in a young girl’s grief. And, frankly, I think I respect this book for that.

Yadda yadda of COURSE I wish there had been a little more romance-sure. But it was all the more special as the romance built and built, giving us spurts of butterflies throughout the entirety of the story, all leading up to an explosion of adorable jealousy and feels that leaves you so happy you’re breathless. Or was that just me?

And, okay, I so wasn’t going to say this, but when I read L&G, I really and for true had Anna and the French Kiss type feels. Yeah. So….this book, while adorable, had a lot to live up to even from the start. And, I admit, this did put a lot of pressure on an otherwise light book that I normally wouldn’t have put so much stake on. But, back to my point: I had read reviews prior to buying this story that said it was similar to AATFK, and those are huge shoes to fill, I’m sorry. Yet…and yet.

“Thinly sliced ham. You’ll love it.” He sat down next to me and I unwrapped the sandwich and took a bite. Of course I loved it. But it was nothing compared to how I felt about Ren. And yes. I’d totally just compared the only guy I’d ever felt this way about to a ham sandwich.

In all the ways that counted, I felt like I was back to my darling Anna and St. Clair’s world, and it felt tremendous. Ren was light-hearted, cute, witty, fun…and just absolutely adorable. He was funny and he made me laugh in the most innocent ways-he was flirty without being smarmy, he DID have a girl…but I can’t say what went on. All I can say is that he didn’t cheat. But, you know, I know some people that are bothered by that fine line…spoiler alert: I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. HA. Anyway, back to Ren’s perpetual allure: He could make me smile with the smallest ‘facial expression’, making for a scene that filled my heart with joy while being so simple. And I think that’s missing in books these days, for me. I just want a simple, cute, breezy YA contemp. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is: but this book delivered in spades [for me].

And, just like with Anna (Again with those pesky comparisons), I loved our MC. I mean to say: She didn’t annoy the shit out of me-which, honestly, is becoming an increasingly familiar trend. But not here-Lina was sweet, kind, and respectful of Ren’s ‘kind of’ girlfriend. I even liked a certain club scene (Tehe-I love these…) where the knight in shining armor didn’t save the day…but a more unlikely ally shone. I was a bit like pfft WTH! I. WANT. REN…but was immediately satisfied after. Eh. You’ll see. Whatever ha. (It’s getting late, if you can’t tell-since I can’t write reviews during the day anymore and only after little girl is asleep)

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

So…I don’t know. I don’t like making comparisons where I don’t feel comparisons are due, but I also can’t deny I had a lot of those same feels. Maybe it’s the foreign aspect? The having a significant other? A group of friends? Either way, they are each their own individual story with their own individual storylines, they just have some of the same fun things. Like, for instance, one centers solely on the sordid (though I SEVERELY disagree with that word) romance and school while L&G is after a girl’s mother passes and she gets a journal from her mother’s younger years where she was a student in Italy and how she fell in love…and made the wrong choice. It’s about a girl trying to figure out her mother’s story and finding a fast friendship with a boy who wants an adventure, as well, and them following her mother’s footsteps. I don’t know. Perhaps its as simple as Paris and Italy being places I’ve always wanted to go to and these stories transporting me there with fun journeys, vivid story-telling (whether inaccurate or not, I do not care-again, I’m side-eyeing you, Bug. Just…don’t lol), love and romance, and, of course, Gelato. I mean really…what else could a girl ask for? What else do you need? The answer is nothing.

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