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

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Star rating: 3.5 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

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?

General information: This book was published in September 2018 by Gallery Books.

My thoughts:

I think I’m slowly turning into a Christina Lauren fan! This book had a lot to live up to, though, because The Unhoneymooners was one of my favorite books that I read in 2020 and In a Holidaze was another 5-star read for me.

I really enjoyed Josh and Hazel’s friendship-turned-romance. It was very sweet and I loved how Josh just accepted Hazel as she was. Hazel was a character who kind of grated on me at first, but grew on me as I kept reading. It seems like that may have been intentional, though.

I actually really came to love Hazel’s character. She’s the typically klutzy and messy heroine, but she’s not expected to change or be anyone other than herself. I loved their chemistry, too. I was really rooting for them by the end, even though they had the typical just-talk-to-each-other miscommunication issues.

I did have a couple of quibbles with the book, though. There’s this whole minor plot point around how Hazel can’t (either can’t or won’t) say Josh’s Korean name correctly and that kind of got on my nerves. It should just be common courtesy to make an effort to say someone’s name correctly.

I also had an issue with the way that one character’s alcohol problem was depicted. It seemed to be used for comedic value which I didn’t like. I guess I just don’t find alcoholism to be a source of humor.

I still enjoyed the book, don’t get me wrong! Those two things just bothered me. They aren’t major facets of the book, so I didn’t take off more stars for them, but they were problems for me nonetheless.

Overall, this was a cute and steamy romance that I’d recommend if that’s what you’re looking for! I got it from my library but I don’t plan on buying my own copy just yet.

Content warnings: Sexual content, infidelity, alcoholism, blood

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

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 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!