Recently Received ARCs (June 2020)

Like I mentioned on my last ARC TBR post, I’ve really focused on reading books that catch my attention and that excite me because of my reading slump last year where I found that I was more forcing myself to read certain books than enjoying them. Recently on NetGalley, I found two books that sounded really interesting to me, and fortunately for me, I was approved to receive an eARC. Here are the ARCs that I was recently approved for:

  • Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey
Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3)

I requested Tools of Engagement because I was looking for more books in the adult age range to read as well as adult books read by new-to-me authors. This book specifically interested me because I read The Honey Don’t List by Christina Lauren earlier this year, another adult romance book involved with home improvement, and enjoyed it. Also, I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews for Tessa Bailey books.

This is the third book in a companion series, but after reading this book, I didn’t find it absolutely necessary to read the other two books first (although the main characters in this book do interact in the previous installments, if that is something that would bother you as a reader). While I had small issues with some aspects of this book, it was exactly what I was looking for in a fun and light-hearted read.

Tools of Engagement follows Bethany Castle who steps aways from her family’s real estate business to flip her own house, much to her brother’s dismay. Their feud catches the eye of a television producer, who wants to turn their situation into a reality competition. Unfortunately for Bethany, the only person on her side is an annoying ex-member of her brother’s renovation crew.

  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
In a Holidaze

Christina Lauren’s books always sound interesting to me, but only come across as average in execution. However, I received an ARC of The Honey Don’t List this year and enjoyed it much more than previous books by this author duo, so I was definitely more interested in reading their next release, In a Holidaze. I am a sucker for books set around Christmas. Although I’m not completely sold on the Groundhog’s Day element of this book, I’m always looking for a book to prove me wrong on a trope that isn’t always my favorite. I haven’t read In a Holidaze yet, but I’m looking forward to reading this book closer to the end of summer.

In a Holidaze follows Maelyn Jones after she spends her final trip to her parents’ cabin in Utah. On the journey home, however, Maelyn gets in a terrible accident where she finds herself reliving her the trip again and again.

What are some books that you are excited for in the second half of 2020?

Follow me on…

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

*I was sent copies of Tools of Engagement and In a Holidaze as eARCS from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

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.

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren Review

Blogentines

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren follows Evie and Carter, two agents in Hollywood who meet at a Halloween party and hit it off. However, their connection grows strained when their two agencies merge. When they find out they are competing for the same job, Evie and Carter struggle to figure out their feelings for each other.

I picked up this book by Christina Lauren for several reasons. I’ve been trying to branch out into adult books and I’ve heard that books by Christina Lauren serve as a great starting point. Additionally, I enjoyed The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and saw this book recommended if you enjoyed that book. Finally, this book as appeared as a Kindle Daily Deal, so I couldn’t pass it up. While I did overall enjoy this book, it is not my favorite adult romance. However, I would still recommend it to the right reader.

My favorite aspect of Dating You/Hating You was how large of a role the work of the two main characters played into the story. I found the business side of this book was really well explained. As someone not extremely familiar with the agent world, this really helped since it was a major driving force of the story. I appreciated how both of the main characters were really dedicated to their jobs and did not just give up working for their position despite their feelings for the other person.

Another aspect that I enjoyed in this book was the relationship. I can verify that this book is a great recommendation for readers of The Hating Game. The characters have a similar back and forth banter that many readers will enjoy. Additionally, both characters are fleshed out and likable which makes you want to root for them in their relationship.

That being said, there were a few aspects of the novel that were just a little average for me. The plot of this story isn’t new and I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I did The Hating Game which I read shortly before reading this novel. The ending of this book is a little far-fetched, kind of the Hollywood ending in the movies that these agents in the book would be familiar with. While it is a fun and easy to read story, it is also somewhat forgettable.

Overall, Dating You/Hating You is a fun adult romance, but nothing new or different that it stands out to me. I give this book three out of five stars.

 

Follow me on…

123

Roomies by Christina Lauren Book Review

blogmas

Roomies by Christina Lauren follows Holland Bakker, a twenty-something year-old fascinated by a subway musician. When a man attempts to attack Holland at the subway, her crush Calvin Mcloughlin comes to the rescue. To show her appreciation, Holland introduces Calvin to her theater director uncle who is looking for a new star for his production. Calvin is a perfect fit, but there’s only one problem… his visa expired. To save her uncle’s production and help out Calvin, she decides to marry him.

I’ve seen Roomies recommended a lot for fans of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, which was a new adult novel that I also read this year and really enjoyed. Plus, I’ve heard positive reviews for books by Christina Lauren, the duo of Christina Hobbs, and Lauren Billings. When this appeared as a Kindle Deal, I couldn’t pass it up especially since I’ve been trying to read more new adult and adult books this year. While this was an easy and light read, there’s just a few aspects of this book that held me back from completely loving it.

One aspect that I enjoyed about this book, as well as another book by Christina Lauren this year, it the knowledge surrounding the industry where the book takes place. Looking at their biographies, it seems their working experiences outside from writing are different from what they write, so I appreciate all the research that they put into the theater industry. While there are a few unbelievable moments, like how Calvin secures his job and how easily Holland’s choices are accepted, this “escape” read also has a little more substance.

Holland and Calvin are two characters you’ve probably seen in romantic comedies before, however, they are generally likable. I think a lot of twenty-somethings will relate to Holland. She isn’t is exactly where she would like to be in her career, is still relying on family to provide for her, and doesn’t have a solid romantic relationship. Calvin was a decent male character, although I didn’t really care for some of his actions especially towards the end of the novel, specifically involving Holland and his family.

While Holland and Calvin are both decent main characters, I never found myself extremely invested in their relationship. It seemed like Holland put a lot more into the relationship than Calvin, especially at first, which personally wasn’t as fun for me. Additionally, I never really felt the chemistry between them. I don’t typically enjoy the average girl/star performer story line, so this definitely could be hindered by my personal preference as I know many people do enjoy their relationship. As I hinted at earlier, I also didn’t care for Calvin’s actions towards Holland near the end of the novel due to his lack of transparency with his mother and sister.

Overall, Roomies is a decent young adult novel although some aspects of the novel didn’t particularly suit my tastes. For me, I would most likely recommend Dating You/Hating You also by Christina Lauren to fans of The Hating Game which I enjoyed a little bit more. That being said, I would not rule out reading another Christina Lauren book in the future, although it may not be at the top of my to be read list. I give Roomies three out of five stars.