Book Review – My Favorite Half-Night Stand

“I should have been more offended. But I only have one emotion, and it’s hunger.”

Title: My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: December 4th, 2018

384 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Review

You’re honestly too good for me, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want you anyway.

Christina lauren, my favorite half-night stand

I’m back with another CLo read! I picked this up from Barnes and Noble because it was one of their half off sale books and I’ve loved all the CLo books I’ve read so far. Whereas this one was not my favorite, I still enjoyed reading it and I will still read everything they have, and will, write!

Millie is a college professor with not a lot of luck with dating. Neither does her 4 best friends, all straight men who also can’t seem to navigate the dating scene. Millie’s never considered any of her friends as possible romances, until she drinks too much wine one night and jumps Reid’s bones. Reid lets it happen, and they both end up confused afterwards. The gang decides to make a pact to use a dating app to find a date to the university’s black tie gala, and they can’t take each other. Millie doesn’t have much luck, so she creates a fake persona on the site and matches with Reid. She tries to play it off so he realizes it is her, but he doesn’t. What started as a fun gag gets out of hand, and Reid is starting to like her alternate persona more than her. What’s a girl to do when her best guy friend wants to date the fake, online version of her?

My major, major critique of this book is the catfish plot. It really doesn’t seem believable that this would happen. Also, Millie was kind of an annoying character as she got bad at Reid for being into the alt version of her… which is still actually her? It got a bit confusing what she was mad about after awhile. While this is happening, the real her is also still sleeping with Reid?? So confused.

The hook up happened too soon, as in the first 2 chapters. We barely have any information on these characters and they are already boning. It’s hard to believe they “never considered it before” when it happened almost immediately.

Frankly, the side characters were scads more interesting than Millie and Reid. I wanted more information on the other 3 guys, and hell even Reid’s parents after the scene where they all visit for Reid’s birthday. The side characters were somehow more fleshed out than the main characters, and I was rooting more for them than Millie and Reid.

Outside of all that, I still love CLo books. I read it all in one day and their books are always easy, breezy books that I don’t have to think so hard about. I love reading them after a heavy Fantasy novel just to come back to earth and real life. But honestly, this book just made me want to read The Unhoneymooners again.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – A Love Hate Thing

Title: A Love Hate Thing

Author: Whitney D. Grandison

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

448 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Whitney D. Grandison for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Tyson Trice recently underwent a terrible family tragedy, which has left him broken and confused living with the family of a childhood friend he hasn’t seen in 10 years. He is from Lindenwood, a notoriously dangerous area of town, and is now living in Pacific Hills – the rich area. He sticks out like a sore thumb, and he knows it. Nandy is not happy her parents decided to take Tyson in after 10 years, she has perfected her Pacific Hills Queen image and wants nothing that will tarnish that. Also, Tyson is not the 7 year old boy she remembers, this Tyson is hard and scary – and she wants none of that in her life.

Tyson and Nandy go through a whole lot in this novel, and it really is a tale of learning to look past prejudice and bias while recovering from personal loss. This story is not simple or easy, but it’s theirs. It is important to see how far Tyson is able to come back from the brink, and what Nandy can do to grow past her misconceptions. Both learn from each other throughout the novel, even if they aren’t on good terms.

A Love Hate Thing reminded me of the movie The Blind Side. Rich family takes in an underprivileged boy from a rough background. It’s not exactly a 1:1 comparison because there’s no sports involved and the family knew Tyson before he was taken in – but the gist of it was similar. Similar acceptance themes in the affluent community is seen, and I almost think the side character’s interactions with Tyson were more important that Nandy’s. It’s easy to assume Nandy will come around and break barriers (because she’s a MC) but to have the side character’s also noticeably learn from the experience was fun.

This book is LONG. Almost 500 pages focused on Tyson and Nandy’s summer before senior year of high school. There were times that I felt the book continued on past what it needed to, or parts of it could be cut out. It just felt like too much. The story is told in alternating chapters between Tyson and Nandy’s POV – so you get different side characters depending on who’s POV you’re reading at the time – but they do all overlap. I love contemporaries that have a romance component, and especially love when part of it is told from the male (or alternate) partner’s perspective. I feel like it rounds out the book to get both sides.

Go check out A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison, her debut novel!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – We Used To Be Friends

Title: We Used To Be Friends

Author: Amy Spalding

Publisher: ABRAMS Kids (Amulet Books)

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

384 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Review

**Thank you to ABRAMS Kids (Amulet Books), Netgalley, and Amy Spalding for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

We Used To Be Friends follows BFF’s Kat and James through their senior year of high school, right up to when they leave for college. The twist is that Kat’s version is told from beginning to end, and James’ version is from end to beginning – and it’s the story of a best friend break-up. Kat and James slowly grew apart over time during their senior year as they got ready to embark on new adventures. Both had a lot of big, personal events happen this year and it was just too hard to stay close.

Honestly, this book hit me in my feelings. I needed to take a day to gather my thoughts before writing this review. It was really good, don’t get me wrong, but brought up some past issues within my own life that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. But, I actually love when books seem real enough to affect you – whether positive or negative – which I think is a huge pro to WUTBF. While there was boy/girlfriend drama within the book, it was really focused on the friend relationship between Kat and James, which is rarely the main focus of a YA book, no matter the genre. I appreciated the author’s ability to keep romantic relationships out of the forefront.

The reverse timelines was confusing as times. I started off strong with being able to keep it straight, but then got confused in the middle. By the end I was back on track, but I felt like I needed to write stuff down to keep dates in order. This may be due to reading it ebook style, I’m not sure how the print book will look. I do think the reverse timelines helped tell the story because you could see how events overlapped and were perceived differently between two drastically different viewpoints.

There was no happy ending. I think this was what killed me the most. I wanted a happy ending, some epilogue to remind me that these breakups can be a happy ending. I didn’t get that, but it almost made the read more poignant because it’s REAL. Not everything has a happy ending and that is okay. Sometimes relationships just fail over time and are replaced by others. It doesn’t take away from the importance of the relationship.

Well done, Amy Spalding. Thank you for telling a story that will evoke powerful emotions in anyone who grew apart from a close friend during this time of life – when people grow up, change, and move away.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – The Unhoneymooners

Title: The Unhoneymooners

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: May 14th, 2019

400 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Review

I can appreciate my body in a bikini and still want to set fire to the patriarchy.

christina lauren, the unhoneymooners

Friends, I officially love Christina Lauren and their books. This is my first read from the writing duo, but I am an auto buyer for life now. I really can’t wait to read more from them. I picked this up on a whim in Rehoboth Beach while browsing an independent book store – mostly because it was used and on sale. I am SO GLAD I DID!

The Unhoneymooners tracks Olive, a quirky and loud woman who has no shame or filter. This makes Ethan, our other MC, uncomfortable because he isn’t sure how to handle her. Olive’s twin sister is getting married to Ethan’s younger brother, so they are forced to spend time together. When everyone but them gets sick at the wedding, they are forced into taking the honeymoon together so it doesn’t go to waste. They try so hard to stay away from each other, but sometimes differences have a way of attracting…

Y’allll Olive is my love. If Ethan didn’t end up with her, I totally would have. Christina Lauren manages to really craft well-rounded characters in stand-alone novels, which is impressive to me and lends to a better read. I really understood Olive’s point of view and where she was coming from – but same with Ethan. Their romance was easy to read and easy to love.

This is a total beach read. If you have this on your TBR, either read it immediately (because hello, it’s amazing) or save if for the beach vacation you’re dreaming about now in the dead of winter. I personally read this on my couch, but would have loved to be toes in the water, ass in the sand with it and a fruity drink – doesn’t help that most of it is set in Hawaii!!

Please read this is you love contemporary romance! Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Couple leaning on brick wall

Title: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Author: Jacqueline Firkins

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication date: December 17th, 2019

384 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.

Review

**Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers, Jacqueline Firkins, and Netgalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things follows upcoming high school senior Edie in her adventures as a foster child who has just been taken in by her wildly rich aunt in an effort to show off for her wildly rich friends and use her as a charity case. She will be going to the all girls prep school nearby with her spoiled cousins. She used to spend a lot of time at that house before her grandparent’s died, so she also gets to catch up with her childhood crush, who has gotten very attractive over the years… until she finds out he has a girlfriend. Then, a new boy, Henry, comes onto the scene and she’s confused. Henry is a stone cold player, but he seems legitimately into her. Which boy is right for her?

Edie has a lot going on. She ruined her friendship with her best friend from home by making out with her boyfriend and getting caught. She has no job or money for college, and is constantly put down for being poor by just about everyone in the book. She’s got it rough, but man I was not a fan of her character, or most of the characters actually.

I have real mixed feelings about this book. I liked it through most of the book, but the ending really lot me. The characters are not redeemable and not to spoil anything, but I did not agree with which boy Edie ends up with. I feel like it was so obviously the wrong choice and I’m still bitter about it.

This book didn’t end up being my favorite. It was not bad, by any means, just not as much my cup of tea. I enjoyed several pieces of it, especially Edie’s special lexicon blog where she posts fun definitions of words that relate to what’s going on in her life. There were redeemable parts to this book, and I do enjoy contemporaries, which is why I still rated this fairly highly.

If you like books with irredeemable characters and contemporaries, this will be the book for you.

happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – Stealing Home

Title: Stealing Home

Author: Becky Wallace

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Publication date: July 9th, 2019

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Fight for your dreams, even if it means breaking a few rules.

Seventeen-year-old Ryan Russell has life perfectly planned. If she keeps up her hard work, one day she’ll take over the family business: owning the Buckley Beavers, a minor league baseball team, and become one of the only female General Managers in the sport.

But when the newest member of the Beavers, child-phenom Sawyer Campbell, shows up, Ryan’s carefully laid plans are thrown a major curveball. Sawyer is far more charming than the arrogant jocks she usually manages, his ambition rivals her own workaholic nature—and he’s completely out of bounds. Fraternizing is against every rule in the Beaver’s handbook.

Then Ryan’s divorced parents butt heads over the future of the Beavers, and her mom plans to sell her shares to a business group known for relocating teams. If this happens, Ryan’s dreams of becoming GM disappear. In a bid to save her future, she partners with Sawyer to use his star power to draw in sponsors who will keep the team in Buckley. But the more time she spends with him, the more impossible it becomes to play by the Beaver’s rules, and she can’t afford a strikeout on the path to her dreams.

Full count with two outs, Ryan’s one pitch away from losing the whole ball game.

Review

Stealing Home follows main character’s Ryan and Sawyer as they mutually fight for the futures they’ve been working towards their whole lives. Ryan wants nothing more than to be the General Manager of her dad’s minor league baseball team, The Buckley Beavers. She puts all of her spare time and effort into the team. Sawyer is trying to make it big in the MLB to help keep his family’s watermelon farm afloat. When Sawyer is drafted and sent to the Beavers, they have a chance to help each other out, or cause each other to fail in their dreams.

I thought Stealing Home was super cute. I’m a baseball fanatic, have been my whole life, so I adore reading baseball related books. Sawyer and Ryan were so cute together, even when they were trying not to be. They are both stubborn and motivated individuals, which is why they work so well together. The romance is very PG, with some long, lingering glances and heated exchanges.

The supporting characters are the reason I docked this book a star. Ryan’s mom and dad are not great characters (although they get SOME redemption at the end). I really felt bad for Ryan having to deal with them as people. Also, I felt like it was kind of ridiculous that she was 17 and doing all of the grunt work for her dad – like she didn’t have a life. I know it was her choice, but what dad does that?

Overall, this was a very cute, contemporary, sports novel. I enjoyed reading it and read it all in one day. It was fairly light and easy to read. Fans of Jenn Bennett and Brigid Kemmerer should check this one out!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – The Stone Rainbow

Title: The Stone Rainbow

Author: Liane Shaw

Publisher: Second Story Press

Publication date: September 17th, 2019

288 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Jack Pedersen is finding life complicated ever since he came out to his mom. Even though she’s been doing her best to be understanding, it’s obvious to Jack that his mom still wants to cry every time she says the word gay. Complications go into hyperdrive when a new student arrives at school, and Jack starts experiencing feelings he’s never allowed himself to feel before. When a near tragedy turns life upside down, Jack realizes it’s time to stop hiding from himself and everyone around him, and he decides to organize his small town’s first Pride Parade.

Review

**Thank you to Second Story Press, Netgalley, and Liane Shaw for providing me an ebook copy of The Stone Rainbow in exchange for an honest review**

Trigger Warning: homophobia, suicidal ideation, violent acts

Jack is a high school senior who is going through a lot. He lives in a very conservative, small town that doesn’t accept who he is as a homosexual male. He was saved by his friend Ryan after walking into a river without being able to swim. Unclear if he was trying to commit suicide, but he was very overwhelmed about not being himself. Now he’s known as the suicidal, gay kid, which isn’t the best in high school. He is just trying to keep his head down and make it to graduation.

That is, until Benjamin shows up as the new Vice Principal’s kid, and Benjamin is out and proud. Jack is instantly attracted to Benjamin but has no idea how to be attracted to someone, or even date someone. Benjamin also has these crazy ideas about bringing their small town out of the dark ages – like hosting a Pride Parade. Jack has to face his fears about homophobia and expressing himself. When the unimaginable happens, Jack is forced to make a choice…

The Stone Rainbow was a good representation of many areas of the United States. It’s a coming of age story that I’m sure many can relate to and find comfort in. It brings up a conversation around sexuality that has been growing over the last few decades in this country.

I did enjoy this book but it did not wow me. Worth a read, and those who really enjoy contemporaries will enjoy this. There is awesome LGBTQIA and disability representation here, with most of the main cast falling into either category.

Happy reading, book friends! 🙂