Book Review – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

hatinggame

TITLE: The Hating Game
AUTHOR: Sally Thorne
PAGES:  384 pages
PUBLISHED: August 9th 2016
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Enemies to Lovers, Chick-lit, Rom-Com, Humour

MY RATING: 5/5 birds
rating-5-birdnew
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SUMMARY:

The story begins with our heroine Lucy Hutton pestering Joshua Templeman. Her mortal enemy at work. She hates him more than anyone and they constantly play passive aggressive “games” to irritate one another while sitting one desk away. Joshua thinks Lucy is annoying and too quirky with her colourful clothes. Lucy thinks Joshua is an uptight jerk.

When a new promotion at work threatens to unbalance the careful hatred Lucy and Joshua have, they both up the game. But at what cost? Especially when the games become confusing and the hatred changes to something more.

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MY REVIEW:

I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. There are many 5 star reviews but the words “chick-lit” “rom-com” and “cheesy” got to me. It was also a GR Best Romance book finalist. I was caught between expecting a lot and expecting nothing.

What I found was a book that made a laugh out loud, made me crave Josh and Lucy’s interactions (both crazy and sweet), and the amount of “cheese” was just perfect. The author really captured that wild obsessive-like behaviour you get when you first start dating someone and start to fall for them. It really put a big smile on my face and reminded me of those good ol’ days. I loved how much they were all over each other from day one, using “games” as a way to keep their infatuation with one another, whether it be mentally noting the shirt colour choices or staring into each other’s eyes (the “Staring Game”) for long periods of time.

The chemistry between Lucy and Josh was wonderful. Some of the best I have read in a while. When Lucy stands up for him against (view spoiler) I just wanted to cheer. Josh was so endearing and the character development we get from the beginning of the novel was very well written. At first he is just an asshole who most likely has a crush on Lucy. No, the reader’s aren’t fooled. He is like the little boy on the playground who pulls on the girl’s pigtails to show her that he likes her. But then we really get to know him, as Lucy does, and we learn about this shy sweetheart who is sometimes hurt, sometimes lonely, and he becomes so real. Their highly witty hateful banter becomes even better sexual tension that was so much fun to read. I actually really enjoyed their banter in the beginning. I know some other readers saw it as childish, and it was, but it was also so hilarious. I loved all of Lucy’s jabs where she insinuates that Josh is the devil, and lives “close to earth’s core”.

Yes, this is chick-lit. Yes, it is predictable, it is sometimes cheesy and sometimes silly, but I loved it. I had a big smile on my face at the ending.

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Book Review – Beautifully Broken by Laura Lee

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TITLE: Beautifully Broken
AUTHOR: Laura Lee
PAGES:  326 pages
PUBLISHED: November 15th 2016
PUBLISHER: LAN Fiction LLC
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Forbidden Romance

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
rating-4-birdnew
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SUMMARY:

The story begins with our heroine Kat, drinking in a seedy bar on her 18th birthday when she meets Gavin. Or “Sparkles” as Kat dubbed him. We learn quickly that Kat has had a tough life. She has been in the foster system since she was a kid, never knew her dad, and has a heroin-addicted mother who is barely present in her life. Tonight she is trying to forget her problems and Gavin seems like the perfect distraction. Their attraction to one another is off the charts and neither of them can deny it.

Kat goes home with him and lies about her age and turns every question he asks –like what she does for work – into a game so he barely knows anything about her. Imagine his surprise when a few days later she is sitting in his classroom and Gavin a.k.a. Sparkles is also Mr. Cooper her English teacher! They both try to deny their attraction and know their situation is wrong even though he didn’t know she was in high school and she is eighteen, but fighting their feelings is harder than they thought.

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MY REVIEW:

When I first saw this book and all the 5 star reviews I was a little skeptical. The premise of a forbidden romance between teacher and student isn’t something I normally find appealing to read but something compelled me to pick this up and I am glad I did! This book definitely goes down as a guilty pleasure read.

Kat was really an amazing character. Life threw her so many curve balls and she took everything in stride. She was even more mature than Gavin in certain parts of the novel. And even though parts of her were broken, Gavin’s constant reassurance of telling her she is worthy of love and respect helped her feel whole again. It was such a feel good novel in that aspect even though there was a ton of seriously dark drama. This was definitely more real than I thought it would be from the blurb, which was a good thing. The dialogue was very well written as well. Their flirty banter was cute and believable and Kat and her friends acted and talked like real eighteen year olds.

I also liked the non-judgemental aspect of stripping in the novel. Kat described most of her coworkers as being college students just trying to earn a quick buck so they can advance in life. We find that some of the girls that have worked there have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, veterinarians etc. Although I think this is not the case for many strip joints, I think it is still a good lesson that you shouldn’t judge someone for where their life leads them.

I know some readers have a hard rule with cheating and I think this may blur the line….Just a forewarning but (view spoiler). Decide what you will about that. I didn’t mind but I know others consider once the two main characters have had any kind of physical contact another woman/man in the picture is unacceptable.

I was also really frustrated with the ending. I could completely understand Kat’s POV and why she chose what she did but Gavin really had no excuse.

Overall this was a really interesting and angsty read. If you are looking for serious drama but with a HEA then this is the book for you! Thank you Netgalley, LAN Fiction LLC, and the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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ARC Book Review – A Long Walk Home by Piper Landen

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TITLE: A Long Walk Home
AUTHOR: Piper Landen
PAGES:  166 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: December 27th 2016
PUBLISHER: Patchwork Press
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Animals

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

rating-3-birdnew

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SUMMARY:

For Romance Week on Goodreads I decided to pick up this cute short novel from NetGalley. The story started off with Casey finding a stray dog in a park and deciding to take him home. Casey has no experience with dogs and is very unsure. She contacts a rescue agency and works with them to find a home for the stray dog that they end up calling Baloo. Casey decides, with her roommate’s consent, that she will foster Baloo until he finds a permanent home.

Casey goes back to the park to hand out flyers if anyways knows Baloo and meets a gorgeous runner named Charlie. She keeps running into him until he asks her out. It’s a cute (somewhat cliché) meet cute.

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MY REVIEW:

Overall the novel is exactly what you expect. It is only 160 pages long (ebook) and very adorable, with lots of little antics by Baloo and insta-love.

I didn’t really enjoy the writing as I found it a bit disjointed and too formal. There were massive walls of text just explaining Casey’s day and what the dog was going in too much detail that had no action or dialogue to break it up.

The dialogue between Casey and Charlie was also a bit awkward. I didn’t understand some of the “jokes” and conversations they had. For example when she first texted Charlie he asked if she had any dietary restrictions (which I assume to mean vegan or something) and she answers “Once upon a time, I did the paleo thing, back when I was exercising for fun, like a maniac (no offense). But I got past it. All food is good food as far as I’m concerned.”

Huh? Why does she say ‘no offense’? Is it because she always sees him running and assumes he is an exercising maniac? Because she used the word maniac? This was just an example of many dialogues that I did not understand in this novel.

I thought Charlie and Casey’s first date was actually really cute but unfortunately I didn’t actually like Charlie at all. He seemed to have quite the temper and I didn’t like how he got mad so fast and didn’t hear Casey out. I didn’t actually get a sense of a HEA here which is bit disappointing, especially in a romance novel.

Because this novel was so short it suffered because I don’t recall Casey every talking about what she did for work/school and she seemed to either be hanging out with Baloo at home, with Charlie, watching Netflix and it seemed really unrealistic. Charlie’s occupation wasn’t mentioned either. I felt like I really didn’t to know the characters well at all.

Overall, despites its flaws this was a very quick and cute read. Perfect for Romance Week on Goodreads!

*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Book Review – For Finlay

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**ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

TITLE: For Finlay
AUTHOR: J. Nathan
PAGES:  214 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: January 30, 2017
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Sports

MY RATING: 4/5 birds

Rating - 4 Bird

SUMMARY:

Finlay lived her entire life in the shadow of her older brother, football star Cole Thatcher. She hates always being referred to as Cole’s little sister and always craved an identity of her own. This causes her to push her older brother away, a mistake she regrets every day when her brother suddenly dies.

Two years later, moving to a new town to work for the Alabama college football team she is trying to live her brother’s dream. Even if it means working beside the new quarterback Caden Brooks. She has reasons to hate him for taking her brother’s place on the Alabama team but soon hatred turns into sexual tension as neither of them can deny the strong attraction they feel.

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MY REVIEW:

This was a very sweet NA book that reminded me a lot of the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy. I am glad I picked this up, even though I really have no interest in football because it was very enjoyable! Both Finlay and Caden are great characters. I like how the mistake and the whole reason that Finlay hated Caden as much as she did before even meeting him was very realistic and this book had no drama just for drama’s sake. The conflict was well written and interesting.

The only issues I had was that I could have done without Caden’s POV entirely! I felt like it didn’t really add much to the plot for me and it would have been interesting getting to know Finlay better and learning more about what she wanted to do in life, like picking a major, future plans, her relationship with her parents etc.

I also found some of the scene changes in the novel disorientating. For example, Caden and Grady get into a fist fight and instead of continuing that storyline and finding out what happened, it starts the next scene with Finlay swimming at 4 am. The author could have easily started the new paragraph in Caden’s POV. Where did the rest of the day go? We obviously learn what happened when Caden comes to where Finlay is swimming but I would have rather followed the story closer…or why have Caden’s POV at all?

The epilogue was very sweet and we definitely get a HEA, although I was a bit disappointed that Caden never resolved his issues with his dad because I felt like his dad’s new wife had a point when she spoke to Caden at the hospital when he was sleeping beside Finlay.

Overall this was a very fun and entertaining read but it goes beyond the typical NA novel by talking about dealing with death. If you enjoyed The Deal by Elle Kennedy or Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock I would definitely recommend this!

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review – Flawed

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**ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

TITLE: Flawed (Ethan Frost #4)
AUTHOR: Tracy Wolff
PAGES:  255 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: January 17, 2017
PUBLISHER: Loveswept
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Enemies to Lovers, My Best Friend’s Brother Romance

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

Rating - 3 Bird

SUMMARY:

The novel begins with our heroine and socialite, Tori Reed, on an exceedingly horrible blind date. The night keeps going from bad to worse until Tori is out on the streets and disowned from her family due to her past relationship ending up in the press. This means no more trust fund, car, clothes, and even shoes! Barefoot and wearing last night dress Tori lifts her head high and plans to hide out at her best friend’s house unless the media dies down only to find it is already occupied by her bff’s older brother Miles Girard, whom she hates with a passion. Soon the passion for destruction turns into another kind of passion but can Miles deal with Tori’s behaviour and help her when she has lost it all?

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MY REVIEW:

I wasn’t crazy about this book but it wasn’t terrible either. There were elements I liked and I did read it quite quickly but overall the book fell flat and there were elements of the story that really irritated me. Maybe people who have read the series from the beginning might feel differently and have more loyalty to the characters? I have to say the author did a great job with making me feel like I wasn’t missing anything even though I am reading the series out of order.

I really enjoyed the “enemies to lovers” aspect of the novel. I really like these types of books and the sexual tension between Tori and Miles was explosive! Unfortunately the characters were sorely lacking depth which was disappointing. Tori was incredibly hard to relate to. She is a whiny socialite who basically had everything handed to her through her trust-fund, and while I like reading strong and sometimes loud personalities, she just took her bitchy attitude to another level and was so mean to Miles for absolutely no reason. The book felt like a rollercoaster to crazy-town…the fights between her and Miles felt manufactured to create drama just to have drama.

It is also fun sometimes to read about rich people (I mean the billionaire genre trope exists for a reason in romance novels) but I found this just did not work for me. There was no redeeming or relatable quality to Tori as she is an adult but doesn’t work, has a nice apartment her trust fund paid for, car, multiple credit cards, and so when her father kicked her out I did feel a little bad for her because it was so dramatic (I mean, not even letting her get changed? Or get shoes?) but it was still hard to muster up total sympathy for the stereotypical “poor little rich girl”.

I also feel like the author could have taken the topic of revenge porn, sex tapes, and rape further. She spent many pages going over it in both Miles and Tori’s perspective but it felt incredibly shallow. The inner monologues were very repetitive. It was also very convenient that Miles was this mega-genius and he essentially [caught Alexander for a sexual assault he committed years ago (hide spoiler)]. I just felt like it was so over the top. It kind of throws it in the face of real rape victims (like the real case the author mentioned in the novel) who have to deal with the terrible reality that their perpetrators may never go to jail and there may never be justice. Unfortunately that is the reality of life today. But suddenly here comes the hero…it’s just another version of the damsel in distress and how the Hero saved the day. Tori did a lot of talking about how she wanted to be more independent in her life and maybe even speak out about her experience and help others, but then she didn’t actually do anything but rehashed the same arguments with Miles over and over again.

I was especially confused because in Chapter 20 Tori says she has an interview tomorrow afternoon at a local TV station but then we don’t hear anything about it? She gets mad at Miles and runs away to Chloe’s house, does she just blow off the interview?

I thought the author had the perfect opportunity in the epilogue to say something about Tori become a spokesperson or advocate but it just focused on their romance. It was cute and we got the HEA but still….very shallow.

Speaking of the romance…yikes. The insta-love was crazy in this novel. It really just killed the novel for me. ? I would have been completely fine with Miles and Tori just committing to a real relationship than saying “I love you” after four days together.

As for Miles I didn’t dislike him as much as Tori but she kind of rubbed off on him because I had to wonder what he saw in Tori? He goes and does nice things for her and she repays him by screaming in his face, calling him names and just acting like a huge immature brat. If I was Miles I would have seen all of this as huge red flags and realised I don’t have to be with someone who throws temper tantrums at every turn but when confronted immediately plays the victim role.

In terms of the steamy scenes which I know many of us read these novels basically for that, as I said above the sexual tension was very well done and the first sex scene was very steamy but then it really tapered off for me. In particular the kissing was over-described and I really did not enjoy how much he licks her gums…haha it was just weird but to each their own!

Also very minor but did anyone else notice what Ethan said about the blind dates he and Chloe set Tori up on?! I thought it was so horrible that her best friend and husband intentionally set her up on horrible dates because they “hoped that she would get together with Miles”! That some crazy manipulative shit! If my friends did that to me I would be so pissed off.

All in all I think if you don’t mind very loud, brash personalities then Tori won’t bother you and if you want to read something a little more on the shallow side and just for the romance then I would recommend this. Other than that I think it was a decent read but I am not tempted to read the rest of this series.

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Book Review -Dream of You (Wait for You, #4.5)

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TITLE: Dream of You (Wait for You, #4.5)
AUTHOR: Jennifer L. Armentrout (also known as J. Lynn)
PAGES:  131 pages
PUBLISHED: June 23rd, 2015
PUBLISHER: Evil Eye Concepts Inc
GENRE: Novella, Romance, New Adult

MY RATING: 4/5 birds

Rating - 4 Bird

 

SUMMARY:

This novella is #4.5 in the Wait For You Series, but it is also novella #9 in the 1001 Dark Nights series. I hadn’t heard of this series before but you can find a list of each novella here, which includes authors Lexi Blake, Shayla Black, Larissa Ione, Lara Adrian, Carrie Ann Ryan, Jennifer Probst, and many more! It looks like this novella is featured in [Book: 1001 Dark Nights: Bundle Six (1001 Dark Nights)] which also features novellas by Lorelei James, Alexandra Ivy, Laura Wright, and Donna Grant. I think this is such a cool idea, short novellas that are inspired by The Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights, which is about a wife’s desperate attempts to entertain her husband, the King of Persia, with nightly stories so that he will postpone her execution in the morning.

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MY REVIEW:

I really did enjoy this book but it didn’t reach full five star status due to a few things. First, I really did not like when our heroine Abby, who is an editor, starts talking about real authors such as Jamie McGuire and brings up the “Maddox Boys”. I don’t think I am using this correctly but I was very uncomfortable with the “breaking of the fourth wall” that happened. Not sure if that is the right context but I am not exactly sure how else to explain it. What I mean is it really took me out of the story and the character and made me very aware that this is a novel written by an author. I started thinking about Jennifer Armentrout and if she’s friends with McGuire? Does she even know the author? Was she trying to be popular bringing the “Maddox Brothers” into the novel or something? I don’t know, it just really jarred me.

Even though this is a short book and I could have read it in one sitting I actually put the book down after that scene and went to sleep. I am so glad I did that because when I started reading fresh again I wasn’t irritated at all about the author name-dropping and started to enjoy the novel. Colton was such a sweetheart and totally crush-worthy. I liked Abby but I am glad this was a novella because I don’t think I could have taken her neurotic thoughts and self-doubt for an entire novel. Colton really made the entire thing and I thought they were such a cute couple. The ending, when (view spoiler) was very interesting and created a bit of spice at the end of a typical HEA story.

Only other criticism I can think of is this would have been interesting from Colton’s POV. I know that isn’t really the author’s style. The novels in this series are the female main character’s POV only (unless it’s an alternative perspective novel like Trust in Me (Wait for You #1.5) which is in Cameron’s POV) but I feel like I would have enjoyed seeing Colton’s perspective.

I am excited to continue the series and read Forever with You (Wait for You #5) which is from Stephanie’s perspective. I had to look back to even remember who she is, so if you forgot as well, she is the girl that Cameron and Jase were hooking up with and is Teresa’s roommate. I honestly can’t remember anything about her so we’ll see how this goes!

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Book Review -Us (Him #2)

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TITLE: Us (Him #2)
AUTHOR: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
PAGES:  328 pages
PUBLISHED: March 8th, 2016
PUBLISHER: Rennie Road Books
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Friends to Lovers.

MY RATING: 5/5 birds

Rating - 5 Bird

SUMMARY:

This is the continuation of the Him series. Ryan Wesley is now in the NHL and having an amazing rookie season. Not only is his career taking off but the rest of his life is perfect as well, because he gets to come home to Jamie Canning every night. Having his best friend turned boyfriend at his side he feels unstoppable. The only problem is no one knows just how happy he is because no one in the media or on his team knows he in a relationship or even gay. Jamie wants to be supportive but he hates the secrecy and hiding everything and isn’t sure how long he can take the pressure.

When secrets begin to unravel when Wes’ teammate moves to the same apartment as Wes and Jamie, can they make things work and keep hiding the truth from the world or will their perfect private bubble burst?

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MY REVIEW:

“Love is friendship set on fire.”

Wes and Jamie are my favourite book couple, hands down. I wish their story would never end…or at least there was one more book after this! I just loved this so much. It was very similar to the first novel; well written, hilarious, emotional, and very steamy. The dialogue was amazing as per usual. Here is a sample of some of the lines:

Eh. There’s no way Blake made that connection. He’s probably over there wondering whether he’d be more likely to encounter a seventeen-foot velociraptor on a beach or in the mountains.

I’ve missed the warm-ups and make it to my seat just at the end of the national anthem. I’m quite proficient at “O Canada” these days. Had to learn the lyrics for my juniors team. The coach can’t just stand there and mouth “watermelon watermelon watermelon” like an asshole.

The drama was perfect as well. There was some miscommunication and issues with Jamie’s health but everything was believable and it didn’t ever make me frustrated like lots of melodrama does in NA books. I even got a bit emotional when Wes called Cindy and called her “Mom”. Ugh, that just made me die a little inside with happiness. Also, the romance did take a back seat in this novel compared to the first one, as Wes and Jamie have more problems than ever before but I didn’t mind it. All the steamy scenes were perfectly placed and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.

I also loved all the talk about Canada, being a Canadian myself. I haven’t ever lived in Toronto (I am from the west coast) but I have many friends who do and it was cool reading about Canada in a popular book because usually novels are American focused and even Canadian writers write in American cities.

I especially loved when Jamie was complaining about the cold Toronto winters and wind chill and not wanting to leave his apartment.
I feel ya Jamie.

And when the authors used the term “gong show” I nearly died. I think it is a common word in the states but it originated in the Canadian junior hockey culture. I know it’s such a small thing but this kind of attention to detail makes me really appreciate Bowen and Kennedy.

Seriously, my only complaint is I wish there were more books with Wes and Jamie! I am pretty darn excited to read the spin-off series, starting with Good Boy (WAGs, #1) which stars Jamie’s sister Jess and Blake. I love both of them, especially Blake, so I think it will a great read and I am sure it will include moments with Wes and Jamie so I am really looking forward to that!

Some people were complaining that they wanted (view spoiler) but I am super happy to have a full novel by Bowen and Kennedy because they seriously can do no wrong!

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