eARC Review – Just Saying

Title: Just Saying

Author: Sophie Ranald

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: July 3rd, 2020

300 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

I almost gave up on love. My ex, who called his private parts ‘Nigel’, was enough to put me off men forever. But then I met Joe.

Alice thought she’d found Mr Right. Her blue-eyed boyfriend Joe gives her butterflies, makes her bacon sandwiches when she’s hungover, and doesn’t have a nickname for any of his body parts.

She should have known it was too good to be true. Because one day, Alice and Joe bump into Zoe. According to him, Zoe’s ‘just an old friend’. But Alice saw the way they froze, and heard the strange note in Joe’s voice when he said her name.

Then, out of the blue, Zoe needs a place to live. And Joe has the bright idea of inviting her, and her fluffy ginger cat Frazzle, to stay with them.

Alice tries her hardest not to feel threatened. But the thing is, Zoe doesn’t survive off microwave meals, or go days without washing her glossy copper-coloured hair, or accidentally get mascara in her contact lenses.

Joe’s ex might be pretty much perfect, but there’s no way that Alice will let Zoe steal him. She’s on a mission to prove that three (four, if you count the cat) is definitely a crowd…

Review

TW: sexual assault

Just Saying follows Alice and Joe, trainee lawyers in England as they finish up their training years. Alice and Joe have been dating for a long time, and it’s just natural that they will continue to be together. Until it all starts to come apart. They bump into Joe’s college girlfriend Zoe, Alice loses her job prospect and becomes a bartender at a dive, and Zoe moves in with them when she breaks up with her boyfriend. Alice is convinced Zoe is there to steal her man, and it doesn’t help that Joe doesn’t particularly approve of her new profession. But as Alice comes to love her work at the bar and Joe becomes more distant, Alice wonders if they can continue like this. Are they meant to be together, or has he been in love with Zoe since college? Time will tell…

I genuinely thought this was a cute story with a LOT of layers to it. Just Saying tackles not only relationships and the drama that comes from exes, but sexual assault, career crises, and just in general being friends with the opposite sex. There are some communication problems between the characters, but I didn’t feel the main conflict could’e been resolved with one conversation so that’s a positive for me. As much as there are a lot of layers in this book, I didn’t feel like they were overwhelming or popping up randomly. The story arc flowed pretty smoothly even with new topics being broached.

The book in the end did not go how I was expecting, in a GOOD way. It avoided the one part of romance novels that I don’t like. I can’t really be more clear without giving away a spoiler, but it ended the way I would have wanted it to. Alice makes tremendous progress in tackling her own issues through this book, and as much as he is her boyfriend Joe really is a side character in this story almost. It is THEIR story as a couple it’s really Alice’s story which I appreciate.

The story was missing something to take it to a full 5 star level, I think some subplots were cut off too quickly or easily. Some more depth could have been added to take this to a 5 star level for me. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and stayed up until about 2am to finish it!

Thank you to Bookouture, Netgalley, and Sophie Ranald for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Crushing It

Title: Crushing It

Author: Lorelai Parker

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Publication date: June 30th, 2020

336 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In life, as in gaming, there’s a way around every obstacle . . .

To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar’s diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer?

Until the moderator says, “Next up, Tristan Spencer . . .”

Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it’s not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she’s been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player’s motivations.

Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .

Review

**Thank you to Kensington Publishing, Netgalley, and Lorelai Parker for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sierra is a video game developer with a horrible fear of public speaking, which causes issues as she’s trying to convince her investor to let her present at Gamescon to promote their new game. Her coworker and roommate Aida convinces her to go to an event being put on by a new bar near their home, a competition to get up in front of everyone and tell humiliating stories for the amusement of others. The catch is that it is for mostly alumni of their college, and the reason Sierra has public speaking fears dates back to college. When the source of her fears is in the bar, also in the competition, Sierra has to face all of her demons if she wants to further her career.

I liked the premise of this book a lot, and I really enjoyed the resulting romance. I liked the growth that the characters went through, and the strides Sierra made in overcoming her fears. I didn’t enjoy all of the side characters, for reasons you’ll probably understand when you read! I won’t say who though, because it would be a bit of a spoiler for you all and I don’t want to do that. I respected Sierra’s investor for making her prove to him and herself that she can represent the brand and game how they want it to be represented.

This book was a tad predictable though. I could see where it was going, and what the big reveal would be. I still enjoyed it, but some parts were just too obvious and maybe could’ve been covered up better.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Chosen Ones

Title: Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones #1)

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: HMH

Publication date: April 7th, 2020

432 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons—and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Review

Thank you to HMH and Netgalley for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review

Chosen Ones flips the fantasy script and focuses on the aftermath of what happens when you’re Chosen to save the world. 10 years after they vanquished the Dark One, the gang gets pulled into another dimension/universe to slay another villain. Told exclusively from Sloane’s POV, Chosen Ones strikes a balance between being Chosen and being human. Characters are dealing with alcoholism, PTSD, drug addiction recovery, and racism is even touched on briefly. As readers, you don’t really get to see what happens AFTER the big battle – and especially not 10 years later.

The characters in this book all have problems, like serious problems. If you’re looking for redeemable characters that leap off the page with their airy lightness and happiness, keep it moving. Sloane is seriously dealing with PTSD and trying to hold it together. She is dating Matt, but when he proposes she freaks out and burns the relationship to the ground. Matt honestly isn’t much better, but it helps to show that they all aren’t quite back. I happen to like them even more that they aren’t redeemable, but I do feel like some conflict could have been avoided by having simple conversations.

I truly feel like Albie and Ines got shafted in this book. They have SO LITTLE page time, so I really wonder what the purpose was. The beginning to this book (where they existed) was fairly slow going and some scenes seemed unnecessary. However, the book really picks up when they are pulled into the other dimension. This is when the book really starts to get good and I got invested in the story.

THE ENDING. Without spoilers, the ending is a wild ride. I definitely did not see parts of it coming, especially not the big reveal. Along the way I picked up on some clues, but I was still fooled. The ending is fairly clear, there really isn’t a cliffhanger even though I believe there is a sequel. However, I found the writing in the ending to be very confusing and hard to follow. This could potentially be cleared up in edits, as this is an ARC.

Overall, I would give this a 3.5/5 (rounded up to 4 for Goodreads). I will read the next book, however there were some significant enough issues for me that I couldn’t give it a whole 4 stars.

Happy reading, folks!