Review: Lovestruck by Kate Watson

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Sixteen-year-old cupid-in-training Kali is in an Olympus-sized mountain of trouble. Rule number one in arrow-toting matchmaking: don’t stick yourself. But accidents happen, and Kali instantly falls hard for her indie rock, bass-playing target, Benicio.

The God of Love is going to kill her. Even if he is her dad.

Being the daughter of Eros isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For one thing, a girl can get jaded when her parents have the most beautiful and fatalistic love story in history. For another, immortality royally sucks when the Oracle condemns you to eternity in the wrong profession. Do the Gods care that Kali wants to ditch the love stuff and be a muse?

Nope.

To reclaim her heart and her destiny, Kali is left with no choice but to defy the Gods, tempt the Fates, date the mortal love-of-her-life, and hope she doesn’t lose her best friend, Hector, in the process.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Lovestruck will be available April 2, 2019

I have enjoyed Kate Watson’s previous books and was very excited for Lovestruck. While I enjoyed some of it, for the most part I think it’s a case of just not being the right book for me.

I thought the first half or so of the book was kind of messy. The world-building left a lot to be desired for me. It mostly consisted of throwing out random bits of information on different characters from Greek mythology – most of whom had absolutely nothing to do with the plot. I think it also relied on the assumption that the reader was already familiar with the subject, which I’m not super into. I know there are a lot of fans of Greek mythology out there, so I can see a different audience really appreciating it.

The characters were ok and sometimes humorous, which I enjoyed, but I never really fully connected to them. Another reason why this may not be the right book for me is that there was a lot of teenage, love-triangle angst. It was one of those situations where I just felt a little too old for what was going on. However, I did like how the love-triangle resolved. Just from reading the synopsis I felt like I knew exactly how it was going to play out, but once I got into the book I realized it might go down the less obvious path and I shipped it.

Overall, I thought Lovestruck was an ok read, but just not for me. I think a younger audience and fans of Greek mythology will appreciate it a lot more than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

 

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Review: Watching You by Lisa Jewell

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A copy of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Watching You will be available December 26, 2018. 

Normally with my reviews I share the synopsis of the book, but I’m not going to do that for this one. I do have a warning, though. Apparently the edition I marked as “Want to Read” on Goodreads was the one edition that had a very inaccurate synopsis. It very clearly stated which character is murdered, however that character is not the victim. I was kind of livid about this synopsis and couldn’t understand why no other review I found was complaining about it. And then after checking 3 different book seller sites and the other editions of the book on Goodreads, I realized this was the only place I could find this wrong synopsis. So my warning to you, don’t read the synopsis on Goodreads in case you get the wrong edition (though I’m hoping this will be corrected before the book is published).

Ok, now that my little PSA is done, let’s get on to the book. Watching You follows the intertwined lives of residents in a small English town. Joey is kind of a hot mess who moves in with her brother and sister-in-law when she returns home with a new husband in tow. When she first notices her neighbor, charming and charismatic Tom, she develops an instant crush. Freddie is Tom’s son and he likes to spend his time watching and keeping tabs on the townspeople from his bedroom window. He doesn’t believe his father is the great man everyone in town seems to think he is. Jenna is a student at Tom’s school. Her best friend has a crush on Tom and Jenna finds his interactions with her friend a little inappropriate. Additionally, her mother has paranoid delusions that Tom has initiated gang stalking of her and wants everyone in town to know what a fraud he is.

I’ve read some reviews that said there were way too many people to keep track of in this book, but I have to disagree. I did not have trouble keeping the characters straight at all. Jewell is excellent when it comes to writing character development and that skill is on full display here. However, I do have to say that I did have kind of a hard time connecting to any of the characters. I didn’t feel a real attachment to any of them. I wanted to find out what happened, plot-wise, but didn’t care that much about what kind of fall out the characters faced. There were a couple of side character I did enjoy, though. Joey’s brother, Jack, and her husband, Alfie, were both really sweet. I wouldn’t have minded getting to see more of them.

Overall, Watching You kept me turning the pages, but the mystery was not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. I did like how the story showed how easily our personal perceptions could be wrong and Jewel’s writing is always enjoyable. I just felt like the conclusion was a little lackluster and the book didn’t have much of the creepy “You’re being watched” vibe that I was expecting. I also think that my overall feelings for the book were negatively impacted by that incorrect synopsis I read. I still recommend this one to Lisa Jewell fans, though, and fans of character-driven mysteries.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review

An Anonymous Girl will be available January 8, 2019. 

After loving The Wife Between Us by this author duo, I have had sky high expectations for their follow up novel, An Anonymous Girl. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met.

It took me quite a long time to get into this book. I found the first third or so of it incredibly boring. I didn’t really care about either of the main characters. For awhile everything Jess did got on my nerves. I just didn’t think her behavior made sense. I did eventually start to enjoy it a little more, but it kind of came in waves. I was hooked for sections here and there, but mostly the pacing was just far too slow for me. In the previous book by these authors I also had a problem with the pacing, but the multiple big twists made up for it. Unfortunately here, there are no big, shocking twists to save it. There are several things that I guess are supposed to be surprises or small twists, but nothing happened that I didn’t already guess.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because of spoilers. I will say that I thought the whole thing was a little far fetched. Whenever Jess “figured something out” I always felt like it kind of came out of nowhere and was a little too convenient. One positive thing I will say, is that I thought the writing was pretty seamless between the two authors. Their writing styles complement each other very well and despite my  disappointment with this book, I’ll still read more from them in the future.

Overall, An Anonymous Girl failed to live up to my high expectations. I never connected with the characters and didn’t really care what happened to them and found the overall mystery itself a little lackluster. I am upping my rating from a 2 to a 3 due to the seamless writing of the two authors and because there were a few moments here and there that I enjoyed myself. From the other reviews I’ve seen of this book so far I am clearly in the minority, so this still may be worth your time to give it a try.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

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Review from Goodreads:

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, CJ Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned reader.

I received a copy of this title via Netgalley. It does not impact my review. 

The Hiding Place will be available February 5, 2019. 

What Worked For Me

-I’m a big fan of Tudor’s writing style. I love the banter, the dark humor, the well-executed multiple timelines. Even though I felt like the pacing was a little too slow for much of the book, I still wanted to keep reading. There’s just something compelling about it.

-Joe. Joe was not exactly a likable character, but I actually liked him a lot. He comes across as an underdog and how can you not root for the underdog? I loved his sense of humor, even it was kind of dark. He’s had a lot of bad things happen in his life and I liked that even though he kept making a lot of bad decisions and was pretty cynical, he still had a sense of hopefulness.

What Didn’t Work For Me

-So, you all know how much I hate it when a surprise supernatural element pops up in a story. I go from reading a believable mystery/thriller to something I can’t take seriously. I honestly think this would work much better marketed as Horror instead of Mystery. I mentally just put it in the Horror category and so it didn’t bother me as much as something like this normally would.

-While there were some surprises at the end of the book, I didn’t really see the point in some of them. It’s hard to explain it without getting spoilery, but I really felt like what happened in Arnhill when Joe was young and why he’s back were the heart of the story, and tacking on an extra reveal at the end that you didn’t even realize you were supposed to be trying to figure out seemed unnecessary.

Overall

Overall, I did enjoy The Hiding Place. I liked the writing and the characters – namely Joe. However, the supernatural angle and the unnecessary final twist did sour me a bit. Still, I think fans of Tudor’s previous work will enjoy this one, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of Once Upon a Wine, a new novel set in the charming seashore town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware.

When everything has gone to the dogs . . .

When Jocelyn Hillier is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

In Dog We Trust will be available January 8, 2019.

After a couple of really heavy reads, I needed something light and uplifting and In Dog We Trust was just that. I really enjoyed visiting Black Dog Bay again. It’s such a cute, quirky little town that I wish was real so I could go there. I liked that there were some brief cameos of characters from previous books, but you definitely don’t have to have read any of them to be able to read this one.

I thought the idea of this book was really fun. I’ve heard of eccentric, rich people leaving all their money to their pets, but never really understood how that worked. Jocelyn is named the guardian of three champion show dogs and that means she gets to move into their big, fancy beach house and controls all the money. Despite becoming rich overnight, Jocelyn never goes crazy with the money. She still works her previous job and only makes a couple small purchases that aren’t dog-related. I liked that she stayed so level-headed with all of that money. I also really enjoyed her relationship with the dogs. She is definitely a die-hard animal lover and while I may not entirely relate to it, I know there are lots of dog lovers out there that will really get it.

I liked the romance, though it was not nearly as central to the plot as I expected it to be. Jocelyn and Liam’s relationship grew pretty organically without any big, sweeping romantic moments, but employed smaller sweet and subtle ones. There was a lot more focus between Jocelyn’s relationship with her best friend, Bree, and with her mother, Rachel. I loved seeing these three strong women interact and get stuff done.

There were a few things I didn’t like, though. There are some legal things that happen towards the end of the book that I didn’t love how they turned out, but I also would’ve like a little more clarity on the whole thing. I also expected dog shows to be much more prevalent. We only see one show and none of the diva-like high maintenance upkeep that is described in the synopsis.

Overall, I really enjoyed In Dog We Trust. It was light and fun and I never wanted to put it down. I’ve been looking forward to reading more from Beth Kendrick and she didn’t disappoint. I think Chick Lit fans and dog-lovers would really enjoy this one, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay #6) by Jill Shalvis

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

I received a copy via the publisher. It does not impact my review. 

I’ve really been in the mood for cute romances lately and Hot Winter Nights definitely fit the bill.

I liked both Molly and Lucas. I thought they really complemented each other well and made a good team. I thought they got together, physically at least, a little more quickly than I would’ve liked, but I did definitely ship them together. I enjoyed their banter and how they had each other’s backs. I also liked how Molly’s physical disability was portrayed. Though she had some struggles, she didn’t let it keep her from doing the things she wanted.

There were a couple of things I found a little odd. One thing I’ve noticed about this series is that all the chapters are titled with hashtags and for the life of me I can’t understand why. Social media is not really a part of the story at all and I just don’t get the hashtags. Speaking of social media, though, I also recognized a lot of the funny one-liners from Molly’s friends or the elderly elves were actually from memes I’ve seen on Pinterest. Other than those small things, the only thing I didn’t really like about the book were that there were a few more sexual scenes than I care to read, but from reading other Shalvis books I kind of expected it so it didn’t really hinder my enjoyment that much.

Overall, I enjoyed Hot Winter Nights. I thought it was a cute romance with likable lead characters. I liked that the investigation plotline brought a little bit of action and suspense, as well. I definitely recommend this one to Romance fans, especially fans of Jill Shalvis.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

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 (RoomiesBeautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely not dating, no matter how often they 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?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating will be available September 4, 2018. 

I’ve had some mixed reviews with the Christina Lauren books I’ve read so I’m never really sure what to expect when I pick one up. However, I do know that there will be some addicting writing that will make the book hard to put down and Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was exactly that.

Hazel. I’m having a hard time deciding on my feelings towards her. Since I have recently been binging old New Girl episodes on Netflix, I’m going to compare her to Season 1 Jess. They really leaned into the whole “adorkable” angle and sometimes she was a little unbearable. In later seasons she was still quirky, but in a more endearing way. In some parts of this book Hazel was kind of aggressively quirky in a Season 1 Jess kind of way. But in others, she was just a little odd and cute. I didn’t find her character all that consistent throughout the story. Even though she often stated that she knew she was a lot to handle and she wasn’t going to change for anybody, I also got the feeling that she felt kind of sorry for herself about it and wished she could? There were times I felt like she was trying to be different for the sake of being different. Then there were other times where she seemed pretty normal. As you can see, I still feel a little conflicted about it. Overall, I think she could be a little unbearable at times, but I mostly enjoyed her.

I was a much bigger fan of Josh. He was so funny and sweet and I just adored him. I liked how protective he was of Hazel. Even though he could come off uptight about a lot of things, he seemed to be the perfect amount of laid back to be able to go with the flow with Hazel. I liked his relationship with his sister and his parents, as well. We get a little bit of information on Korean culture from him, but I would’ve liked a little more.

I’m a fan of the Friends-to-More trope so I shipped Josh and Hazel. However, I wish it would’ve taken a little longer for them to really fall for each other. We get both their POVs which means we find out basically right away that Hazel has always had a thing for Josh and then Josh pretty quickly starts to like her, too. However, they both think they’re wrong for each other and they’re both unsure how the other feels and by getting both POVs it kind of takes away all the tension. It just kind of made me annoyed with both of them. There were still some really cute and romantic scenes, though (and several graphic scenes I could’ve done without, but I’m sure other readers will appreciate).

Overall, I enjoyed Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. It was cute, funny, and I shipped the romance. However, Hazel was kind of hard to take at times and there wasn’t a moment where I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen next. While the story utilized one of my favorite romantic tropes, Friends-to-More, it also employs one of my least favorites (I’m not going to say which since it’s too spoiler-y) and I have to say that dampened my overall enjoyment a bit. I do definitely recommend this one to Romance fans, though, especially Christina Lauren fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars