ARC Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

I almost always love Christina Lauren books, so I was very excited to see The Unhoneymooners pop up on Netgalley. After I requested it, I kind of forgot that I had it until about three days before its release, when I panicked and started reading it immediately. Luckily, this book was very fun and I read it in two sittings. The 432 pages honestly just flew by.

I always love Christina Lauren’s heroines. They’re usually goofy, clumsy, and often embarrass themselves. But they’re also confident, intelligent, and just the right amount of snarky. Olive is no exception. She has a bit of a reputation for being prickly, but she’s just honest. She doesn’t put up with any nonsense. I could probably learn a thing or two from her.

It’s not just their heroines that I love, though. Their heroes are great, too. Aside from a few rather frustrating scenes, Ethan was a great love interest. While he initially came off as kind of stand-offish (or even rude), once he and Olive got over their differences and actually talked, he was a great guy. I loved how particular he was about the food he’d eat because SAME.

I loved the way the relationship developed between Olive and Ethan. Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, and Christina Lauren did it perfectly here. The teasing, the banter, and the turn to romantic feelings was done so well. Another of my favorite tropes? Fake dating. Watching Olive and Ethan pretend to be newlyweds while being so uncomfortable about it was great. I loved it.

So, why not five stars? There were a few things that didn’t sit quite right with me, but I think that getting into them would be kind of spoilery. I will say that they were still small enough issues that I flew through this book and ended up loving it. I’d highly recommend this to anybody looking for a cute enemies-to-lovers romance.


Previously: AutoboyographyDating You/Hating YouJosh and Hazel’s Guide to Not DatingLove and Other WordsMy Favorite Half-Night StandRoomies


#killingthetbr: 4 months on shelf


Have you read The Unhoneymooners? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Millie and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.
 

I was on a book-acquiring ban when I first saw the ARC of My Favorite Half-Night Stand pop up on Netgalley. I was really tempted to request it anyway but decided to be mature and responsible and not bite off more than I could chew by requesting books I had no time to read. That said, I totally planned to check it out from the library as soon as it came out. Well, life got in the way. I ended up traveling a lot at the end of the year and I kind of forgot about this one until I stumbled across it while waiting in line to check out at the library.

The thing is, I almost always enjoy books by Christina Lauren. They’re one of my favorite author duos. Aside from Dating You/Hating You, I think I’ve rated everything of theirs either four or five stars. There’s just something about their writing style that puts me in a great mood, and I love that their characters are always charming, yet flawed. And their dialogue! It’s like reading an actual conversation.

Realizing that you might like a friend in a romantic way is always a weird feeling, and Christina Lauren captured that perfectly when Millie and Reid fall into their friends-but-sort-of-more arrangement. I appreciated that they didn’t play into the “we can’t because it’ll ruin our friendship” cliche — that always bothers me and almost always feels so unrealistic — and instead had Millie and Reid hook up and then try to fall back into their normal rhythm.

The online dating aspect was great! I’ve never tried online dating, never wanted to, and hope that I’ll never have to, because I find it absolutely terrifying. Nobody in this book had any (scary) disasters, though there was never a dull moment. I think, though, that the only part of the book I honestly took issue with was Millie (as “Catherine”) stringing Reid along for so long, and Reid continuing to message “Catherine” despite his growing feelings for Millie. I think I say this in most reviews of romances, but if they’d just been adults and talked to each other, they could have avoided a lot of unnecessary drama.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book! It was a lot of fun and it’s only made me more excited to read more from these authors.

#ps19: a book you meant to read in 2018
#romanceopoly: women’s ave


Have you read My Favorite Half-Night Stand? What’s your favorite friends-to-lovers romance? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

So, over the last year or so, it seems like everybody in the book blogging world has been talking about Autoboyography. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a negative review of it, and even though I have a documented problem with hyped books, I decided to dive right in. It was available for free on Riveted during Pride Month, but I planned out my library holds and ARCs very poorly and didn’t get around to it until July.

And… I liked it. I actually liked it a lot. The middle 80% or so is amazing. That said, I was a little disappointed by what I felt was a slow start and sort of haphazard ending.

Let me start with the characters and how much I loved them.

Our protagonist is Tanner. He’s eighteen years old, a senior in high school, and he’s just signed up for the infamous “Seminar” in which he’s required to write an entire book in four months. I don’t know that I could write an entire book if you gave me a year or three, so it’s pretty impressive that all these high school kids are doing it. Tanner is bisexual and his parents are super cool with it but won’t let him come out at school. I’m going to talk more about this later. I loved Tanner. He was such a disaster, but I would have totally been friends with him in high school. The thing that I loved most about Tanner was how sincere he was. He didn’t try to act a certain way to appease people, he didn’t play off his emotions as less than what they were. He just existed.

Our love interest is Sebastian. Sebastian is a super religious nineteen-year-old who has just published a fantasy novel. He’s nice, polite, helpful, a splotchy blusher, and totally swoonworthy. His father is the bishop and his home life is the polar opposite of Tanner’s. His parents are definitely not cool with homosexuality and he’s never even entertained the idea that he might not be straight. Tanner falls instantly in love with him and I normally hate instalove, but I totally get it here. I couldn’t fault Tanner one bit for his feelings.

Other important characters:

  • Tanner’s parents: a Jewish physician and a former Mormon programmer who support Tanner so much that they buy things like rainbow flags and aprons that say “I love my queer kid.”
  • Autumn: Tanner’s best friend who’s just a really well-written teenage girl, but boy, does she make a big decision that I am not okay with. (I’ll talk about this more later, too, under a spoiler tag.)
  • Fujita: The teacher/advisor for the Seminar who doesn’t actually seem to do that much teaching or advising, but who is pretty cool.

Basically, the whole middle of this book made me swoon. If you were to look at my Kindle notes, you would just see “I am swooning” and “S W O O N I N G” and “I love him, I’m swooning” over and over and over again. I fully believed the connection between Tanner and Sebastian and I was rooting for them from the moment they first locked eyes.

Some spoilers!
  1. It really bothered me that Tanner’s supposedly progressive parents were so opposed to him (a) dating a Mormon boy, and (b) coming out at school. They actually go so far as to forbid him from coming out, as if something like that is actually their decision? It’s one little thing that ate at my mind the whole time I was reading.
  2. I get that Autumn’s in love with Tanner. I get why she’s in love with him. What I don’t get is (a) why she felt it was okay to take advantage of him when he was in a really bad place emotionally, (b) how she could possibly live with herself, and (c) why I’ve seen so many reviews actually blaming Tanner for what happened. Tanner did nothing wrong, and if the genders were reversed, I’m pretty sure there would be outrage. Tanner went to Autumn’s house for a shoulder to cry on, not for sex.
  3. I didn’t love the ending. It was cute, sure, but after spending 90% of the book in Tanner’s head (or in his book or whatever) the Sebastian POV felt weird. The epilogue was also kind of weird because I’m really supposed to believe that Sebastian has finally come to his senses about being with Tanner? After ending things with him twice?? Sure, he just happens to find Tanner in LA and let him know that he wants them to be together? Excuse me if I don’t believe it.

Anyway, regardless of how I felt about those spoilers, I really loved this book. I read it over the course of 24 hours and had a huge smile on my face for most of it. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a cute M/M romance about two teenagers who are clearly destined to fall in love.


Have you read Autoboyography? Are you a fan of Christina Lauren?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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ARC Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source: ARC from publisher (via Netgalley)

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Roomies, Beautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely not dating, no matter how often th ey end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

This was my fourth book by Christina Lauren, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m a big fan.

I loved Josh. I loved Hazel. I loved that they met back in college and that it was a disaster. I loved that, years later, they became best friends and then more. I loved that we really got to know Josh and Hazel as people before reading about them together.

I’m so glad that I read this book when I did. I really needed something light and fluffy to sort of reset my brain and this did the trick. I’m sorry that this is such a short review, but I enjoyed this book so much and would highly recommend it.


Have you read Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating?
Are you a Christina Lauren fan?

Let’s talk in the comments!


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ARC review: Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

⭐ Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐

He’s my person. He’s always been my person. My best friend, my confidant, probably the love of my life.

When Macy was an awkward teenager, her father bought a vacation home in California wine country. The vibrant, noisy, entirely wonderful Petropolous family lived next door, and Macy and Elliot became instant friends. Over the years, their friendship slowly became more. Elliot became Macy’s first kiss. Her first love. Her first time. Then, in one horrific weekend, Macy’s life is ripped to shreds.

Ten years later, she’s a resident in critical care pediatrics. She’s engaged to an older man. She has a couple close friends, but she’s never really let anybody new into her life. Not for real, and not after what happened with Elliot. And then she sees him. It’s a total coincidence, and it completely shakes up her life. With Elliot back in her life, Macy must revisit those painful memories and determine for herself whether she’s truly satisfied with the way things turned out.

Wow. Just… wow. I did not expect to have such feelings. I could cry right now just thinking about it! The longing, the history, the tension. The flawed perfection that is Elliot. I can’t even form complete sentences right now because I am so blown away.

Christina Lauren are quickly becoming one of my favorite author duos. Roomies was one of my favorites of 2017 and I can see Love and Other Words easily sitting atop the list of my favorites of 2018. This book had everything I look for in a romance – an emotional connection, a deep history, second chances, a few heartbreaking moments, and, most of all, a couple that just clearly belongs together.

I’d give this book all of the stars and every recommendation I possibly can.

Final rating: ★★★★★

I received a free advance copy of Love and Other Words from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-me authors of 2017

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today’s theme, which is pretty fitting for the first Tuesday of a new year, is the top ten new-to-me authors I read in 2017. I read a lot of new authors last year, but here are the ten that came to mind first. (They are in no specific order)

1. R.S. Grey
❤︎ The Fortunate Ones: Goodreads || review
💜 Scoring Wilder: Goodreads || review
💚 The Allure of Julian Lefray: Goodreads || review
💙 The Allure of Dean Harper: Goodreads || review
💛 The Foxe & the Hound: Goodreads || review
🖤 Anything You Can Do:  Goodreads || review

2. Angie Thomas
❤︎ The Hate U Give: Goodreads || review

3. Cindi Madsen
💜 Operation Prom Date: Goodreads || review
💚 Nailed It: Goodreads || review

4. Author trio: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
💙 My Lady Jane: Goodreads || review

5. Christina Lauren
💛 Roomies: Goodreads || review

6. Maggie Ann Martin
🖤 The Big F: Goodreads || review

7. Andie J. Christopher
❤︎ Break of Day: Goodreads || review

8. Rachel Van Dyken
💜 Fraternize: Goodreads || review
💚 Infraction: Goodreads || review

9. Natalie D. Richards
💙 We All Fall Down: Goodreads || review

10. Tristina Wright
🖤 27 Hours: Goodreads || review

ARC review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Goodreads ⭐ Amazon

Theatre archivist Holland Bakker has crushed on subway musician Calvin McLoughlin for months.  One night, after a few cups of liquid courage, Holland approaches Calvin to confess her undying love… for his music.  When a subway attack leaves her unconscious on the rails, Calvin steps in to contact the MTA and the police, but he doesn’t stick around for small talk.

Determined to pay him back, Holland lands Calvin the Broadway audition of his life with her Uncle Robert, a famous director.  Robert is blown away and immediately wants to hire Calvin for his musical’s orchestra, but Calvin reveals that he’s in the country illegally on an expired student visa.  When Holland proposes marriage, the arrangement is just crazy enough that it might actually work.

There are a lot of romance tropes that I like, friends-to-lovers and fake relationships being somewhere near the top of the list.  There are also a lot of romance tropes that I’m iffy about, and a marriage of convenience is one of them.  That said, I thought that Roomies was an adorable and (quite nearly) perfect romance about two people who are thrown together and have to work to make it work.

So often in the romance genre, the heroine takes a backseat to the hero.  And while, yes, Calvin was certainly something else (and I wouldn’t mind picking up my own Calvin on my next subway ride), Holland was a breath of fresh air.  She’s neither a doormat nor a brat.  She knows that she wants to make her own way in the world, but she doesn’t know how to start.  She’s head-over-heels in lust with Calvin, but she marries him solely to give him the opportunity to realize his dream.

This plot could have gone in a lot of less-satisfying directions, but this author duo did a great job of making it feel realistic while still keeping it entertaining.  I saw the first big conflict coming and it didn’t bother me.  The second big conflict, though, seemed like a lot of drama for no real reason and felt a bit out of character.  BUT, that’s the only real criticism I have of this entire book.  Overall, it was cute, it was funny, it was swoony, and it was hard to put down.  This was my first Christina Lauren book, but it won’t be my last.

Final rating: 4.5 stars, rounded up to ★★★★★

I received a free copy of Roomies from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.