Review: Imagine Me (Shatter Me #6) by Tahereh Mafi

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The explosive finale to the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shatter Me series.

Juliette Ferrars.

Ella Sommers.

Which is the truth and which is the lie?

Now that Ella knows who Juliette is and what she was created for, things have only become more complicated. As she struggles to understand the past that haunts her and looks to a future more uncertain than ever, the lines between right and wrong—between Ella and Juliette—blur. And with old enemies looming, her destiny may not be her own to control.

The day of reckoning for the Reestablishment is coming. But she may not get to choose what side she fights on.

Sigh. What a let down. Despite not being very impressed with the last couple books, I was really hoping for a great finale. Something to make this continuation of the original series worth it. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. *Beware some mild spoilers here on out*

I have to say that I immediately set out on the wrong foot with this book when I realized that the chapters were being divided between Juliette’s and Kenji’s POVs instead of Juliette’s and Warner’s. Warner remains the only consistently good thing about this series, so I was upset that we only got a couple of chapters from him at the end (more on that later). After the first few chapters, I kind of got over it, though. Based on the novellas from Kenji’s POV, I was expecting all of his chapters to be about his feelings and blossoming romance, but thankfully they weren’t that bad. Unfortunately, though, just not a lot happened in either his or Juliette’s chapters. It was a pretty boring story, to be honest.

So, let’s talk about Juliette. She spent most of this book crazy, though it wasn’t really her fault. Her all-powerful sister was messing with her mind in the beginning. Then she gets captured and gets experimented on. When it’s finally time to be “rescued” it’s Warner that brings her back…by going to second base. Seriously. With all hell breaking out around them, they make out topless and that’s enough for Juliette to remember who she is. *Sigh*

So, now let’s talk about Warner. He spent about the first half of the book just being sad and angry about Juliette being gone and not really talking. But once he finally starts to engage, he was the Warner I loved again.

“Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I’m thinking about all the people I’d like to murder.” – Aaron Warner.

He is absolutely the only reason I continued with this series and, as I said earlier, was the only consistently good thing in the whole series.

So what about the rest of the characters? Who cares? Mafi certainly doesn’t. The epilogue was about one of the most pointless two chapters I’ve ever read. It’s supposed to be Juliette and Warner’s wedding day, but we don’t actually see a wedding. Other than finding out it’s been two weeks since they took down the Reestablishment, there’s not really much said about what happens now or the fates of the rest of the cast. Adam makes a small appearance, but we don’t find out what happened to him before or where he will go from here. Kenji’s relationship that he pined over for two novellas wasn’t given any more mention. A couple characters showed up to talk about a burst pipe and bring a puppy for Juliette and Warner to hold. I mean really? THIS is the ending of the series the author always envisioned?

Overall, Imagine Me, was a complete letdown. Other than the love I will forever have for Warner, continuing this series felt like a waste to me. I know I’m going to be in the minority with this opinion, so if you enjoyed the last couple books, maybe you’ll enjoy this one too.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: I Hate You, Fuller James by Kelly Anne Blount

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

I hate you, Fuller James.

I hate your floppy hair and your lopsided grin and those laughing blue eyes that always seem to be laughing at me.

I hate that you’re the most popular guy in school and I’m still the girl who sneezed and spit out her retainer on someone at a middle school dance. It’s just such a cliché.

I hate that I’m being forced to tutor you in English and keep it a secret from everyone. Because otherwise it might put our basketball team’s chances at winning State in jeopardy, and even though I hate you, I love basketball.

I hate that it seems like you’re keeping a secret from me…and that the more time we spend together, the less I feel like I’m on solid ground. Because I’m starting to realize there’s so much more to you than meets the eye. Underneath it all, you’re real.

But what I hate most is that I really don’t hate you at all.

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

I Hate You, Fuller James publishes March 2, 2020. 

I was hoping something fun and cute would break me out of my reading rut, but unfortunately I Hate You, Fuller James didn’t end up being that fun or that cute.

The whole tutoring premise started out a little rough for me. The principal of the school straight up blackmails Wren into tutoring the star basketball player. He threatens her with not only multiple days of detention, but suspension because she was caught on video throwing food during a food fight in the cafeteria. The suspension would also mean she would miss out on a prestigious STEM camp. However, if she tutors Fuller, that will be her only punishment. And Fuller’s punishment will be…getting tutored. We later find out that someone else caught on camera throwing food only gets two days of lunch-time detention – which won’t interfere with his spot on the basketball team. So that was all ridiculous enough, but then the basketball coach, who is also Wren’s uncle, asks them both to keep the tutoring a secret. The reasoning is that if the rest of the team finds out their star player may not play in the first game if his grades don’t improve, the team will implode and they’ll never make it to State. That makes perfect sense, right?

So when Fuller is caught by one of his friends going to a the library with Wren for his first tutoring session, he covers for it by making a bet about how he’s hooking up with Wren and will trick her into being his girlfriend and then he’ll dump her. Of course, once he gets to know Wren he realizes she’s the most wonderful girl in all the world and tries to cover his tracks on the bet so she they can be together and she won’t get mad at him.

This book was ridiculous. There were a couple of cute moments here and there, but honestly Fuller just said so many gross things in the beginning of the book that I could never quite like him. Wren was really naive and emotional and very self-involved and I found her a little hard to like, as well. I kept hoping something big would happen later in the story that would make me love it, but it didn’t happen. Even the Big Romantic Gesture, which was based off of two movies I really enjoy, felt very lackluster to me.

Overall, I Hate You, Fuller James left me very underwhelmed. The initial premise with the tutoring didn’t work for me and Fuller’s behavior in the beginning of the book really kept me from rooting for him and Wren later in the story. However, I am definitely not in the target audience age range for this book, so those that are may find this much more enjoyable than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Yours in Scandal (Man of the Year #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A political golden boy and the woman of his dreams take the risk of their lives in a sexy romantic comedy of strange bedfellows and second chances by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Fresh off being named Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, New York City’s youngest mayor, Robert Davenport, decides it’s time to strategize. Next move: a bid for the governor’s seat. In his way: an incumbent with a flawless reputation. He also has an Achilles’ heel: an estranged wild-child daughter with a past so scandalous it could be Robert’s ticket to victory. And a charm so irresistible it could be Robert’s downfall.

Rebellion is a thing of the past for Adeline Blake. As New York’s premier event planner, she’s all about reform and respectability. Then she’s approached by Robert to organize the party of the season. Curious, considering he’s her father’s most formidable opponent. And alarming, too. Because Addie can’t help but fall for the righteously popular candidate with the movie-star smile.

Now it’s Robert’s choice. Does he pursue a future that holds his legacy? Or the woman who holds his heart?

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

Yours in Scandal will be available March 10, 2020.

I have been in such a reading slump lately and a new Lauren Layne book was just what I needed. I loved this book!

I must admit I was a little wary that the male lead in this book is a politician. I read to escape from politics, so I don’t generally appreciate it in my fiction. However, there actually isn’t a lot of politics involved. Yes, Robert is the Mayor, but he’s honest and doesn’t play dirty and there’s not any mention at all of Red vs. Blue nonsense. I appreciated that Layne was able to have a story about a politician without pushing any political agenda.

I loved the romance between Robert and Addie. Though I thought their relationship happened maybe a little bit fast, I definitely shipped it. They had some great banter and chemistry. There were some very sweet and romantic moments, as well. I was hoping that Layne would continue with omitting the graphic scenes, like she did in the Central Park Pact series, but I’m sure there will be others that are glad they’re included here.

I thought there was a lot of potential for some major angst when some truths are finally revealed and I was bracing myself for it, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised with how it was handled. The couple actually communicated, took responsibility for the things they did, and maturely decided how they wanted to move forward. The whole “I can’t believe you lied to me” thing is such a common plot point in Romances and I loved that Layne took a different route here, as there were plenty of other avenues for the drama to come from. To that point, though, I had a hard time understanding why Addie’s teenage behavior from a decade ago would cause such a problem for Robert’s future campaign. I think the fact that she was the opponent’s daughter would be a bigger issue in the press, but that doesn’t seem to be quite as concerning to the characters.

Overall, I loved Yours in Scandal. Lauren Layne’s books are like comfort food to me. They never fail to lift my mood and make me happy. I definitely recommend this one to fans of Contemporary Romances and longtime Layne readers won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Series Review: Fallen Crest High by Tijan

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It’s been a long time since I discovered a series that’s completely published and have been able to binge read the whole thing at once. The Fallen Crest High series has been on my radar for awhile because Deanna loves it, but it never really looked like my thing. After a disappointing reading year in 2019, I found myself looking for books that I don’t normally read and for some reason got into SUPER ANGSTY type of books. Because of that, I decided to finally give this series a try and got hooked.

The series follows Samantha and her drama filled life with the Kade brothers, Mason and Logan. Sam’s mother is leaving her father and takes Samantha with her to her new boyfriend’s house. She meets her future step-brothers, who are wildly popular rich football players, and after some initial bad blood, the three become very close. Mason and Sam also start dating.

There are some super crazy, ridiculous, eye-rolling, cringe-worthy, unbelievable drama that goes on in this series. It features teenagers that act like adults and adults that are crazy and negligent and abusive (and a few eventually that are amazing). I didn’t love how it painted teenage girls as desperate for popularity above anything else, even self-respect. There is a lot of cheating and sleeping around. And a ridiculous amount of graphic sex scenes between Sam and Mason. There’s also a lot of violence and destruction and social wars.

All that said, this series was highly entertaining. The writing was pretty addictive and I had a hard time putting most of these books down. There was some cute romance and fun banter. The drama was so off the wall, that I just had to know what crazy thing would happen next. It did start to get a little old, though. They kind of just kept doing the same thing, just with different enemies. I did like, though, that by the end they realized they needed to make some changes in their lives and finally started to grow up. While I know this series wouldn’t be for everyone, if you’re in the mood for some angst, this is definitely a series to try.

Individual Ratings (links go to Goodreads reviews)

Mason (#0.5) – 3 Stars

Fallen Crest High (#1) – 4 Stars

Fallen Crest Family (#2) – 3.5 Stars

Fallen Crest Public (#3) – 3.5 Stars

Fallen Fourth Down (#4) – 3.5 Stars

Fallen Crest University (#5) – 4 Stars

Fallen Crest Christmas (#5.25) – 3 Stars

Logan Cade (#5.5) – 4 Stars

Fallen Crest Home (#6) – 3 Stars

Fallen Crest Forever (#7) – 3.5 Stars

Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

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

Marriage on Madison Avenue will be available January 28, 2020. 

I loved, loved, loved this! Few things make me happier than a cute Lauren Layne book and Marriage on Madison Avenue is one of her best yet.

Since their first scene together in the first book of the series, I have been wanting Audrey and Clarke’s story and it did not disappoint! This is both a Friends-to-More and Fake Relationship story, which is a combination of my favorite romantic tropes. I loved Audrey and Clarke’s friendship and I loved watching them realize their feelings for each other were more than that. Everything that happened was pretty predictable, but I enjoyed every moment of it anyways.

I thought Audrey and Clarke were both really likable characters and I was happy to see them get a happy ending. I also loved seeing the couples from the previous books, though I maintain that Naomi is much better in small doses. In addition to spending more time with the characters from this series, a few characters from Layne’s other series make appearances, which was quite fun.

Overall, I loved Marriage on Madison Avenue. I loved the characters, the romance, and the fake relationship aspects of the story. This was an enjoyable series and I think Layne definitely saved the best for last. I will miss these characters, but I look forward to whatever Layne writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics #2) by Nina Bocci

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a romantic comedy about a woman who grudgingly returns home to small-town Pennsylvania, only to find herself falling in love—not only with the town, but with two of its citizens.

Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.

She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.

With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?

A perfect blend of humor and heart, Meet Me on Love Lane is the second in a new series from USA TODAY bestselling author Nina Bocci that is sure to charm fans of Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

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

Meet Me on Love Lane will be available December 10, 2019. 

What I Liked

-I’m obsessed with that cover! I think it just screams Fall, which is my favorite season. I’m just going to ignore the fact that this book mostly takes place in the Summer and not the Fall, though…

-I love the small town setting. I wish Hope Lake was real because I would totally move there. I loved how close the residents are and how they support each other.

-I liked seeing the characters from the the first book again. We get to know Henry and Nick a little better in this installment and I am looking forward to Nick’s story next.

-I liked Charlotte’s relationship with her father and grandmother. Her grandmother was kind of crazy and unrealistic, but she brought a lot of comic relief that I enjoyed.

What Didn’t Work For Me

-While I liked Henry and Charlotte, I never really felt their chemistry. We were supposed to rely on their childhood friendship to support their strong feelings in the present, but we only get one scene with them as children, which Charlotte doesn’t even remember, and they haven’t seen each other in twenty years. It just wasn’t enough for me to buy it. I could’ve used more development.

-After Charlotte was made to move away, she completely blocked out everything from her childhood. Honestly, this was a little hard to believe. I felt like the really traumatic part of her life was living alone with her mother in New York and blocking out those memories would have made more sense.

-There was a lot of repetition in the writing. Take a shot every time Charlotte says “You’re not wrong” and you will quickly become too drunk to keep reading.

-The whole subplot with almost dating Dr. Max didn’t really accomplish anything. It was barely a love triangle, which isn’t my favorite romantic trope anyways, and it just didn’t work for me.

Overall

Overall, Love Me on Love Lane was just ok for me. I did like the characters and loved the small town setting. However, the pacing felt very slow, I was never really sold on the romance, and most of the big plot points didn’t work for me. That said, I still plan on reading the next book in the series because I like Nick.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: Blitzed (Playbook #3) by Alexa Martin

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Maxwell has finally met an opponent that he can’t best in this new football romance from the author of Fumbled.

According to Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he’s worth. She doesn’t care if he’s a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she’s not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn’t matter if he brings more customers to her business–she’s still not going on a date with him.

Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He’d been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can’t. He can’t tell anyone, so he’ll make amends and hope she’ll forgive him.

Brynn’s not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn’t impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.

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

Blitzed will be available December 3, 2019. 

I’ve really enjoyed the other books in the Playbook series and while I did like Blitzed, I didn’t think it was quite as good as the others were.

I have been looking forward to Brynn’s story for awhile now. I was glad we finally got to learn a little more about her, but she wasn’t as likable as I expected her to be. She was really hardworking and dedicated to her job and cared a lot about her friends and father, which are all good characteristics. But I also found her kind of shallow, materialistic, and a little pervy. She also had kind of extreme reactions to things that I found frustrating, especially when it came to the big final conflict. I found Maxwell more likable, but didn’t feel like we ever got to know him very well. I also liked seeing the characters from the previous books again, especially TK and Poppy.

There’s a bit of a mystery involving Maxwell’s relationship with his brother, Theo. Theo keeps popping up trying to find Maxwell and Maxwell just keeps telling Brynn not to talk to him. With how many times this is brought up, I thought the conclusion to that plotline deserved a little more attention than it got. It basically provided a couple chapter’s worth of unnecessary drama with Brynn and a small bit of commentary on a current social issue, and that’s it.

Overall, Blitzed was just ok for me. I did ship the romance between Brynn and Maxwell, but I wasn’t as into them as I were the other couples from previous books. This is still definitely worth the read for fans of the series, though, and I am looking forward to more from Martin.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars