MINI-REVIEWS: More Romance

So I’ve been on this huge romance kick over the last couple of months, right? I’ve been reading them quickly and haven’t been very good about getting reviews up, but today I sat down and just decided to bang them all out! (Just…do me a favor and ignore how many of these books feature 29/30-year-old Brits).

mini-reviews

Here’s Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

I feel a little foolish that it took until about 75% of the way through before I realized this was a loose Pride and Prejudice retelling, but what are you gonna do? I didn’t like this one quite as much as the others I’ve read by her. Anna was a great main character, but I wasn’t always buying James as a love interest. I’m happy with how it ended, but there was some doubt in my mind if he’d ever be able to truly redeem himself. 3.5/5

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The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

I didn’t LOVE Calla. I feel like she was too oblivious as to how she was coming off to others. Like…you’ve seen the town and you really think the grocery coffee stand is going to have soy/almond/cashew milk? Besides that, I liked the other characters (maybe besides Calla’s mom). Simon is a real gem and neither Calla or her mother deserve him. 3.5/5

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Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker

I had my issues with Calla again, but overall I still liked the book. I just feel like she’s willfully naive sometimes. I’m not sure what she thought life was going to be like in Trapper’s Crossing, but I thought she should have been a little more grateful towards Muriel taking her under her wing. I did like her relationship with Roy, though, and thought it felt realistic. 3.5/5

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It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane

Wow. Talk about slooooooow burn. Halfway through this book and I still had no idea which guy Delia was going to end up with. I don’t know that the relationship made a ton of sense to me always, but I still liked it and thought Delia was a good character. I liked her “journey” and the things she discovered about herself though she was a little too naive when it came to Kurt.

Unrelated, I thought the comic panels were a nice touch! Really enjoyed them. 4/5

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Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

This book actually took me by surprise! As the story sets up, you think you know where it’s going, but then it turns completely on its head. The meet cute scenarios that Evie comes up with are equal parts cringe and heartwarming. It really is interesting to think about how those scenarios might play out in real life (mostly poorly). I thought the romance was compelling though I wasn’t totally convinced until the end what the love interest necessarily saw in Evie. Overall, this was a cute read. 4/5

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Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

I really enjoyed Georgina’s journey throughout this book. Despite the fact that this book would be classified as romance, I feel like Georgina’s development as a character shared equal screen time and I really liked seeing her relationship with her sister grow throughout the book. The romance part is great too. There’s a lot of “but wait…does he actually remember her?” looming over every interaction that Georgina and Lucas have. With their backstory, I felt like the romance was believable and I found myself really rooting for them in the end. 4/5

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I really enjoyed this one! Admittedly, Tiffy was a little much for me at times but I thought that Leon’s chapters balanced her out nicely. I thought the change in writing styles between their narrations was interesting and helped to distinguish them from each other. One of my pet peeves is when a book has multiple POVs, but they all sound like the same person and that was not the case with this book. I’ve seen other reviews complain about the secondary plots, but I actually didn’t mind them. I thought they fleshed out the characters in a realistic way that ended up contributing to their overall connection as people. Perhaps things might have wrapped up a little too picture perfect in the end, but I can hardly begrudge this book or characters their HEA. 4/5

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The Switch by Beth O’Leary

If you are looking for a book featuring a quirky English village (quirky residents included) then look no farther! I really enjoyed getting to know the townspeople of Hamleigh along with Leena. Penelope and Roland especially always had me chuckling. Overall, this book had a really strong cast of interesting secondary characters to help Leena and Eileen along on their journeys. The relationship between Leena and her mother, Marian, was tense but felt necessary and I’m glad that O’Leary featured it, though I could have used a little more on-page action. There were elements of this book that I felt were unrealistic (both Eileen and Leena got A LOT done in less than two months), but I was more than happy to overlook that.

As the book started to wrap-up, however, I was worried that both of our heroines were going to end up with their respective love interests by default. Here’s what I mean by that: the whole book a protag is with one person (when the love interest is clearly…well…interested) but then something happens at the very end to cause that initial relationship to end and our protag turns around and is like, “Oh yes, I guess I do love this other person over here”. Even though five seconds ago they were really fighting to keep their previous relationship. Anyway, that DOESN’T end up happening in this book even though I was worried it was going to happen not once, but twice. I ended up really liking how O’Leary navigated all of those relationships. 4/5

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A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday

Meh. This book was just alright. I enjoyed all of the parts that were Hallmark movie-esque (quaint European village with delicious holiday traditions, meddling younger sister, New York meet cute) but I don’t really think I liked either of the main characters very much? I didn’t feel like they were very consistent throughout the book. Leo especially was just…kind of an odd character. He had an ENORMOUS chip on his shoulder and seemed to go out of his way to be contradictory at times. I can’t say I enjoyed any of his POV chapters really. And then I found Marie just kind of boring. 3/5

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A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore

While I enjoyed this book, it does fall under the classic romance cliche where one frank conversation between characters would eliminate 90% of the drama. Lucie and Tristan were both interesting characters and again, I really liked the historical backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement. Lucie is not a damsel in distress to be saved and Tristan is clearly no white knight, but they end up working together to further their individual goals. I liked that Dunmore portrayed Lucie and Tristan as equals starting with them both owning 50% of the publishing house. It creates a good dynamic between them I think. Overall, I’m definitely interested in continuing the series ESPECIALLY after learning that book #3 is going to feature Hattie! 4/5

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Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

I’m not totally sure why I didn’t love this book, but it wasn’t as enjoyable to me as some of the other romances I’ve been reading lately. I didn’t love either Piper or Kyle to be honest. The flashback chapters to camp life were kind of a drag for me. Obviously I know they were being dumb teenagers (and which of us hasn’t been a dumb teenager at some point?) but I felt like so many of their decisions were just BAD and the consequences were so easily avoidable. I don’t know…I think this book just had too many things going on–elements that by themselves could have worked better. 3.5/5

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Romance Mini-Reviews

Lately I feel like I’ve been having a tough time getting through books. Even books that I’m enjoying, it seems like it takes me weeks instead of days to complete them. The only exception being romances. I’m not sure why, but I can zip through a romance in a couple of days while every other genre is a slog and this month I just decided to lean into that all the way. So without further ado, here are mini-reviews for some of the romances I’ve read this month so far.

mini-reviews

Billy & Me by Giovanna Fletcher

This book was fine. The writing seemed a bit immature at times and I thought Sophie and Billy’s relationship developed REALLY fast. I didn’t love that the conclusion seemed to be that a compromise between their careers wasn’t possible. But on another note, seeing as how Gi is married to Tom Fletcher from the British band McFly, it makes me really wonder how much of Sophie’s experiences here are autobiographical. The press and people on social media can really be terrible—it’s disgusting. 3/5

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Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Coming off of watching Enola Holmes on Netflix, it was interesting to learn a little more about women’s suffrage in England. I liked that the romance didn’t get bogged down by the history and vice versa. I’m not going to pretend like the love story between our main characters was super realistic, but it was still enjoyable. I thought they were both pretty good characters. Let’s get Hattie her own book though, mmmkay? 4/5

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Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I thought this book was so sweet and was exactly what I needed right now. I liked Evvie as a character a lot and her relationship with Dean seemed to progress at a good pace. I like that they had adult conversations and there were no angsty misunderstandings. I liked the ending too! I felt like it was realistic but still sweet. Lastly, I just wanted to say that I feel Monica is extremely underrated as a character. Her friendship with Evvie was really great and she just seemed like an awesome woman in general. 4/5

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

This book was surprisingly funny. I thought the narrator’s voice was super cheeky and really added to the story, though I don’t know that I would want to read a million books like that. Nina was equal parts charming and infuriating as a protagonist. She made quite a few decisions that I wouldn’t have, but then some decisions that I really liked as well. Overall, I liked the combination of her having to deal with her father’s death/inheritance/new family and figuring out how she felt about Tom. It gave the story more dimension to kind of have two different storylines going on at the same time. 4/5

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If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

I really liked this book! It took a little while to really get going, but I think that eventually ended up being really important in understanding who Laurie is as a character. Jamie as a love interest was a little too perfect at times, but I still liked him and the scenes of him and Laurie together just talking were always really fun. While this book is ultimately a romance, I appreciated how it talks about some heavier themes and specifically about being mixed race. As a mixed race person myself, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten the, “Where are you from?” question. Born in America same as you random white person, thanks. And like…why do you even care? Does my heritage change anything about our relationship? Anyway…bit of a triggering topic for me I guess, but there you have it. 4/5

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MINI-REVIEWS: Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All; Mexican Gothic; and The Lion’s Dean

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

I thought this book was so interesting the way it was narrated! It kind of reminds me of The Book Thief in some ways. I liked that we learned things about Pearl and her life along the way even though she wasn’t our classic “main character”. This book felt like a slice of life from Chicago during WWII and I really enjoyed getting that view. A lot of this story is just quiet and slow, but it’s so well-written (even though I think the imagery with doors kind of went over my head). The ending made me want to go straight back to the beginning to reread the prologue. I would definitely recommend this book, but it may be something that you have to be in a specific mood for. With that being said, I think these fall/winter days coming up will create the perfect atmosphere for this book.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

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Mexican Gothic

This book felt so slooooow to me even from the very beginning. For a long time, I just felt like nothing was happening and it didn’t seem like Noemi was learning anything important. So that goes on for like the whole book until the last 20 pages which end up being super intense. I don’t want to give anything away, but it ended up being so different from what I expected and just really weird. It wasn’t scary or even that thrilling, though I’d probably still classify it as horror. Lastly, some uncomfortable topics were touched on that I didn’t love (incest, infanticide, and cannibalism).

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

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The Lion’s Den

I didn’t LOVE the story itself, but I thought it was written well and it successfully kept the suspense and mystery high. I think that’s tough to do, so kudos for that. Part of what helped with that was that it was really difficult to know who the “good guys” are throughout the book–there was a moment where I was even contemplating how reliable a narrator Isabelle was. Despite not loving it, it did make me want to reread some sections after I finished to pick up on the things that I missed the first time. I think another reader would really enjoy this book, it just wasn’t totally for me.

Overall Rating: 3.5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

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MINI-REVIEWS: American Royals & Majesty by Katharine McGee

American Royals

This is the perfect book if you’re obsessed with the royal family and have always wondered what it would be like if America had one as well. I liked most of the characters (the ones we’re supposed to like anyway), but I didn’t love all of the relationships.  I thought there were just too many of them and wished that it had been cut back to maybe two of the four. Not everybody needs to have a romance or a romantic partner. The relationships were also a tad contrived in my opinion. They were basically all the same: “Here’s a character and here’s their love interest, but they can’t be together because of [blank] reason”. With that being said, I liked all of the relationships on an individual level. It was just the fact that they were all bundled together and were so similar to each other. Overall, this was a really enjoyable read and I would recommend it as a YA version of The Royal We.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild

Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

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Majesty

*NOTE* This will probably contain slight spoilers.

This book picks up essentially right where the last one left off. I found this one just as enjoyable as the first, but also had the same exact issue, funny enough. Again, all of the relationships felt eerily similar and seemed to face the same obstacles. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with how each of the relationships turned out, and again, I liked them all individually, but as a complete package it was too much for me. With that being said, I did still really enjoy this book and I just hope that in the third book (I assume there will be a third) Jeff finally finds a nice girl to be with.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

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New-ish Release Mini-Reviews

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

I went into this book kind of wondering why it was necessary, but I was sucked back into Panem right away. I forgot how engaging Collins is as a writer and this book brought to mind everything I loved about The Hunger Games in the first place. I thought it was really interesting to see what the early Games were like and how Coriolanus introduced some things that lasted even until Katniss played. In a lot of ways, this book is really reminiscent of Marissa Meyer’s Heartless. In both books, we know that our main character will eventually become a horrible person, but it’s not immediately clear how they get there. I felt my feelings towards Coriolanus slowly changing as the book went on. He was someone I could sympathize with at the beginning, but over time he turned into someone I really didn’t like. I’m curious to know how much of his backstory already existed while Collins wrote The Hunger Games and how much she pulled together for this book. I thought it was so interesting how Collins weaved in all the things in his background that explain just why he hates Katniss so much. Almost everything about her must remind him of Lucy Gray. Overall, if you were a fan of the original trilogy, I would definitely recommend this. I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time at all. 4/5

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Big Summer

I had no idea what this book was about when I started it so I was STUNNED that it turned into a murder mystery. Despite that somewhat pleasant surprise, I only found this book to be okay. There were so many flashbacks to the point where I was getting confused about what was actually happening in the current timeline. I kept losing track of where my character was supposed to be while she was thinking about the past. The ending was okay if not the most satisfying–it didn’t totally make sense to me. I didn’t find Nick and Daphne to be very convincing as a couple. I felt like they needed to have more of a confrontation than they did regarding Nick’s ulterior motives. My main takeaway, however, is that Darshi is an amazing angel friend and Daphne doesn’t deserve her. 3/5

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Happy & You Know It

This book also wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. I didn’t find Claire to be a very likable character. A lot of the time I felt a little impatient with her. I also didn’t understand the depth of the betrayal she felt when she learned certain facts about the group–I thought she wildly overreacted. This book definitely had some Big Little Lies vibes to it almost where we have a group of mom and their secrets. I thought the prologue at the beginning of the book did a really great job of keeping the momentum going towards the end (again, similar to BLL). I thought the ending was a bit unexpected, but interesting and in retrospect, I can see the seeds that were planted along the way. Overall, I didn’t love the characters or the book as a whole, but I appreciated the frank depiction of what it’s like to be a new mother. I can testify that all those feelings about motherhood are real and accurate. 3/5

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Oona Out of Order

I was so disappointed by this book! My main problem was just that I didn’t care for Oona. I don’t think she made a single decision that I agreed with. Seriously. Not a single one. It’s so hard for me to connect with a character when I don’t agree with their decision-making. I just can’t separate myself like that. I didn’t totally understand her obsession with Dale. I understand that he was her high school boyfriend and first love and she didn’t really get closure on their relationship right away, but she’s as hung up on him after seven years (and other relationships) as she was in the first year. It just didn’t ring authentic to me. But what do I know? I never had a high school boyfriend. I also thought the pacing of the book was off. Each year, we would spend a lot of time on just a few days and then the rest of the year would take up like two paragraphs and we’d be on to the next. My last issue is the fact that we never really get to see Oona turn into “future Oona”. They felt like two completely separate characters and I really wanted to see Oona turn into that person who is “future Oona”, but we never do. There were definitely some twists that I didn’t see coming, but they weren’t enough to redeem this book. 2/5

The Vanishing Half

Oh gosh, I really feel like I’m in the minority with this one, but I thought it was just okay. The premise itself is pretty intriguing, but something about the pacing was off to me. The different narratives all felt really long and I think it could have benefited from alternating narratives or something. The whole story just seemed to move really slow. I’m not necessarily opposed to a leisurely paced story, but I really wasn’t getting anything out of this one. Despite the slow pace, I never felt connected to any of the character. It made it so I just didn’t really care much what was going on. Honestly, there were a couple of times that I almost set this book down for good. In the end, I think the relationship between Jude and Desiree was compelling and encouraging, but it was kind of offset by Stella and Kennedy’s relationship. 3/5

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Mini-Reviews: The Silent Patient, The Great Alone, The Holdout, and Beach Read

mini-reviews

I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been reading a lot more adult fiction. It’s not a conscious decision and I’m not sure why it’s happening, but I’m going with it! Here are a few of the adult fiction books I’ve been reading lately.

The Silent Patient

I’d heard so much buzz about this book before I picked it up for a book club. Even with all the buzz, though, I really didn’t know what to expect. This book ended up being a little more detective-y than I had anticipated. It was almost as if Theo was conducting some kind of criminal investigation. I wished he’d stayed in his lane a little bit more and that there was more to the interactions between him and Alicia. The author did a good job of making virtually every single male character suspect. Perhaps because of that, I actually didn’t love Theo as a character and especially as a narrator. In the end, I understand why the story was told the way it was, but I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “twist”. 3.5/5

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The Great Alone

I picked up this book because I’ve been meaning to read something by Kristin Hannah FOREVER. After reading this, I’d probably read her again, but she’s not an author who I would binge her entire backlist. Her books are long, heavier, and slower paced than something I would typically want to binge read. That being said, this book is so well-written. The setting of Alaska comes alive in this really unforgiving way. After reading this, you’re getting a big “NOPE” from me re: living in Alaska. Throughout this book I had a really uneasy feeling. Part of it was the tension involved with Leni’s dad, but I honestly think a big part of it was the setting itself. I was surprised at how far the author took the plot. The story kind of just keeps going beyond when I would expect it to conclude. I’m not totally sure how I felt about the ending. Parts of it felt a little too clean to me and I would have liked a bit more open endedness. I also had a big question about what happened with Leni’s grandparents, but maybe that’s just me. 4/5

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The Holdout

The story sucks you in really fast, but I wished that I had a summary of the case right off the bat. Just like a news clipping at the beginning would have been perfect, I think. I wouldn’t say that I loved Maya as a character, but with that being said, we know she didn’t kill Bobby so I was really invested in her figuring out who actually did. This story took many unexpected turns and I thought that was reflected in the ending as well. I liked that we were given answers, but some things don’t feel all the way resolved. There was a resolution to Bobby’s death, though, and I thought it was plausible. The way the book was written was interesting as well. We got flashbacks with different jurors and I thought all of the changing timelines actually kept the story moving along instead of bogging it down. It was really interesting that the author showed how people remember things differently from how things happened or how others recall the same events. Overall, a pretty good “mystery” with insights into the legal system and what it’s like to be on a jury. Also, I love this cover. It’s so simple and I love it. 4/5

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Beach Read

Okay, I think everyone’s been saying this but I’ll just reiterate–this book is NOT as light as the cover would make you think. January and Gus are both dealing with some pretty heavy things. So though they do find love, they have to get through the other stuff first. With that being said, right off the bat I found January to be extremely likable and the chemistry between her and Gus was great. You really just root for them to make it work. And with their history, I also imagined where their lives could have ended up had they gotten together in college (though that line of thinking wasn’t really explored in the book). A couple of critiques: I wish that January’s dad had been a little more present somehow. Maybe his letters could have been sprinkled throughout the book? Or we could have gotten flashbacks from his perspective? My only other critique is that “olive” was used a few too many times to describe Gus’ complexion. It just kept popping up and I didn’t feel like it was necessary. Ultimately, I thought this book ended on a happy and uplifting note. Fingers crossed that Emily Henry decides to really write the book January was working on because I would TOTALLY read it. 4/5

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Taylor Jenkins Reid Mini-Reviews pt. 2

A little while back, I went on a TJR binge and can now say that I absolutely love her and her writing and will definitely be keeping tabs on any of her new releases. I already posted a few minis, but I there were still a couple I hadn’t read when I published those. I think I’ve read all her books at this point? But let me know if I’m missing any.

Forever, Interrupted

This book is absolutely heartbreaking. Every time we go back to the present timeline after being in the past is so hard. I loved Elsie’s relationship with Ben and TJR really helps the reader to be invested in it even though we know it’s not going to last very long. I absolutely LOVED Ana and thought this book from her perspective would have been really interesting too. One critique is that I didn’t love how Elise and Susan’s relationship was portrayed. I felt like I wanted a little more of it and I also wanted Elsie to reciprocate a bit more. Perhaps that was the whole point though…that Susan was helping Elsie through it. But I still felt like there was a lot of taking on Elsie’s end and not much giving. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. 4/5

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

This book and Daisy Jones have so much in common from the perspective that they’re both historical fiction novels with hyper-realistic characters. They both show a darker side of a glamorous industry as well. Just like Daisy Jones, it was hard to believe that Evelyn Hugo and other characters in the book are not real people. I thought Evelyn herself, while not entirely likable, had a really fun voice that made this book a smooth read. I know a lot of reviewers have been critical of Evelyn as a character, but I think she’s an antihero of sorts. I also think it’s important to remember that Evelyn the character is less important than Evelyn the idea. She’s meant to represent Hollywood and how women have had to change themselves to “make it”. This book is a commentary more than anything else. I only had one small issue with the book regarding a plotline in the end that involved Monique. I won’t give any spoilers, but if you’ve read the book, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about. I just don’t really see how it added to the story? I feel like the book would have been just as strong if it was only about Evelyn. I guess that part just went over my head.

Overall, I liked this book quite a bit as well though I’m more partial to TJR’s contemporary romance type books. With that being said, looking at the premise for her next book, it seems like she might be heading down this path of historical fiction without looking back. I welcome that too. 4/5

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Taylor Jenkins Reid Mini-Reviews

Perhaps this is surprising, but this is my first time reading any of TJR’s books! I thoroughly enjoyed my TJR experience and I’m kind of amazed how her books vary in style and subject matter. These reviews are in the order that I read them.

mini-reviews

After I Do

This is the first TJR book that I got my hands on and I was very pleasantly surprised. I could see bits of myself and my husband in both Lauren and Ryan. Obviously my relationship isn’t exactly like the one portrayed here, but I feel like there are some underlying truths in this book about relationships and marriage that could be a beneficial reminder for most couples. I thought this book had a really great resolution. I think it could have been done in a way that felt…insincere? But instead, I felt like the character development was realistic–both Lauren and Ryan changed and made some discoveries. I also liked that Lauren admitted that they didn’t necessarily have to be separated to come to the conclusions that they did. It’s all about WANTING your marriage and relationship to work. Obviously there are some situations where that’s not the case, but I think any relationship is going to have it’s tough elements and you need to make sure you WANT to get through it, or else it’s never going to work. Overall, I really liked this book and there was so much in here that resonated with me. 4/5

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One True Loves

First off, I’m just going to say that this is the literal ONLY case where a love triangle is acceptable in my mind. It’s not one girl falling in love with two guys at the same time, instead she’s fallen in love with both of them at different times and there are huge extenuating circumstances. I thought this book was good, but I didn’t like it quite as much as After I Do. The choice that Emma had to make kind of hung over the whole book and made me a little uncomfortable for the whole book pretty much. It felt obvious to me, too, who she was going to end up choosing (and who the author wanted the audience to want her to choose). I wished that things felt a little more even between Jesse and Sam–I didn’t want to be told who the “front runner” was. Besides that, I really liked the sister relationship between Emma and Marie. I enjoyed seeing how their relationship developed from when they were growing up to what it became as adults. I also thought Olive was a truly delightful character. 4/5

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Maybe In Another Life

I thought the premise of this book was really interesting, but it didn’t necessarily translate to an enjoyable reading experience. I still liked the story and the characters, but it was difficult for me to switch between narratives from chapter to chapter. It just didn’t feel very smooth to read. I also didn’t love the repetition that existed between the narratives (which is why I HATE Groundhog Day-type stories). I understand why the repetition was necessary, but I found it boring to read. Plot-wise, I definitely had a favorite timeline though it was hard to choose between them. There were some minor plot points that I felt needed to be addressed sooner than they were. The things I had questions about did get addressed eventually, but chapters after I feel like they should have been. Overall, I thought this book was really interesting. It makes you think about how one small decision has the potential to make this huge impact on the rest of your life. But at the same time, there are some things that may be inevitable. 3.5/5

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Daisy Jones & The Six

In the beginning I found it tougher to get into this book than TJR’s other ones. I’d come to expect one kind of story from her and this was so different. I found the interview format to be interesting, but harder for me to read. There were just so many characters and I had a tough time keeping them all straight sometimes. This seems like a book that would be AMAZING as a full cast audio, though. With that being said, I did get into the book eventually and found myself enjoying the story. I obviously can’t comment on what it’s like to be in a 70’s rock band, but it felt really authentic. TJR did a great job showing all the great times while also not shying away from the negatives (drugs, fighting, etc.). I found myself a few times looking up characters that were mentioned and I actually can’t believe that NONE of these characters actually exist! I don’t want to spoil anything, but I thought the twist regarding the author’s identity was really well done and surprising. In the end, I felt like Camila was a real MVP. I hadn’t given much thought to her in the beginning of the book, but she’s such a powerful, compassionate woman and a great example of what it means to fight for and to choose your marriage. 4/5

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Pre-Quarantine Mini-Reviews

I had a bunch of books that I read before all of this crazy stuff started happening, but I just never got around to posting my reviews. Well, here they are now! Better late than never, right?

mini-reviews

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

I was so excited to get my hands on this book! Over the summer I became a full Emma Mills convert and this book didn’t disappoint! Her characters are always so fun (if a little too witty and clever to be realistic). I liked the sister element of this book a lot and even wished there had been a bit more. I was also jazzed to see some IUPUI representation (that’s where I got my online MLS degree–go Jags!). There were some plot elements that I could have predicted from a mile away and others that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but overall I really liked this book. I thought it had a good message about the transitional times in your life and the people you might meet there. 4/5

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

I’ve been meaning to read some Ruth Ware for a while and the premise of this book really drew me in. The atmosphere in this book was pretty well done. Reading this book, I just felt cold because Hal is cold like the whole time. Overall, I thought this book was alright, but I had some issues with Hal and some inconsistencies that I felt ran throughout the whole book. First, Hal. She mentally berates herself over and over again for not acting appropriately. For example, she’s so mad at herself for acting surprised to learn that Ezra and Maud were twins, but she made it clear that she didn’t even know that she had uncles so…obviously she wouldn’t know that Ezra and Maud were twins–relax Hal, you’re fine. Then the inconsistencies. Hal makes a big deal about telling Ezra to call her Hal, but earlier in the book Mitzi had already called her that? Just one example. In the end, I can appreciate some of the smaller things that were scattered throughout the book, but I feel like a lot of the time Hal is just being dumb. I think she could have figured out more than she did before she did. At this point, I might try another Ruth Ware book, but if that one doesn’t impress me either, I might be giving up on her. 3.5/5

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Sword & Pen by Rachel Caine

This series! I absolutely love it and this was such a great conclusion. The stakes are HIGH in this book for every single character and I’m amazed that Caine is able to pull that off without things feeling exaggerated. She also does a great job of recapping important plot points from the previous books without feeling info-dumpy which is so common in series books. The characters continue to be the characters that we all know and love. I especially enjoyed Dario in this book–his relationship with Khalila adds another layer to his character which I think is needed. Their relationship feels so sweet and genuine to me. Something I love about this series as a whole, is that I think each character feels realistically developed. It would be really interesting to go back to the beginning and compare who they were in book one to this last book. Overall, I love this series and everyone should read it. 4.5/5

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We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian [ARC 3/31]

This book was such a disappointment. I was hoping to get an awesome girl power/friendship story but instead we get a story about an adult man playing questionable mind games with teenage girls. No thanks. The whole book just kind of made me feel mad the entire time. And I also couldn’t get over the math for Coach’s age. The girls think he’s about 26, but this is his 7th year coaching (not to mention he played field hockey in and after college for at least a little bit). How did he have time for all of that? Also, that would mean he was hired to be the Varsity Field Hockey coach when he was like…19 or 20? Just a couple years older than the girls he’s coaching? I have a hard time believing a high school would EVER make a hiring decision like that. But anyway, I’m getting off-track…it’s just something I was dwelling on pretty much the whole book. I just didn’t think this book was very good. What was the point? What am I supposed to take away? So, so disappointing. 2/5

Meet Me At Midnight by Jessica Pennington [ARC 4/7]

This book surprised me! It’s a pretty fun summer time romance book–perfect for a beach day. I thought the main characters Sidney and Asher had great chemistry even if their interactions felt a little cringe at times (though maybe I just felt that way because I’m not a teenager anymore). There were a few times that the author refused to go along with widely accepted tropes for this type of book, and I really appreciated that. I don’t want to give any spoilers or anything, so I won’t go into specifics. But sometimes authors almost…fabricate drama? I never really felt like that happened in this book. I was super into the first two thirds, but then the last third was a bit less enjoyable (which kept it from being a four star read for me). Throughout, I really liked our two main characters, but towards the end they both made decisions and acted in ways that made me like them a little less. Overall, I would definitely recommend this as a summer read! 3.5/5

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Note: ARCs were received free from NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

MINI-REVIEWS: New Notebook Edition

I take notes while I read because it helps me when I’m trying to write reviews (because I don’t usually get to them right away…oops). It’s a helpful way for me to organize my thoughts and I also can note my content ratings right after finishing instead of trying to remember after the fact. I found the PERFECT book journal a couple years ago at B&N–the hardcover, spiral, lined Canson size 8×5. And the best part? It was under $10. Fast forward to present me and I can’t find this notebook (or an equivalent) ANYWHERE. If only I had known the company was going to discontinue this notebook when I first bought it! Ah well. After a couple months of hunting, I did finally settle on something from Amazon, but I’m curious–what do you guys use to take notes? I tried my phone for a little bit in the interim, but didn’t LOVE it. Anyway, that’s just a long way for me to say, here are the rest of the reviews from my old notebook that I haven’t gotten around to posting until now.

mini-reviews

Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

Honestly, this series has gone downhill in a hurry for me. I started the series either shortly before or after the third book came out. I devoured the first one and was left on such a cliffhanger that my husband ran out and bought the second one for me so I could keep going (I know, he’s a good guy). I was SUPER invested in the first two, moderately invested in the third one, but this one? Just meh for me. I’m just kind of tired of the story at this point. I don’t really understand the politics or motivations anymore. I’ve gotten to the point where I wouldn’t read the next book if there was one. The beginning was just confusing to me–there are SO many characters. And in the end, I didn’t really care for the Jules/Emilia relationship. It just seemed kind of random and thrown in there? Overall, I wasn’t super impressed. 3/5

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Legendary by Stephanie Garber

I reread Caraval for a book club and then went ahead and finished the series (but it doesn’t look like I took any notes on Finale, so oh well). I found the whole plot of this book to be confusing (and the next book too, tbh). Tella as a character was confusing. The fates were confusing. I really loved Caraval the first time I read it, but I don’t feel like it held up to a reread (especially compared to The Night Circus which TOTALLY DID). I found Scarlett’s plot-line to be distracting and Tella just annoyed the crap out of me. She kept doing things that were CLEARLY a bad idea just to tick someone off. The writing was also just…not good for me. I could tell the author was trying to be lyrical with these lush descriptions, but if I have to read about how Dante smells like ink and darkness one more time, I swear… WHAT DOES DARKNESS EVEN SMELL LIKE. 3/5

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The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

I don’t feel like this book was quite as dynamic a conclusion to this trilogy as I was hoping for, but it was still good. I liked that this book was filled to the brim with strategy and political scheming. I also felt like Jude was more palatable in this book than in the previous two. With that being said, there were a few plot points that I was a little confused by. Pretty early on in the book, Taryn asks Jude to take her place in Faerie for a little bit, but I’m not really sure how she planned to get Jude back out? And then everything that happened with Carden…while I didn’t see it coming, once it happened I felt like the solution was really obvious. Like, REALLY obvious. I thought the overall ending was pretty good, but it seemed like it all happened really fast. I also wish that Grima Mog had gotten more screen time, she was awesome. We’ll see where Black decides to take Faerie next, but I’m hoping we get a book set in the Court of Teeth (fingers crossed). 4/5

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I was so disappointed by this book. I’ve only heard great things about it (and the series in general) but I just couldn’t get on board with the characters. I thought all of the characters had these exaggerated flaws that they kept dwelling on and thinking about, but then they didn’t really do anything to overcome those flaws. I mean, I guess Amari did in the end, but Zelie and Inan did not. Zelie was particularly hard for me. She has NO impulse control. Absolutely none. Her temper is too quick to flare and she never thinks about long run consequences which drove me absolutely CRAZY. I thought the magic system was pretty interesting, but I also feel a little confused by it. Zelie mentions that maji exist in other countries, but the gods that the magic comes from seem pretty Orisha-centric. Do the other countries believe in the same gods? Did Saran take magic away from the whole world or just Orisha? Overall, I’m just pretty confused by how this world is set up. I probably won’t be continuing with the series. 3/5

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