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The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) – Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) – Lyssa Kay AdamsTitle: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) by Lyssa Kay Adams
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Penguin, Berkley
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: November 22, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

The first rule of book club:
You don't talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott's marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville's top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it'll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

bookreview1

I thought this was going to be a super cute and funny read and heard so many people raving about it but I had some significant problems with this book.

I had a little trouble with the overall tone of the book, going from rom-com to a more serious feel. I get that rom-coms can’t be all funny, all the time, but there were points of hilarity with the men reading and getting council from romance novels, including their banter about all of that stuff, to super serious things like divorce. Just the tone of the conversations and relationships seemed to ebb a little too far one way and then the other for me, mostly because I was hoping for more rom-com since that’s what I tend to gravitate to when I’m reading adult contemporary. That’s a total personal opinion and not really where my issues lie.

I had a huuuuge problem with Gavin and Thea’s relationship and to be honest, I really didn’t like Thea. Their marriage begins to visibly fall apart when Gavin finds out that he hasn’t been satisfying Thea in bed, basically since the start of their marriage, and I’m sorry, they’ve been married for three years and she’s been FAKING IT for THREE YEARS? Oh hell no. Sorry, girl. That’s totally your problem and your fault. Speak up! That’s what a relationship is. You tell your partner what you want or what to do and then surprise surprise, things can actually get fixed. That problem was as simple as communicating with Gavin and she didn’t do that for three years. The book kind of made it seem like a lot of these issues were Gavin’s fault and I totally agree, he had work to do to open up lines of communication too, but for that to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and the main point of the book, I just hated it. Does this happen in real life? I’m sure it does. But it reeeeally bothered me that this was something that she could have spoken up about years ago and it wouldn’t have been an issue, so I don’t know how that fact is put on Gavin.

I also really didn’t like Liv and how protective she was of Thea. I can’t remember if she knew the whole story (I don’t think she did) but Thea is an adult and Liv should be there to support her, not to constantly throw insults and jabs at Gavin, whether he deserved them or not. It’s hard enough to go through relationship problems or a divorce, but Thea needs to figure things out on her own. Sisters should be able to talk it out and Liv can offer advice or her opinions but she was just so mean. It was super immature and I think she needed more insight or perspective on the situation. I really would have liked to see Thea tell her to cool it on the bashing but she only cared about it when it was in front of the kids.

I also really hated how much Thea changed to become a baseball wife. There was a mention of her wearing old band t-shirts and Chucks and then she changed to become all pastel and soft for the baseball wife image. Ummm dude, isn’t this 2019? I don’t think you have to conform to a stereotype to be a baseball wife. I think people prefer to see people being themselves versus a stereotype nowadays and *gasp* band t-shirts and shoes that are so common that many 30-year-olds still wear!?! How WILD. I’m sure tooooons of sig others of athletes rock the alt-life or just dress however they feel. Just because you’re not pink and pastel doesn’t mean you can’t be put-together for public appearances, and that’s what drove me nuts.

Okay, now the nice stuff. I thought the concept of the Bromance Book Club was super cute and funny. They made some nice jokes about guys reading romance and I loved how some of the guys actually ended up liking the books and appreciating the stories. I also really liked how Gavin’s stutter was brought into the story. It showed a lot of different aspects of what he deals with, from bullying when he was younger to bullying still when he’s an adult, how people treat him or think he was thinking slowly just because he couldn’t get the words out, how much people understood it and appreciated him for who he was. It was just really great to see that incorporated into the story and how much it shaped Gavin’s character and even his relationship with Thea.

Despite all of my gripes about why they were separating, I also liked the “getting back together” story. Sometimes relationships aren’t meant to be and divorce may be the best thing. I liked that this showed that there are also times when you can communicate and work on a relationship to see if you do love each other and want to save it. I liked seeing the reality of going to the uncomfortable places to see if a relationship is something worth repairing and a couple who really does love each other but didn’t know how to grow together as the relationship grew.

I didn’t realize this was a series, so finding out now, will I continue? Probably. I’m interested to see what the author does with the next book (I’m assuming maybe Mack? Another character’s relationship?) and I’d like to see if I get along with a different relationship a little better.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Romances with established couples. Usually I go for the falling-in-love books. Give me a good rom-com, meet cute, all that good stuff! I don’t love reading about relationships falling apart but it was a nice structure for this second-chance romance!
Left Me Wanting More: Communication. The lack of communication drove me nuts. This couple would have been a lot better off if either of them shared even a little bit.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Lots of my friends straight-up five-star loved this book. It didn’t quite work for me in some aspects but I also did enjoy it and I look forward to reading the next one!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB

             

The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) – Kate Williams

The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) – Kate WilliamsTitle: The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) by Kate Williams
Publishing Info: September 17, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Date Completed: Septemner 9, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it's kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she's good at it.

And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let's just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She's Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme's babysitters club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra's mother left her: "Find the babysitters. Love, Mom."

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they're about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

bookreview1

When I first saw the title of THE BABYSITTERS COVEN, I knew I had to read it. It sounded quirky, witchy, and like it would be so full of that dark comedy that I love. It ended up being significantly different than what I expected, which isn’t always a bad thing but this one really didn’t work too well for me.

THE BABYSITTERS COVEN mostly just wasn’t what I was expecting in a few ways. The first was that it was less witchy and more generally paranormal/urban fantasy, reaching into the depths of demons and monsters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s not something I really enjoy as much as I do general witchy themes and exploring more magic and magic systems instead of getting into supernatural creatures. The spells that we do get to see the girls cast were a little silly. The spells are “adapted” for modern purposes so there are some silly items that can be incorporated in place of some more arcane ones. Again, not a bad thing but I like the humor in these types of books to be more snarky or focused on the “oh this insane thing that’s happening is totally normal” feeling.

The other issue I had with the book is that it just read really young. Yes, it is a young adult book and yes, it is written so that it’s enjoyable for teens… But I’ve also read hundreds of YA books in my lifetime that I’ve been able to enjoy without feeling like it’s young or immature. I just didn’t enjoy the tone and the immaturity of some of the themes like the friendships, the romance, and just some of the ways the book was written in general. The overall voice and tone was just not for me.

I didn’t know that this was the first in a series when I started it but I was able to notice that it was on Goodreads. I think it would have been much better as a stand alone and I can’t imagine I’ll pick up the next book in the series, unfortunately.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dark comedies. This book definitely had its funny moments! There was some nice comedy amongst some of the other darker moments.
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. I just felt like this was a little too young for me. Maybe I’m not the age group its meant for but I’ve also ready plenty of YA that was quite enjoyable. It just didn’t click with me.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people loved it while others really didn’t click with it. It was cute in some ways and not so pleasing in others.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE BABYSITTERS COVEN

             

No Judgments (Little Bridge Island #1) – Meg Cabot

No Judgments (Little Bridge Island #1) – Meg CabotTitle: No Judgments (Little Bridge Island #1) by Meg Cabot
Publishing Info: September 24, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: September 17, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Heather Wells #4), The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells #5), The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries #1)

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

bookreview1

Meg Cabot was one of the authors that got me back into reading all those years ago and so her books always hold a special place in my heart! It’s been a long time since I’ve read a new one and I was so excited to read NO JUDGMENTS!

It was so much fun to be back in the world of Meg Cabot’s writing again! She always has such a fun feel with the perfect mix of sass and goofy and NO JUDGMENTS was no exception! It was such an easy read with some great things to ground it as well and I especially enjoyed the setting of the little island in the Florida Keys too. I haven’t been to the Keys but I could just so clearly picture it and I loved the little island feel, including all of its residents!

I did enjoy the romance aspect of it and I thought Sabrina and Drew had some great chemistry! I think there could have been a little bit more somewhere because while I fully enjoyed it, I didn’t quite love it. I think Bree was just a little too stubborn at times, which can bother me, and there were moments where I felt the hate-to-love was a little too drawn out and I was ready to get to the romance part.

I have to admit, I was expecting just a bit more from this book. Maybe I built it up too much in my head because I love Meg Cabot so much and her contemporary novels always sit well with me but I felt like it took a long time to get to a few different plot points. I think it was about halfway through when we finally go to why it’s called “NO JUDGMENTS” and I wished it had been introduced sooner. Ultimately what didn’t do it for me were the characters. I kind of felt like the island had more personality than the characters did and I wanted so much more backstory from them. They had good histories and I would have loved to see more of that in their every day encounters. Drew did have some good family moments but those were kind of more about than family than they were about him and I found some of the island residents more interesting than our main characters at times.

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Kept Me Hooked On: A nostalgic author for me. I love being able to keep reading an author who got me back into reading, and that will always be special for me!
Left Me Wanting More: Character development. I just needed more from the main characters. They were just a little flat and having some more well-rounded characters could have made the book that much better for me

Addiction Rating
Try it

Even though it wasn’t my favorite book of Meg Cabot’s, I still found to it to be a fun, easy romantic read. If you like her adult contemporary books, I’d still recommend it and say it’s worth the read!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE TENTH GIRL

             

The Tenth Girl – Sara Faring

The Tenth Girl – Sara FaringTitle: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
Publishing Info: September 24, 2019 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Ghosts, Science Fiction
Date Completed: June 7, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi's existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

bookreview1

I think readers will either love this book or lose steam with it like I did. It was interesting and had a lot going for it but there was so much happening with it that I felt like it was hard to keep up with, and I usually don’t have too many issues like there. There were a lot of new things, clues to pick up on, a bunch of characters (which wasn’t an issue for me but there were a number), and without a rapid pace to keep things moving, I quickly started losing interest without any reveals towards the middle. I had some Goodreads friends who loved it and from the other early reviews that felt similarly to me, it seems like we had the same issue: pacing.

While the book is suspenseful and atmospheric, I just felt like plot points took forever to come around. There’s a lot to keep readers really hyped up by providing new questions, throwing in suspicions, and having Mavi running around this creepy house, but I just felt like not a whole lot was happening for most of the book. It felt like she was getting more questions and we never got any answers until the end, which makes things a little frustrating at times.

THE TENTH GIRL goes back and forth between a couple time periods but it’s a little confusing. Mavi is at this creepy house in the 1970s but her present seems to be in the future or present day. The flashbacks are to the present but the past and yet somehow Mavi is in the past in the present. It’s enough to make your head spin for sure! It was definitely interesting to try to wrap my head around it but I feel like these kinds of plot devices really stole time away from actually getting to know all of the characters. I just really wanted to experience their personalities more and I felt like I never got to know anyone when I was spending so much time on the mystery and different time periods.

Then there was the twist at the end. I… did not like the twist in the book. There is a twist, as other readers have stated, and I found that it really took away from the whole tone and concept of the book for me. It’s one of those things where it makes you rethink the whole book, which can be really interesting, but in this case it made me feel like I was reading something totally different the whole time and not in the best way. I’m really a person who likes a cohesive feel throughout a whole book so to have a twist at the end basically change the genre, it really is irritating for me and takes me out of the whole experience.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique settings. I loved the Patagonian setting, bringing in a new culture with new myths and a new location. It was different from a lot of other books out there and it was really enjoyable to explore.
Left Me Wanting More: Pacing. I just had a hard time with the structure of the book, I think. I would have liked to know the twist basically at the beginning so I knew what kind of feel this book was going to have. I would have liked to have more answers along the way. I would have maybe skipped so many flashbacks. I just didn’t love the structure and pacing overall.

Addiction Rating
Try it, or get another opinion

I’m torn. It’s an interesting read and I liked a lot about the setting and atmosphere, but is that enough to recommend the book? I’m not sure I’d actively pass it along to a friend but it’s also not a bad read. For its length and how I felt about it, I don’t know if I’d tell someone else to read it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE TENTH GIRL

             

The Swallows – Lisa Lutz

The Swallows – Lisa LutzTitle: The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
Publishing Info: August 13, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: August 16, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Passenger

A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war--with deadly consequences--in a provocative novel from the bestselling author of The Passenger and the Spellman Files series.

What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?

It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy's new creative writing teacher. When the students' answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there's more going on the school than the faculty wants to see. She soon learns about The Ten--the students at the top of the school's social hierarchy--as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.

Ms. Witt can't remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who've started to question the school's "boys will be boys" attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her--including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.

Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom, but can't find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there's Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.

As the school's secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal--and potentially fatal--consequences for everyone involved. Lisa Lutz's blistering, timely tale shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long--and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.

bookreview1

I first found Lisa Lutz with her Spellman Files series and absolutely loved the tone, funny family, and easy mysteries. I know she’s written a few different works and not all of them share the same tone, but I think I excepted something much different from THE SWALLOWS. That being said, that’s not the cause for my rating because I’m happy to read different styles from the same authors, but I just didn’t like the way this book was put together and I don’t think that the structure did the topic as much justice as it could have.

The book is presented as a mystery/thriller, but it doesn’t really get too thrilling until the very end of the book (like the last couple chapters) so those few chapters are the reason I’m throwing a half star in there instead of just rating it two stars. The book deals largely with a secret contest and website held by the boys at the school, rating the girls on their sexual performance and having them unwittingly play a part in this school-wide “contest”. It is off-putting and gross, and yes it’s supposed to be, but I hated how the first half of this book just basically kept going over the details and adding more to the concept, leaving the justice and revenge until the end of the book. I sat their feeling incredibly disgusted and bad for all of these girls while they uncovered the secret of the contest and how terrible all of these boys were. It seemed like overkill to keep developing the concept of the contest and describing the message board when we could have spent more time developing the female characters and getting them ready for their moment of empowerment, and it really felt like a lot of time wasted by giving this contest way more attention than it deserved. It wasn’t just a big reveal or anything, the reader knows about it almost the whole time, so I wanted to see more empowerment on the female side much earlier.

There were also a lot of erroneous things in the book that didn’t really make much of a difference. The weird cottage Alex Witt stayed in didn’t really play a big role. There wasn’t really a reason why this was set in 2009 other than to look back on the occasion but there was no flash forward to 2019 or anything, so that was kind of pointless as well. Alex’s romantic involvements with various characters were irrelevant. A side character’s relationship with her mother I guess tied in at the very end and was supposed to “explain” some of her actions, but I think it was entirely unnecessary and threw in random bits of “mystery” to keep the readers wondering. Lisa Lutz is primarily a mystery/thriller writer in various tones and forms, but the beginning wasn’t much of a mystery or a thriller and read more like general fiction. The tone very much switched in the action towards the end to a chilling thriller-type feel with escalating events and some remorseless acts so it was just kind of a jumble of too many things overall.

I mostly just didn’t enjoy reading this book while I was reading it. It came together at the very end but I wished the rest of the book was like the ending. It really didn’t feel cohesive in so many ways and I just really disliked the structure.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Empowerment. I liked seeing the female characters take matters into their own hands and fighting back against the injustices throughout the book.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. For a book that’s supposed to be empowering, I felt like way too much time was spent dwelling on the oppressive and bad parts, giving them too much power and attention. I wanted to see the plot move forward much sooner to get us into the more empowering moments and actually seeing these girls and women making their stand.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I’m sure some people will enjoy it but I just was far too annoyed, frustrated, and even disgusted to think about recommending it. This one was not for me and I don’t think I’d recommend it to my friends.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE SWALLOWS

             

Squad – Mariah MacCarthy

Squad – Mariah MacCarthyTitle: Squad by Mariah MacCarthy
Publishing Info: March 12, 2019 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 7, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

This darkly comic debut novel by an award-winning playwright is like Mean Girls meets Heathers with a splash of Bring it On.

Jenna Watson is a cheerleader. But it’s not some Hollywood crap. Cheerleaders are not every guy’s fantasy; they are not the “popular girls” or the “mean girls” of Marsen High School. They’re too busy for that. They're literally just some human females trying to live their lives and do a perfect toe touch. But that all changed after Raejean stopped talking to Jenna and started hanging out with Meghan Finnegan. Jenna stopped getting invited out with the rest of the squad and she couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or if it was all in her head.

At times heartbreaking, at others hilarious, Squad follows Jenna through her attempts to get revenge on Raejean and invent a new post-cheer life for herself through LARPING (live action role-playing) and a relationship with a trans guy that feels like love—but isn't. In the, end Jenna discovers that who she is is not defined by which squad she's in.

bookreview1

** This review contains very mild spoilers for the book. **

SQUAD was a very quick and interesting read! There was a lot to appreciate here from diverse characters, sibling friendships, transitioning friend groups, and even a bit of geek appreciation. What I didn’t love was that it kind of lacked direction in terms of tone and seemed to wander around a bit, and the plot followed suit in some places.

Overall, SQUAD is about Jenna and how her life completely changes when her friends start alienating her, consequently affecting her best friendship and even further so, affecting her position on the cheerleading squad. I appreciated the difficulties that Jenna went through with her best friend and how quickly friendships can change in high school (and college and adulthood). I’ve been in a situation where a “former friend” has dropped nearly all forms of communication for what seems to be no reason so I could see how it could drive you to be a little obsessed with the confusion of it all. I also liked how Jenna finally started to really think about what she wanted (after going through the stages of grief, essentially) and how she treated other people as well. She wasn’t a total victim and she wasn’t totally innocent either. I also liked how even though she quit the cheer squad, she still held onto the fact that she liked dancing and cheering and how much that made her happy. The cliquey group dynamic was something that turned her off so it wasn’t enough to keep the love of cheering to stay on the squad.

What really threw me off was that I had no idea what this book was even supposed to be when I started it. The back cover contained some of the text from the beginning and it was a little misleading to start with a sentence like “I just woke up one morning and forgot how to do everything.” With all the possibilities of YA books out there, it was entirely possible that Jenna literally woke up and forgot how to do everything and this was maybe a sci-fi/paranormal kind of book. I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be something like that or if it was supposed to be just a contemporary novel. Then there was the Goodreads synopsis which called it a “darkly comic debut novel”, comparing to Mean Girls and Heathers with a splash of Bring it On. I didn’t really feel like it was comic at all. It was nearly entirely serious and I’m not sure how this was supposed to be a funny book. It certainly had its darker moments as Jenna loses her friends, falls into a depression, and explores who she is but I didn’t feel like it was a fun, campy experience like the movies mentioned above. These two things really set me up for something totally different and the actual contents of the novel just weren’t what I was expecting.

The writing style was also a bit hard for me as well. It worked out all right, being a shorter audiobook read (it was only 5+ hours long and I listen at 2x speed so with my pauses to do things here and there, I finished in about three hours) but if it was something longer, I don’t know if I would have stuck with it. Especially in the audiobook version (which is narrated by the author, Mariah MacCarthy (awesome!)), it felt like one long stream of consciousness. There wasn’t a lot of dialogue in the beginning but more did develop throughout. Maybe if I had been reading a print version, that would have felt a little different BUT since the author narrated the audiobook, I also take the tone as they read it since they’re the person who wrote the book! That’s something I love about “authorators”. I always feel like we’re skipping one interpretation from author to narrator to listener and I get a more “straight forward” experience! That being said, I would have loved to see just a bit more development in the writing so it felt a little less like a stream of consciousness.

While I enjoyed the overall plot of the book, it seemed to just sort of dart off into different places. There were natural transitions but for some reason it didn’t really seem to flow. I did like the change from cheer squad to geek squad as Jenna starts to hang out with her brother and his friends and actually goes LARPing with them. It reminded me a lot of a favorite, THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD by Leah Rae Miller.

There was a lot of good things within the pages of SQUAD but I still had some issues that kept me from falling into the story. It was a quick read for me but I think stylistically, I just didn’t click with it as much as I had hoped and confusing marketing was a little bit of an issue for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Evolving friendships. I really liked seeing Jenna find new friend groups and letting go of those who were treating her poorly. It took her a while to get to that point but I kind of like that she eventually took care of herself instead of trying to stick with the old group just because they were here original friends.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot flow. It didn’t flow poorly but things felt a little… clumpy. I just didn’t quite feel the natural transitions.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I think it would have helped a little bit more understanding the tone of the book better. I was expecting something a little different, but even knowing that, I still would have enjoyed it just a little bit more with a little better flow to the book. It was still a really good story though and a good read!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE SQUAD

             

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter Evanovich

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter EvanovichTitle: The Big Kahuna (Fox & O'Hare #6) by Janet Evanovich, Peter Evanovich
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 9, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

A stoner, an Instagram model, a Czech oligarch, and a missing unicorn. Nick Fox and Kate O'Hare have their work cut out for them in their weirdest, wildest adventure yet in this latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series by Janet and Peter Evanovich.

Straight arrow FBI Agent Kate O'Hare always plays by the rules. Charming Con Man Nicholas Fox makes them up as he goes along. She thinks he's nothing but a scoundrel. He thinks she just needs to lighten up. They're working together to tackle the out-of-bounds cases ordinary FBI agents can't touch. And, their relationship? Well, there hasn't been so much explosive chemistry since Nitro was introduced to Glycerin.
Next on the docket: The mysterious disappearance of the Silicon Valley billionaire, known as the Big Kahuna. Kate's been assigned to find him but no one seems particularly keen on helping. His twenty-six year old adult actress wife-turned Instagram model wife and his shady Czech business partner are more interested in gaining control of his company. For that they need a dead body not a living Kahuna.
The only lead they have is the Kahuna's drop-out son, who's living the dream in Hawaii - if your dream is starting your day with the perfect wave and ending it with a big bowl of weed. To get close to the Kahuna's son, Kate and Nick go undercover as a married couple in the big wave, bohemian, surfer community of Paia, Maui. Living a laid back, hippy-dippy lifestyle isn't exactly in Kate's wheelhouse, but the only thing more horrifying is setting up house with Nick Fox, even if he does look pretty gnarly on a longboard. If they don't catch a break soon, waves aren't the only thing she's going to be shredding (or bedding).

bookreview1

This was a really disappointing installment in this series. I felt like it totally reverted to Stephanie Plum-type humor and lost of of the clever heist elements. While I enjoy Stephanie Plum for what it is, I enjoyed the Fox & O’Hare books so much more.

This was the first book without Lee Goldberg (instead substituting Peter Evanovich) and while I haven’t read any Lee Goldberg books, it really did seem to affect the whole tone of this book. I don’t know if that’s the actual factor of the change but it really does seem like it. Everything turned so incredibly goofy with the new characters and adventure. It was not clever and it was not intriguing.

I also didn’t realize what else it was missing until I read other reviews but I realized that we were missing the fun crew that we’ve seen in the other books! Willie and Boyd were nowhere to be seen and the lack of crew really takes away from the concept of a heist/con book. Also, what in the heck happened to the cliffhanger at the end of book five!? At first I thought maybe I just missed something but that was confirmed by reading other reviews as well. It seemed to just move on and also somehow take a step back with Kate and Nick’s relationship. It was all just very messy.

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Kept Me Hooked On: This series, I guess. I loved the first five books. I’m hoping this was just a fluke and there will be something better on the horizon.
Left Me Wanting More: Heists! Crew! Everything! This was so disappointing. I still enjoyed the book enough but it just felt like a totally different author writing this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it, I guess

This was such a blah installment but if it leads us to the next book where it gets better, then it’s worth it.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BIG KAHUNA

             

The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas

The Cheerleaders – Kara ThomasTitle: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Publishing Info: July 31, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: July 23, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Corners, Little Monsters

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

bookreview1

I think this was Kara Thomas’ best book yet! I really, really loved the writing style and the whole set-up of this novel. It reminded me much more of my adult thriller reads rather than the YA, while still maintaining a YA atmosphere, characters, and setting. Things are set up right from the beginning to come full circle at the end but I couldn’t tell how they were going to come together and I kept trying to piece the puzzle together. What I loved about this book was that I was able to follow along and start putting little clues together but it took until the end to really realize what exactly had happened and how they really impacted Monica and why she was involved in this story from start to finish and every piece in between.

I actually thought that this was going to be… a little sillier. The deaths of the five cheerleaders years ago was thought to be a sort of curse and I actually had that Fear Street mentality in the back of my head (there was a Fear Street Cheerleaders series after all), but this read much more maturely than I had anticipated. I think I would have enjoyed it either way but I’m really glad that it read the way that it did and I really enjoyed this type of structure.

I actually think I already want to re-read it because there’s so much that I’ve forgotten writing my review (way, way later… my review schedule has been all over the place with new reviews and old reviews!) and I think I’d enjoy reading it all over again to experience those discoveries like new. Even if I don’t remember all of the details, I do remember how much I enjoyed listening to this audiobook and it’s one I knew I wanted to recommend!!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mature YA mystery/thrillers. Young adult novels can contain any array of tones and topics but sometimes young adult is still just too young for me. Obviously that’s not a bad thing (and let’s not get into it because that’s a whole different topic) but I loved how this one just had a more mature tone that teens can still appreciate but I felt like it reached out more to the adult audience too.
Left Me Wanting More: Cover representation. Between the title and the cover, I felt like this was going to be a campy horror story and while I would have appreciated that too, I’m so glad it was the story that it was! The cover definitely did throw me and I think it might throw off other readers as well. I’d love to see a cover redesign somewhere down the road.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I thought this was such a solid novel! Writing my review has only made me want to re-read it again soon.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE CHEERLEADERS

             

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen Simmons

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen SimmonsTitle: The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) by Kristen Simmons
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Heists/Spies/Espionage, Retelling
Date Completed: June 3, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom's loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials--because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that's before she meets her mark--a senator's son--and before she discovers the school's headmaster has secrets he'll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she's in way over head.

bookreview1

I really wish that the synopsis of this book had made note of the Norse mythology inspiration because I honestly didn’t pick up on that at all but once I knew about it, it seemed really obvious and I think that would have been a fun thing to pick up as I was reading. That’s no fault of the author but I guess that’s what happens when I don’t do a lot of looking into things before I read a book (and I guess whoever’s in charge of making the synopsis/making sure that info is on Goodreads). I didn’t know about it until I started reading reviews after I was finished. Since I never read reviews before I start a book (in case of spoilers and I don’t want anyone to influence my opinion), there’s really no other way I would have known about that and I bet a lot of other people may not be aware either.

That may have helped how much I enjoyed the book but I still think I would have come out relatively the same. I was irritated that it was labeled as “Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11”. I don’t know PLL but Ocean’s 11 is one of my favorite movies and if we’re talking about the 2001 version…. that movie is WAY too sassy and not even close in tone. I was expecting some super clever sass, cheeky cons, and an overall heist feeling. This really wasn’t a heist book. I guess it was more of a “long con” but it wasn’t really a plan we were in on from the beginning and we learn a lot as the book progresses. This was just not the tone I was expecting and would compare it more to Deadly Class (the SyFy TV show), THE FIXER by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, TRUST ME, I’M LYING by Mary Elizabeth Summer, or new Adriana Mather book KILLING NOVEMBER. It wasn’t ALL serious but it certainly wasn’t quite as light or funny as I had expected.

Mostly, the book was just kind of slow. We picked up some interesting facts along the way, sure. But it unraveled a bit more like a mystery than a heist/con concept (which is more of what I was expecting with the Ocean’s 11 comparison) since we got some reveals about characters in the end and unraveled a little mystery that tied all of the characters together. It’s just a different way of putting that story together and it makes a difference of how I read/approach/experience a book.

I was also really disappointed that there wasn’t much happening to show us the school itself. It’s a con school which is AWESOME and really all we see are little snippets of Brynn’s intro to her classes with glimpses of what she might learn there but the book doesn’t really spend much time there at all. Aside from convening in each other’s rooms and using it as a base to get all of the students together, there wasn’t much about the school at all and it really felt like a missed opportunity. I felt like the book took entirely too long to set up Brynn’s family life and introduce the compromising situation that she’s in and I felt like things just dwelled there for an unnecessary amount of time. I get it. We’re supposed to be uncomfortable with Pete. She needs an escape. The school is it. But there was just too much time wasted in the beginning when the book could have set up that school world more to really pull readers in some more.

It seems like this book gets some mixed reviews. Its core was still solid and it had a clear story to tell. Some of my friends absolutely loved it and others, like me, felt a little underwhelmed. At least it seems like no one really hated it, which I agree with! There were a lot of good elements there and some appreciated the structure and tone more than I did, but if you don’t have the expectations that I carried into my read, maybe you’ll enjoy it more!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mythology retellings. I didn’t even realize this for what it was while I was reading but looking back, it was a fun way to adapt some Norse mythology as a modern retelling!
Left Me Wanting More: Time in this awesome school! I felt like it was a real missed opportunity to make this series about Vale Hall and then not even really spend time in this unique and interesting school! I really wanted to see more of the classes, especially in the first book.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I have a few friends who really loved this book. Maybe they knew more about it than I did before starting, maybe not, but it seems like I might be the minority with my reservations!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE DECEIVERS

             

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners – Christina LaurenTitle: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publishing Info: May 14, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: May 30, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

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.

bookreview1

This book was so cute! Another great hit from Christina Lauren and I think maybe my favorite one yet. I adore a good hate-to-love story and this book was cute on so many different levels.

The beginning really reminded me THE HATING GAME with its adorable hateful tension and the way the two main characters, Olive and Ethan, interacted with each other. I think the beginning with that spiteful tension was one of my favorite parts of the book. The snark and sass was just perfect and it really had that HATING GAME vibe like I mentioned. I am glad that it sort of moved away from that feel because I wanted the book to be unique but I did also kind of miss it when it did haha!

I really loved the whole set-up of the book. How these two managed to get stuck together on a not-honeymoon was very cute and very well planned! The perfect way to stick them together and have everything really make sense, plus some funny family hijinks in the beginning as well. I would have liked to see maybe a little bit more family throughout the book but I also did like that it didn’t take away from the main characters and their story as well. They made little appearances here and there but I think that could have added a little more depth to the story by adding just a little more family history!

The romance was positively adorable and I loved every minute of it! The unfolding was just lovely and these two characters had great chemistry. I think I could have used juuuust a little more tension (I’m a sucker for that hate-to-love chemistry) but I did like spending sometime in the cute moments of the romance too!

I also really appreciated how there were other plots in the book as well, not just the romance. Olive is dealing with being laid off and finding a new job. There are stressors in her sister’s brand-new marriage and things that she finds out that are very concerning. All of these things also put a stress on her evolving relationship with Ethan. It’s a great mix of real-life feels and grounding real-life situations.

I highly recommend THE UNHONEYMOONERS and I can see why so many people have loved it already! I’m really enjoyed all of the Christina Lauren romances I’ve read and I think this is my favorite so far.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Hate-to-love romances. I love a good hate-to-love romance but there’s something so special when it’s done just right! Christina Lauren totally nailed this one and it was so much fun to read!
Left Me Wanting More: Family history. I feel like we could have had a few more appearances from the families since both of them played a role in the story. I would have loved that extra little layer of family/character/world building to really have me connect with the characters that much more.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was such a fun story and I really enjoyed it from start to finish! A lot of other readers have been enjoying it too so I don’t hesitate to recommend this one along with some other romance favorites if you’re looking for a fun love story this summer! (Or any time)

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BOOKS LIKE THE UNHONEYMOONERS