Review: The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

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

The Soulmate Equation publishes May 18, 2021. 

First, I want to address those “eugenics” criticisms. I’ve seen reviews that say using DNA to match people together automatically falls under eugenics, but I don’t really agree with that. I think there needs to be actual intent to (or results that) only match certain demographics of people with other certain demographics of people for it to be considered eugenics – which is obviously repulsive. It’s not what’s going on in this book at all, though. I do feel like the authors could have gone a little bit more out of their way to make this distinction more clear, though. And while we’re on the topic of science, I thought it could have been handled a little more thoughtfully than it was. There is a lot scientific terminology thrown out in short bursts and I found it all pretty confusing.

I also struggled a bit with the main character, Jess. She made so many assumptions on River before ever even talking to him, that it colored all of her interactions with him once they officially meet and she was so rude. She went on and on about how he was the worst when she was the one that was acting so horribly. It drove me a little crazy. As she eventually gets to know him and realizes she was wrong about him, I started to like her a little more, just to get frustrated again by how she reacted to the Big Conflict. The unevenness of her character really brought down my overall enjoyment of the book.

While Jess wasn’t my favorite, I did really like River. He made a couple missteps – including how he handled the Big Conflict, as well – but other than those he was pretty perfect. He was sweet and romantic and probably one of my favorite male characters Christina Lauren has written. I also enjoyed Jess’ grandparents and daughter. I thought they were all kind and supportive and I wouldn’t have minded seeing a bit more of them.

Overall, I enjoyed The Soulmate Equation, but I didn’t love it. While there was some good banter occasionally and I shipped the romance, my struggle with the main character brought everything down a bit for me. While this one may not be my favorite Christina Lauren book, I look forward to checking out whatever they write next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

With one week to win back the best friend she might just be in love with, a travel writer plans the trip of a lifetime in this sparkling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart–she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown–but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together–lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

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

People We Meet on Vacation publishes May 11, 2021. 

Emily Henry’s Beach Read was one of my favorite books of 2020, so I had very high expectations for People We Meet on Vacation. While I’m not sure it will make my 2021 Favorites list, I still definitely enjoyed it.

I absolutely loved the relationship between Poppy and Alex. They had amazing banter and it was obvious how much they cared about each other. So many of their scenes just put a big smile on my face. The chapters jump around between the present and the past, where we see many of their summer trips, going back from when they first met twelve years ago. I enjoyed both timelines and being able to see the evolution of their friendship.

While I loved the humor and the romance, there were a few things that brought the story down for me. There was some subtle bashing of religion, which I found a little offensive. There was also a lot of build up to the big Croatia trip that ruined their friendship two years ago and it ended up being pretty anticlimactic to me. It was a short chapter and I expected a bit more than what actually happened. I also was a little confused about how impactful to Poppy’s life she kept saying the people she met on her travels were, when there were very few examples of that in the actual story. I can only think of a couple of examples and they left no lasting impact to me.

Overall, People We Meet on Vacation was a very cute story. It had terrific banter and several adorably romantic scenes. The characters were likable and I loved their friendship. I felt like it was a little messy at the end, though. What happened in Croatia and the fall out didn’t feel like it lived up to all the build up about it. I also felt like too much was crammed into the final chapters. Trying to make the theme of the title so important at the end when there was very little about it in the rest of the story was a little jarring. Despite that, though, this is a book that I see myself re-reading in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Where Secrets Lie by Eva V. Gibson

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Told in two interwoven timelines—the summer when everything changed, and the summer that changes everything—Where Secrets Lie is a seductive thriller as dark as it is enthralling.

Amy Larsen has spent every summer with her cousin Ben and their best friend Teddy in River Run, Kentucky, loving country life and welcoming the break from her intensive ambitions and overbearing mother—until the summer she and Teddy confront the changing feelings and simmering sexual tension growing between them, destroying the threesome’s friendship in a dramatic face-off.

One year later, Amy returns to River Run dreading what she might find. But when Teddy’s sister disappears, Amy, Ben and Teddy agree to put aside their differences to search for her. As they dig deeper into the dark history of their small town, all three friends must unearth the truths that tie their families to tragedy, cope with their own toxic upbringings and beliefs, and atone for the damage done to each other and themselves.

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

Where Secrets Lie publishes April 20, 2021.

While I had some issues with it, I remember enjoying Eva V. Gibson’s angsty debut, Together we Caught Fire and I was really looking forward to her follow up. Unfortunately, this one did not work for me.

My biggest issue was that I was pretty incompatible with the writing style. I don’t like a lot of description or imagery and this book is over the top with the imagery and metaphors. It didn’t work for me at all and honestly just really annoyed me. I’m sure there will be readers that will love this aspect of the writing, but I have very little patience for it.

I thought all the relationships in this book were toxic. Amy and her whole extended family are obviously dysfunctional, but I thought the friendship between her, her cousin Ben, and her friend Teddy was pretty awful, as well. Honestly, I thought they were abusive towards each other and the way they kept coming back together over and over again was like a beaten spouse that can’t leave a marriage. Even if there were a couple of sweet or funny moments thrown in, I never stopped wanting these kids to get therapy and less-toxic friends.

The whole mystery aspect of the story didn’t really work for me, either. I felt like it made the story just drag on and on, as nothing they investigated brought about the resolution. Also, my very first suspect early on in the story ended up being the villain. There were a couple of other big “secrets” that I thought were super obvious long before they were revealed. I also thought that with the heavy and serious subject matter, throwing in pages upon pages of Amy being mad at Teddy for not returning her romantic feelings in the way she wanted him to was ridiculously petty and childish.

Overall, Where Secrets Lie was not for me. I didn’t connect with the writing style and could never really get on board with either the mystery or the romance. The one bright spot in the book was Ben, who I actually really disliked about half the time, but still found pretty compelling.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sophie Lawson should be enjoying her sister’s wedding day. But nothing could have prepared her to see the best man again.

After her mother became bedridden and her father bailed on the family, Sophie found herself serving as a second mother to her twin brother, Seth, and younger sister, Jenna. Sophie supported her siblings through their college years, putting aside her own dream of opening a bookshop in Piper’s Cove—the quaint North Carolina beach town they frequented as children.

Now it’s finally time for Sophie to follow her own pursuits. Seth has a new job, and Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance.

When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart?

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

Bookshop by the Sea publishes April 13, 2021

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Denise Hunter book, but I thought Bookshop by the Sea looked pretty cute. Her books are often hit or miss for me, but this one ended up somewhere in the middle.

I really enjoyed the beginning as Sophie and Aiden found themselves stuck together after seven years apart. I liked seeing them start to communicate and forgive each other. Once they hit that point, though, I kind of started to lose interest. I felt like the pace dragged and there wasn’t really much plot. I also wasn’t completely sold on them rekindling their romance. For one thing, Aiden is dating someone else for the first half of the book. He goes to great pains to say they’re not exclusive, but it still made him come across a little skeevy.

There was some added drama with Sophie’s family being basically awful and selfish people and Aiden dealing with abandonment issues. While I think there were some good lessons learned, it was all crammed into the ending, where everything was resolved surprisingly easily.

Overall, Bookshop by the Sea was just ok for me. It had a promising start and while Hunter seemed to know where she wanted all the characters to end up, it felt like the middle was kind of phoned in. While this one wasn’t really for me, I’ll still be checking out more from this author in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: To Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just five months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout to turn the store into a parking garage. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.

I received a copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley and Edelweiss.

To Sir, with Love publishes June 29, 2021

There is nothing like a Lauren Layne book to break you out of a book rut and uplift your mood. Her books are often among my most anticipated of the year and To Sir, with Love did not disappoint. I really loved it!

The premise of the story is a familiar one. Two people who meet and start off on the wrong foot with each other don’t realize that they’ve just met the person they’ve been anonymously corresponding with.  In this case, they’ve been messaging as “Sir” and “Lady” on a photo free dating app when Sebastian comes into Gracie’s fledgling champagne shop offering to buy out the remainder of the lease. An offer she resents, letting that resentment transfer over to Sebastian. 

Sebastian begins to win her over, though, and I loved watching it unfold. Their animosity towards each other pops up occasionally, but didn’t overshadow all the cute moments going on. I was definitely shipping Sebastian and Gracie and was anxiously waiting for them to figure things out. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the chat excerpts between them that were interspersed throughout the story. There was some good banter that I always enjoy. I do have to say, though, that since it’s obvious to the reader that Sebastian and Sir are the same person, I got a little annoyed at Gracie for taking so long to figure it out. All of the times she’s debating about her feelings between Sir and Sebastian seemed a little fruitless to me. However, it eventually all comes to light in a very sweet scene, so it still worked for me.

Another thing I really liked about this story is that the romance falls more on the sweet side. Those that are familiar with Layne’s other books know that she often includes a couple of explicit love scenes, but there aren’t any here and it made me like the book even more. 

In addition to to the romance, I loved the friendships and family dynamics. Gracie’s friend and neighbor, Keva, was funny and I wouldn’t mind seeing a book about her in the future. I also enjoyed Gracie’s siblings, Caleb and Lily, and I loved Lily’s husband, Alec. They were so supportive of Gracie and I liked seeing them grow closer. 

If there is one thing that I didn’t really care for, though, it’s the title of the book. It’s also the title of a movie. At first I thought this was supposed to be based on the movie, but it isn’t at all. I understand how the title works for the book, but I maybe would have changed a word so there would be no confusion in trying to compare it to the movie. 

Overall, I really loved To Sir, with Love. It was such a sweet story and I enjoyed every minute I was reading it. The characters were likable and the romance was shippable. I was feeling like I was in a book slump when I started this book and it pulled me out of it. Rom-Com fans will definitely want to add this to their TBR list for this summer!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon’s sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

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

The Ex Talk publishes January 26, 2021. 

I really liked the premise of The Ex Talk. Fake Relationship is my favorite romance trope and I liked the twist to make it into a Fake Ex-Relationship. Add in my love of any book that includes journalists or writers and this book seemed like it was made for me. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it still did have several enjoyable moments.

I liked Shay and Dominic together. There was some terrific banter between them that put a big smile on my face while I was reading. I really liked seeing them become friends and then become more. I thought they complemented each other well and I enjoyed every scene where they were cute together.

While Shay had likable moments, I found her frustrating most of the time. She was the definition of someone who keeps getting in her own way. She was very self involved and spent a lot of time blaming other people for her problems or her feelings. I especially didn’t like how she handled the big dramatic moment with Dominic.

While normally I love stories about journalists, it was just ok for me here. The book starts with Shay extolling the virtues of public radio and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. She came off as so superior and condescending. And then her great big idea to revolutionize public radio is a dating show? Really? There was a lot of the characters having these ideas that they thought were so terrific that seemed kind of lame to me.

Overall, The Ex Talk ended up being just ok for me. While I really enjoyed Shay and Dominic’s banter and their growing relationship, the rest of the story was kind of hard to make myself get through. Shay’s total self-involvement, the too frequent sex scenes, and the overall superior attitude of the characters really brought the story down for me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Shipped by Angie Hockman

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

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

Shipped publishes January 19, 2021. 

Shipped started off pretty strongly for me. It had some fun banter and reminded me a lot The Hating Game. The characters were likable enough and the cruise setting was a nice change of pace. However, I felt like the story shifted focus towards the end and I started to lose interest. It ended up being just ok for me.

I did ship Henley and Graeme. The Hate-to-Love trope was more one-sided, with Henley not liking Graeme, but at least there’s a valid – if misguided – reason for it. I thought Graeme was really sweet and I liked watching how Henley’s view of him started to change.

Where the book started to lose me was when it shifted away from the romance and got kind of preachy about environmental issues. There’s even a kind of lengthy note from the author about it, along with a call for donations. There were also a few other blink-and-you’ll-miss-it social issues brought up that nothing really happens with. Homophobia. Immigration. Domestic abuse. It felt like halfway through the cute romance, the author suddenly remembered she wanted to write something with a little more substance. The things that happened with Henley’s work situation also played out in a really unrealistic and kind of cheesy manner.

Overall, Shipped started off strongly for me, but I started to lose interest by the end. While I don’t have a problem with Hocking trying to draw attention to environmental and social issues, they weren’t included as seamlessly as they needed to be and it made the latter half of the book a little jarring. However, if you like a dose of environmental activism with your Romance, Shipped might be for you.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Mistletoe Trap (Heart in the Game #2) by Cindi Madsen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the moment Julie sees her best friend, Gavin, in the airport, it’s like no time at all has gone by instead of months and months. No matter how long they’ve been apart, their relationship has always been steady, comfortable, and decidedly just friends. Even though their meddling parents have hung what seems like unlimited amounts of mistletoe everywhere she goes this holiday season, Julie knows some things will never change.

Gavin is well-aware his family’s wanted him and Julie to get together since forever, even though he’s been friend-zoned since they could talk—and he’s been happy to play that role. After all, as the new starting quarterback for the San Antonio Mustangs, he’s got enough on his plate without adding romance to the mix.

But between playing elves in the holiday bazaar to nights spent one-on-one watching rom-coms or soaking in their town’s hot springs, suddenly the “reverse parent trap” they’ve fallen into is actually starting to work. But this could be one scheme where letting themselves get trapped might be way too dangerous.

Each book in the Heart in the Game series is STANDALONE:
* The Wedding Deal
* The Mistletoe Trap

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

What I Liked:

*I love a good Friends to More Romance and Madsen does them well. I really enjoyed Julie and Gavin’s friendship and shipped them to get together.

*Though I thought their parents bordered on rude and over the top sometimes when it came to wanting Julie and Gavin to be together, I did really like how close their families were. It’s nice to see happy marriages and even nicer to see big, happy families. It made me wish my family was as close to another as Julie and Gavin’s are.

*I liked the small town and all the cute holiday traditions.

*While I had some problems with the evolution of their relationship (I’ll get to that), I liked the big, cheesy, romantic gesture at the end. It was cute and made me smile.

What Didn’t Work for Me:

*I’m not a fan of the whole “looking for a casual fling” thing. After Julie breaks up with her boyfriend and he calls her boring, she decides she needs a fling to prove she’s not boring and also improve her bedroom skills. This is kind of a common Romance plotline and I never appreciate it. It made me like Julie a little less.

*I also am not a fan of the Friends-with-Benefits plotline. Though we know that the couple are obviously in love with each other, I didn’t like that they – especially Gavin – chalked it up to just being a new physical attraction and wanted to work it out of their systems and then move on with their friendship. I also didn’t like how either one of them handled the fall out when they realized it wasn’t that simple.

*I thought the book was a little longer than it needed to be. For how little actually happens in the book, it could have been about half the length.

Overall

Overall, I did enjoy The Mistletoe Trap. Though it’s definitely not my favorite Madsen book, it had it’s cute moments and helped put me in the holiday mood. If you’re looking for a Christmas Romance, you should give this one a try.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Owe You One, an utterly delightful novel about a woman who ditches her dating app for a writer’s retreat in Italy–only to find that real love comes with its own filters

“As close to perfect as romantic comedies get.”–Jenny Colgan, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner

Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities–Ava and Matt–must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

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

Love Your Life publishes on October 27, 2020. 

Love Your Life was pretty classic Kinsella. The story was cute with charming, if sometimes very frustrating, characters.

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this book. The cast of characters and quirky situations they found themselves in made me laugh out loud often. While they all were a little unbelievable, Ava and Matt’s group of friends were definitely my favorite part of the book. I loved the scenes when they were all together and the banter was great. I even though Matt’s awful parents provided opportunity for a lot of humor.

While the friendships were great, the romantic relationship is what I struggled with. Ava and Matt have a whirlwind romance during a one week writing retreat where they’re not allowed to use their real names or talk about their personal lives. They both form a picture of who the other person really is and declare their love by the end of the retreat. They’re thrilled to find out they both live in the same city, but they quickly find out that their real life selves are not anything like what they expected. They forge ahead into a relationship anyways, even though it’s obvious from the start that they are totally incompatible. What really drove me crazy, though, was how Ava tried to pretend like everything was fine.

Have you ever noticed that the people who yell about tolerance the loudest are often the most intolerant people? That was Ava. She came off like she was free spirited and accepting of everything and everyone, but in reality she was very judgmental about anything that differed from what she thought. She also blamed all of the relationship problems on Matt instead of admitting anything wrong on her part. Matt also didn’t help things by refusing to communicate most of the time. I honestly thought this story would end up with them not being together. I even found myself rooting for Ava to wind up with one of Matt’s roommates. However, as this is a Romance, the moral of the story is obviously going to be more about how love can help people change for the better instead of how it sometimes doesn’t work out.

Overall, I had a pretty good time reading Love Your Life, but my frustration with Ava kept me from enjoying the story as much as I wanted to. I loved the group of friends and could have gone on reading much more about them. While the romance did work out for me in the end, the journey there left me more annoyed than anything else. This wasn’t my favorite Kinsella book, but I’ll definitely still be reading more from her in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners, asks what happens when wishes come true…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

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

In a Holidaze publishes October 6, 2020. 

Whenever I am in a book slump, I can always count on Christina Lauren to pull me out. Before I picked this up, I hadn’t been having great luck with the books I was reading, but In a Holidaze definitely broke me out of my rut.

The story ended up being a little different than I thought it would be, though. The synopsis mentions “hilarious disasters” send Mae back to start the day over and over again and I guess I expected a little more hijinks. What sends her back are life-threatening accidents – and not funny ones. And she didn’t “reboot” as often as I expected, either. I thought there would be several reimaginings of the same scene, but this was limited to only one or two specific scenes before that part of the plot was basically left behind and Mae goes on to live several days in a row that we hadn’t seen before. This isn’t really a bad thing as I like how the story unfolded, I just wish the authors would have committed a little more to the hook of the plot.

That said, I enjoyed watching Mae’s week of Christmas vacation unfold. Every year, her family joins a few other families at a cabin to spend the holiday together. They’ve been doing it since before Mae was even born and the week is steeped in tradition. I loved the cast of characters. They were such a fun, close group of people and I would love to have a group like them in my life. Included in that group is Andrew, who Mae has had a crush on for half her life. He’s always thought she had a thing for his younger brother, so he’s always treated her like more of a little sister than potential love interest. When Mae decides the universe is telling her to go for it with Andrew, she lets him know how she feels and a bit of a slow burn romance begins.

I really enjoyed the romantic development between Mae and Andrew. He was just so sweet. It seemed almost impossible that he could be so perfect and I kept waiting for him to do something awful. Thankfully, he is just a really great guy. There was a bit of time where I got annoyed with him for how he reacted to something, but overall I thought he was a great romantic lead and I definitely shipped him with Mae.

Overall, I really enjoyed In a Holidaze. While I wish it had committed to the whole “groundhog day” gimmick a little more, I liked the romance and the family atmosphere of the cabin. While I did like Mae’s journey to becoming a more confident person, I thought the “big lesson” was a little underwhelming and could have done without a passage regarding religion that I found a little offensive. However, Christina Lauren’s addictive writing and the cute romance definitely broke me out of the reading slump I was in and this book is one I would recommend to Romance fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars