Front Desk by Kelly Yang Review

Check in to this heartfelt and relevant middle grade novel.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang follows Mia Tang after she immigrates to the United States from China with her parents. When Mia’s parents are offered to be managers at a hotel, Mia’s family thinks they will finally live the American Dream. However, many roadblocks stand in the way between Mia’s family and their dreams, like a mean hotel manager who constantly changes the rules.

Front Desk (Front Desk, #1)

I have heard a lot of positive reviews surrounding Front Desk, and after reading the synopsis, I knew this was a book that I wanted to pick up. I always love reading middle grade because I think middle grade books perfectly balance exploring tougher issues but also containing a lot of heart. Front Desk perfectly balances those two elements and is an extremely relevant book for readers of all ages.

Although this book is based off the writer’s experiences from when she was a child, all of the issues presented in this book are still relevant today. This book covers a lot of topics, such as immigration and racism, through a young girl’s eyes. Mia, the main character, isn’t afraid to confront other characters in the book when they are discriminatory to other people, and when people are discriminatory towards Mia, she refuses to let go of her dreams. Mia acts as a great role model, from readers in and out of the target audience. Additionally, this book can open many readers to discussions about important topics.

Even though I’m someone who does enjoy middle grade books, they aren’t my go-to when looking at my TBR. Front Desk prompted me to research more middle grade books and read them immediately after finishing this one. I give Front Desk five out of five stars.

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Jessica Darling’s It List #2 Review

In Manda and Sara’s word, this book isn’t a Hot, but it’s not a Not either.

Jessica Darling’s It List #2: The (Totally Not) Guide to Friends, Foes, and Faux Friends by Megan McCafferty focuses on Jessica’s changing friendships during her first year of middle school. In this installment of the series, Jessica struggles to balance her old friends with her new friends which may lead to disastrous results.

Jessica Darling's It List 2: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends

I read the first book in the It List series a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I think the first It List book contained all the successful elements of a middle grade novel: humor with a lot of heart. Jessica Darling was a laugh-out-loud protagonist and the book offered a lot of great advice to the target audience. For me, this installment of the series wasn’t as fun as the first novel, but it was still solid and offered encouragement to readers in a similar situation as Jessica.

Compared to the first book in this series, this book was off to a slow start. I enjoyed the first chapter, which was a summary of the first book, because I think it will help younger readers remember what the It List is and how it as affected Jessica’s relationships with those around her. However, I found the items on the new It-List introduced in this book not as exciting or as interesting as the first book. There are definitely less landmark events in this read, which makes the first half move slowly. That being said, the book definitely picks up and offers more of that laugh-out-loud humor that I enjoyed in the second half.

One of my favorite aspects of the It List books is how it offers practical advice to the target audience without being blatantly obvious. There are things that Jessica thinks and feels that brought me back to that time in my life where friendships were constantly growing, changing, or completely disappearing. I think a lot of readers, young and old, will relate to Jessica’s situation and I appreciated how the author conveyed that what the reader may be experiencing in this own life is completely real and normal.

While this book didn’t completely wow me like the first book in this series, it was still a solid read and I continue reading the next book in this series. I give this book three out of five stars.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett Review

I don’t know about starry eyes, but I do give this book three stars.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett follows Zorie, an overachieving planner who was stood up by her ex-friend Lennon at the homecoming dance the last year. This summer, Zorie expects an easy summer working as a receptionist at her family’s business and going on field trips with the astronomy club. However, Zorie carefully planned summer goes haywire when she is invited on a camping trip and ends up stuck with Lennon after she is ditched by the rest of the group.

Before this book, I have read three books by Jenn Bennet. First, I read Alex, Approximately which was only an average read for me. Then, I read Serious Moonlight which I seriously enjoyed. Then, this year, I read Catching Lucky which I absolutely loved. Over the course of these three books, Jenn Bennett’s writing just has constantly improved and now she is definitely an auto-buy contemporary author for me.

Of course, I had to check out one of the books that I skipped over in her line-up. Since it’s summer, I was immediately pulled in by the entire camping plot and I frequently enjoy the relationship dynamic suggested by the synopsis. That being said, Starry Eyes definitely falls in the middle of books by Jenn Bennet for me, just as it does in her progression of writing. While Starry Eyes does have some aspects reminiscent of aspects that I enjoyed in Serious Moonlight and Chasing Lucky, it also contains aspects that I wasn’t a huge fan of in Alex, Approximately.

Let’s start with what I really enjoyed. One aspect of Jenn Bennett’s books that she does really well is conveying the setting. The way she write captivating descriptions of a character’s surroundings really places a reader in the story. Since the setting of this story is extremely integral to the plot, it was necessary that it was executed well and Jenn Bennett definitely delivered in this area as usual. From her descriptions I was equally intrigued to go and see the places mentioned in the story as we all equally terrified of the threat of bears and mountain lions.

As for the romance, it was hit-or-miss for me. One aspect of Jenn Bennett’s characters that I loved is that she always slowly reveals the backstory, not only of the relationships between different characters, but of the characters individually as well. I think this brings a lot of depth and realness to the characters in her book. At the same time, Zorie and Lennon didn’t particularly grab me as a couple, and well they had some chemistry, I just couldn’t see what they had in common that really pulled them together. With a romance, you really have to click with it to be satisfying, and while Zorie and Lennon were okay, their relationship wasn’t particularly memorable for me.

As I mentioned earlier, there were some aspects in Starry Eyes that reminded me of Alex, Approximately that I didn’t like. Although I think Bennett did a good job of fleshing out the main two characters, I don’t think the relationships between other characters or other characters in general were as well fleshed out, which made them come across as caricatures. For example, all of the characters that Zorie and Lennon go camping with, as well as her father who plays a major role in the story, were so one-dimensional that there interactions came across as very unnatural. This really impacted the end of the story for me in particular where some of the conflicts between these characters were either unresolved or presented in a very unrealistic and overdramatic fashion that didn’t fit with the rest of the story.

Overall, Starry Eyes is a fun read that is perfect for the summer, especially if you’re in the mood to read a summer book not set at the beach. While it wasn’t my favorite book by this author, it was a fairly solid book that I enjoyed. I give this book three out of five stars.

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Beach Read Review

Beach Read might be the perfect Beach Read, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect book.

Beach Read by Emily Henry follows January, a romance writer, who will spend her summer at her recently deceased father’s beach house to finish her latest novel. At the beach house, January runs into Gus, who she competed with in college and published a widely successful literary novel. After some tense interactions, January and Gus challenges each other to write a novel in the genre of the opposite person.

Beach Read

When I went into Beach Read, I went in with huge expectations. I saw the synopsis for Beach Read awhile and I was instantly intrigued by the premise despite my reservations for reading books about books. Beach Read wasn’t totally the type of read that I expected, which in some ways was a good thing, but in other ways, it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Disclaimer

Before I start my review, I would like to disclose some triggering content in this book that you wouldn’t really expect based on the synopsis. When I heard about this book, I expected it to be much lighter than the actual story inside. While I appreciate the depth that the author sought to give these characters, some of content in this book may be difficult for some readers to read and I feel like this isn’t very clear in the book’s marketing, so it is important to disclose to anyone who is considering to read this novel. In Beach Read, the main characters research a suicide cult, which includes interviewing members who survived and family members of this who didn’t survive, as well as visiting the former site of the suicide cult. Additionally, one of the main characters in this book experienced significant trauma in their childhood as the result of a physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive parent. These are important topics to discuss within literature, but at the same time, I know that many readers will not expect this going into the story. If any of these topics may be triggering for you, I would recommend skipping this book.

Review

January and Gus was the typical enemies-to-lovers romance that you would see in other similar novels, so if you like this dynamic, then this could be a great book for you. January and Gus have a lot of witty banter, especially about their respective genres, which was fun and enjoyable to read. The backstories of these characters definitely took this novel in a darker direction that I expected, but I appreciated how the author really fleshed out these characters which I don’t always see in similar novels. That being said, this book does have the whole “I liked you, that’s why I was/am mean to you” attitude in it, so if you don’t like that, then this relationship may not be your favorite.

For me, like much of the novel, the relationship between January and Gus was hit-or-miss for me. Like I mentioned previously, I did enjoy the banter between January and Gus, especially the back-and-forth about their writing. That being said, many of their conversations were repeated over and over again, especially in the second half of the book, which made the story very repetitive and less interesting. I am also personally not a huge fan of some of the actions in their relationship of this book. While some of the misunderstandings in this book are understandable based on the personality of the characters, I feel like these misunderstandings aren’t always full addressed and covered up with something cute to make up for it (especially in the ending of the novel). In a romance, you want to believe the characters will last off the page, but for me, I never really got there with these two characters despite how much they confessed that it would happen.

I also have conflicting feelings towards the pacing of this book. For me, this book started off really strong. The first chapter had a particularly strong voice and the set-up of the novel was very well-developed. However, as the book stretched on, particularly in the second half, the story really slowed down for me. Like I mentioned earlier, there was some repetitiveness with the interactions between the characters and I found some of the scenes unnecessary. While I breezed through the first half of this book, the second half dragged on and I found myself just trying to get to the end of the story, which isn’t a good sign.

(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)

There was also one particular scene in this book that bothered me. I don’t know if I am being overly sensitive, but as I was reading, it just didn’t sit right with me. Throughout the book, January goes with Gus to interview people who survived a suicide cult or family members of people who didn’t survive the cult. At one point in the story, January and Gus actually visit the site of the cult, which includes remnants of the burned buildings. January and Gus hike a little bit away from the cult where they have several very physically intimate moments. Even though January and Gus weren’t on the site of the cult when this happened, this event in the story made me feel very uncomfortable and I found it very inappropriate and unnecessary.

(SPOILERS FINISHED)

If you like an enemies-to-lover romance and enjoy books about books, then you will probably enjoy this book. If you are expecting a very sunny book that primarily takes place on the beach (there is barely any beach in this book, just fyi), then you probably won’t enjoy it. For me, there were some aspects of this book that I enjoyed and others that I really didn’t enjoy. Overall, this made Beach Read just an average read to me. I give this book three out of five stars.

Aurora Burning Review

Aurora Burning made me feel a little burned.

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff picks up where the first book in the Aurora Cycle left off. After uncovering the secrets of what’s really going on behind the GIA and being labeled intergalactic terrorists, the crew is racing against time, and Kal’s Syldrathi family who show up and want him back, no matter the cost.

When I read Aurora Rising, I was completely invested. Although Aurora Rising contained many similarities to other space books or movies, I really loved the characters and wanted more of their stories. While Aurora Burning started off strong for me, it started to fizzle out about halfway through and the problems. Many of the problems that other readers indicated that they had with the first story started to appear again, and this time, I found it not as easy to ignore them.

A lot happens in the first book and I enjoyed that the book gave a short recap of the events of the first novel in a fun way (a report by Magellan with colorful commentary). Like with Aurora Rising, I found the beginning the beginning to be interesting, especially as readers receive background on characters who aren’t as open, like Zila and Kal. In the first book, readers primarily look at the Aurora Legion, but in this book, we get to explore other groups in space and the complicated relationships that still exist even after a peace treaty was established. All of this information occurs within high-action situations or presented in a fun way (like Magellan’s report), so I didn’t feel like information was being dumped on me. However, at around the 50% mark, the story became more repetitive, and as a result, not as motivating or interesting to read.

In Aurora Burning, we are introduced to a few new characters, namely many people part of the Unbroken, the Syldrathi army who decimated its own people. However, these characters either weren’t well fleshed-out or echoed other characters that we’ve seen before in this series. In many reviews for the first book, many readers felt that many of the core characters too closely resembled each other and this remains true for other characters added to the novel. Saedii, Kal’s sister, is basically a blood-thirsty version of Cat. The Starslayer literally has a villain monologue where he practically spells out his ideology for readers. Maybe this characters will be fleshed out in the next book, similarly to how Zila and Kal’s story were expanded in this book. However, it does become frustrating when characters repeat the same lines over and over to reinforce their very one-dimensional personalities, which is particularly true of Saedii’s characters.

Another gripe that many readers had in the first book of this series is that scenes were too drawn out or very repetitive. This problem persists in Aurora Burning. I felt like some of the situations and conversations were repeated over and over again, just using slightly different words. By repeating this same scenes over and over again (especially the part where Aurora explores her powers), it made me extremely bored because it felt like the story line wasn’t progressing at all. Once I got to the halfway point, I had to put this book down for awhile (around two weeks) before I picked it up again because I just couldn’t get into the second half of this story.

There is another issue that I have complicated feelings towards in this book. One one hand, I appreciate how Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff do what is best for the story, even though it won’t appease readers. They will eliminate characters that maybe their audience loves, but it makes sense for where it occurs in the story. Characters that you may want to be in a romantic relationship won’t end up in that relationship because that’s not always realistic. At the same time, I think you need to give your audience something to root for in the story. For me personally, there wasn’t much for me to root for in this story. The good moments in this story were so few and far between that nothing was ever quite satisfying for me to read.

The final aspect of this book that irritated me was the ending. This book ends on a major cliff-hanger. Yes, this book is a part of a series and readers can expect another book. At the same time, Aurora Burning is its own book in the series and should have its own distinct beginning, middle, and end within the series. Like I mentioned earlier, the best way to describe this was simply unsatisfying.

Overall, this book was an average read for me. I really enjoyed the first half, but really struggled with the second half of this book. Although I do intend to continue this series, my expectations going into the next book will not be as high as my expectations for this one. I give Aurora Burning three stars.

What sequel has disappointed you recently?

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ARC REVIEW // 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon

10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon follows two side-characters from the When Dimple Met Rishi companion series, Priyanka “Pinky” Kumar, an outspoken and rebellious teenager girl, and Samir Jha, a conservative and homeschooled boy. After her parents wrongly accuse her of a fire at their summer home, Pinky wants to prove to her parents that she is responsible and can make good choices. When Pinky discovers that Samir’s summer internship fell through, she offers him a room at the house and a future internship with her lawyer mother if he pretends to date her.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky (Dimple and Rishi, #3)

Sandhya Menon’s books have been all over the board for me. When Dimple Met Rishi was an average read for me, I loved There’s Something About Sweetie, but really did not care for From Twinkle, With Love (which is not part of the companion series). For me, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky was a mix of all the elements that readers have seen in Sandhya Menon’s books. As a result, there were some aspects of this book that I really enjoyed, but others that I didn’t enjoy as much.

The main character, Pinky, reminds me a lot of Twinkle from From Twinkle, With Love. Like Twinkle, Pinky is firm in her beliefs and will fight for what she wants. However, like Twinkle, I didn’t really mesh with Pinky’s character as she quickly jumps to conclusions and often starts arguments just to start arguments. While I appreciate that the author gave Pinky characteristics that made her act like an actual teenager, Pinky’s constant outbursts caused many situations and conversations to happen repeatedly throughout the book, which irritated me as a reader. That being said, Pinky’s personality makes this book come across as younger YA to me and I think readers in the target age range for this book would relate more to Pinky than I did while reading.

As for Pinky’s love interest, Samir, I liked him but found him to be too similar to Sandhya Menon’s other male leads. I think Sandhya Menon does a great job of differentiating her female leads by giving them their own dreams and aspirations, but often times, the male characters end up acting very similar, even if they don’t start that way. From the other books in this companion series, I always saw Samir as a little more awkward and not as traditionally charming. In this book, I found that he acted a lot like how I remembered Rishi in When Dimple Met Rishi. Samir is very confident and easily navigates Pinky’s complicated family relationships. In this book, it is mentioned quite a few times about how muscular and preppy he is, however, I never got that impression in earlier books. While I did appreciate Samir’s backstory and how that affected his life, the rest of his character seemed to blur with Menon’s other male leads.

As for the story itself, there were also some aspects that I enjoyed and some aspects that I didn’t enjoy. My favorite aspect of this book was the relationship between Pinky and her mom. While I do think there conflict was resolved too quickly at the end of the book (and I spotted the resolution from a mile away), their relationship was so authentic and I think many people will relate to their relationship.

Like I mentioned above, there were some conflicts in this novel that were too quickly resolved for my liking. Something explosive would happen at the end of a chapter, just to be resolved with a quick apology on the next few pages. This happened in multiple plots in the story from Pinky and Samir’s relationship, several instances with Dolly’s cousin, and the efforts to save the butterfly garden.

While I did appreciate the family relationships showcased in this book, there were some overall problems with pacing and character consistencies that held me back from fully enjoying this read. I found myself putting down this book and taking long breaks before picking it up and again, which means that this book didn’t fully captivate me. That being said, I still plan to check out more books by this author (I’ve recently added some of her to-be-released books on my Goodreads), but this book personally wasn’t my favorite. I give 10 Things I Hate About Pinky 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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ARC REVIEW // Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

Four Days of You and Me almost gets four stars from me.

Four Days of You and Me is the first young adult contemporary book by Miranda Kenneally set outside of the Hundred Oaks series. Every year, aspiring writer Lulu, along with the rest of her class, attends a class field trip. During freshman year, the field trip sparks a relationship between Lulu and a fellow classmate, sports star Alex. Four Days of You and Me documents their changing relationship throughout their high school years.

Four Days of You and Me

I have read every book in the Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally, so I was excited to see her first book outside of the sports-themed books that she wrote in the past. For me, the Hundred Oaks series was hit-or-miss, but overall, each book was a quick and light-hearted contemporary. Four Days of You and Me was everything that I would expect from this author. Therefore, if you like Miranda Kenneally’s other books, then you would probably enjoy this book.

One aspect of this book that set it apart from Kenneally’s other books was the timeline. This book takes place on the same day throughout a four-year period, with flashbacks to other events that happened in the same year. Sometimes, timelines in books that frequently jump around can be unsuccessfully executed, which makes the book confusing to read. I think Kenneally did a nice job of jumping back and forth between different times without confusing the reading. Despite some problems I had with pacing towards the end (unrelated to the time jumping), I think the jumping to different periods of time actually made the book a quicker read and motivated me to continue the story.

That being said, the pacing in the last 20% of the book wasn’t my favorite. There were plot points introduced quickly into the end that could cause large rifts between the main characters or greatly impact their futures. When I expected the all is lost moment or some major area of conflict in the plot, it was resolved quickly with little impact on the story. In a sense, it was nice not to have a huge bomb dropped at the end of the book because throughout the story, you grow up with all the characters, and it leaves more of a bittersweet tone surrounding their last hurrah before graduation. At the same time, the problems weren’t as fleshed out as issues presented earlier in the book, so the ending felt slightly rushed.

Another aspect that I enjoyed were the characters. Since you see these characters from their freshman year, you get to see how they all grow, not just the main characters. I always wonder what happens to a character after the short time span we typically see in a novel, so it was cool to see how the characters in this novel literally grow up before your eyes. Getting more in-depth with all the characters also made the ending of the story emotional. Thinking about all the highlights of their high school career and then knowing that they will grow their separate ways will help readers in high school or people who graduated high school really connect with this story because they can themselves or their friends within the characters in this novel.

That being said, I did have some personal preferences that impacted my reading experience. Lulu, the main character, wants to write graphic novels. Throughout the book, we see her write the story, then she goes onto query agents and get more into the publishing process. For me, I don’t always mind when characters are writing a book, but for some reason, it always puts me off when such little details about the publishing industry are within a novel. To quote one of my favorite contestants from Survivor, Michaela Bradshaw, it’s like when a magician pulls a bunny out of a hat but they walk in with the bunny instead—it just takes away the magic of being fully immersed in a book, like the characters are real people, but now you are reminded that they are not.

Overall, Four Days of You and Me is a fun and easy to read contemporary book. While I did enjoy this book, there were some aspects that weren’t my favorite or could be improved. I give Four Days of You and Me three out of five stars.

What do you think of books that follow a non-linear timeline?

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Moment of Truth by Kasie West Review

book review

Moment of truth: This was not one of my favorite Kasie West books.

Moment of Truth by Kasie West follows Hadley Moore, an overachieving swimmer who vows to discover the true identity of a masked classmate who ruined her last race. Moment of Truth is the third book in the Love, Life, and the List companion series. While it isn’t necessary to read the previous two books, there will be some spoilers about past relationships in this book.

Moment of Truth

I was extremely excited when I first saw Love, Life, and the List would be a companion series. Love, Life, and the List ranks as one of my favorite Kasie West books. However, my doubts started with Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss as it was one of my most disappointing reads of last year and one of my least favorite Kasie West books. As a result, I went into Moment of Truth a little more hesitantly than usual for a book by this author.

First of all, I was a little confused at the start. Was this book Moment of Truth or Heroes, Hearts, and Heath Hall? Both titles appeared on Goodreads and an online retailer close to release date. After reading Moment of Truth, I believe the chosen title is the most appropriate. This book strays far away from the first two novels. They are only loosely connected and the parts that are, for me, were forced and tried too hard. I think this book would have been much more successful separate from the companion series so those ties were not as forced.

As for the book itself, the beginning is slow. The masked classmate is extremely secretive and our main character is apparently very intelligent and successful. However, for the first quarter of the book, her only plan is to approach classmates to see if they will tell her the classmate’s identity. Even after several classmates refuse, Hadley still uses the same strategy. It was incredibly frustrating to read the same conversations and plot points over and over without any progress.

Then, readers are presented with a side plot. Hadley’s brother, who died before she was born, often takes priority over events in her life. Hadley struggles with jealously towards her brother and resentment towards her parents for consistently choosing him over her. For me, this was the most interesting aspect of the plot and had the potential to provide a little more depth than typically present in Kasie West’s books. However, I found this aspect presented a little too all over the place in the book and resolved WAY too quickly at the end. Overall, this book struggled with inconsistent pacing and repetition and this aspect of the book was no exception.

As for other aspects of the book: the friendship, the romance, and the “mystery”, they were either too generic to remember or not well fleshed out to meet my expectations. When I think about my favorite Kasie West books, P.S. I Like You, Love, Life, and the List, and The Fill-In Boyfriend, they all contained more memorable characters, interesting plots, and consistent story lines. While I typically breeze through books by this author, I struggled to finish Moment of Truth. I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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ARC REVIEW// The Honey Don't List by Christina Lauren

book review

I’m somewhat committed to Christina Lauren’s newest novel.

The Honey Don’t List, the latest novel by popular author duo Christina Lauren, follows Carey Douglas, the assistant to a couple famous for their home remodeling show. Unfortunately for Carey, her bosses aren’t getting along despite their upcoming book on their rock-solid marriage. To ensure the book’s success, as well as their upcoming new show, Carey is forced to accompany the feuding couple on their book tour with the couple’s other annoying, but cute, assistant.

The Honey-Don't List

This was the fourth Christina Lauren book that I’ve read. Going into this book, I didn’t set my expectations too high. While I find myself interested in the synopses of Christina Lauren’s books, the execution always falls flat for me. While The Honey Don’t List didn’t knock my socks off, I overall enjoyed this story and thought it was one of the better plotted books of this author duo.

Like many other books by Christina Lauren, I was initially interested in this book because of the plot. There are many HGTV power couples (Joanna and Chip Gaines), and divorced couples (Christina and Tarek), who captivate viewers every week. Additionally, there’s an air of distrust with some design shows for their shoddy work, staging, and quick remodels. Unlike some of Christina Lauren’s other books where I found the execution of the premise fell flat, this book delivered what it promised. All of these behind-the-scenes aspects that people who watch home improvement shows wonder about are featured in this book.

Additionally, I enjoyed how this book was paced compared to some of Christina Lauren’s other books. I read The Unhoneymooners earlier this year and found the plot to be all over the place. While I do think the ending of this book comes across as a little too melodramatic, I think the final article included in the book justifies its purpose. I could have done without the police reports throughout the book, but I did enjoy how article on the couple, as well as social media, were incorporated throughout the story.

Another aspect that I enjoyed about this book were the relationships, more so the relationships between Carey and her bosses rather than the romantic relationship. Carey’s first job was working at a store owned by the Tripps, and while they provided many opportunities in her life, they also took many opportunities away from her. Additionally, I liked seeing the dynamic between Melissa and Rusty Tripp, especially on camera versus off camera. As for the romance, it was pretty standard. While I liked James as a character, the relationship in this book isn’t especially memorable or the most interesting dynamic presented in the story.

While I overall enjoyed The Honey Don’t List, I didn’t have a particularly strong connection to any aspect of the story and it lacked something extra to make it stand out from other similar books. The best way I could describe this book is formulaic. This book presents all the necessary elements to make a coherent and easy read. On the other hand, in a romance, there’s a large focus on the main character and the relationship that they develop with the male lead. Unfortunately for me, this was not the most interesting aspect of the book. In fact, this book may have been more successful with Melissa and Rusty as the main characters as they were more dynamic characters than the narrators who only watch the action take place rather than taking an active role in the story.

While I enjoyed this book more than some of Christina Lauren’s other books, I still wasn’t in love with it as I wanted to be after reading. I give this book three out of five stars.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren follows Olive, a cynical woman who feels overshadowed by her more successful sister. On her twin sister’s wedding day, all of the guests became violently ill after a bad buffet, except Olive and her arch nemesis, Ethan. When Olive’s sister convinces her to take the newlyweds’ free honeymoon with Ethan, Olive is less than thrilled. However, she must soon rely on Ethan during the trip when she encounters her new boss who believes she is married to Ethan.

The Unhoneymooners

I’ve read two other books by the author duo Christina Lauren, Roomies and Hating You/Dating You. For me, both were average reads that lacked a certain spark that would make me really love them. Christina Lauren is a well-loved author duo, and since I heard great reviews and the plot sounded interesting, I decided to pick this one up. While I liked some aspects of The Unhoneymooners more than their other books, it still sits as an average read for me.

The Unhoneymooners is pitched as an enemies to lovers romance which is one of my favorite tropes in romance books. Like some other reviews that I read, The Unhoneymooners is more of a watered down version of this trope. While I appreciated the fun banter between the characters, the misconceptions in their “hate” part of their relationship is solved fairly early on (about halfway through the book). Although Olive and Ethan’s relationship was cute, it isn’t anything remarkable.

One trope that I didn’t enjoy, however, was twins dating siblings. As a twin myself, I have had countless people over the years ask if my sister and I will date twins and we’ll get married on the same day. Since Olive’s sister married Ethan’s brother, they are sister and brother-in-laws. While they aren’t blood related, there are so many jokes about them “switching sisters.” These jokes aren’t necessarily condoned by characters in the book, but they are often written off like the character “didn’t mean it that way.” I’m not sure if other readers will really be bothered by this trope or comments, but because I am a twin, they hindered my reading experience. (P.S. If you have any recommendations with a realistic, strong bond between twins, please leave it in the comments!)

One of the aspects of this book that I really enjoyed was Olive’s family. While sometimes overbearing, you really sensed how much each person cared for each other. They mostly appear in the beginning and ends of the story, but they were definitely a highlight for me.

I think my biggest problem was this book was the “plot twist” concerning Olive and her sister. Olive learns something major troubling news from Ethan about her sister’s relationship. However, she eventually pushes the information aside and doesn’t get involved until the situation involves her directly. Like Olive, I am a twin. If I heard the news that Olive heard about her sister’s relationship, I would be on the phone with my sister in seconds. Instead, Olive seems more concerned about how it could potentially impact her relationship with Ethan. Although the information Olive discovers is hurtful, I could personally never imagine withholding that information that she learns and it really rubbed me the wrong way and dampened the end of the book for me.

Overall, The Unhoneymooners is an average romance. While it was an easy read that had its fun moments, there were some aspects that affected my reading experience negatively. I give this book three out of five stars.