Review// You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

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Author: Sarah Hogle
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Book Length: 368 pages 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

My Review:

What can I say, I’m a sucker for contemporary romance, and this is the perfect book version of a romantic comedy. Also, that cover? Gorgeous! 😍

I loved the tension and playfulness between Naomi and Nicholas and all the silly little games they would play to get on each other’s nerves. It was done in such a way that I didn’t dislike either character, but rather was actually rooting for them to remember why they fell in love in the midst of all their shenanigans. The last quarter of the book was adorable and left me with such a happy feeling when I finished.

If you enjoyed The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, you’ll likely enjoy this too. I can’t wait to read more from Sarah Hogle and to find more contemporary romances like this in general! Lovers to enemies to lovers is definitely my thing 🙌

– Catherine

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Review// Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

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Author: David Mitchell
Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Book Length: 608 pages 
Publisher: Sceptre
Review: 3/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Utopia Avenue are the strangest British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967 and fronted by folksinger Elf Holloway, guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss, Utopia Avenue released only two LPs during its brief and blazing journey from the clubs of Soho and draughty ballrooms to Top of the Pops and the cusp of chart success, to glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome and a fateful American fortnight in the autumn of 1968.

David Mitchell’s new novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue; of riots in the streets and revolutions in the head; of drugs, thugs, madness, love, sex, death, art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder. Can we change the world in turbulent times, or does the world change us? Utopia means ‘nowhere’ but could a shinier world be within grasp, if only we had a map?

My Review:

I really enjoyed this book overall; give me a historical fiction about music and I’m always going to be eager to read it.

The author really made me feel as though Dean, Elf, Griff, and Jasper were actual icons in the 60s, and along with all the real celebrity cameos it set the scenes well. However, sometimes, I have to admit that it didn’t seem believable that they would run into that many big names so casually. I don’t know what the music scene was like back then from my own knowledge, so I could be wrong, but the cameos felt a bit too in your face at times. I think the book got off to a really strong and promising start; I especially liked the way the author wrote all the flashbacks, and as the backstories of the main characters were revealed, I began to enjoy the book more and more.

Despite that though, there were a few things I didn’t particularly enjoy. For starters, Jasper’s backstory with the Knock Knock felt too long winded – I began to get a bit annoyed by it, and I didn’t like the magical direction it took because I didn’t think it suited the book at all. I wish Griff got more of a backstory too, because after 600 pages, I still feel like I barely know his character, despite him being one of the main ones. The biggest disappointment for me though was that I really did not enjoy how the book ended. I could tell that so much thought and work went in to writing the beginning and middle parts, but the ending felt unsatisfactory and kind of like a cop out. I do appreciate that it wasn’t predictable, but I don’t think it had a satisfying ending, and it did not leave me longing for the characters and story long after I put it down.

Even though I personally wasn’t a fan of how it ended, I would still recommend this book if you like historical fiction about music and bands. It was well written overall and kept me engaged and eager to see where the story was going to go.

– Catherine

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Review// The Collector by John Fowles

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Author: John Fowles
Series: Standalone
Genre: Classic
Release Date: May 1963
Book Length: 283 pages 
Publisher: Vintage
Review: 2/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time.

My Review:

I went into this expecting a thrilling, twisted, gripping story, because that’s what the synopsis made me believe would come of it, but I guess I’m an outlier with this one because despite the book having a pretty high rating overall, it kind of flat-lined for me.

Fredrick is an entomologist – a butterfly collector. He has been watching and following a beautiful young woman by the name of Miranda around town; he fantasizes and dreams about her, and about one day making her his. That day soon comes, as he wins a large sum of money from a football pool and buys a large house with a cellar in a remote area in order to abduct and keep Miranda. The first and last parts of the book are Fredrick’s account of what happened, and the middle is Miranda’s, taken from the diary she kept while being held in the cellar.

The idea of the plot intrigued me more than the execution of it. Though the climax of the book is pretty obvious, it felt so anticlimactic, partially because I knew it was coming from the beginning, and partially because the book just felt that stale. I wanted so badly to care about Miranda, and maybe my rating would have been higher if I did, but most of the time she didn’t even feel like a believable person with real feelings. In most of her diary entries, she would go on and on about an unrequited love for a professor twice her age, and honestly I just did not care for it.

I do feel like I may be missing something here based on the general consensus that other people seem to have about this book, but unfortunately for me personally, it fell short of my expectations.

– Catherine

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Review// Captive Prince by C.S. Pascat

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Author: C.S. Pascat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: February 2, 2013
Book Length: 270 pages 
Publisher: Berkley
Review: 2/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

My Review:

Me, when I found out that this book is supposed to be a slow burn romance:

Oh man, I mean, it was definitely slow, so they got that part down. It just felt like I was waiting forever for something to happen between the two main characters that quite honestly never did. Not to mention, neither of the two were particularly likable or interesting to me, so even if it had happened, I’m not sure I would have cared.

If I really think about it, I couldn’t even really tell you what the plot was – all I know is that the main thing that I can’t shake about this is that there was so much rape, sexual abuse, and paedophilia that I did not anticipate going into it as I knew nothing about the book before reading. There was one character, Nicaise, who is 13 years old but sexualized so much, it made me uncomfortable. The way he’s described is very adult-like, so you almost dismiss it, but then you remember he is a child and it all just feels gross. In addition, although I appreciate all the world building and a lot of it was great, at times the description was so dense and repetitive that it was hard to follow.

The book has very mixed reviews, and personally, it wasn’t for me, but if you’re into fantasy and suuuuper slow burn romances, I’d say don’t knock it till you try it – I have a feeling the next book in the series might even be better.

– Catherine

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Review// Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

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Author: Dana L. Davis
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Book Length: 334 pages 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Review: 2.5/5

Tiffany Sly is a 16-year-old girl living in Chicago whose mother has just passed away from cancer. After her mother’s death, she moves to California to live with the man she believes to be her father, Anthony Stone, along with his wife, Margaret, and four other daughters: London, Naveah, Heaven, and Pumpkin. Before she moves, a man named Xavier shows up at her door in Chicago claiming to potentially be her father, and he wants a DNA test within the next 7 days to prove it. Tiffany is conflicted on what she should do, and who she wants to be her biological father – will it be Xavier, or will it be Anthony?

As for my thoughts, let’s just say Tiffany isn’t the only one conflicted here – on one hand, I thought this was okay, maybe even good at some points, but on the other, there were some problematic bits that tainted my overall impression.

First, I will be starting with the things I liked:

Anxiety/ OCD rep was done well– Tiffany has anxiety and OCD for which she takes medication. A lot of her anxiety has to do with death; she is scared to fly in an airplane, gets anxious when the car she is in is going over the speed limit, etc. I think her internal monologue in these situations was well written and well represented.
Marcus– Tiffany’s neighbor and friend when she moves to California; he is such a sweet character and really added some feel-good moments to the book.
Naveah– she was definitely my favourite Stone sister; she was hilarious and basically the kid that had no filter but in a very endearing way.
How accepting Tiffany’s new stepmom is of her– I honestly thought Margaret was going to be the stereotypical ‘evil stepmother’, but if anything, I felt she had Tiffany’s back more often than Anthony did, and I liked that she was portrayed in a positive light.

Now for the things I wasn’t too keen about:

The way Anthony treated the family– he took away Tiffany’s anxiety meds; slapped her across the face; took away her phone for silly reasons; made her take out her braids even though she had alopecia; pretty much abused Pumpkin, his young autistic daughter, because he didn’t want to learn how to actually deal with her autism (which could be triggering for some to read); controlled who Tiffany could hang out with; barely took an interest in actually getting to know Tiffany at all in the 7 days this book took place… and I could probably go on, but I’m going to stop for my own sanity.
• The dialogue– some of it really did not sound believable. For example, the way that Tiffany’s half sister London was portrayed and the dialogue she spoke didn’t line up for me. There was a bit of a disconnect between the two that I could never quite get over. Not to mention, the way that Anthony spoke to his family in general was disgusting at times. I hated that he tried to hide behind his Jehovah religion to justify how he treated people. In addition, there were a few fatphobic comments, as well as a comment comparing one character’s movement to having Tourette’s, which I felt was inappropriate.
• The attempt at a redemption arc for Anthony– so Anthony does and says all these terrible things for the entire book, and then there comes a point where he shows a side of himself that actually seems human, and I think the reader is supposed to empathize and start to grow a soft spot for him, but I couldn’t. The redemption arc for Anthony could not be done by that point; I really didn’t care that he was nice that one time near the end, when for the other 300+ pages he was a complete asshole. I am all for forgiveness, but I needed a bit more than one positive instance in order to care.

I really wanted to like this, and at times, I did. But the negatives unfortunately overpowered the positives here which affected my overall view of the book.

– Catherine

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