Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole | Review

Thank you so much to the publisher for approving me for an eARC of Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole. All thoughts and opinions stated throughout the review are my own and are no way impacted by receiving a copy of the book.

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: March 19th, 2019

Dates Read: March 12th, 2019

Pages: 128

Publisher: Avon Impulse  

Genre: contemporary, romance, adult 

Goodreads blurb:

Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She’s finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.

Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?

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A&B by J.C Lillis | Review

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Star-Divider

Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: November 29th, 2016

Trigger Warnings: heartbreak, biphobic comments

Pages: 326

Genre: young adult, romance, contemporary, LGBT+

Goodreads blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Barrie Krumholtz is a super-tall optimist hell-bent on a single goal: securing a slot on Pop University, a reality show for singer-songwriters helmed by her #1 musical idol. When she humiliates herself on national TV and loses a spot in the finals to smug balladeer Ava Alvarez, the door to Barrie’s well-hidden dark side swings open. Never a quitter, she uses her bitter envy of Ava to shape a bold new artistic direction, and people love it. But when Ava ropes her into a secret collaboration, it sparks feelings neither girl expected—feelings that might threaten their creative identities and distract them from their professional goals. 

Can love and ambition live side by side? Is happiness an art-killer? They’ll figure it out with the help of a blue guitar named Fernando, a keyboard named Rosalinda, and a few new friends who feel like home.

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More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer | Review

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Star-Divider

Rating: ★★★★★

Release Date: March 6th, 2018

Trigger Warnings: homophobic comments (challenged), rape, abuse (graphic), racism, divorce, sexual harassment, harassment, kidnapping (?), PTSD, anxiety, violence

Pages: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance

Goodreads blurb:

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.  

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Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer | Review

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Star-Divider

Rating: ★★★★★

Release Date: April 4th, 2017

Trigger Warnings: school shooting joke, grief, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, car accident, cheating, the death of a sibling, the death of a parent, alcoholism

Pages: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Genre: contemporary, young adult, romance

Goodreads blurb:

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

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Undone By The Ex-Con by Talia Hibbert | Review

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Star-DividerRating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Trigger Warnings: homophobic comments, murder (off the page), emotional abuse, drug addiction

Pages: 370

Publisher: Nixon House

Genre: contemporary, romance

Goodreads blurb:

To protect her brother, Lizzie must seduce the man she despises…

Isaac Montgomery is a killer. A savage. He doesn’t belong in the glittering world of high-society, but somehow, that’s where he’s ended up. 

After all he’s been through, it should take more than a prima ballerina with a cut-glass accent to get under his skin. But when Isaac meets Lizzie Olusegun-Keynes, he doesn’t just lose his cool. He f$*king melts.

Lizzie is losing control of her body, her life—and her desires. She shouldn’t want a man like Isaac, a man who’s rough and coarse and forceful, but the lust that sparks between them is impossible to ignore.

When a sinister power threatens Lizzie’s beloved brother, the decision is taken out of her hands. Like it or not, she’s forced to get close to Isaac.

There’s only one problem: she’s starting to fall for the brooding ex-con.

The ex-con she has to betray.

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Whisper by Lynette Noni | Review

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Star-Divider

Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: May 1st, 2018

Trigger Warnings: dead parents, torture, ableist language (insane & crazy used), graphic panic attacks, anxiety, murder, miscarriage mention

Pages: 320

Publisher: KCP Loft

Genre: science fiction, young adult, fantasy, urban fantasy

Goodreads blurb:

For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four — ‘Jane Doe’ — has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word.

As Jane’s resolve begins to crack under the influence of her new — and unexpectedly kind — evaluator, she uncovers the truth about Lengard’s mysterious ‘program’, discovering that her own secret is at the heart of a sinister plot … and one wrong move, one wrong word, could change the world.

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A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas | Review

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a completed copy of A Court of Frost and Starlight in exchange for an honest review. I promise that receiving a copy has no way impacted my views and all thoughts are my own.

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Star-DividerRating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: May 1st, 2018

Trigger Warnings: alcohol dependency, excessive alcohol drinking, PTSD, depression, death, sex

Pages: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia

Genre: new adult, fantasy, magic 

Goodreads blurb:

The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we’d have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I’d now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it. 

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Tempests & Slaughter by Tamora Pierce | Review

Thank you so much to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of Tempests & Slaughter in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and receiving a copy of the finished book does not affect what I think. 


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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: February 6th, 2018

Trigger Warnings: racism (challenged, somewhat), murder, prejudice, mental health mentions, grief, dead parents, sexism

Pages: 465

Publisher: Hachette Australia 

Goodreads blurb:

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie. 

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

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Meet Cute by Various | Review

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Pages: 320

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Goodreads blurb:

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real. 


The Meet Cute anthology was an interesting one. There were so many authors and so many stories. Some I couldn’t wait to end and others I wanted to be extended to fill the pages of a novel. For this review, I’ve tried to review each story featured in this anthology. They’re quite short but I find it difficult to rate an anthology as a whole (3 is what I just figured was the average among these).

This collection definitely was super cute and I do love meet-cute stories. Some definitely stood out. I would recommend this collection though if you’re looking for a short read to fill a rainy day.


SEIGE ETIQUETTE BY KATIE COTUGNO

STORY ONE – 3 STARS

I’m not sure this was the best start to the novel. I feel there were so many other ‘meet cute’ stories throughout the novel which were better suited for the first story – ones that would have had a better impact. I enjoyed the writing style and I did gush, but there was cheating and abuse which wasn’t dealt with and only very briefly mentioned that made me feel slightly uncomfortable about the whole thing.

I also hate people who are self proclaimed popular so I had that issue with the main character, since she knows she’s popular. I feel like there were just little facts in the story that, ultimately, didn’t add to the overall story and actually took away from me being able to enjoy it. I felt for her backstory, but she really did ruin it by being a self righteous bitch.


PRINT SHOP BY NINA LACOUR

STORY TWO – 4 STARS

This was the first f/f romance in the book and I loved it. It wasn’t as if it was anything special but the writing itself and the characters the author created in those few short pages were incredible. It shows just how talented the author writing it was.

I was so engaged it the idea of the print shop (especially since it was a queer business). The author didn’t rush a single moment. It all felt super organic and very well written to me. I was completely involved with the main character as she did her best to help the client in need. Print Shop was just super feel good and fluffy, if the idea had been extended into a full novel I would be so happy!


HOURGLASS BY IBI ZOBOI

STORY THREE – 3 STARS

This was when the lack of conclusions in this anthology really started to get to me. I also had a problem with every character but the main one in this particular story.

Our POC MC just wants to escape her small town despite all the waitlists she’s been placed on, her best friend ended up backstabbing her and she’s 6’5 (a queen). Her meet cute doesn’t really start until the end. Quite literally the last two pages or so it happens. So, it felt like a lot of build up which ultimately had a good ending. I just wanted a bit more interaction so I could root for the two characters some more!


CLICK BY KATHERINE MCGEE

STORY FOUR – 4 STARS

Click was one of my favourites in the anthology. The author creates such authentic and deep characters so quickly that had my heart racing. I loved the concept of online dating – it’s hard to meet people and online dating shouldn’t be shamed. I absolutely adored the twist as well.

I’m not even sure what to say, I loved how the MC was a smart girl and the love interest was a good guy. It just made me feel happy and mushy and the overall message was super sweet.


THE INTERN BY SARA SHEPARD

STORY FIVE – 2 STARS

The Intern was flat as heck for me. There was no climax. There was no moment I rooted for the two characters. Nothing. I felt for the main characters as much I felt for the cast of the new Jumajii movie (nothing).

I’m not too interested in ‘celebrity falls for normal girl and she makes him remember his passion’ trope either, which this fell into it. It really did have that classic love cures all vibe too which I am not down for in the slightest. There was also just no connection between the characters, they didn’t know each other long enough for what concluded.


SOMEWHERE THAT’S GREEN BY MEREDITH RUSSO

STORY SIX – 3 STARS

This particular story featured a transgender (male to female) character. Nia is in quite an accepting environment, with her dad accepting her and her friends. The problem is the church and the schools won’t acknowledge her gender in order for her to use the correct bathrooms. A part of this reason is that a girl in her grade has spoken out against Nia on the news on behalf of her church.

To rectify her choices this girl decides to out herself to her peers, recording it so her conservative parents will 110% see it.

My problem with this particular meet-cute was the fact one girl had to out herself. I just didn’t think she was ready to do so from her inner monologue. Maybe I’m wrong, and I completely understand I may be, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.


THE WAY WE LOVE HERE BY DHONIELLE CLAYTON

STORY SEVEN – 4 STARS

Now, this was an interesting concept. I’m not even sure if I can really find the words to accurately describe this story or even give my views. This isn’t a contemporary story like the others, this one is straight up urban fantasy with the inclusion of a thing called a love bond. I’m not even sure if I truly understand the concept to explain it either.
The writing style, however, was beautiful. I loved the characters the author was able to create in the few available pages she had. The story was so engaging and one of the few in the anthology that I didn’t pause while reading. I was simply so involved in what was happening on the page. This was yet another concept I wanted to be extended into a novel so I could truly get a feel for it.


OOMPH BY EMERY LORD

STORY EIGHT – 4 STARS

This was one of my favourites in the anthology. It was another f/f romance that left me feeling mushy and wanting to scream. The girls pretend to be CIA and FBI agents in an airport while they wait to board their separate flights. It was honestly nothing too original or too out of the ordinary but the authors writing left me desperately grasping for more once I finished the story. It was such a romantic read that I was shocked it wasn’t extended into a full novel.


THE DICTIONARY OF YOU AND ME BY JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT

STORY NINE – 5 STARS

This particular story was my favourite. It featured a library-based romance that left my heart racing at the sheer adorableness of it all. I know this story had its flaws, obviously, but from the first page I was grinning ear-to-ear and desperately yearning for more. This was yet another story that could have been a novel, the idea definitely could have extended more than just a few pages and I would not be mad.


THE UNLIKELY LIKELIHOOD OF FALLING IN LOVE BY JOCELYN DAVIS

STORY TEN – 1 STAR

I don’t have much to say about this particular excerpt in the anthology apart from boring. The whole story was so analytical that I was left confused at all the jargon. I also just didn’t care as soon as math was mentioned. I am terrible at math and as soon as it’s mentioned in fiction or real life I instantly check out.

I also was not feeling the love connection either. This would have been to the quick changes of scenes. We’d get a few paragraphs about something and then a quick change. It made the whole story feel disconnected and the flow felt extremely off.


259 MILES BY KASS MORGAN

STORY ELEVEN – 3.5 STARS

I was so excited by this story, we were finally getting a male perspective after all this time. I’m not sure why but I expected more male perspectives. I absolutely loved the concept of having to go to Mars to create new life. However, the conclusion of this story left me feeling unhappy since it wasn’t a happy ending. Who allowed this? I was not okay.

Basically, fuck everyone. This story made me feel things and then ruined me.


SOMETHING REAL BY JULIE MURPHY

STORY TWELVE – 3 STARS

This did not go where I thought it was going. Honestly. A celebrity dating show where two girls compete in order to score a date with the celebrity on national TV. How nice. Sounds like my worst nightmare. The two girls competing couldn’t be more different on paper either. However, literally everything goes wrong and the end had me definitely like ‘what?’ It was cute though.


SAY EVERYTHING BY HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK

STORY THIRTEEN – 2 STARS

Now, this was the definition of mediocre for me. It read the exact same way as the author’s full-length novels and didn’t exactly vary from the plot line either. It was a very forbidden love like with the twist (if you can call it that) thrown in.

I don’t really have much to say. At one point I got some The Greatest Showman vibes but not really. It was just super mediocre and nothing to brag about.


DEPARTMENT OF DEAD LOVE BY NICOLA YOON

STORY FOURTEEN – 3 STARS

I think Nicola Yoon works much better for me in a short story format than her novels. I really do enjoy her short stories in the two anthologies I’ve read that feature her. It was super engaging, super messy and just overall reminded me of the concept of More Happy Than Not.

It was just a very interesting story and a pretty fun concept of meeting someone who realises you are over your previous partner.


Happy reading everyone!

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The Studying Hours by Sara Ney | Review

 

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: September 13th, 2016

Pages: 307

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads blurb:

CRUDE. ARROGANT. A**HOLE.
No doubt about it, Sebastian ‘Oz’ Osborne is the university’s most celebrated student athlete—and possibly the biggest douchebag. A walking, talking cliché, he has a filthy mouth, a fantastic body, and doesn’t give a sh*t about what you or anyone else thinks.
 
SMART. CLASSY. CONSERVATIVE.
Make no mistake, Jameson Clarke may be the university’s most diligent student—but she is no prude. Spending most of her time in the hallowed halls of the library, James is wary of pervs, jocks, and douchebags—and Oz Osborne is all three.

She’s smart, sarcastic—and not what he expected.
  
…EVERY DOUCHBAG HAS HIS WEAKNESS.

He wants to be friends.
He wants to spend time with her.
He wants to drive her crazy.

He wants…

Her.


R E V I E W

Hi everyone! I’m so sorry I didn’t post last week, I didn’t do a lot of reading because I was celebrating the holidays with my family and I barely had time to pick up my laptop to write a review. It was difficult, but having only read two books it wasn’t too hard. I actually went three days without picking up a book because I was so tired #oops.

Starting The Studying Hours I didn’t expect a lot. I had started possibly 10 books before finally continuing with this particular one. Shockingly enough, it was exactly what I needed. It was fluffy, the perfect read I needed. Not a lot happens but the slow burn romance with a hate to love trope shoved in made me so happy.

I had some pretty big problems with The Studying Hours, mainly the douche of a male lead, but I also had things I liked. One of my biggest hates was the ‘not like other girls’ cliche that ran through the book. James was supposed to be a nerd but she could kickass on the snowfields and that makes her soooooo different. I 110% rolled my eyes. Also, to anyone reading this, stalking the person you are interested in isn’t cuteOz (the love interest) manages to get onto a ski trip that James is going on and lies about being her cousin to share a room. Totally gross and totally something I was not on board with throughout this novel.

My favourite thing had to be that James was kickass. She wasn’t taking a single one of the wrestling boys shit and was reading to kickass if someone so much as tried to mess with her. In some ways, I saw myself in her and that was pretty cool. I hate reading the stereotypical introvert virgin ‘nerd’ in books, so it was great to get a different take on it. It was nice for something different.

The Studying Hours also reminded me of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne which is straight up one of my favourite books. It had a similar burn throughout the text that made me watch to jump back into The Hating Game (I can’t because a friend is currently borrowing the book).

There’s not too much to say, overall, on The Studying Hours. It is your cliche new adult book with another layer of depth. A jerk hero with a battered past and a softer side for the female lead, who doesn’t give two shits about him. It was what I needed and the writing was fast paced and easy to read in a sitting. I will definitely be checking out the others in the series when I am in need of a light read.


Happy reading everyone!

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If you use my Book Depository link I will receive a 5% commission from your order at no expense to you. I would sincerely be grateful if you chose to use it.

The same goes for my Booktopia link, which is a great service for Aus and NZ residents.