Category Archives: Contemporary

Starry Eyes – Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes – Jenn BennettTitle: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Publishing Info: April 3, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: April 6, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

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Jenn Bennett is a new auto-buy author for me! I thoroughly enjoyed ALEX, APPROXIMATELY and STARRY EYES was just as good if not better. I loved all of the real teen issues tackled in this book from friendships to romance to sex to family, and everything in between. It was a great representation of realistic life and I love any contemporary romance novel that doesn’t go over-the-top with issues and keeps the drama within the normal realm of relatable experiences. (Not to say that over-the-top things don’t happen in real life, because obviously it happens, but I like to keep things more every day and not too dramatic. It gets to be a bit much if you only ever read about the extremes.)

I also really enjoyed the topics that the book did cover. Main character Zorie has anxiety issues and planning is the way that she copes with them, to the extent of planning nearly everything. She lives with her dad and stepmom and I kind of loved that she was actually really close with her stepmom and really considered her to be her mother and called her “mom”. I love seeing step-parent relationships that aren’t negative or angsty, and Zorie actually was closer to her mom than her dad. She wasn’t close with her father, and without spoiling specific things, she ended up having some issues with her dad throughout the book and I really enjoyed how Jenn Bennett tackled all of these issues and situations!

I LOVED the wilderness and camping aspect since that’s something that’s near and dear to my heart. I always went camping with my family as a kid but we always stayed at campgrounds. My husband (before we were married) loved the legitimate wilderness camping and introduced me to that when we started dating so it was really fun to see that atmosphere and see that knowledge put to use on the pages. It’s also great to put things like that into perspective because there’s a lot that you don’t think about as a teen, or even as an adult, being out in nature like that and it makes you really responsible really quickly. I liked seeing that in a teen setting to show some maturity and responsibility, as well as the sense of freedom it provides (and even a few moments where you’re not quite honest with your parents).

STARRY EYES was a wonderful book and I inhaled it in two days! I really enjoyed reading it and Jenn Bennett’s characters are just wonderful. I loved even the secondary characters and how much they supported the stories of the main characters and how they came to life as well. It was so well-done and I enjoyed it from start to finish.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Positive step-family environments. I’m so over the evil stepmother concept! I loved how much Zorie really treated Joy like her mom and Joy always said that Zorie was her daughter. It’s a lovely feeling and I had so much appreciate for that support.
Left Me Wanting More: Zing factor. That’s not a thing, but bear with me here. So I loved ALEX, APPROXIMATELY and I loved STARRY EYES, both so very much. But I didn’t loooove them. They were fatalistic and solid and beautiful four star books but there was just that oomph that didn’t launch them to five stars for me. I’m not sure what’s “missing” (nothing is MISSING but you know?) but regardless, I’m loving Jenn Bennett’s books!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re looking for a new auto-buy/auto-read author, this is my new one! I’m enjoyed Jenn Bennett’s books so much and her last two have launched her onto my radar! I need to go back and read THE ANATOMICAL SHAPE OF A HEART now!

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BOOKS LIKE STARRY EYES

          

I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way – Gayle FormanTitle: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: March 27, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: March 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

An emotionally cathartic story of losing love, finding love, and discovering the person you are meant to be, I Have Lost My Way is best­selling author Gayle Forman at her finest.

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I am a big, big Gayle Forman fan but for some reason, I just really didn’t connect to this one like I had hoped and expected. I wonder if maybe the fact that I read it as an audiobook affected anything? The narrators were fine, some of which I’ve heard before and enjoyed, but I just didn’t make that emotional connection that I get with all of her other books.

The book did follow three different narrators, which is different from Gayle Forman’s other books, and the narrations also switched tenses, from third person while telling the story to first person while recounting each character’s past. I listen to enough audiobooks that I don’t feel like listening to it on audio should really make a difference when it comes to the structure of the story (unless it’s something that is very visual like The Illuminae Files) but maybe the physical copy had a different break that would have helped those switches/transitions a little bit more than the audiobook. I don’t really think it would have made a difference, but maybe. I’m trying to reason things out because I don’t want to say that this book wasn’t my favorite, but I guess it’s bound to happen with any favorite author (and really, it has, so that’s okay too).

The stories really were beautiful. Each character has lost their way due to their own unique circumstances and when they quite randomly come together, they each help each other through the toughest points in their lives. I really loved seeing how these friendships blossomed and how total strangers were able to become such key points in each other’s lives. Gayle Forman did a great job at bringing in key phrases from one person’s past and sticking it into another person’s present — a clever tie between the two that makes them seem almost destined to meet and unite.

I did appreciate so much of this book and yet, I just didn’t feel that pull on my heart like I have with previous novels. I definitely felt for each character and was rooting for each one, but I feel like I just didn’t connect with the writing and the structure like I had hoped. The book was definitely good but it’s that personal connection and emotional grab that didn’t get me. I’m also sure that my expectations were ya know… WAY HIGH so that never helps why I hype books up for myself!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Beautiful connections. I loved how these three characters came together to essentially save each other’s lives. The connections were wonderful.
Left Me Wanting More: Personal investment. I think I just didn’t personally connect to the characters for whatever reason, as much as I wanted to.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I will always recommend Gayle Forman’s books, even if they aren’t my favorite! I can objectively see how wonderful these stories were, even if I didn’t feel emotional about them. I’m just used to sobbing away haha!

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BOOKS LIKE I HAVE LOST MY WAY

          

The Boyfriend Bracket – Kate Evangelista

The Boyfriend Bracket – Kate EvangelistaTitle: The Boyfriend Bracket by Kate Evangelista
Publishing Info: June 19, 2018 by Macmillan, Swoon Reads
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: March 31, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Stella has had a hopeless crush on Will, her older brother's best friend FOREVER, but now that Cam and Will have graduated and are going off to college, this year is her chance to really strike out on her own. Without her overprotective brother and his sidekick around to distract her, she can focus on having all the typical high school experiences that she's always dreamed of—starting with finding a boyfriend! With the help of her best friend Franklin, she comes up with the perfect plan to have a boyfriend by Christmas: The Boyfriend Bracket.

Or it seems like the perfect plan...right up until Will starts showing up again. How is she supposed to find the perfect boyfriend when none of her dates measure up to the one boy she can never have?

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To be 100% honest, I made it about 30% – 35% of the way through and then skimmed the rest of the book because once it hit a certain point, there was no point in reading the rest.

Heads up, because we’re gonna have some spoilers here.
So the book is called The Boyfriend Bracket and… we do away with the bracket after 30% when Stella gets together with her longtime crush (and surprise surprise, he’s had a crush on her forever), Will, who is her brother Cam’s best friend. So there really was no point to the bracket other than to get a gimmick to get Will to confess his feelings on the page because “he couldn’t stand to see her with another guy”. Thankfully for him, uber protective big brother Cam has shooed away every boyfriend up until that point (ew). And thankfully for him, he gets together with Stella post-makeover (in fairness, he liked her before but UGH. Now she’s sexy! And irresistible)!

I looove friends to more stories but this was not exciting and all tension was lost when the two get together basically right away. The rest of the book was hiding their relationship from Cam, which was annoying. Throw in some typical teen things like dances and college and that’s the rest of the book. It was just so cliche that I had a hard time wanting to read it, so yes, I did skim the rest. I picked up on the major points and I’m glad I didn’t actually spend the time to read each and every word.

Things COULD have been cute if we went through the bracket and found that all of the guys weren’t the right fit and voila! There’s Will! The old brother thing was creepy, kind of? And just flat out annoying because it was way too much forced interference. Not to say this doesn’t actually happen to teens because oh lord, I did some immature stuff back in my teen years, but I enjoy the books that make it more into a story than just recounting teen moments that we’ve all lived through because who wants to live/re-live those cringe-worthy decisions?

Anyway. I’m just really disappointed with this one because it really had potential but it was way too immature for me and the writing was a little cringe-worthy. There wasn’t much that I enjoyed here, other than broad concepts. This was pretty much the definition of “fluff” with not much substance there.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Friends-to-more. I actually did like some of the cute-factor between Stella and Will, so that was something.
Left Me Wanting More: So much more maturity. This book was just so immature on so many levels. It was really bothersome.

Addiction Rating
Skip it.

I don’t usually say to skip things — often times I’ll suggest getting a second opinion — but this book just made me so mad and irritated. I was really disappointed.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BOYFRIEND BRACKET

          

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal Sutherland

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – Krystal SutherlandTitle: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland
Publishing Info: September 5, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 21, 2017

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather met Death, her entire family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime—a fear that will eventually lead each and every one of them to their graves. Take Esther’s father, for instance: He’s an agoraphobe who hasn’t left the basement in six years. Then there’s her twin brother, Eugene, whose fear of the dark goes far beyond the things that go bump in the night. And her mother, Rosemary, is absolutely terrified of bad luck.

As for Esther, she’s managed to escape the curse…so far. She doesn’t yet have a great fear because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, crowds—anything that might trigger a phobia is off-limits and is meticulously recorded in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.

Esther thinks she has it all figured out, until she’s reunited with an old elementary school classmate—and first crush—Jonah Smallwood. The encounter leaves her stranded at a bus stop and swindled out of her phone, all her cash, a Fruit Roll-Up she’d been saving, and her list—not to mention her dignity. But the theft is also the beginning of an unexpected friendship between the two, one that sends the pair on a journey of self-discovery as they try to break the curse that’s consumed Esther’s family. Together they face their greatest fears, one debilitating phobia at a time, only to discover the one fear they hadn’t counted on: love.

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A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES wasn’t what I was expecting, and then it was, and then it wasn’t — all in a good way. I thought this would be heavy on the magical realism based on the synopsis and then it turned more realistic fiction for a while, and came back as a blend of both. There was a lot of care taken when writing this book and it really shows through each of the characters and their own personal situations. I was really impressed with it!

The characters of this book were so wonderful and real and had such amazing personalities. Every single one has their own thing they’re dealing with and Esther blames this on the family curse, but there’s a lot more beneath the surface than she understands and more importantly, is willing to face. It was interesting to see both sides of that concept — from the magical realism/curse side and from the realistic side that really tackled mental health head on. It was addressed so well and I felt like it was a very realistic representation. The magic is both real and also a coping mechanism/avoidance method and I really enjoyed the blend between the real and the imaginary. The reader is left wondering how much is really magic and that’s something I love about magical realism when it’s done well!

This is also one of those realistic fiction novels that’s great for those who aren’t normally contemporary romance readers. The family is quirky and fun to read, the plot of the book involves a lot of fun instances where characters face their fears (some of them silly), and there are some really great representations of mental health on many levels. I liked that there was an actual plot with an end goal of conquering fears and the way they tackled each one was fun and also beautiful.

The characters really brought this book to life, every single one unique and beautiful. I loved getting to know this family and the people who supported them. I laughed, I cried, I was afraid, and I was happy. This book took me through so many emotions and I’m so glad I read it!
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Kept Me Hooked On: Quirky Families. It takes a really good author to write a quirky family without having them be goofy or over-the-top. This family had their quirks but they were fun to get to know and it wasn’t in a crazy way. Everything just felt right.
Left Me Wanting More: Pages! I really, really enjoyed this book. I can’t think of anything I was missing! I would just want to keep reading more but I’m also glad that it was a stand-alone and wrapped up the way that it did.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

No matter which genres you enjoy, this is such a lovely book. I would definitely recommend it!

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BOOKS LIKE A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES

          

This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnisTitle: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: October 10, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Thriller, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 18, 2017
Related Posts: A Madness So Discreet, The Female of the Species

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.

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I can’t even… what??? This book was not at all what I expected and without heading into spoiler-town (yet), I will say that I went through an array of feelings while reading it. Well hell, the book isn’t what I expected while reading it either. It was just… well-done, Mindy McGinnis. You have slayed me.

Okay, so avoiding spoilers for now, here’s what I can tell you about this book: it’s about a girl named Sasha who is the good girl, won’t even swear, is extremely dedicated to her music (clarinet) and works hard to the point of obsessing over being perfect with music, grades, and being good. Things start to take a turn when she discovers that she is (used to be) a twin, but her sister was never actually born and was absorbed in the womb. This is an actual thing that happens sometimes so okay. Sasha seems shaken by this information and tries to gather more information about her sister-that-could-have-been and things start to go haywire as she becomes entangled with a boy named Isaac, the stereotypical bad-boy with whom Sasha would never interact… except she has, and Isaac has proof. Sasha tries to figure out how and why and then we head into the twisty part of this book…

So up until this point, I was like eeeeeeehhhhahhhahhh I don’t know about this. I wasn’t super keen on the twin-thing being a big part of the story because I didn’t see that coming (yes, I KNOW it’s in the synopsis — reminder 184300495 that I go into books blind so I can be so very surprised by things like this and usually it creates for an even more amazing story because it was definitely a reveal that I was surprised by instead of knowing it was coming. See?) and like the obsessive person that Sasha is, she starts to take the investigation of her sister a little too far and takes on a little too much.

There are a LOT of spoilers I could talk about but won’t include them in here for those who haven’t read the book but be sure to check out my Goodreads review if you want to see what’s behind the spoiler tags there!

The book truly shook me with its ending but there were also parts that were just plain weird. It ended up totally coming together but I must admit that I was kind of like oooooookay for a few good sections of the book where I wasn’t sure how I felt. This book is one to mess with your head and your emotions and even if you’re not crazy about the beginning, it’s so worth finishing because you won’t want to miss that ending.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Twisted stories. This was a sort of psychological thriller that I was not expecting and I kiiiind of loved it. I love being surprised by something new and this was definitely different!
Left Me Wanting More: Realism? I mean, things got straight up WEIRD for a while. I guess the book sooort of lost me just for a bit but really, it all worked itself out.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This gets kind of weird but WHOA the ending was totally worth it! Stick with it and you’ll be shocked.

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BOOKS LIKE THIS DARKNESS MINE

          

Looking for Alaska – John Green

Looking for Alaska – John GreenTitle: Looking for Alaska by John Green
Publishing Info: March 3, 2005 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 2, 2017
Related Posts: The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.

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LOOKING FOR ALASKA is one of the better John Green books I’ve read (the first being WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON) but I just still don’t love John Green’s writing. Actually, mostly I don’t like his characters and their interactions with each other. Each John Green book that I read is quite different and there are things I enjoy and things that I don’t in each one, but ultimately, I’ve just never fallen in love with any of his characters or novels, but I still keep trying!

Don’t hate me buuuut…. Alaska bothered me. Heck, she even bothered her friends. It was another character who was idealized despite her flaws, which I guess happens all the time in books, but there’s just something about the way it all happens in John Green’s writing that I don’t like. I went into this with an open mind and still had a hard time with his characters. I’m also sure that there’s kind of something about Alaska that you’re not supposed to like but there’s still the matter that Miles idealizes her for seemingly no reason and I just don’t like the way these characters come off as I’m reading. It’s just the writing, I think.

That being said, I did still enjoy it! It wasn’t amazing and didn’t make me feel all the feels but it was an interesting story and I actually enjoyed every other character except for Alaska (which kind of felt like I was missing whole point of the book). It was a quick read and full of interesting points but I also still had issues with parts of the book and how everything came together. I also feel like I might have enjoyed reading this more as an actual teen (I would have been 18 if I had read this the year that it was released) like a lot of my friends did but I guess that’s something that I can never know!

The “After” didn’t kick me in the feels like I knew it was supposed to (I figured it would be something like that but still didn’t know what was coming) and it felt a little anti-climactic. I’m glad that it read it but it wasn’t a stand-out read for me and while I didn’t find anything “wrong” with it, it just wasn’t a book that I really connected to. I’m glad my curiosity was satiated and that I still know my feelings about John Green’s books despite continuing to try them. It’s like… I’m happy that I keep picking them up but they’re still not impressive to me.

Overall, this story did have more characters that I could relate to than most and felt like one of the least pretentious books so that was a good experience! Still the black sheep on so many things, as always, but I’m okay with that. Sometimes being the black sheep on very popular authors lets me know that I’m still reading for me and understanding what I personally enjoy and not just liking a book because everyone else does, so it’s always an interesting experience!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Attempting John Green. I keep promising to give up his books and yet I also keep trying to read them and hoping to enjoy one a little bit more. I actually have zero interest in read TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN so that’s not on my TBR but this book wasn’t either. I guess we’ll see!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. I just often don’t feel like the characters in these books are realistic. This was a bit better than most, to be honest, but I was still lacking some of that in Alaska. I guess that’s also not fair for me to say because I’m sure there are many Alaskas in the world but they’re also not people I relate to so I just didn’t enjoy it.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Gosh, there are just soooo many John Green fans out there and I still can’t bring myself to be one of them. You’ll get nothing but an honest review from me but I pretty much know where I stand here.

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BOOKS LIKE LOOKING FOR ALASKA

          

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

The Hating Game – Sally ThorneTitle: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Publishing Info: August 9, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 17, 2017

Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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Well, this book was so incredibly enjoyable! I haven’t read an adult contemporary novel in a very long time (most of my non-YA reads tend to be fantasy or mystery) and this was so much fun! I tend to avoid adult contemporary at large because I like reading to have fun and don’t particularly enjoy reading about more serious realistic topics (divorce, babies, cheating, break-ups, blah blah I know that’s not all adult contemp but you know what I mean) but THE HATING GAME was on sale at Audible in a 2-for-1 sale and I had heard such great things from bookstagram that I grabbed it! Thank you, bookstagram.

I agree with my friend Brittany when she told me that the beginning was better than the ending (hence the four stars and not five). I LOVED the beginning of this book and the hate-fire that fueled the tension between Lucy and Joshua. It was tense, exciting, funny, and sexy. I loved those shared moments when you could tell they hated each other so much that they didn’t hate each other anymore. It was absolutely perfect and I loved how this relationship developed!

The ending was also wonderful too. I loved how the book resolved, how both characters really grew, and how the reader learned so many different things about each character’s past by the time the story concluded. It was romantic and brilliant and I could read so much more about Lucy and Josh (except for the fact that the awesome hate-tension wouldn’t be there anymore). I loved their personalities, especially Lucy, and how this book really came to life.

Mild Spoilers: The only thing I was missing was that I wished the “Hating Game” part of the book had gone on longer. The book starts out with Lucy and Josh positively despising each other and I thought that could have gone on just a bit longer and Sally Thorne could have established their relationship (the hate side) a bit more before breaking that sexual tension. The tension was so fantastic that I just wanted it to keep going, and I thought it should have lasted just a bit longer. I enjoyed watching that hate dissolve and Lucy and Josh still spurring each other on all the while, but it almost felt like the resolution of the book started a little too early and it lost a little momentum. You want to keep reading to see when that breaking moment happens and it just broke a little too early, I thought.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book and I immediately added Sally Thorne’s next book to my TBR (I actually added it before I was even done with THE HATING GAME). It’s not a sequel to this book, which I’m glad this was a stand alone, but I definitely want to read her next novel! I loved the writing and the characters were so vivid and real. I’m so glad I picked this one up after seeing it everywhere!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemp. I don’t read a ton of adult contemporary, but when I do, it’s books like this! I love the falling in love side of things (it’s why I read so much YA) and it’s fun to read in an adult setting! I loved the publishing office and how work really affected their relationship.
Left Me Wanting More: Tension! I thought the hating side ended just a liiiiiittle too soon because I LOVED that tension and banter! It sort of lost a little steam taking that tension away but the whole book was really so much fun.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This book was so incredibly cute, a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to read more from Sally Thorne!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE HATING GAME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Talon (Talon #1) – Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon #1) – Julie KagawaTitle: Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa
Publishing Info: October 28, 2014 by Harlequin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 14, 2017
Related Posts: The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1)

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

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I had no idea what to expect when I started TALON! I picked up it really only because of the audiobook narrators (MacLeod Andrews is one of my all-time favorites) when it was included in an Audible sale and wanting to start something fun a book that wasn’t TOO long (since I’m always behind on my Goodreads challenge).

TALON wasn’t anything super special for me but it was engaging and fun to read (or listen to). The characters were easy to follow and the book felt a little “typical YA” (things that you might place in a YA stereotype) but it was still a fun and enjoyable book. There was a love triangle which I didn’t expect at first but ya know, I didn’t hate it (maybe because there was a bad boy involved… just sayin’) and I would be interested to see where it goes except for the fact that I’m not sure that I’m motivated to continue the series. I wasn’t suuuper sold on the writing but it was still light and easy. There were two main POVs and then a third shows up halfway through the book so I thought it could have been structured better and I felt like the third POV probably should have been eliminated, even though I kind of enjoyed it.

The concept of dragons who can morph into humans was unique and the only thing I’ve read remotely like it, as far as dragons go specifically, was SERAPHINA. This was more on the contemporary side since it takes place in a contemporary time period, whereas SERAPHINA was more deep into the fantasy and a high fantasy world. I enjoyed the different feel that was involved here and it was fun to see the dragons incorporated into modern society. That being said, it also wasn’t the most well-done and there were some super obvious things about the dragons that I thought anyone should be able to pick up — especially a society that specifically hunts them — but I think this is one of those “suspend your disbelief for the sake of the book” kind of a thing.

The plot was fairly predictable but I still had fun with it. I wasn’t in it to be shocked and surprised so that wasn’t something that bothered me. I am curious to see where the rest of the series will go because it ended with kind of a cliffhanger there! BUT I also don’t know if finishing the series will be priority. Maybe Audible will have more sales for the rest of this series and I can finish that way, otherwise I probably won’t continue. It’s a sort of a read-it-because-it’s-there kind of a series and not one that I’ll really prioritize.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dragons! I haven’t read a lot of dragon books and it was interesting to see the dragon-to-human concept since it’s not one that’s done often. It makes you think a little different versus other supernatural-to-human creatures that you see more often in books.
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. I know I’m reading young adult novels and there’s the whole “teens are the target audience here” but sometimes YA is a little TOO YA for me and that was the case with this book. I’m sure going back to read TWILIGHT (I haven’t in probably… oh almost ten years now) I wouldn’t enjoy it the way that I had when I was much younger and that’s okay! But it’s things like obvious tropes, plot holes, and less mature language that leaves me feeling a bit old for the book when I continue to enjoy so many young adult books out there.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

This book was light, easy, and enjoyable but it didn’t really knock me off my feet. I think it’s something to consider if the concept sounds interesting and fun but I wouldn’t put it first on your TBR.

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BOOKS LIKE TALON

          

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan Matson

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan MatsonTitle: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Publishing Info: May 4, 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 28, 2017
Related Posts: Since You've Been Gone

Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip - and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

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I’ve actually only read one other Morgan Matson book so far (SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE) and I’ve found her writing to be fun, enjoyable, a true to real life. I basically have all of her books on my TBR so when this book came up in an Audible sale, it was a quick pick for me and I was excited to read it!

AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR was so cute and also very deep at the same time. I didn’t expect tragedy to be involved (no spoiler — it’s why the book happens in the first place) so I might not have picked it up so eagerly if I had known that but I also like that I didn’t know that because I could have missed a really wonderful book. I tend to trust authors who have good reviews or whose works I’ve already enjoyed so I just kind of jumped into this one and I’m really glad I did! The book starts after the death of Amy’s father and I’ve been avoiding a lot of books surrounding death/tragedy/disease, etc to keep things positive and fluffy and happy and surprisingly, this book was both at the same time.

I loved the dynamic between Amy and Roger and how it grew throughout the book. The two start out as near strangers (they used to know each other as kids but barely) and despite only really knowing each other for a few days, their feelings for each other didn’t feel like instalove. Being stuck in a car with someone for several days allows you to get to know them and know them well within a short period of time so I found that quite realistic and positively adorable. They had their shared interests, their differences, a few quarrels, and a lot of really cute moments. I really enjoyed how their friendship and relationship developed as the story went on!

There was also so much more to this book than just the romance. Amy is forced to embark upon this road trip to take the family car from her old home in California to their new home in Connecticut, but she also makes some important life decisions on her own (and with some enlightenment from Roger) and really matures along the way. The death of her father has severely shaken the family, of course, and Amy starts to come to terms with his death, how it happened, and what it means to continue on with life and how to enjoy it without him there. She learns what it means to be an adult and take on responsibility for your actions, how to make better relationships, and how to make decisions that are best for her, even if they’re not the easiest ones to make.

I loved the depth in this story and the character growth while still having that fluffy, happy feeling of a super cute relationship. AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR was such a fun and wonderful read — oh, and let’s not forgot about the high school/college flashback with all of the amazing road trip playlists! Morgan Matson incorporated music in this book in the form of playlists and everything from Amy’s musicals to Roger’s indie rock took me back to 2010 (when this book was written — I didn’t realize it was that old!) and had me feeling some epic nostalgia too!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Serious & syrupy. I loved the serious and sweet combo! This book did an amazing job at keeping things realistic and meaningful while still incorporating and adorable lightness to it.
Left Me Wanting More: Morgan Matson novels! This was only my second book from Morgan Matson and it was so much fun! I definitely want to keep reading through her entire collection.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I get the Morgan Matson appeal! This book was so well done and I’m so glad I finally read it! It has a little bit of everything for every fan of contemp YA.

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BOOKS LIKE AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR

          

Queens of Geek – Jen Wilde

Queens of Geek – Jen WildeTitle: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Publishing Info: March 14, 2017 by Macmillan, Swoon Reads
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 21, 2017

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

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This book was soooo much fun! I loved the con-vibe, the overall geekiness, and the characters. Books at conferences always remind me of my time at BEA/ALA/whatever book conferences I’ve attended and it really makes me feel right at home! I loved the atmosphere here and including things like a comic or book convention really allows the characters to be right at home and let their true geeky selves shine!

Jen Wilde did an amazing job at bringing these characters to life and creating wonderfully realistic diverse people. Everything was very spot on, well-supported, and felt true to real life. I loved how the personalities shone for each character and that they were comfortable with who they were, and those times where the characters weren’t 100% confident, they were able to work through some personal hurdles to be their best selves. The friendships were so solid and I loved to see a good trio of friends where no one got stabbed in the back. I think that’s one of the things I loved most about the book — there wasn’t anything catty (minus a rude ex, but he was supposed to be a bit villainous in a way) and everyone was so positive and supportive. It can be hard with a group of friends not to have one turn on the other (it just happens so often in life and in books) and it was refreshing to read positive and healthy friendships.

The romances featured here were also very cute and I loved the different factors involved! This book was great to include a lot of diversity and highlight mental health as well but still keeping things light and fun, which I personally love. I often find myself picking up lighter contemporary novels instead of the heavier, darker, or more serious realistic fiction nowadays because I need a break from the serious of adulting sometimes, so I loved seeing some true representation here and still allowing the book to be a little fluffy. Just because it’s a cute romance doesn’t mean it has to be less meaningful and I loved that Jen Wilde was able to put that all together!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Diversity + fluff. Who says fluff can’t have depth? The romances were cute and adorable, and the overall vibe was light, but this book also had a lot of meaningful points. I loved seeing the combination of the two!
Left Me Wanting More: Attention. This is one I’m definitely recommending and it needs to be in more people’s hands!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

QUEENS OF GEEK was very fun, diverse, cute, nerdy, and an overall refreshing read. I’d definitely recommend it for a cute love story with a whole lot more substance!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE QUEENS OF GEEK

(Click the cover to see my review!)