Thursday, May 6, 2021

Book Review: The Hating Game

I'm trying SO hard to get back into my reading groove and catch up to my Goodreads goal. I'm so behind and I need to really get cracking. I just do. THANKFULLY, I have so many good books on my TBR coming up so I think that's going to really help.  

I have the next two from this author and I am HERE FOR IT. 

The Hating Game - Sally Thorne

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
Now, this author has two more novels out and I haven't read those yet but they are on my desk to get to, but at the time, this was her debut. AND WOW. 

I forget how much I love a good rom-com and I guess this going to be a movie soon and I am so excited about it- this will be so much fun. I also decided that an enemies to lovers trope is maybe my favorite? They are always so much fun and usually pretty funny and I think we all need that right now, to be honest. 

In The Hating Game, we have Lucy and Josh, they work in the same office. They have their own bosses and it's a publishing house that is a mash up of two and so it's like competing publishing houses having to play house and work together and one big publisher. Needless to say, it's very different way of doing of things and Lucy and Josh couldn't be more different. Lucy is very retro, kind of a mess, but she's just so great and fun. Josh is as anal retentive as they come, he's straight forward, and people literally fear him. 

Lucy swears she hates Josh. 4 ever. 

Turns out, once their jobs are on the line, Lucy goes on an accidental date, and other things happen, she starts to think maybe that isn't totally true. She's convinced he hates her just as much but as time goes on, it becomes clear that Josh doesn't really hate her at all, and literally everyone around them knows it, too. To say Lucy is kind of oblivious and dense, is an understatement! 

OK, so I found myself laughing throughout this one and I loved it so much. I love the little games they play, I love that Lucy is desperate to basically have sex with Josh and he's just holding his own. I love the role-reversal there, normally it is the other way around and I'm here for this. I love the sarcasm between the two and the banter, it's perfect. I love how we have a woman having to pay attention to the man's emotional well-being and that the man admits his emotional shortcomings. I loved all of it. 

Honestly? This was a 5 star for me, so much so that I had to go buy her next two because I have to see if this was a one off or if I love her as much in the new ones as this. 

If you're looking for something fun, light, and hilarious, you need this. 

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Book Review: Runaway Train

How proud of you of me for having a post every day? I'm out of control, peeps! OUT. OF. CONTROL. I have something for you every day and then maybe I'll talk about some health stuff coming up? Maybe. I'll try to get it together and do that because I feel like I've got a lot going on there. 

In the meantime, let's talk about this book, which was a hidden gem for me. 

Runaway Train - Lee Matthew Goldberg

Everything changed when the police officer knocked on the door to tell me – a 16-year-old – that my older sister Kristen had died of a brain aneurysm. Cue the start of my parents neglecting me and my whole life spiraling out of control.

I decided now was the perfect time to skip town. It’s the early 90’s, Kurt Cobain runs the grunge music scene and I just experienced some serious trauma. What’s a girl supposed to do? I didn’t want to end up like Kristen, so I grabbed my bucket list, turned up my mixtape of the greatest 90’s hits and fled L.A.. The goal was to end up at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, but I never could have guessed what would happen along the way.

At turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and laugh out loud funny, Runaway Train is a wild journey of a bygone era and a portrait of a one-of-a-kind teenage girl trying to find herself again the only way she knows how.
Alright, I'll be honest and tell you I don't love this cover. I saw this and felt the whole "whomp, whomp" and was really worried I wouldn't like it. 

This will be the only time I admit that my initial cover opinion was wrong. I'm normally completely on point and this time.... obviously I'm low on sugar or sleep or something. That's what I'm going with. 

I swear to everything, the 90's was THE BEST time to be alive, for a lot of reasons, but the music. The music was amazing and it'll never be that good again. It just won't. I fell in love with this book as soon as I realized that chapters are named after songs. Every song listed is exactly what an MTV Alternative Nation (that was a great show, if you don't know what it is, you need to educate yourself because it was amazing) episode would be. In fact, I think I had tapes with every song listed in this book. The kicker? The title? Named after a song. 


We have the classic perfect daughter dies, leaving not so perfect daughter behind, parents are distraught and basically neglecting left over daughter so she peaces out to road trip to Kurt Cobain's house, as any teen in the 90s would do, and life changing shenanigans ensue. That's the book in a nut shell and if that alone doesn't make you want to read this. But if you're too young to enjoy the 90's and are calling me a boomer right now, the story itself is really good. I just could remember that teenage angst and I don't care who you are, you can relate to Nico. 

If you're a fan of strong character development, you will enjoy this. The writing felt a little clunky but honestly, it's written in the POV of Nico, and Nico is very much a teenager. If I had to list anything as a ding... I'd say the mental health tidbits. I think suicide is referred to as the easy way out and as a person who is diagnosed with suicidal ideation (I'm not planning a suicide, but I maybe wouldn't hustle out of the way of the bus, and I think about dying/being dead... I'm just not actively planning anything), that really bothered me. Don't sit here and tell me that a suicidal person should just try harder, if you know anything about actually BEING suicidal, you would know it has nothing to do with laziness or having to try harder. It's an illness. You wouldn't tell a diabetic to just make your pancreas work, God, are you even TRYING?! I mean, come on. 

So that got to me, but even with that? A solid 4 star read for me. I really loved the drive down memory lane with the musical references, and I loved the characters Nico meets along the way. Each one makes a contribution to Nico's growth throughout the book. I also loved that this is the first in a series to come, and I'm pretty excited about that because I'd definitely read it. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour! 

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Book Review: All Kinds of Other

I know its only Tuesday but.... how is your week going? Mine is pretty alright. I feel like I'm a little overwhelmed with our family schedule, so I'm hoping that kind of eases up soon.  

I do have a really good YA book for you today, and I feel like it has been awhile since I've read YA, which is strange. I have a couple coming up so we'll get back on track. 

All Kinds of Other - James Sie

In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.

Two boys are starting at a new school.

Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.

Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.

When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.
I really want to talk about this cover because it is so interesting to look at. I mean, I didn't see the larger face right away, it wasn't until I was taking a photo of it that I saw it and I just really love it. So.. there's that. 

I also need to confess that I don't read a lot of books with LGBTQ+ characters and it isn't because I'm not an ally. I just really have a hard time connecting with the characters and I have to feel some kind of connection for me to really get into the story. Usually. I really adored these characters though because I think of my own kids at that age, but also remember what it was like to be a teen and awkward as hell, so I just really wanted to hug them both.

I'll be honest and tell you that there are some potentially triggering things that might be hard for some, at least make most people uncomfortable. Obviously a lot of transphobia and homophobia so slurs do make an appearance, there are some racist comments, and bullying. I feel like it takes a lot to make me uncomfortable in a book, but even I squirmed a bit. Honestly, I think its because I'm a mom and I am always fiercely protective of kids being mistreated. 

So that's my mini-mom rant. 

I went into this book thinking it was a YA romance but it really wasn't? Well, kind of? I'm not really sure I would classify it as such, but I guess I can understand why some would say that it was. I'm just saying, don't go into this hoping that that's what you're getting, because it's just a lot more than that. I also will say I felt like there could have been more book, there were some loose threads kind of left hanging and that is frustrating for me. I loved the writing style, I love the tumblr posts, I felt like the conversations throughout felt normal (which is a thing for me, it either works or it very much doesn't), and overall? I really liked this. 

I do think that I'm looking at this from a very straight and boring female point of view and if you were a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you might have a differing opinion of how the story flowed and maybe a few specific things about the book. In short, this book would be different for everyone but honestly? I kind of loved that. I think that's part of the beauty of it. 

Thank you to HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books for a review copy. I'm really excited to have my teens read this and get their thoughts on it. 

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Monday, May 3, 2021

Book Review: Her Last Holiday

Happy Monday, lambs! I hope your week goes smoothly... considering people are morons out there. Honestly, I don't know what it is but warmer weather makes everyone drive like an idiot. It's so stressful.  

I have to watch murder shows and read thrillers to get myself off the ledge, but that probably says something about me, doesn't it? 

Her Last Holiday - C.L. Taylor

You come to the retreat to be healed. You don’t expect to die.

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.

Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.

Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?
I'll be honest, the sound of this made me think of a Dateline show and it got me thinking maybe Keith Morrison should be narrating thriller novels. 

I'm just saying, it would be amazing. 

Alright, so in this one we have a woman who is missing/presumably dead, her sister who feels guilty because of a bad last interaction with her, and a guy fresh out of prison for the deaths of two other retreat guests (he runs the retreat). The sister decides to figure out the fate of her sister because it's eating their mother alive, the not knowing, so she enrolls and embarks on the newly revived retreat. The retreat was heavily suggested by Tom's wife, Kate, who wants Tom to basically restart his career as someone who "helps people". Right off the bat she comes off kind of loony and I didn't like her. I almost felt bad for Tom because I can only imagine being right out of prison involves a serious readjustment to life and here she is, forcing him to get back into it all. She seems grossly oblivious to his current issues so you know this is going to end badly. 

The story obviously covers two storylines, the past (where Jenna is at the retreat) and now (where Fran is now at the retreat, resolved to solve this damn thing). I felt like the author did a good job going back and forth, I wasn't confused or lost, so that was good. 

There were quite a few characters in this one, and truly- nobody really is as they seem. I had everyone pegged and kind of started piecing this story together and yeah.... I was wrong. I couldn't have been more wrong. It actually was comical because I missed a few things through the story, so just pay attention because maybe you'll do a better job than I did. The best part? I flew through this story because I just really wanted to know what was going on, and as things really start moving and I realized some of my theories were totally wrong, I had to keep going. 

I will say there was a few things that make the story a little unbelievable (the rafting scene- I'll tell you what- you will NEVER see my butt in a raft on any kind.. ever... just saying), but honestly? I know people take points off for that but it's a fictional story, so that kind of thing doesn't bother me. 

Overall? I'd give this one 4 stars. I really liked this and felt like it was an entertaining read. If you're going on a vacation, this might be a fun read to throw in your bag. It was my first C.L. Taylor book but I would definitely read another. Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for having me on this tour and sending me an ARC for review! 
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