ARC review: Beauty and the Book Boyfriend by K.M. Galvin

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Reclusive author Bellamy Strong has lived vicariously through Makyla, her protagonist, for as long as she’s been writing. While Bellamy suffers from severe social anxiety and panic attacks, Makyla isn’t afraid to put herself out there. She’s strong. She’s cool. She’s got a super-sexy love interest. And apparently, though she has no recollection of it, Bellamy has agreed to dress as Makyla and tour the country with a male model that looks just like Max, Makyla’s love interest.

When Bellamy meets Caleb, the model hired to play Max, she can hardly speak. Even setting aside her social anxiety, she just has no idea what to do when she comes face-to-face with the man she dreamed up years ago. Caleb is Max. Then he opens his mouth. And Caleb is a jerk.

…Or is he? As Caleb and Bellamy drive across the country (accompanied by their assistants/best friends), they start to learn more about each other and form a tentative friendship. Soon, the two are inseparable. They’re best friends. But what happens when feelings inevitably get involved?

Alright, so I picked this one up from Netgalley because I was intrigued by the premise. I mean, an author that has to cosplay her protagonist with a male model playing the love interest? It was either going to be great or it was going to be horrible, but either way, I wanted to read it. Surprisingly, it was neither great nor horrible. It was just somewhere in the middle.

The plot was interesting and nothing I’ve ever read before, although I’m not quite sure I fully believed in the premise. Surely there would be an issue with a contract that was signed under the influence? Surely if Bellamy had really put her foot down, they couldn’t have required her to do the whole cosplay thing. If they could get a model to portray Max, I don’t see why they couldn’t get a model to portray Makyla. But regardless, I set that aside (or at least tried to) as I settled into the book.

Obviously, Bellamy and Caleb get off on the wrong foot. Caleb thinks that Bellamy is some sort of drooling fangirl and brushes her off. Bellamy is offended by Caleb’s brush off and her social anxiety seems to fade away as she puts him in his place time and time again. (Arguably much more often than he deserves, but I guess that was their dynamic.) But then, suddenly, the two are bantering like old friends. Then they decide that they’re best friends. Then they’re making out and having sex and it all just seems to happen so fast. Like I could’ve blinked and missed the transition from absolutely despising each other to being head-over-heels in love.

I think that the point I’m trying to make is that the characters weren’t consistent, which is probably my biggest complaint with this book. Is Bellamy a reclusive author who has panic attacks when she has to go into public or is she a feisty sex kitten who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants? I couldn’t tell, and at times, it felt like I was reading about two different people. Similarly, is Caleb a total jerk who hates his job or is he a sensitive, misunderstood teddy bear? The world may never know.

This review probably makes it sound like I disliked this book, and for that, I apologize. I actually really enjoyed this book and had a lot of fun while reading it. It was only after I finished that I really started thinking about what had happened and trying to piece these characters together. This is a really quick read that kept me interested and had me laughing out loud in almost every chapter. There were some issues with editing that I’m sure will be fixed in the final copy, and I’m sure that a lot of readers will be able to see past my criticisms and will love this book.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

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ARC review: Forks, Knives, and Spoons by Leah DeCesare

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Just before Amy York left for college, her father, on a whim, came up with the Utensil Classification System.  Meant to help Amy make educated decisions about the kind of guys she’d encounter, the UCS featured forks, knives, and spoons and provided Amy and her friends with a quick and easy way to categorize their dates.  Her father’s off the cuff comment quickly snowballed in Amy’s overactive imagination, and soon she had her whole dorm discussing the benefits and pitfalls of sneak knives, shrimp forks, and serving spoons.

While I enjoyed the premise of the story, it had a very predictable and stereotypical plot. Aside from the quirky UCS and the late 1980s-early 1990s setting, there was little to differentiate this book from the hundreds of others that came before it.  Given just a few minutes, I could probably rattle off at least ten books I’ve read in the past year or so that have followed the same plot.

I’m not sure if Amy was meant to be stupid or if the author doesn’t do subtle foreshadowing, but I saw the drama with Amy’s main love interest coming from a mile (or maybe at least a hundred pages) away.  It was so absolutely, painfully obvious, even from their first encounters, that they were not meant to be together.  Amy’s obsession with finding her knife blinded her, but it was so clear that this guy was a fork that I could not understand how Amy didn’t see it.  (Don’t even get me started on the third side of that love triangle.)

The book’s saving grace is the novelty of the UCS.  While I don’t think it’s realistic that every man in the world fits into one of Amy’s three categories, I did find myself thinking about how I might classify my boyfriend, my boss, and my friends.  (Okay, and all of the random men I encountered while I was reading this book.)  Forks, Knives, and Spoons had a lot of potential, and I think that it’s a solid effort for DeCesare’s debut New Adult novel.  With time, experience, and ideas like these, I have no doubt that she’ll be an author to watch.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Reading Challenge Update

Yikes!  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my reading challenge look quite this dismal. I guess that’s the problem with moving – not only were all of my waking hours occupied with packing, cleaning, loading, unloading, unpacking, and cleaning some more, but I didn’t even have an internet connection!

Well, now I’m back.  I’m all moved in… or, at least, mostly moved in. I have an internet connection, and I’m ready to get back at it.  I just got approved for five ARCs on Netgalley, so fingers crossed that they’re all as good as they sound!  Hopefully I’ll be back on schedule soon.

How has everything been in the book world since I’ve been away?