ARC Review: The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren is a contemporary romance novel which acts as a companion to another book by this author duo, The Soulmate Equation. In the The True Love Experiment, single dad and documentary producer Connor Prince III is recruited to develop a romance reality television show in order to boost ratings for his network. As a result, Connor enlists Felicity “Fizzy” Chen, an outgoing romance author, as the show’s lead. If Fizzy fails to find love, it could mean the end for Connor’s career. However, Felicity is more interested in Connor than the men recruited for her show.

Christina Lauren’s book are usually hit-or-miss for me. My last few books that I’ve read by the author duo resulted in average age. I didn’t even finish their new release last year, Something Wilder, as I found the synopsis didn’t really match the contents or tone of the actual book. That being said, I was hopeful that I would enjoy The True Love Experiment as I really enjoyed The Soulmate Equation. While there were some aspects of The True Love Experiment that I did like, there were other areas where there could have been stronger execution.

The highlight of The True Love Experiment would have to be Fizzy, the main female character. Fizzy has a strong, likable personality. Fizzy can also be quirky, but not in an immature or unbelievable way. That being said, as with both main characters, I wanted a little more from their backstories. At the end of the book, I felt like I had a very surface-level understanding of Fizzy and what she needed in a relationship.

On the flip side, I found Connor to be a little bland. When I think of Connor, I can name several other similar protagonists. While I appreciated his maturity in approaching his relationship with Fizzy, there wasn’t much that stuck out about him to me. Additionally, in very pivotal moments within the book, I found his words and actions to be inconsistent with the characters that had been developed throughout the novel. Also, similar to Fizzy, I felt like I had a very surface-level connection to his character. Although I didn’t dislike Connor and Fizzy together, this prevented me from becoming fully invested in their relationship.

My biggest issues with The True Love Experiment were the plot and pacing. One of the big parts of the book’s synopsis is the reality television show. However, the show doesn’t really start until about 40% of the way through the book. Early in the book, Fizzy and Connor go to a boy band concert with Connor’s daughter. Fizzy attends a soccer game where Connor is a coach. These scenes really didn’t add much to the story for me, as it is established without these scenes that Connor is a devoted father. I found myself just wanting to push through these scenes to get to the real plot of the story.

Once I finally got to the show, I found that it lacked the tension which I expected. Fizzy’s feelings for Connor are established before the show even starts. As a result, I never saw Fizzy as truly invested in the show. The dates which take places on the show are typically summarized very quickly. During Fizzy’s time on the show, I felt like an outsider as a reader which took me out of the story. I assumed going into this novel that the show would be the main tension between the characters. As Fizzy’s relationships would grow with the contestants, she would find herself more pulled towards the producer. Since her feelings were established so early on in the novel, the television show part just like a formality to pass by in order to get to the happily ever after. While there were still some stakes, such as Connor’s job on the line, the stakes could have been much higher if the story was structured in a different way.

While I didn’t dislike The True Love Experiment, I didn’t find myself fully invested or engaged in the story. I was constantly picking this book up and putting it down. In the end, it took me about two months to finish this book. I give this book 2.5 out of 3 stars.


Secretly Yours Review

It’s not secret that I did like not Secretly Yours.

Secretly Yours is the first book in the Vine Mess duology by Tessa Bailey. This novel follows Hallie, a gardener who lives in a vineyard town, after her former high school crush, Julian, moves back into town in order to work on his novel. Hallie grows closer to Julian after she drunkenly writes him a secret admirer letter. However, this secret becomes more difficult to keep when she begins to develop a real-life relationship with Julian.

Tessa Bailey books, specifically the Bellinger Sisters duology, gained significant popularity on BookTok this past year. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Bellinger sisters duology, but I hoped that I would be more interested in this duology. Unfortunately for me, many aspects of the first book in the Vine Mess duology were quite literally a mess for me. As a result, my experience reading Secretly Yours as a whole was unenjoyable.

One area of the romance novel which needs to excel are the two main characters and the relationship which develops between them. Both of these areas were poorly executed. Both Hallie and Julian are very typical characters of the genre, but aren’t unique enough to stand out from the bunch. Hallie is the typical quirky, disorganized main character who makes incredibly immature decisions. On the flip side, Julian is the very serious, Type A love interest who is very academic and organized. Both characters have half-baked backstories which the author unsuccessfully uses to create a weak third act conflict. Additionally, I felt like they were too different to be a lasting couple. One example can be found when Julian goes to Hallie’s house for the first time and makes remarks about the clutter and Hallie shrugs it off as she just cleaned. Ultimately, I just could foresee too many problems with this couple in the future, so I couldn’t see a lasting relationship between them in the future.

Furthermore, Julian specifically lacks consistent characterization throughout the novel. Julian is introduced as a very serious and scheduled professor. However, his characters does a complete 180, but only during romantic scenes. With Julian, there is a lot more telling than showing. Readers are told that Hallie likes Julian because he is a very kind and helpful person. While he does help a struggling business in the story, I honestly don’t think he would have helped if the business wasn’t treasured by Hallie. It seemed like I was reading two different characters during the novel. I also extremely disliked reading from his POV. The way that Hallie is described during his chapters made me very uncomfortable to read. While the dialogue in this book is overall cringeworthy, some of the worst lines came from Julian. Think about the types of dating app messages where men say they would swim through shark-infested waters to be with a woman. Julian says a line akin to this, but instead of shark-infested waters, it’s a lake of fire. After reading that line, I had to put the book down for a few hours. When you read a romance, you want to like the male love interest. However, I could not stand Julian.

Another weak area of this book was the plot. From the book’s description, one would think the secret admirer letters would play a major role in this novel. However, they are only used to create some added drama at the end to make a conflict which could easily be resolved with one conversation. As I mentioned earlier, the third act conflict was incredibly weak and was a result of the miscommunication trope at its worst. The scenes building up to the conflict in the third act weren’t much stronger. Often times, it felt like I was reading a bunch of repetitive scenes or cute moments thrown in to make me see the male interest in a positive light, rather than scenes that built upon each other. Secretly Yours is a relatively short book as the last twenty pages are a preview of the next book. However, this book took me almost two weeks to read.

Overall, Secretly Yours has been my least favorite book of the year so far. I was very unimpressed by many aspects of this novel. As a result, I rated this novel one out of five stars.

February 2023 Reading Wrap-Up

My reading definitely slowed down from January to February. During January I read six books, but during February, I only read half of that number. I suffered from a bit of a reading slump during the middle of the month, as the books I was currently reading weren’t completely engaging me. That being said, I am still three books ahead of my yearly reading goal and I made some progress towards some of my other reading goals for the year, such as reading more graphic novels. Here’s a summary of my month:

Books Read: 3

Number of Pages Read: 1,318

Average Rating: 2.6 stars

Now, onto the books!

  • Lore Olympus: Volume Two by Rachel Smythe

I started off February with a quick and easy graphic novel. I enjoyed that this installment of the series focused more on Persephone and Hades. I also appreciated that Rachel Smythe gave depth to the some of the side characters in the novel. Overall, Lore Olympus was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the next volume of this series in March. I rated Lore Olympus: Volume Two as four stars.

  • Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Moving into the middle of February, I suffered a major reading slump. This book, as well as The Happily Ever After Playlist (which I still need to finish), didn’t really hold my attention. I had major problems with many aspects of Secretly Yours. The novel’s weak construction, poorly executed plot, cringeworthy scenes and dialogue, and inconsistent characters made this novel an unenjoyable read. I gave Secretly Yours one of out five stars.

  • An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

An Offer From a Gentleman isn’t an amazing read, however, it is a book that I frequently turn to during a reading slump. While this book is a quick and easy read, it does contain many outdated tropes or unhealthy aspects of a relationship that may turn off readers. While this isn’t the Bridgerton book which will be adapted for Season Three, rereading this book makes me think of all the ways this book can be updated for the Netflix series. I give An Offer from a Gentleman three out of five stars.

Favorite Book: Lore Olympus, Volume Two and An Offer from a Gentleman

Least Favorite Book: Secretly Yours

What books did you read in February?

Blogentine’s Day 2023 Wrap-Up

With Blogentine’s Day officially over on my blog, here are all the posts that I wrote during Blogentine’s Day 2023:

Valentine’s Day Book Tag

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As per tradition, I’ve decided to complete the Valentine’s Day Book Tag to round out my Blogentine’s Day line-up. This tag was created by CC’s Books. Here are my answers:

  • Stand Alone Book that You Love

Book Lovers by Emily Henry was one of my favorite books last year. I really enjoy Emily Henry’s writing style and I thought Nora and Charlie, the love interests in this book, were very well matched.

  • Dystopian Book You Love

Honestly, I have not read a dystopian in a really long time. I am afraid I do not have any dystopian books to love this Valentine’s Day. Let me know if there are any recent dystopian books that you loved in the comments!

  • A Book You Love that No One Else Talks About

I didn’t necessarily love this book, but overall, I did like it. Josh and Gemma Make a Baby by Sarah Ready was my least shelved book on my Goodreads stats last year. Contemporary romance has become extremely popular this past year, so it does surprise me that I don’t really see it mentioned at all.

  • Book Couple You Love

One book couple that I really loved during the past year were Aelin and Rowan from Throne of Glass. I loved watching their relationship grow and change throughout the series. Also, I thought they were a very well matched couple. I especially appreciated in the later novels how we get to see Rowan’s softer side towards Aelin.

  • Book that Other People Love, but You Haven’t Read Yet

One book that other people loved, but I haven’t read yet is Lovelight Farms by B.K. Robinson. I heard a lot of positive reviews for this book during Christmas in 2022, but I didn’t pick it up before December ended. As a result, I put this book on my 24 books to read before 2024 list. This book seems to be about saving a Christmas tree farm so I look forward to read it during December this year.

  • A Book with Red on the Cover

One book with a red cover on my TBR is Yours Truly by Abby Jiminez. I have read two books by Abby Jimenez and I’ve loved each of them so I am looking forward to her 2023 release. Yours Truly follows one of the side characters from Part of Your World, her 2022 releases which made it onto my favorites list for the year. Here’s to hoping that I will enjoy Yours Truly just as much!

  • A Book with Pink on the Cover

One book with a pink cover which I read recently was Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren. While I didn’t love everything about this book, it was a pretty solid read for me at 3.5 half stars. I do prefer the pink cover of this book as opposed to the previous orange cover.

  • You were given a box of chocolate. Which book boyfriend/girlfriend gave it to you?

One love interest who I think would give a box of chocolate is Lucas from The American Roommate Experiment. Overall, this book wasn’t my favorite. However, it did mention many, many times about Lucas making food for Rosie. Honestly, he’d probably turn the box of chocolate into a wonderful dessert!

  • You are single on Valentine’s Day. What book do you read? What movie do you watch? What TV show do you watch?

One book that is on my TBR for February is The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren. I recently received an eARC of this book from NetGalley and I think it will be the perfect book to read around Valentine’s Day. This book is about a filmmaker who recruits a romance author to be the lead of a reality dating show.

  • You are in a book store. All of a sudden you get shot with an arrow by cupid. What new release will you love?

One new release in 2023 that I’m hoping to love is Happy Place by Emily Henry. I’ve enjoyed her past two releases, The People We Meet on Vacation and Book Lovers, so I’m hoping to enjoy Happy Place just as much. To be honest, I’m not completely interested in the plot of this book, but if anyone can change my mind, it’s Emily Henry!

Reading Journal 2023: February Main Page Set-Up

This year, I decided to create a reading journal in order to be a little more creative with how I track my reading progress throughout the year. Every month, I like to create a main page where I can track some of the books I wanted to read, some data on the books I am reading, and other important information (such as library due dates) for the month.

Below, I have a TikTok that I made which shows my February main page set-up:

There are several parts which I included on my main page for February.


For my TBR, I always include the books which I list on my blog’s monthly TBR. This month, Lore Olympus: Volume Two, The True Love Experiment, and Secretly Yours are on my TBR. Since it’s February, I wanted to pick some romance books which would be perfect to read around Valentine’s Day. I have already read the second volume of Lore Olympus and I’m currently reading Secretly Yours!

Reading Calendar Tracker

I included a reading calendar tracker on my January spread. I really liked seeing my pattern of reading. However, this month, I wanted to create more contrast between the different amounts of pages. Last month, the colors were very similar and it was hard to tell if I chose the correct color when filling in the calendar. I liked how using so many different shades of red helped me pull in different shades of red throughout the page.

Print/Digital Tracker

Typically, I read most or all of my books digitally during the year. However, this year, I have been making a point to visit my in-person library more often. As a result, I have been reading more physical copies of books. Last month, I had a tie between physical and digital copies of books. I can’t wait to see how this month ends up!

Library Due Dates

While this doesn’t include all of the books I’ve checked out from the library, I typically pick books for this list based on my first library trip of the month, or any books leftover from the previous month.

New Releases

The last part of this monthly spread is the new releases section. This section was hard for me to plan out and I redid it many times. I do like how the end result looks like a ring!

Lore Olympus, Volume 2 Review

Lore Olympus: Volume Two is the second installment of Rachel Smythe’s Lore Olympus series which is a modern-ish retelling of Persephone and Hades. Volume Two features episodes #26-50 of the web comic which was initially published on WebToon. This installment of the series follows Persephone after Hera schemes to get her closer to Hades by recruiting her to work as an intern in the Underworld. Persephone’s first day takes a turn for the worse when Minthe, the office secretary and lover of Hades, gives her bad advice.

Lore Olympus is my favorite graphic novel series, so I was excited to reread some of the episodes from the web comic in the printed version. One issue that I had with the first installment, however, is that it felt like the first book cut off at an awkward place and focused on too many different plot lines. That being said, I appreciated how the author, Rachel Smythe, handled difficult topics in her books. I found that Lore Olympus seemed more complete on its own than the first volume, but also contained many characteristics from the first novel which I enjoyed.

One aspect of Volume Two that I enjoyed was that the story felt more complete and focused. This book focuses primarily on story lines between Persephone and Hades, which I wanted to see more of in the first volume. On the other hand, this book still feels like a set-up for the latter parts of the series which may irritate some readers. Additionally, there are some story lines, like with Eros and Psyche, which were introduced in the first volume, but didn’t really get explored more deeply in the second volume. As a result, readers who were very interested in that part of the first book may be disappointed to see little progress in the development of that part of the story.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the depth which Rachel Smythe added to the characters. Minthe, who is the lover and secretary of Hades, could easily become a one-dimensional character used to make Persephone look better. Instead, Smythe provides her character more depth in order to make her character more understandable. On the flip side, readers get to see a darker side to Hades at the end of the novel. In the original volume, readers see the more composed side of Hades. However, I think seeing another side of him makes his personality a little more akin to the leader of the Underworld.

Overall, the second volume is a nice addition to the first. Like with many graphic novels, I find myself flying through this book and wanting more. I give Lore Olympus: Volume Two four out of five stars.

Battle of the Books: Love & Other Words vs. Every Summer After

On social media, two books that I frequently see recommended for the romance genre are Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren and Every Summer After by Carley Fortune. Often, I see these books recommended for people who love the other, as they are frequently compared for their plots. As a result, I decided to read both books and see which one I liked best.

Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren was originally published in 2018. The story follows Macy Sorenson, an aspiring doctor, who runs into Elliot, her childhood friend and boyfriend, years after they broke up. This novel follows a dual timeline: part of the story takes place across several years in the summer, when Macy would spend time in a cabin next to Elliot’s family home. Meanwhile, the current timeline focuses on Macy and Elliot reconnecting, with the dark reason they broke up looming behind them.

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune was published in 2021. The story follows Persephone “Percy” Fraser as she returns to the lake town where she spent her summers following the death of a family friend. There, she runs into Sam, the son of the family friend, who she developed a friendship and relationship with across several years. This novel follows a dual timeline: part of the story takes place across several years in the summer, when Percy lived next door to Sam during the summer. The current timeline takes place over the weekend of the funeral, when Percy and Sam reconnect, but also confront the reason why they broke up.

Just based on the synopses, it’s clear why Love & Other Words and Every Summer After are frequently compared. Both take place in small vacation towns, where the main female character spent her summers and developed a friendship-turned-relationship with the boy next door. In both novel, the love interests come back into each other’s lives nearly a decade later after a devastating breakup. There is even more in common regarding characters and the plots below. Just a warning, there will be major spoilers for both books below.

There are many similarities between characters within these books. In Love & Other Words, Macy is becoming a doctor and Elliot is a writer. Meanwhile, in Every Summer After, Sam is a doctor and Percy is an editor who wants to be a writer. Macy and Elliot bound over books and their love of words. On the other hand, Percy and Sam bound over Percy’s love of horror movies. In both books, readers get to see they characters grow up and see the relationship between the characters grow and change.

That being said, there are still some differences. In Love & Other Words, I found Macy to be a very complacent character who was unwilling to make change. One aspect of Macy’s story is that she is engaged at the beginning of the book. When she runs into Elliot, she realizes she isn’t completely in love with her partner. However, she stays with him anyway because it makes sense. When she does finally break up with him, they amicably part ways. I found Macy’s choices made very little change in the book, which resulted in little tension throughout the book.

On the other hand, Percy makes a lot more waves in the story. Percy is a very flawed character who makes many poor, but realistic choices throughout the story which results in a lot of conflict. While I would say the major twist in the novel felt very inconsistent with her character to me, it at least added some tension to the story overall. In her author’s note, Carley Fortune said she wants to make Percy realistic, even if it may make her seem unlikable at times, and I felt like she succeeded in that aspect.

As for the love interests, Elliot and Sam are extremely similar. Both over infatuated with their love interests to the point where it seems a little overbearing to me. They also have some identical choices, such as immediately breaking up with their significant other the moment when they run back into their first loves. Sometimes, Elliot and Sam both came across as a little too perfect.

Like with the characters, the plot of these two books are very similar from the basic premises down to scenes, plot twists, and even conversations. As I was reading, I couldn’t believe some of the parallels between these two books. Similarly, the ending of both books majorly disappointed me. With both books, I found the endings didn’t really match the rest of the book and dragged down my final ratings. In Love & Other Words as well as Every Summer After, there was a huge build-up to the events which broke these couples up for over a decade. In both books, these were quickly resolved with a couple conversations, which didn’t seem realistic or consistent with the characters or stories.

Initially, I rated Every Summer After higher than Love & Other Words by rating it 4 stars in comparison to the 3.5 stars I gave to Love & Other Words. However, after thinking further, I would probably rate each book at 3.5 stars. For this Battle of the Books, it will end in a tie. If you enjoyed Love & Other Words, then you will probably enjoy Every Summer After and vice versa.

Conversation Hearts Book Tag


In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought I would complete the Conversation book tag created by That Bookie on Youtube. In the video, she pulls out conversation hearts and chooses a book that relates. Since I don’t have any conversation hearts nearby, I decided to look up some phrases and create some of my own! Here are my answers:


One book that I Purchased recently based on the cover was Ice Breaker by Hannah Grace. I thought the cartoon cover was cute and I heard a lot of positive buzz surrounding the book. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t a huge fan of Ice Breaker. For me, the plot wasn’t very well developed and it was a little too long for a contemporary book. While I do still think the cover it cute, I’m not a huge fan of romances that are just a series of cute moments strung together.


One love at first sight book that I enjoyed this past year was Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood. Typically, I don’t enjoy the miscommunication trope, but this book was a fun and easy read. Even though we don’t really get to see the love at first sight on page in this book, I still overall enjoyed the romance.


One group of friends which I enjoyed recently was the cast of characters from Throne of Glass. Many of these characters didn’t like each other when they initially met, but they grew to respect and fight for each other. The cast of characters and friendships in this book are one of the reasons which I loved this series so much.


I would love to have a conversation with Holly Black, the author of many popular faerie books. Recently, I have seen a few different interviews of Holly Black pop up on my TikTok and I really enjoyed how she described creating the world of Elfhame, particularly how she imagines the appearances of the faerie characters. I am also a huge fan of her writing style and I love how she describes different things in her books. I think she would love to her more about her writing and world-building process.


When I think of a musical character, I have to think of Colton Wheeler from A Very Merry Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams. Colton is a country singer, which typically isn’t my favorite genre. However, I really enjoyed him as a character in A Very Merry Bromance and he seems really proud of the direction which his music makes at the end of the novel.


While they aren’t my favorite couple ever from a book, I did believe by the end of the novel that they were soul mates. Since Love & Other Words has a dual timeline, readers really get to see how Macy and Elliot’s relationship develops and changes by the end of the year. At the end of a romance novel, you want to believe that the love interests will be together forever and I definitely believed that for Macy and Elliot.

Have a great Valentine’s Day! 

Recent Library Books (January 2023)

One of my reading goals for 2023 was to visit my library more frequently, rather than just borrowing books from the virtual library. While I do prefer reading books on a device, I have noticed that my physical library has more of the books on my TBR than the virtual library, so I decided to request some books that have been sitting on my TBR so that I could finally read them. Here are five books that I recently borrowed from my physical library location and the virtual branch:

I was excited that my library had a copy of The Stolen Heir available right after its release… and there was no wait! The Stolen Heir was the first book that I borrowed from the library in 2023. The Stolen Heir is the first book in a duology which occurs after The Cruel Prince series. This duology follows a teenage Oak who recruits Lady Suren from the mortal realm to rescue his imprisoned father. I read The Stolen Heir back in January. For me, The Stolen Heir was too plot-driven in comparison to the original series, although it has an interesting premise which could make the second novel in the duology more successful.

Ship Wrecked was the first book which I borrowed from Cloud Library, the virtual system which my library uses. I have borrowed this book in the past, but I didn’t read until I re-checked it out this year. Ship Wrecked is the third book in the Spoiler Alert series, which follows two co-stars as they film a popular television series on an isolated island. While I think Olivia Dade’s covers and synopses usually draw me in, I usually find her pacing to be inconsistent. Unfortunately, I had similar issues with Ship Wrecked.

  • Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Every Summer After was the next book that I checked out from my library. Every Summer After has been on my TBR and I have been waiting for it to come onto the virtual library. However, I recently read Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren, which Every Summer After is frequently compared to online. As a result, I didn’t want to wait to read it any longer so I could read these two books close together in order to see the comparisons. Every Summer After follows Persephone “Percy” Fraser when he returns to a lake town where she spent her summers as a teenager, in order to attend a family friend’s funeral. There, she runs into Sam, the boy next door. Since this book is so hyped, I was expecting this to be a five star read, and while I like some aspects of this novel, the last act wasn’t my favorite as it seemed inconsistent with the rest of the book.

  • The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

The Happily Ever After Playlist was one of the books that I have borrowed from the library in February, but have not read yet. I have read two books by Abby Jimenez and loved them, so I wanted to read her two other books currently published before her new book releases later this year. From the description, this book seems to be about a woman who lost her fiancé and then finds a lost dog who connects her with a famous musician. Abby Jimenez writes such excellent realistic relationships and this book seems like it will address many real life topics, so I definitely looked forward to reading this book during February.

  • The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Last year, I read mostly contemporary books, so I’ve been wanting to pick up more fantasy novels in 2023. I’ve frequently seen The Atlas Six online, with people either loving it or hating it. I don’t have much an idea of what this book is about besides the synopsis, but when I saw this familiar title on my library’s website, I decided to check it out. It looks like The Atlas Six is about six magicians who want to be initiated into an academic society, but only five will make the cut. With this book, I am interested to see where my feelings will fall.

What books have you recently borrowed from the library?