Genre: Contemporary

Buddy Review: Dating You, Hating You by Christina Lauren

Posted July 12, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Buddy Review: Dating You, Hating You by Christina LaurenDating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren
Published by Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books on June 6th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 350
Format: eBook
Source: Gifted
Goodreads
four-stars

All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

Rowena: This month’s buddy review with my book bestie, Bookish Ames is Dating You, Hating You by Christina Lauren. I have never tried anything by Christina Lauren before and Ames thought that I should so I started my reading journey through Christina Lauren’s backlist with this one.

Dating You, Hating You follows Carter and Evie as they try to figure out how to be together while working together. They had their first date and it went well so they both were looking forward to seeing where dating would take them but when they show up for work on Monday, they find out that their companies have merged and they are now competing against each other to keep their jobs.

Lots and lots of shenanigans happen and overall, I enjoyed the book even though it wasn’t the most original of plots.

What did you think, Ames?

Ames: I agree. After their super meet cute (I loved how they met) and the sabotage shenanigans started I was reminded of the Hating Game by Sally Thorne. But you know what? I think that dynamic works for me. It creates a believable tension and it’s funny to see two characters match wits with each other. I do have a confession though. I never read the blurb for this book, so going into it blind, I thought it was a New Adult. haha Whoops. So when I started reading about a 30 year old woman I was like “WTF?”

Anyway. Speaking of Evie. I really liked her character. She lives in LA and works for an agency representing actors and actresses. For all that that industry puts a focus on looks, I liked Evie’s confidence. She didn’t focus on her looks and was all about getting the job done. And done well. She was great at her job. So I felt her frustration when her boss kept giving her the short end of the stick. And Carter was a good character too. He definitely had some growth happening with his character. Especially in regards to the sexism in their office. But he grew. And he was cute. These two really learned a lot about each other when they were fighting.

Rowena: I thought their Harry Potter meet-up was cute, too. There were lots of similarities between The Hating Game and Dating You, Hating You but the stories had enough differences that I had no problem enjoying them separately.

LOL, after seeing the cover, I thought it was a New Adult book but not after reading the blurb.

Like you, I enjoyed both Evie and Carter. I liked that Evie never questioned her worth at work once Carter came on board. She knew that she was good but she also knew that being a woman would not benefit her the way being a man benefited Carter. Her frustration was real to me and I even liked the way that Carter felt her frustration and understood it as well. I like the tension between them at work because they sure did light the sheets up after work. Haha.

I liked that in this story, Evie and Carter had already started dating and wanted to continue dating but didn’t know how to go about that in the new circumstances that they found themselves in. I liked that the conflict for Carter was about how to make it work with Evie because he wanted to. Because he really liked her.

This book was a lot of fun and I’m definitely going to read more from this author.

Any gripes?

Ames: Before I get into gripes, I want to talk about the secondary characters. Evie and Carter each had their own friends who I felt were flushed out characters that they had real interactions with. Evie getting upset over Carter’s shenanigans? Her friends would come over and help her drown her sorrows. Carter had friends that were a married couple that were always inserting themselves into his situation with Evie in a good way. Even Carter’s brother had a little bit of a story arc going on. I really liked how these characters made this a fuller story.

Now my gripe. As I’m reading this book, published in 2017, I had a very real WHAT THE FUCK moment over some racism that was very casually and VERY uselessly inserted into this story. There’s a scene at a party when one of Carter and Evie’s coworker made a reference to her and Evie being Eskimo sisters.

WTF

I haven’t heard this term before but I didn’t feel good reading it in that context. In Canada, we do not use the term Eskimo. We refer to our Northern brothers and sisters as Inuit. Second, the meaning behind this term (look it up on Urban Dictionary if you haven’t heard of it before) – its demeaning to Inuit people and to women. I was shocked to see this and it definitely pulled me out of the story. And I wonder how the editor/publisher didn’t flag this? I felt like the context in which this term was used was pretty useless to the story.

I don’t feel like this term was used in a malicious way, I think it just may be an awareness (or lack of awareness) issue on the authors’ behalf. Consider this a teachable moment and do better going forward.

What about you, any issues with story?

Rowena: I agree with you about the secondary characters. I enjoyed Evie and Carter’s friends and Carter’s brother. I liked that they had their own people and weren’t always in each other’s pockets and that those people felt real and fleshed out. I also liked that they had a friend in common, who didn’t want to take sides and was on both of their teams.

I was completely ignorant of that saying “Eskimo sisters” before you told me but in the context that it’s used in the book, I agree that it is racist and that it didn’t move the story along or add anything to the story as a whole so it wasn’t necessary to use.

As for me, aside from that, I can’t say that I had any gripes with the book. It was entertaining, the characters were well written and the romance was pretty steamy. All of that makes for a happy Rowena so, all in all, this was a great first book for me. I would give this one a 4 out of 5. You?

Ames: I agree with your rating, 4 out of 5. Despite that one WTF moment, I was really happy with the story overall. I liked the humor over the shenanigans and even the dog! Great characters and loved their sexual tension.

four-stars


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Buddy Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Posted May 31, 2017 by Rowena & Bookish Ames in Reviews | 10 Comments

Buddy Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse on April 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 388
Format: eBook
Source: Gifted
Goodreads
four-stars

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Ames: Rowena and I decided to read Alex, Approximately for our May buddy review.

Bailey Rydell has moved to California from DC to live with her father. She has an online friend who lives in the same small town but since she’s an Artful Dodger (she avoids confrontation and awkward situations), she wants to scope out her online friend before introducing herself. But first she has to figure out who he is since they’ve never shared pictures. Over the course of their online friendship, he has revealed clues about where he works, so Bailey’s summer project is discovering Alex, her friend. Things get complicated when she meets Porter at her new summer job. They do not get off to a good start. But what started off with animosity slowly changes as they get to know each other.

Ames: All right Wena! It’s time to break this baby down. I have to say, I really enjoyed the set up for Alex, Approximately. There was so much room for error with this type of plot but I thought the author pulled it off.

What do you think?

Rowena: Yesss! I was pretty nervous going into the story because there is a lot of room for error but I thought Bennett did a great job with Porter and Bailey’s story. I enjoyed them both individually and together.

So many times, I’m annoyed with the protagonist in contemporary YA’s because they make such stupid decisions at one point or another but I wasn’t ever annoyed with Bailey in this book. I thought Bennett explained and made sure that the readers knew and understood Bailey’s motivations and I really connected with her character.

This book was fun and Porter was great fun to get to know. I really liked the friend that Bailey made at work (what’s her name again?) and loved how she called Bailey on her shit the way good friends should.

What about you?

Ames: Grace, her new friend at work. And yes, I liked her too. Her friendship with Grace was refreshing because her character growth wasn’t based solely on a boy. It was about all her relationships. Like even her dad and her had to work on some stuff and I really liked how well rounded that made this story.

I agree about YA heroines having the potential to be annoying. I liked Bailey a lot and understood her motivations. I thought she was being a bit dense at the end but I still like how it all came together. My only gripe about Bailey was her making a big deal out of hiding her relationship with Porter from her dad and then her reveal made it such a non issue. But that’s just a minor gripe. And oh man I laughed over the hickeys! Remember she tells her dad she was wrestling with Grace in the grass? haha

Okay – Porter and Bailey. I LOVED how their relationship developed. I liked their antagonistic beginning and how as they got to know each other their feelings changed. *sigh* So good.

Rowena: What an easy name to remember and I didn’t remember. Gah. Yes, I adored Grace and loved that this book was about more than just a relationship between a boy and a girl. I loved that Bailey dealt with all sorts of different relationships over the course of this book and each relationship was fleshed out and not breezed over to move other things along. Every character in this book was well rounded and I really enjoyed them all, even her Dad. His relationship with the new girlfriend was another cute addition. I loved that each relationship played a part in helping Bailey grow into the girl she was in the end.

The hickeys cracked me up! Porter was a little monster but I loved it. Haha. I also loved when he beat the shit out of Davy because Davy was an all around asshole.

Overall, this was a great coming of age story with a charming romance on the side. I really enjoyed how the whole Alex thing was put to rest and even though they both drove me crazy with that, in the end, I still enjoyed the book as a whole. It was good stuff. Great pick this month, right?

My grade for this book would be a 4 out of 5. You?

Ames: Oh man, yes! The end, with the figuring out of things, kind of drove me batty. I felt like Bailey was being just a bit too obtuse. LOL But I was happy with how it was all resolved so I wasn’t too miffed about it.

Okay, I have never had a churro. So that’s going to go on my summer bucket list. I like how the food was part of the story too. Did you notice that?

Like you I am giving Alex, Approximately 4 out of 5. I’m so glad you suggested this book for our May review. 😛

four-stars


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Review: Crushed by Lauren Layne

Posted March 28, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 11 Comments

Review: Crushed by Lauren LayneCrushed by Lauren Layne
Series: Redemption #2
Also in this series: Isn't She Lovely
Published by Random House, Flirt on April 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
four-stars
Reading Challenges: The Totally Doable 2017 RBLB Reading Challenge

Lauren Layne’s latest novel about the healing power of redemption tells the story of a crush gone wickedly wrong, proving that what you want isn’t always what you need.

Growing up in New York, Michael St. Claire never expected to spend his twenties wearing cowboy boots. But that was before he learned about his real father, a total stranger with a family in Cedar Grove, Texas. Once in the Lone Star State, Michael meets Kristin Bellamy, who is exquisitely refined and everything Michael always thought he wanted in a woman. The only problem is that Kristin is dating Michael’s new half brother, Devon.

Kristin’s mouthy, curvy sister Chloe has always been in love with Devon Patterson. So when Michael offers to help Chloe break up Devon and Kristin, Chloe agrees to a deal that seems too good to be true. Before long, Chloe finally gets her man, only to make a startling discovery: She no longer wants the guy she had to fight for—she wants the one who stood by her side.

After all he and Chloe have been through, Michael swears he’s damaged goods. Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?

Crushed is the last book in the Redemption series by Lauren Layne and it’s a book that’s been sitting on my TBR pile for a long time. It’s also my March entry into the 2017 Totally Doable Reading Challenge that I’m participating in. I kind of cheated because the prompt for March was finish a series you started and I just started this series but it’s been sitting on my TBR pile for a while so it needed to get read and I’m including it.

Michael St. Claire did the unthinkable. He fell in love with his best friend’s girl. He sat on that love for years and year because Olivia was Ethan’s girl but his feelings never went away. There wasn’t enough alcohol, girls or anything to distract him from where his heart belongs. When he finally can’t take it anymore, he kisses her and she kisses him back and things went to shit after that. On top of that, he learns some news that rocks his life right off its axis.

Just like Olivia, Michael leaves New York to figure some shit out. He sets out to find….his real Dad. His real Dad that lives in Texas, a long way from where he was born and raised. He’s not sure what he’s going to do with the information yet but he’s got the summer to figure things out and in the meantime, he’s taken on some jobs. He’s a part time tennis instructor, personal trainer, and bartender. Lots of things to keep him busy. Busy while he plans out how to get close to Devon Patterson….his half brother.

He’s got a couple of ways to go about this but the one way that holds the most appeal is through Devon’s girlfriend, Kristin Bellamy. Michael works that direction until he meets Kristin’s sister, Chloe. Chloe is nothing like her beautiful sister. She’s witty and she’s loud and Michael spends most of the time around her, wanting to shut her up but Chloe is in love with Devon and he figures that if they help each other out, he’ll get what he wants and she’ll get what she wants.

Michael has no plans on giving his heart away again because he’s been there, done that and he’s learned his lesson. That way only leads to heartbreak and he’s had enough heartbreak to last a lifetime.

Kristin is Michael’s usual kind of gal but Chloe is the sister that has captured Michael’s interest and nobody is more surprised by that than him.

Chloe has been in love with her sister’s boyfriend since they were kids. Since before Devon became popular. She’s loved him since he was the little nerd, poring through Harry Potter books with her but once the braces came off, the baby fat came off, Devon moved on to the popular crowd and Chloe has never really gotten over her crush. That crush has turned into a wild love that hurts Chloe at every turn to see him with her sister. Her sister doesn’t deserve him but until he sees that for himself, she can’t do anything else but…wait. When Michael St. Claire becomes her personal trainer and her cohort in trying to get Devon to see her as more than just his girlfriend’s sister, things take a turn she wasn’t expecting. The quiet bad boy that seems to go through the girls in her hometown is not a fixure in her life and feelings are growing.

This book is my second favorite book in the series. I took a break between Broken and Crushed because I wasn’t a fan of the premise of this story. The breaking up a couple, the fat heroine turned skinny but Lauren Layne takes care of us because I loved this book. I adored Michael and I loved Chloe. Chloe’s personality was bigger than her body and she was such a fantastic character that I couldn’t wait for her and Stephanie from Isn’t She Lovely to meet. I just knew that they were going to be fun together and I wasn’t wrong.

The romance hit me with all of the feels that I love feeling while reading my books and I just adored seeing Michael and Chloe come into their own at the same time that they were falling in love with each other. They had so much in common, things that they didn’t know about each other but the reader did and goodness, I just loved how Layne brought these two together. It was fun. It was passionate and I just couldn’t get enough of these guys…all of them, except Kristin. This book ended the series on a high note and I’m super glad that I decided to pick these up. I don’t know what I was waiting on. This was a fun series and I highly recommend it.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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