Book Review: The Senses by Matteo Farinella

The Senses by Matteo Farinella
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Step into the world of the senses . . . Meet the four mechanoreceptors of touch, examine our taste buds up close, discover the link between smells and memories, and learn how optical illusions trick the cells in our eyes into seeing things that aren’t there…

In this humorous, detailed, yet still accessible book, neuroscientist and illustrator Matteo Farinella takes the reader on a wild ride through key figures and fascinating facts about each of our five senses, describing the most up to date research alongside illuminating drawings and diagrams that even the most scientifically un-savvy will enjoy!

Here I am again with a review of a book I never actually intended to read. There I was at my library, checking to see if they’d added any new graphic novels to their collection, when I was distracted by the cover of The Senses. I read Farinella’s Neurocomic earlier this year, and, while I didn’t hate it, I also didn’t really love it. I figured I’d give him another try with The Senses, and I’m glad I did.

This is a very basic introduction to the senses, going into the major organs of the sensory nervous system and how they work and communicate with each other. I think my favorite section was the one on taste, probably just because I really enjoy cooking (and eating).

The art honestly is not my favorite, but it’s very functional. That said, I didn’t read this graphic novel for the art, I read it because the topic interests me and I thought I might learn something. I don’t know if I learned anything that hadn’t already been covered in my anatomy and physiology classes, but I still had fun reading this one and would definitely recommend it to someone looking for a basic summary of how the sensory nervous system works.

#mm19: one sitting reads


Have you read The Senses? Are you interested in neuroscience?
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ARC Review: Love in the Friend Zone by Molly E. Lee

Love in the Friend Zone by Molly E. Lee
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 14, 2017
Source: ARC from publisher

The only thing worse than not being able to tell your best friend you’re head over heels in love with him? Having to smile and nod when he enlists your help to ensnare the girl of his dreams. 

Braylen didn’t even want to go to Lennon Pryor’s epic graduation-night party, but when Fynn begs her to be his “wingwoman,” she can’t deny him. Talking up her BFF—how he’s magic behind a camera, with a killer sense of humor and eyelashes that frame the most gorgeous blue eyes in the history of forever—is easy. Supporting his efforts to woo someone so completely wrong for him? Not so much. 

Fynn knows that grad night is his last shot before leaving for college to find true love. And thanks to Bray, he gets his chance with the beautiful Katy Evans. But over the course of the coolest party of their high school careers, he starts to see that perhaps what he really wants has been in front of him all along. Bray’s been his best friend since kindergarten, though, and he’d rather have her in his life as a friend than not at all. 

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two best friends whose sexual chemistry is off the charts…if only they’d succumb to it.

After enjoying Molly E. Lee’s Ask Me Anything a few weeks ago, I was pretty excited to get an email offering Love in the Friend Zone. Friends-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, but I just couldn’t get on board with this one. I suppose I should say that this isn’t necessarily a bad book, it just wasn’t for me.

The first thing I want to mention is that there’s a whole lot of drama in this book with very little actual plot. The entirety of the plot is that Fynn has asked for Braylen’s help in hooking up with the girl of his dreams, not realizing that Braylen has been secretly pining after him for years. That’s it. That’s the plot.

Nearly the entire book takes place over a single evening — a party, to be exact — and it’s pretty much just one cliche after another that keeps these kids from getting together. In general, I don’t have a problem with tropes. What I have a problem with is when a book relies on one cliche after another to move its non-existent plot along, and this book was full of cliches. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s a scene where the lights go out, and I could have told you exactly what was going to happen because I’ve read it so many times.

Another thing I want to talk about is the friends-to-lovers trope itself. When it’s done right, I absolutely adore it. Some examples of books that have done it right are Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi, Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren, and Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey. The thing that sets these books apart is that the progression from friends to lovers feels natural. It’s not like a switch flips one day and both people are like, “whoa, I love you, where did that come from.” Here, I’d say that, for maybe 90% of the book, Fynn is entirely focused on a different girl, a popular girl nicknamed “Killer Boobs” who has a history of bullying his best friend. (So, basically a classic teenage girl stereotype.) Am I really to believe that Fynn just suddenly loses his feelings for this girl in favor of his best friend, who’s been there all along?

I feel like I can’t really say any more about this book without spoiling the whole thing, so I think I’ll just end by saying that I was really disappointed by this book. I think I would have liked it a lot more as a teenager than I did as an adult.


Have you read Love in the Friend Zone? What’s your favorite friends-to-lovers book?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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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?
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Book Review: Dearest Clementine by Lex Martin

Dearest Clementine by Lex Martin
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 17, 2014
Source: Freebie

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn’t mind being called bitchy and closed off. It’s safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out … in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake … and maybe even her life.

DEAREST CLEMENTINE is a stand-alone novel with two companion novels. This New Adult romance is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content.

I don’t give away any of the major plot twists in this review, but there are some spoilers.

Oh dear. It’s time for another negative review. I wanted to love this book. I really did. Once upon a time, it was recommended by Krista & Becca Ritchie. It was a recommended new adult book for my Romanceopoly reading challenge. It has a 4.11 average on Goodreads and 4.6 average on Amazon. Did I read a different book than everybody else? I don’t even know where to start.

I guess the first thing I want to say is that if you’re not okay with women constantly being referred to as sluts, whores, skanks, and prostitutes, you should probably avoid this book. I have never understood why women have to make these kind of comments about each other, and this book has characters doing it in both a loving way (weird) and a negative way (just inappropriate). It was so odd because Clementine’s roommate, Jenna, is almost celebrated for having constant sex with her boyfriend, but other women in the book are disparaged for it. I get that you hate your crush’s ex, but is it really necessary to talk about her like that? (Answer: No, it’s not.)

The next thing I want to talk about is the whole publishing aspect. I mean, I’m not even a writer, but I’m pretty sure the way publishing is talked about in this book is not at all realistic. Like “oh my professor really liked this story I wrote so he got me published.” WHAT? In what universe does a random professor at a random university have that much influence? Or “a blogger with a big following stumbled across my book and it became an instant bestseller.” It’s nice to think that one blogger could have that much influence, but it’s just not realistic.

I also didn’t feel much of a connection at all between the main characters. I’m pretty sure that Clementine and Gavin only start hooking up because they both think the other is hot. Which is totally fine (and at least realistic) but then don’t have them be “in love” a few chapters later. They hardly even talk! Just because Gavin carried drunk Clementine home from a bar one time doesn’t mean that they know each other.

Now let’s move on to the mystery. This is the most ridiculous mystery I have ever read. The disappearance of a student is something that happens, sure. But, honestly, the perpetrator was blindingly obvious from the beginning of the book. I almost expected the twist to be that this particular character didn’t commit the crime, because there were about twelve thousand hints dropped that he did.

And Clementine’s family? Their dynamics didn’t make any sense to me. Supposedly Clementine is an heiress to a financial mogul father and famous fashion designer mother. Her family cut her off for some vague reasons that I completely did not believe, but nobody in her family knew that she was struggling financially. I mean… it just didn’t make sense. Why did they cut her off? What really happened? How did nobody notice?

The only saving grace in this book was that Gavin wasn’t the typical broody jerk love interest. In general, he was a really kind, patient, and understanding. He didn’t pressure Clementine to do anything she wasn’t ready for and seemed like he genuinely tried to be a good guy. That said, the way he expected full honesty from Clementine while refusing to tell her why he was spending so much time with his ex (and giving a pretty unrealistic reason for his ex randomly being half-naked in his dorm room) was totally unfair.

All in all, this is a pretty stereotypical new adult book. It falls into a lot of the common new adult tropes without adding anything new to the genre. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading it at all, but at least it’s off my TBR now.

#romanceopoly: taxi
#killingthetbr: 1 year, 1 month on shelf


Have you read Dearest Clementine? Do you read new adult books?
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ARC Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Source: ARC via Netgalley

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him. 

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

Oh my goodness, I don’t know the last time I was so conflicted about a book. There was so much about this book that I wanted to love, some things I did actually love, and a few things I just outright hated.

Let’s start with the good.

I loved both Alex and Henry. I felt like the two of them were well-developed characters. They felt like real people. They had chemistry, they had good banter, and, honestly, they were just adorable. I loved their relationship and I just loved them so, so much.

I loved President Claremont. This book is built around the idea of a female president being elected in 2016 and I can’t say that I really have a problem with that alternate reality. President Claremont is strong, determined, and protective of her children without letting it compromise her presidency. She’s all-around great. I also loved the diversity of her team.

I also thought that the writing was really good! It’s very accessible writing and it’s easy to get lost in this book.

That’s about it for what I loved. Moving on now to things that I was kind of iffy about.

This book is way too long. It’s rare that a contemporary romance needs to be over 300 pages. This is 432. I would argue that a good 100 pages of sex and political strategizing could have been cut out and it wouldn’t have impacted the plot at all. It wasn’t the biggest issue I had, but I think the book would have been more enjoyable if it were shorter, or at least had shorter chapters. I often found myself setting it down because I just didn’t have the time to sit there reading another chapter that my Kindle estimated would take 38 minutes.

The book is cute, but it’s almost too cute. It’s almost like it’s trying to make a point of how cute it is, like look at me, I am an adorable romance between two adorable boys and they keep doing adorable things, isn’t it adorable. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a book like this, but there were times when it got to be too much and I had to set the book aside.

I was okay with the politics in this book because I’m very much in agreement with them, but yikes, if you aren’t… just prepare yourself. I also felt that, for a romance novel, this book focused way too much on the presidential campaign and election. I think I would have liked it more if that had happened in the background rather than being front and center.

And, finally, it’s not one of my book reviews if I don’t rant about something, so here’s what I actually hated.

Nora. I found her incredibly annoying, disrespectful, childish, and rude. At one point, she falls off the face of the earth, not answering calls, not responding to texts, not even answering her door, worrying her friends half to death, and then she just shows back up and it’s not even a thing? She was just busy. In what universe is it acceptable to act like that? She also had no respect for the fact that Alex was in a relationship and it just bothered me.

The sheer amount of sex. But it was weird, because we’d have these really detailed descriptions of Alex and Henry making out, and then just kind of fade to black for the actual sex. Which is fine, I wasn’t expecting to be reading erotica, but it just seemed odd for a new adult book that was otherwise so detailed and contained SO MANY of these sex scenes. I felt like a good third of the book was Alex and Henry finding ways to hook up. Which, again, is fine, and it’s something that’s really common in new adult books, but I still wondered what the point was.

If you’ve read the book… the Five Guys thing. I just could not handle that. I actually rolled my eyes and asked myself if that really just happened when I read it. It was too much.

In the end, I didn’t hate this book, but I definitely didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. I can see why it’s been a big hit, but it just wasn’t what I expected given all the rave reviews I’ve read.

#romanceopoly: lgbt lane


Have you read Red, White & Royal Blue? Is it on your TBR?
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ARC review: Ask Me Anything by Molly E. Lee

Ask Me Anything by Molly E. Lee
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: ARC via Netgalley

I should’ve kept my mouth shut.

But Wilmont Academy’s been living in the Dark Ages when it comes to sex ed, and someone had to take matters into her own hands. Well, I’m a kick-ass coder, so I created a totally anonymous, totally untraceable blog where teens can come to get real, honest, nothing-is-off-limits sex advice.

And holy hell, the site went viral—and we’re talking way beyond Wilmont—overnight. Who knew this town was so hard up?

Except now the school administration is trying to shut me down, and they’ve forced Dean—my coding crush, aka the hottest guy in school—to try to uncover who I am. If he discovers my secret, I’ll lose him forever. And thousands of teens who need real advice won’t have anyone to turn to.

Ask me anything…except how to make things right.

A little over a month ago, I got an email from Entangled asking me if I wanted to share an excerpt of Ask Me Anything. A sex-positive YA book that features an awesome female hacker? SIGN ME UP. I shared that excerpt, which only made me more excited to read this book.

For the first half of the book or so, I was sure this was going to be a four- or even five-star read. I loved Amber and her friends. I loved Dean and his sister. I loved the Code Club and the whole idea of the competition between Amber and Dean. I loved the idea of the Ask Me Anything blog and I loved that the book gave reasonable, realistic advice in the form of blog posts. Simply put, I loved everything.

The second half, though? It’s not like it was bad or anything. It just wasn’t as good. Amber and Dean were cute together, but a few things happen that felt entirely unrealistic. Principal Tanner was a ridiculous character, completely over-the-top, and almost a caricature of a villain. There are also two points that I can’t really discuss without spoilers, so click below for that.

These are spoilers!Alright, so the first thing I want to talk about is Amber and Dean’s first time. In general, this book is pretty realistic when it comes to sex. I expected Amber and Dean’s first time to be at least semi-realistic. I did not expect it to be complete and utter perfection, where Dean knows exactly how to make Amber “fly apart” (or whatever euphemism the author used for having an orgasm) despite it being both of their first times.

The second thing I want to address is Tessa’s pregnancy. As I said, the majority of the book is pretty realistic. Tessa’s pregnancy, though, felt contrived, almost like something out of a bad educational film they’d have made us watch in Catholic high school health class. (That’s right, kids, have sex and you’ll get pregnant, there’s no way around it.) It seemed to add a lot of unnecessary drama without really adding to the plot, other than giving Amber and Dean an excuse to have an argument.


Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. I think it’s timely and important and I wish something like it would have existed when I was a teenager.

Quick note: This book contains many descriptions of sexual assault. If that’s something you’re sensitive to, know that it’s handled well, but it’s still a definite presence and a fairly large part of the story.

#mm19: crack the case


Have you read Ask Me Anything? Do you know of any similar books?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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