WWW Wednesday!

Welcome to my WWW Wednesday post, a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

In a Holidaze

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren! I LOVED this book. It was the perfect holiday romcom!

What are you currently reading?

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Stuck on You by Portia Macintosh! Hopefully I finish it in the next few days and can post a review.

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The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow! Yes, I’m finally getting around to this one. I’m 65% of the way through the audiobook and loving it so far.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory! I’ve heard good things about some of her other books so I’m curious to start this one and continue my holiday romcom read-a-thon.

Thanks for reading! What does your WWW Wednesday look like?

Review: In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

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Star rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: from Goodreads-

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

General information: This was published in October 2020 by Gallery Books.

My thoughts:

Y’all, this book was adorable. Cozy, wintery, romantic, funny, everything you would expect from a holiday romcom.

The main couple were adorable and built up very well- I was really rooting for them by the end. There’s a slight hint of a love triangle but I feel that it’s handled well. The synopsis mentions two brothers, after all, so I went into this expecting some hurt feelings from at least one party.

And the time travel aspect (if it was time travel?) was worked into the plot interestingly. I felt like Mae’s reaction to being thrown back to the beginning of the vacation was realistic and, at times, pretty darn funny.

I loved the found family aspect of it, as well. The larger cast of characters were sweet, especially her not-quite-uncle Benny. I really enjoyed their characters, but I felt that sometimes the large ensemble cast made it difficult to remember who was who. (That could 100% be my fault, though. I just have a hard time with large casts).

Mae grew a lot as a person over the course of the book. Her character was very relatable to me- she starts off the book as someone who’s not sure about her career, her love life, her living situation, and really, we’ve all been there, right?

My only issue is that she’s in an incredibly privileged position- she has a decent job and the ability to live with her mother while she figures things out. Sure, it’s not ideal for her, but many people couldn’t say the same. In the end, some of the themes of the book only really apply if you, too, are in a privileged position. Of course, your mileage may vary if you take your life advice from romcoms, but that was something that struck me as important to mention, because it may affect how you view her character and her decisions.

In the end, though, I loved the romance in this book and the larger story about family and tradition. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a romcom to read this holiday season!

Have you read this book yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

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Star rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis: from Goodreads

‘Tis the season for finding romance in this hilarious and uplifting holiday read

When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say “Bah, humbug.” The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn’t exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate’s found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt’s neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?

Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before–and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures–Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it’s least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it’s been right under her nose all along. . . .

General information: This was published in October 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

My thoughts:

This was a really cute holiday romcom!

It was a very clean romance, if that’s your sort of thing. I love a good slow burn so I loved that aspect. I also loved the main character, Kate- I felt very invested in her twelve dates. Her misadventures were funny and relatable to anyone who’s ever been on a few first dates.

I was also very invested in Kate and Matt’s friendship, but unfortunately, that was where my investment ended. I normally love the friends-to-lovers trope, but for this specific couple, I mostly just saw them as good friends. (It’s not really a spoiler that this book is about Kate and Matt’s relationship, by the way- just in case anyone was worried). I loved their interactions and their banter, but I didn’t really get a sense that they were romantically inclined until I was told so.

I also felt that the way that Kate and Matt’s other love interests were dispatched was… quick? I knew one of them seemed a little too good to be true, but the other’s departure fell a little flat, to me. (Again, no spoilers- this is a romcom, it’s not exactly a secret that they get together in the end).

As a big fan of the holiday season, though, I loved all the holiday vibes and the small town setting! The town of Blexford was adorable and very English. I also loved the cast of side characters, such as the Knitting Sex Kittens and Kate’s zany mother. The setting was charming and perfect for a holiday romcom.

I also really liked how Kate’s design job was worked into her actions- it’s a small thing, but I really enjoyed how she saw the world around her. I felt like that was done very well.

In the end, I still recommend this to anyone looking for a cozy holiday romcom! While the romance fell a little flat for me, it might not for someone else. This is a great book to read with a glass of eggnog or a hot chocolate. (Or both, I’m not judging how you live). There’s also a lot of baking in the book and several recipes at the end, which I intend to try at some point.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

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Star rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: From Goodreads

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

General information: This was published in October 2020 by Tor Books.

My thoughts:

I’m so glad that I didn’t DNF this book.

And it came really, really close.

This book was much-hyped when it came out, and I got it through BOTM, eager to dive in. Two months later, here I am! It only took an audiobook copy and 17 hours of listening to get me to finish it.

And wow, am I glad that I did!

First off, let me say, I completely agree with a lot of the criticism I’ve seen of this book- especially that, out of 300 years of travelling, Addie managed to stick to Europe and the US instead of going literally anywhere else on the planet, despite her supposed thirst for new experiences.

Honestly, Addie got on my nerves. Despite being the main character, I felt that she fell a little… flat. We’re told that she’s beautiful, and interesting, and yadda yadda, but I didn’t really see it shown. The only times I was really invested in her were during her interactions with Luc, and that was more because I loved Luc’s character.

I really almost DNF’ed this book until Henry came in. I felt like he was very well-developed and relatable (to me, at least). He kept me invested in the book as a whole- he was flawed, sure, but I could see him as a real person more than I could see Addie as a person.

I mean, we’re told that Addie has changed a lot in 300 years, but I didn’t really see that either. To me, she seemed like the same 23-year-old who made the deal with Luc throughout the book (except maybe at the very end, but no spoilers here).

Anyway, enough about my disappointment with Addie herself. The writing style was gorgeous, and the audiobook narration was very engaging. The style lent itself very well to being read aloud. If you’re on the fence about reading this, I recommend trying the audiobook. Throughout the book, there are a lot of interesting meditations on what it means to be a person, to be remembered, to be loved.

There were a couple of plot twists I didn’t see coming until they happened, which I loved. The ending also hit me like a brick. I had expected something else to happen and was completely blindsided, in a good way. It didn’t make me cry but I absolutely have a book hangover now. I keep thinking about the characters and their endings and just… ugh. So good!

I was prepared to rate this 4 stars, but the ending pushed me over the edge into 4.5 or 5 star territory.

I agree that it starts out slow, but I really loved this book once I got into it. If you’re considering DNF’ing it, I would recommend that you wait until Henry gets introduced into the plot, because that was really where the book turned the corner for me.

Overall, I recommend this book! It didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, but I loved it nonetheless.

What did you think about The Invisible Life of Addie Larue? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

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Star rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he’s known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster.  Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.

Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?

General information: This book was published in 2020 by Avon Books.

My thoughts:

Can we talk about all the Game of Thrones references in this book? Because I seriously loved catching the little jabs at the last few seasons. And this book was full of jabs at the last few seasons. (It made my ASOIAF book!fangirl heart very happy).

Fandom references aside, this book was amazing! It managed to combine a cute romance with a serious discussion about difficult topics, such as growing up dyslexic and fat-phobia. Come for the wish fulfillment, stay for the serious meditations on reacting to familial abuse.

But yes, the fandom references- in fact, the whole premise of the book- made my fangirl-self want to start writing fanfiction again, just in case I accidentally meet an actor from the show. No? Too unlikely? Shhh.

The romance was adorable and I loved both characters, they both felt very fleshed-out. I also loved the cast of side characters, such as their zany coworkers and errant family members. Their relationships with their families felt very realistic and well-written. It added a lot of color to the story and I really appreciated how it ended.

My only nitpick is that it didn’t quite hit me emotionally the way other romcoms have. I never had to put the book down because I was so emotionally invested in the characters that I needed a break. It never made me laugh out loud. Really, that’s the only flaw I can find, and it’s totally subjective. A different person may experience the book totally differently (as it always goes with media).

All in all, I highly recommend this book, especially to fellow nerds! It was a love letter to fandom in a way that only a fellow nerd could write, and I really loved it.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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Star rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: via Goodreads

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

General information: This book was published in 2019 by Berkley.

My thoughts:

A romcom set at a Renaissance Faire? Yes please!

For real, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was heartwarming and cute and swoony, all the best things about reading a romcom.

For a romcom, though, it felt pretty light on the “com.” It didn’t make me laugh out loud at any point like The Unhoneymooners did, and also didn’t make me exhale heavily out of my nose, like most funny books do. (I’m not the only one here who does that, right?)

However, I still fell in love with the characters and the town of Willow Creek (sidenote: isn’t that the name of a town in the Sims 4?). I loved Simon, especially, and his struggle to keep up his brother’s legacy. I loved the small-town atmosphere of the book- and I’m not usually one for small towns in real life. This one, though, was charming and filled with a cast of supportive characters. Can I move there?

This book had me swooning every time the main couple so much as kissed, and I had to put it down in a couple of parts because I was so emotionally involved in the main couple.

However- and this is a big ‘however’- looking back, I honestly don’t see what attracted them to each other in the first place. They hate each other out of nowhere, which, fair enough, that happens all the time. But then suddenly, they’re incredibly attracted to each other? Which, again, fair enough (or faire enough?), that happens too. But then, boom, they’re in love! And have been for a while! Who could have predicted that?

It’s a romcom, so I was willing to suspend disbelief while I was reading, but having had some time to think about it, I just don’t fully believe in the main couple. It was fun and lighthearted and swoony (have I mentioned how swoony it was?) but it felt like something was missing.

I’m honestly not sure if I want to read the next book in the series yet because of this. I liked Stacey’s character but I wasn’t very invested in her, and I’m not sure I could read a whole book about her. That being said, I’d probably get Well Played if it was on sale? Just not right now.

However, this author can write the hell out of a kiss scene.

Do I plan to read this again? Yes, probably. Would I recommend this to romcom fans? Sure. But my rating of 4 stars is probably closer to a 3.5 because of the issues I had with the romance development.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this? What were your thoughts?

WWW Wednesday!

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This is a weekly meme hosted at Taking On A World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Moon Called by Patricia Briggs!

I didn’t write a review for this because it came out in 2006- if I catch up to the more recent books in the series, I might do non-spoiler reviews for them, though! I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to people who think they might be interested in urban fantasy. Not a fan of the cover, though.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Mercedes Thompson, aka Mercy, is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

What are you currently reading?

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These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong!

So excited about this one!! I’ve heard it can be very dark and heart-wrenching and I’m ready to get my heart broken.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

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Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren!

Not sure how I feel about this one yet. I’m listening to the audiobook and some parts of it get on my nerves- it’s partly the main character (who comes across as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to some extent, though hopefully this gets better as I read) and partly the male narrator’s voices for the female characters. I loooved The Unhoneymooners by the same authors, though, so I’m willing to give this one a fair shot.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Well Met by Jen DeLuca!

I’m so excited for this one!! I’ve heard rave reviews, and I love all things romcom and Ren Faire, so it sounds perfect for me. I think this will be my palette cleanser after These Violent Delights.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

Thanks for reading! What does your WWW Wednesday look like?

WWW Wednesday!

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This is a weekly meme hosted by Taking On a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

42201431

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren!

Synopsis from 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.

What are you currently reading?

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Moon Called by Patricia Briggs! (Yes, I’ve been reading this for over a week now- I really enjoy it but the election put a damper on my reading, sadly).

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Mercedes Thompson, aka Mercy, is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

What do you think you’ll read next?

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong! I got a copy from Book of the Month before the official release date and I’m so excited to be ahead of the curve, for once.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

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Well Met by Jen DeLuca! (I’m so excited to start this one!!!)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

Thanks for reading! What does your WWW Wednesday look like? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

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Star rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: via 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.

General information: This was published in 2019 by Gallery Books.

My thoughts:

This book was hilarious! It made me laugh out loud at several parts. The main character, Olive, has some one-liners that actually made me chuckle.

I’m also a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope (though in this one, it was less “enemies” and more “mutual dislike to lovers.”) I was so invested in the main couple that I had to put the book down several times because I was getting emotional. I loved their chemistry and their back-and-forth banter; it was written really well and I could feel the attraction between them. This book also used the fake-dating trope, which, yes please, give me all of the fake dating.

I didn’t want to finish this book, but at the same time, I had to know what happened. Honestly, I would have read more- the ending was satisfying but I wasn’t ready to let go of these characters.

I also loved Olive’s perspective- I can be iffy on first-person narrative because if the main character is annoying, you’re stuck in their head the whole book, but I really liked (and related) to Olive.

I actually got Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy vibes from the main couple at first which, if you know me, is very high praise! It could just be the enemies-to-lovers dynamic that reminded me of Pride and Prejudice, but that was the impression I got.

Yes, some of the situations were a little contrived and convenient (probably bumping this down to 4.5 stars, but I’ll round up), but I kind of expect that in a romcom. Honestly, it didn’t bother me at all while I was reading. I’ve also seen criticism that the main couple is very similar to the one in another of Christina Lauren’s books, but I haven’t read that yet so I can’t weigh in.

I highly recommend this book to fans of romcoms! It’s swoony, adorable, funny, a slow burn, and hit all the right beats with me. I would have gladly read another hundred pages about Olive and Ethan, and definitely plan on re-reading this book soon.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

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Star rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: via Goodreads

A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award–winner Jesmyn Ward.

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers.

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

General information: This was published in 2017 by Scribner.

My thoughts:

I really don’t even know where to start to review this book. It was amazing! It really encapsulated the Southern, Gulf Coast vibe, especially the poverty and social issues you see in the area.

I loved the characters, they all felt so vivid. I just wanted to give Jojo and Kayla a hug. I even felt for their parents, Leonie and Michael, who made some bad (but totally understandable) decisions. And their grandparents, Pop and Mam, were probably my favorites in the book- they really stood out as interesting and loving people.

The supernatural was worked into the book really well- it was jarring, especially as you occasionally got a POV chapter from one of the ghosts, but deftly done.

The setting and descriptions were beautifully written. I felt like I was in the car with the characters. Some of the details will stay with me for a long time. At times this book was almost hard to read, but I couldn’t put it down.

This book was incredibly sad and occasionally upsetting but also incredibly hopeful and beautiful. I know I’ll be thinking about it for a long time, hence the five stars.

Overall, I highly recommend this! It really uses the fantasy elements to complement the story in a unique way. Definitely give it a shot if you haven’t already!

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!