2018 Book #79 – Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

51R44pJdXnLTitle: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 9/7/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (RoomiesBeautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely notdating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had just recently read my first book with this author in July and LOVED it so I was excited when this book became available for review. And I’m so glad that I got to read it, I ended up loving this book too. Hazel as a character was hilariously funny. She was sweet and precocious and just utterly charming. I was infatuated with her from the start and she really drew me in through the rest of the book. I really liked Josh too, but my favorite thing about him was how much he loved and accepted Hazel just for being who she was. The plot was somewhat predictable, friends turn to lovers and fall in love, but the authors imprint such emotion into the story that its astounding. And the characters were all wonderfully developed and like-able – Hazel is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. I didn’t want to put this book down, and while the last book I read by this author duo was poignant and touching, this one was lighthearted and fun. Reading this book just made me feel so happy and light and I wish I could read 100 more like it. I’d highly recommend this one.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #56 – Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

51voySJEiTLTitle: Love and Other Words
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 7/3/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Pages in book: 433
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

My rating:  5.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read anything by Lauren in the past, but I’ve heard a lot of good things from various other readers so I was excited to give this one a try. This is going to be a hard one for me to write down though, not because I didn’t like it but because there honestly just aren’t enough words to describe how this book made me feel. The emotions and reactions this book invoked from me were powerful and raw. The plot was perfectly captivating, it has been a long time since I’ve read a book that so perfectly captures what that first love feels like. There is joy, but hand in hand with the joy there is also pain, and the situation in this book in particular led to intense heartbreak. Reading the development and intensity of Elliot and Macy’s relationship though was like a testament to true romance. I just couldn’t put it down, I stayed up until one in the morning last night reading it. This book was a roller coaster of emotion that I didn’t want to end. I just can’t say enough, I loved this book and everyone should read it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #34 – All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

61NMINqPepLTitle: All the Ever Afters
Author: Danielle Teller
Date finished: 4/26/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Pages in book: 373
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss and Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have recently enjoyed the influx of fairy-tale retellings and the tales that are told from a different point of view. I loved the movie that came out a few years ago, Maleficient, and of course one of my all time favorites in this vein was the musical, Wicked. From these stories we learn that evil is not born but made, and truthfully is decided by the story-teller. Tales are exaggerated and told to paint the story teller in a sympathetic tone so that the reader will empathize with their plight. Agnes as a character was much easier to empathize with than I expected, especially considering how well the Cinderella story was ingrained in my mind prior to reading this book. Agnes as a character though was so strong-willed and determined to find a better life both for herself and for her daughters that it was easy to root for her success. And while many things in her life could be defined as “unfair,” her logical approach never let that fact weigh her down and instead she persevered in spite of the unfairness of her circumstances. At first I found the narration to be a tad overly wordy but after a little bit of adjustment it was easy to read, and the words painted such a vivid portrait that infused the text with emotions and feeling. I enjoyed this book immensely and I love that by reading it the reader is made to re-think the truths of good and evil. This was truly an enjoyable novel and I would definitely recommend it, especially for fans of the Cinderella story.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #18 – The Last Girl by Joe Hart

51QUznf0TsL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Last Girl
Author: Joe Hart
Date finished: 3/6/16
Genre: Fiction, dystopian fiction
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages in book: 386
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Dominion Trilogy
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my “PopSugar 2016 Checklist” reading challenge, marking off the “a dystopian novel” box since this book is a dystopian novel. I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz about this book over the last month or so and when I saw it on NetGalley (even though I saw it the same day it was published and I’m already swamped) I requested it because the plot sounded so interesting. A dystopian novel where there are only a few women left in the world because of a virus that pretty much only lets new babies be born as boys? Sounds freaking great. And boy it was!
This book centers around Zoey. She doesn’t have a last name because she has never been told what her last name was. This was done purposefully, the staff who have raised her at the ARC are raising her to help the “greater good,” not to be her own person. Zoey is one of a handful of women left at the research facility, the rest supposedly having moved on to the “safe zone” once they graduated at 21. Zoey can feel an evil undertone to her life at the facility though and she knows that everything isn’t what it seems, and that most likely all the girls are being lied to. I don’t want to talk too much about the plot line of the book because honestly its just full of surprises and twists and suspense. I will say that Zoey ends up uncovering what’s really going on there, and she fights back to try and save herself and the other girls living at the facility.
Overall I really liked this book. The plot line was interesting and creative and suspenseful, and though there was a good amount of violence through the story it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. Zoey is a great lead for this book, she learns how strong she is during the story and the reader really gets to see her grow into her own force. The battle scenes in this book are intense and thrilling, you’ll be on the edge of your seat. It isn’t a great comparison because the stories really aren’t that similar, but I could see this being the next Hunger Games-like craze. I am really looking forward to the next book (I’ve already pre-ordered it) which luckily comes out near my birthday!

The bottom line: I have to put a disclaimer in here that there are some pretty violent/gory scenes. In all fairness I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to that kind of stuff but still, was pretty violent for me. It definitely didn’t take away from the story line though, VERY interesting plot and just a crazy creative idea. Loved it and would definitely recommend! Can’t wait for the next one.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page