eARC Review – The Kissing Game

Title: The Kissing Game

Author: Marie Harte

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

320 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

“I bet you a kiss you can’t resist me.”

Game on
.

Rena Jackson is ready. She’s worked her tail off to open up her own hair salon, and she’s almost ready to quit her job at the dive bar. Rena’s also a diehard romantic, and she’s had her eye on bar regular Axel Heller for a while. He’s got that tall-dark-and-handsome thing going big time. Problem is, he’s got that buttoned-up Germanic ice man thing going as well. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Rena’s about ready to give up on Axel and find her own Mr. Right.

At six foot six, Axel knows he intimidates most people. He’s been crushing on the gorgeous waitress for months. But the muscled mechanic is no romantic, and his heart is buried so deep, he has no idea how to show Rena what he feels. He knows he’s way out of his depth and she’s slipping away. So, he makes one crazy, desperate play…

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Sourcebooks Casablanca, and Marie Harte for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

I was underwhelmed with this romance, contemporary novel. It was an easy read, but it just didn’t do much for me. I felt there were several main issues with the novel. Rena and Axel like each other, but neither has made the first move. Axel has some deep-seeded daddy issues and doesn’t think he could be good enough for Rena – he gets into a lot of fights and can be violet. Real macho stuff here. Rena is your cliched “wants a Valentine and husband” girl and makes no secret of that. She worries Axel just wants a fun night and not to love her forever so they make a bet, Axel will win her over by Valentine’s day (about a month away).

Okay. There is a lot happening in this book. Rena is described as being a WOC, but the representation left much to be desired. There were a lot of racist acts towards her in the book – but it wasn’t addressed super well and wasn’t cleared up. Also, Axel is described as tall, dark, and handsome – yet in fact he is a German, white, guy with “romance novel cover good looks”. It just didn’t add up.

The dialogue between Rena and Axel felt very forced and stiff. It never seemed like something someone would actually say during a real life conversation to each other. None of it made sense, and frankly they were both terrible with communicating with each other – but Rena wouldn’t accept that and placed all blame on Axel. It got under my skin because she is not a great character, even though she is sold as “sweet and innocent”.

Lastly, the romance was weird and the plot line happened so randomly and disjointed that it made no sense. They got from point A to point B in a bass ackwards way and none of it seemed realistic, like real people would have a romance in this fashion. The sex scenes were pretty good, but honestly no one woman almost orgasms from words and simple touches alone, I don’t care who you are.

Overall, I think there were problematic things with this book, which was disappointing because I was really looking forward to it based on the synopsis.02

January Wrap-Up!

Happy end of January folks! It’s always the month that will never end, and I swear today is January 57th instead of the 31st. However, I still did not manage to read my entire planned TBR, but I got pretty darn close!

I ended up switching up some of the Netgalley books because I got approved for a few in early February at the last minute, so I had to switch some titles over to February’s TBR (check back tomorrow for that post!). I was a little stressed over this because I had 3 books due February 4th that I hadn’t read yet and only 9 days to read them all. BUT I managed it and my last second approval ended up being one of my favorite reads this month!

So without further ado, see below for my 16 finished books this month! I had a nice even split of physical books and ebooks, which was one thing I wanted to be more conscious of this year!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4), Cassandra Clare – 4.5/5 stars
  2. City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5), Cassandra Clare – 3.75/5 stars
  3. City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  4. Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  5. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2), Cassandra Clare – 4/5 stars
  6. Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  7. My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Christina Lauren – 3.75/5 stars
  8. Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2), Tessa Bailey – 4.5/5 stars

NETGALLEY ARC’S

  1. The Silvered Serpent (The Gilded Wolves #2), Roshani Chokshi – 4.25/5 stars
  2. The Shrike & the Shadows, Chantal Gadoury & A.M. Wright – 3/5 stars
  3. Unravel the Dusk (Blood of Stars #2), Elizabeth Lim – 4.5/5 stars
  4. Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2), Nicki Pau Preto – 3.75/5 stars
  5. Break in Case of Emergency, Brian Francis – 3/5 stars
  6. The Kissing Game, Marie Harte – 3/5 stars
  7. The Gravity of Us, Phil Stamper – 4.5/5 stars
  8. When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey – 5/5 stars

BOOKS I DID NOT GET TO AS PLANNED

All of these books have been bumped to February’s TBR, with some additions of course!

  1. The Women’s War (Women’s War #1), Jenna Glass – I’m actually about 170 pages into this right now, just couldn’t get super into it so moved onto something else!
  2. Queen of the Unwanted (Women’s War #2), Jenna Glass – couldn’t read it without read the first!
  3. The Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1), Kat Cho
  4. The Beckoning Shadow (The Beckoning Shadow #1), Katharyn Blair
  5. The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2), Victoria Lee
  6. Havenfall (Havenfall #1), Sara Holland

Overall, I don’t think I did too bad! I planned to read 19 books, and managed to read 16. Let me know in the comments how many books you accomplished, and if we read any of the same!

Happy reading, folks! And happy almost February!

January Haul!

JANUARY IS FINALLY ALMOST OVER!

I swear this month has felt like the longest month every. I always feel like the month of January goes so slow every year – and then the next 11 months fly by. This month I acquired a good amount of books, mostly using Christmas gift cards, but still including the usual subscription box book. I still have some gift card money left, which I plan to put into pre-orders that I’m really excited about. Outside of that, I’m really planning on cutting down my spending on books!

BARNES AND NOBLE

Christmas gift cards!! Shoutout to my future mother-in-law, parents, and my maid of honor!

  1. The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass #0.5), Sarah J. Maas
  2. Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Sarah J. Maas
  3. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Sarah J. Maas
  4. Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), Sarah J. Maas
  5. Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), Sarah J. Maas
  6. Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), Sarah J. Maas
  7. Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6), Sarah J. Maas
  8. Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7), Sarah J. Maas
  9. Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1), Shelby Mahurin
  10. Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #2), Laini Taylor
  11. The Heart Forger (The Bone Witch #2), Rin Chupeco
  12. My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Christina Lauren
  13. Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2), Tessa Bailey

SUBSCRIPTION BOX

I skipped BOTM this month because I wasn’t a fan of the options. I still got my Owlcrate box.

  1. Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars #1), Tara Sim

AMAZON

So, this book was 5 bucks on Amazon, so I had to get it… right???

  1. Roar (Stormheart #1), Cora Carmack

And that’s all folks! Check back tomorrow for a post on my January Wrap Up! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books, or got any of them same this month too!

eARC Review – The Gravity of Us

Title: The Gravity of Us

Author: Phil Stamper

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

320 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Bloomsbury YA, and Phil Stamper for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Oh. My. Goodness. This is the cutest book I have read all year. The Gravity of Us has amazing characters, a complex and wholly intriguing plot, and LGBTQIA representation with a m/m relationship. I found myself rooting for Cal every step of the way and wanting him to succeed. I hurt for him, cheered for him, and supported him throughout this storyline of growing up, learning about life, and fighting for what is right.

Cal wants nothing to do with his dad applying to be an astronaut in Texas for NASA. He loves his Brooklyn life and he has some serious social media success with his journalism efforts, that he doesn’t want to give up. What he doesn’t realize is that his life is just waiting to begin in Texas. He meets friends and is able to stand up for what he believes is right and important, and use his platform on social media to do so.

Cal is my lil cinnamon roll and I will protect him with everything I have. His character is just so darn endearing! I loved the social media and science blend in the plot, it’s unique and like nothing I have read before – and I couldn’t put it down. I started reading and I looked down what felt like 5 minutes later, and I was 30% into the book. I love books where kids look to take down an oppressive regime – which you normally find in fantasy novels not contemporary BUT IT WORKS.

Go put this book on your TBR, pronto mucho.

Happy reading, folks! 🙂

eARC Review – Don’t Read the Comments

Title: Don’t Read the Comments

Author: Eric Smith

Publisher: Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 28th, 2020

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight. 

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Eric Smith, and Netgalley for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Divya is a high school student who spends her time on Glitch, a gaming website where she is an influencer. She has thousands of followers and plays the game, Reclaim the Sun, a space exploration gaming program. This is her income as she attempts to support her mom financially through grad school after her father leaves them to start a new life. Divya is known online as D1V, and is always super careful about how much personal information she gives out. Unfortunately, she is attacked in the game by some racist, sexist dudes who send her a photo of her house to scare her. Don’t Read the Comments follows Divya as she deals with online trolls who take the trolling off the internet and into her life, while she is also trying to learn how to trust people. It’s a hard task for her, let me tell you.

Divya meets Aaron, the other POV in this book, within the game and over the book she learns to trust him even which the attacks happening to her and her family. Aaron is a gamer whose dream is to write the scripts for games, not be a doctor like his mom wants. He works for his friend who owns a gaming company, even though the money for his work hasn’t come around yet. His story follows him helping Divya and dealing with his career and life within the gaming community.

I enjoyed this book, even though gaming is not my style. It was a great story about online trolling, the rampant racism and sexism in the gaming community, and find friendship among the fray. There is assault, harassment, and hurtful comments thrown at Divya because “she deserves it” for being well known on the internet and being a brown girl in gaming. It’s super annoying, but unfortunately accurate to how people are treated in male dominated areas.

I enjoyed the dual POV’s a lot, it was nice to see the story from both Divya and Aaron’s perspectives. Their stories intertwine but are still very separate. The love story is nice and simply, not much because they are high schoolers. The focus is more on the friendship and trust between two people who met online rather than the romantic nature that could happen between them.

For fans of video games and contemporary novels, Don’t Read the Comments will be the nerdy book you’ve been waiting for.

happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – How to Build a Heart

Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: January 28th, 2020

352 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.  

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

Review

**Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers, Netgalley, and Maria Padian for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

How to Build a Heart follows 16 year old Izzy Crawford as she handles high school, prejudice, and being part of a low income family. Her Mami is super strict and won’t let her hang out with her best friend, she pretends to everyone she doesn’t live in a trailer park, and she secretly wishes her life was different – and she’s also ALOT jaded. In comes Aubrey, a new freshman at her school that she takes under her wing (also her older brother is the hottest boy alive, Sam). Izzy starts down the path of a double life, hiding who she is from her new rich friends. When her family is nominated to receive a Habitat for Humanity home, her double life comes back to haunt her and she has to escape to some long lost family.

I had a hard time getting into this book in the very beginning, but once it hooked me I was HOOKED. I stayed up late to finish it and I have #NoRagrets. It’s not exactly a rags to riches story, but it has some similar features. I think the prejudice situations were handled well and I loved all the characters (except Roz, and I don’t apologize). I feel bad for Roz of course, but her personality was really grating, and it felt like all Izzy did for awhile was seek her approval because she was “cool”. I loved Sam and Aubrey’s character and I was really happy the “rich” family wasn’t prejudiced against the trailer park girl.

I loved the addition of the Habitat for Humanity plot line. I haven’t read a book where Habitat was mentioned, but it was so beautiful that this family was able to be built a Habitat house and I darn near cried when a lot of the town started pitching in – including long lost family.

I adored the little romance between Izzy and Sam – they had such a glorious connection and chemistry on paper. I think they brought out the best in each other and Same helped Izzy heal a bit. It was a really heartwarming and real feeling story, it just grabs hold and won’t let go.

Please go check this one out!

eARC Review – Tweet Cute

Title: Tweet Cute

Author: Emma Lord

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication Date: January 21, 2020

368 pages

5/5

Goodreads Review

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Review

Hi all 🙂 Today’s review comes to you from Netgalley and Wednesday Books’ generosity in granting my wish! I initially wished for this book because my dog’s name is Pepper, and when I saw that the main character’s name was Pepper I felt like it was fate. I definitely believe it now because I was granted the wish 🙂

I stayed up until 2am reading and finishing this book. It was SO cute and adorable, and very modern with the use of social media. I could definitely see how this could happen in real life, with a crazy twist of fate.

I really loved both Pepper and Jack’s characters. They both had their own issues in life, but ended up working them out with each other in the most unique, but helpful ways. I felt like their relationship grew very organically, even with the twist of the anonymous app. It was so funny to see them falling for each other in person and on screen, without them knowing it was the same person. It isn’t quite an enemies to lovers trope, but it is pretty close. They aren’t exactly friends before they’re thrown together.

This is a true YA Contemporary novel, you’ve got high school characters and high school problems. Bonus, you’ve got their PARENT’S problems as well, because of course it impacts them. I found this to be a very light and easy read that sucked me in very quickly. It’s the kind of book I like to read when I need refreshing from a string of YA Fantasy novels.

I can give no critiques for this book, as I didn’t see anything that could be improved as I was reading it. The writing was clear and well-constructed, the plot flowed as one would expect from a rom-com contemporary, and there was even a fun epilogue set a few weeks after the end of the book.

If you’re looking for a light and easy read, or a beachy read to get you through this January… Tweet Cute will be for you!

Happy reading, book friends 🙂