The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

the unhoneymooners

Thank you Netgalley and Gallery Books for the copy of this book. Even though this book was free, it in no way affected my opinion of it!

official blurb
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.  Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.  Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

my blurb!
An unlucky twin is awarded a trip to paradise, the only catch being that she has to take the vacation with her least favorite person.

4.5 out of 5                                                                1.5  / 5 steam level

what i liked
Wow this book was so funny you guys! Because I read an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC), I can’t give you quotes until it comes out. But I loved this book and laughed out loud multiple times! I’ve read a few of Christina Lauren’s books now and they are great romcom writers!  I feel like if I’m in a book funk or wanting to be generally cheered up then I automatically reach for a Christina Lauren or an R.S. Grey book!
Now this book is a romcom, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it isn’t amazing and that it doesn’t tackle bigger topics.  (I see you, romcom hater!)  Believing the voice of women? Check. Perception changing your circumstances? Check. Honestly, the book was deeper than I was expecting it to be! And I loved that! Big tallies in the pro column for me.
Let’s go ahead and give a big holler for featuring one of my favorite tropes in a book! Enemies to lovers! *Holler!!!*  The only storyline I like more than enemies to lovers is fake relationship. Guess what…. this book featured both! *gasp!* I know, I’m telling you, run- don’t walk – and go buy this book!
The Unhoneymooners also featured a lower steam level then I am used to from CL.  This is a definite pro for me, because in general I tend to enjoy a book more if it’s not a 5 steam level. And this was nowhere near 5 flames of steaminess!
I have read quite a few stories featuring twins in the last year (99 Percent Mine, The Identicals).  This was the first book  which featured twins that were likable!! It was seriously a breath of fresh air. Finally twins I could get behind!!!  And truthfully don’t we all kind of root for twins? I blame the Parent Trap – it made me pro twin!

what i didn't like
You guys know that I love an epilogue. This book featured one! I know, you’re wondering why this is in the negative column for the book then.  Hold your horses little miss horsey holder! (Gilmore Girls reference anyone?).  The characters were together for like 2 weeks and their relationship progressed so quickly. It seemed as if they had been together for years.  Then there’s the epilogue which is like one year later. I was surprised at where the characters were. I expected them to be further along relationally. There was something about it that made me think they still didn’t know each other that well.  I don’t know, it just didn’t flow with who the characters were and where their relationship was for the whole book.  Which in turn made me like their relationship less because I felt like they were tiptoeing around each other.
Overall this negative aspect didn’t detract too much for me and I would still definitely recommend this book.

while reading you should
Do: get a firm grip on your stance about buffets. Pro or Con? I’m personally con.
Listen: To this playlist I created on Spotify
Eat: something made to order… because hopefully at this point you’ve realized you don’t like buffets.

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Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey

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official blurb
Lucas Thatcher has always been my enemy. It’s been a decade since I’ve seen him, but our years on opposite coasts were less of a lasting peace and more of a temporary cease-fire. Now that we’re both back in our small town, I know Lucas expects the same old war, but I’ve changed since high school—and from the looks of it, so has he. The arrogant boy who was my teenage rival is now a chiseled doctor armed with intimidating good looks. He is Lucas Thatcher 2.0, the new and improved version I’ll be competing with in the workplace instead of the schoolyard. I’m not worried; I’m a doctor now too, board-certified and sexy in a white coat. It almost feels like winning will be too easy—until Lucas unveils a tactic neither of us has ever used before: sexual warfare. The day he pushes me up against the wall and presses his lips to mine, I can’t help but wonder if he’s filling me with passion or poison. Every fleeting touch is perfect torture. With every stolen kiss, my walls crumble a little more. After all this time, Lucas knows exactly how to strip me of my defenses, but I’m in no hurry to surrender. Knowing thy enemy has never felt so good.

my blurb!
The Hating Game meets Grey’s Anatomy.

4.25 out of 5                                                                  5 / 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Do you remember how much I loved The Hating Game?  Yes? Okay, I may have mentioned it excessively.  Well, this book had a lot of vibes of THG.  I laughed so many times while reading it- Grey knows how to write sarcastic and hilarious girls!
I read this book in one sitting! I know, it seems like it should be an automatic 5 star rating then- but we’ll get to that part in a second.
I loved Lucas!  I love a man with a plan.
I loved the trope!  Compete with each other and then fall in love doing it? Yes! I love it, what’s not to love?
This book had an epilogue and it was great.  It needed the epilogue, and I enjoyed it!  I am so pro epilogue – if there was ever some form of politics involving books, I would run for senate and that would be my platform. “No more love triangles! Say yes to epilogues!”
I loved the mom and the BFF in the book. They were manipulative (in the best way), supportive, and hilarious!
I’ve mentioned that Grey is funny- but you might not believe me yet.  Here’s some quotes I laughed at in the book:

“I’m 28 and have never declared my love for a significant other. My biggest commitment so far is buying a Roomba.”

“Another bright spot for me is that men regularly mistake my exhausted ramblings and honest deprecation as humor and personality.”

“I’m having what I can only assume is a hot flash. Maybe the sight of a glistening Lucas has caused me to tumble into early menopause.”

She’s funny right?! Right.  I’m so glad we had this conversation.

what i didn't like
Of course you know me by now, and know that I don’t like a 5 steam level. It’s really hard for me to give a book I really loved a required reading status, if it’s too steamy for me.
In THG – pranks are played. I enjoyed it.  In this book, something felt too juvenile about a lot of the pranking.
There are some scenes where our main characters have to share a living space.  I wanted more out of these scenes to see what their normal lives would’ve been like.  I felt like I was kind of robbed of that.  (Too dramatic?  Ohhhhkay fine).

while reading you should
Act: make an appointment for your yearly physical
Listen: Anything You Can Do by Bing Crosby
Watch:  Grey’s Anatomy
Read: The Hating Game again!

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The Magician’s Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis

the magicians nephew

 

official blurb
In this unforgettable story, British schoolchildren Polly and Digory inadvertently tumble into the Wood Between the Worlds, where they meet the evil Queen Jadis and, ultimately, the great, mysterious King Aslan. We witness the birth of Narnia and discover the legendary source of all the adventures that are to follow in the seven books that comprise the series.

my blurb!
Read chronologically, this is the first book in The Chronicle of Narnia series, telling the origin story of the creation of Narnia.

4 out of 5

what i liked
This was a great start to The Chronicles of Narnia series. I really enjoyed reading it!  I had a hand injury when I started doing this buddy read, and was in a bit of a time crunch to complete it – so I actually read the print version and listened to the audiobook version in order to finish it on time.  And I would recommend either version of this book.
This is written for young readers.  I know you’re wondering, “How do you love it so much when you’re not a young reader?”  First of all, don’t be rude. Secondly, I really enjoyed the writing style! I was nervous that the old english would overtake me, but because it was written for kids it was a lot less intimidating!
This book features great quotes, amazing life lessons and a lot of Christian allegories throughout.
My favorite part about it, was probably all of the snide references about people who think they’re better than everyone else.
Shout out to Polly (why isn’t that name more popular by the way? What a cute name!) and to Aslan.  They were my favorite characters in the book!
The last big pro of the story for me was the final chapter.  It was a great wrap up for the story- almost more epilogue-ish.  And I love a good epilogue!

Now, I know I mentioned this is a kids book, but I also feel the need to mention that the queen was SCARY.  Lewis did a great job with her, I had no compassion for her whatsoever because – wowzah- that woman was out of control.  This isn’t in the pro or con column for the book- but I wanted to mention that if you’re thinking about reading this book to your kids.

what i didn't like
Diggory was so completely annoying in this story.  He is one of our main characters and oh boy, I found him so frustrating.  The uncle in the story was also way too much for me, but it made you really dislike him and he wasn’t supposed to be likable so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
There are a lot of statements about women being lesser than men throughout this book.  Insults to girls overall.  Now, this book was dedicated to a girl, and I feel that Lewis overall does have the girls stand above the boys as far as plot goes.  So if you’re studying the book, you would probably notice that and let it go. However, since this is a book for children, I’m not sure if they would easily separate the girl insults from the overall character arch.

while reading you should
Do: go on a walk in the countryside.
Listen: Zero by Hans Zimmer
Drink: tea. (this is an English book, afterall)

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My Favorite Half – Night Stand by Christina Lauren

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official blurb
Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single. So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic. But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

my blurb!
A frelationship goes awry when someone isn’t able to own up to their feelings.

4 out of 5

what i liked
Do you love a frelationship? Because I do.  What’s a frelationship, you ask?  Well it’s a made up word that is basically a friendship that is dysfunctional and basically functions as a relationship but either one or both members of duo don’t realize it.
Reid is so likable that it almost makes Millie less likable.  I know that’s kind of insane but I was rooting for Reid so hard, that Millie getting in her own way made me mad bc I was team Reid!
The writers (remember how I mentioned in my Dating You, Hating You review that Christian Lauren is a pen name for an author duo?) did an AMAZING job writing a friend group.  I mean, I loved it.  At first it might feel a little complicated because there are a lot of people to remember, but you get over that pretty quickly and by the end, each member of the crew has their own distinct personalities.
I recommend reading this book as an actual book and not an e-book (although I haven’t actually seen the e-book formatting) because there are some chat, text, and email communications that are formatted really well in the book and actually help you distinguish between different members of the friend group.
The ending was great- no spoilers but I personally appreciated the way it wrapped up.
This book was such a fast read for me. I would be excited to read it when I got in bed, but I would make myself put it down by 10pm so that I could get some good sleep time in.  Okay, fine, 1030pm! Sheesh!  I read it in 3 sittings and easily could have done it in one or two if I had the time.

what i didn't like
I hate characters who constantly get in their own way.  While I didn’t hate Millie, I needed her to mature faster than she did.
There were a couple of sex scenes in this book. The first one is SO steamy!!!! Then the next few- almost no steam!  I wish it would have been more consistent.  If it stayed steamy, I would’ve adjusted my review accordingly- and if it had less steam the whole time I would’ve done the same.  As is, it messes with who you can recommend the book too because the beginning is so much steamier than the rest of the book.

while reading you should
Do: take interest in someone else’s passions.  You’ll learn something just because the other person is so excited to talk about it!
Listen to: You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift
Eat: pizza

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Prayers of Blessing Over My Marriage by Bruce H Wilkinson

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I received this copy from Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased review.

official blurb
Do you feel as though you are going through the motions in your marriage? Is your relationship feeling a bit frayed at the edges? Prayer is one of the most powerful tools God has given us to change ourselves and our relationships from the inside out—which is why it’s the best resource we can possibly turn to for revitalizing a marriage.   New York Times bestselling author Bruce Wilkinson brings you this book of guided prayers for seeking God’s blessings upon your marriage. As you pray in specific ways for your relationship, you’ll experience new joys, and your confidence will grow as you see God’s daily provision abound for you and your spouse.  As the Bible says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” Ecclesiastes 4:12. Experience the blessings and strength of a threefold marriage when you devote yourself to daily prayer without ceasing.

my blurb!
A daily reading book to read with your spouse to strengthen your marriage.

4 out of 5

what i liked
I really enjoyed this book.  It featured prayers that I read out loud over my marriage. I read them with my husband and without him but always enjoying the prayers that were included.
The writing was well done, and there’s nothing in the book that I didn’t agree with.  The prayers were well thought out and powerful!
I got this book as an e-book and I would be really interested in getting a paper copy- it’s definitely the type of book that you could make your way through and then just start it over again.

what i didn't like
This isn’t exactly a negative, but I was expecting an entire book of prayers. Similar to A Diary of Private Prayer – that I read every day.  This book does feature prayers, but is not entirely prayers.  Each day has an excerpt to read with a story, or a verse, or a teaching- which is followed by a prayer.  Because I was expecting entirely prayers, I was a little disappointed about that but it’s not really a negative.

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The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

official blurb
Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.  She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.  Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

my blurb!
City girl encounters sky cowboy in Alaska while trying to reconnect with her dad.

4.5 out of 5

Let me start by saying- this is not your typical romance novel.  I’m actually not ENTIRELY sure this is a romance novel- it could potentially be adult fiction.  But I feel like if sex is mentioned, then why can’t it be a romance novel?  Romantic movies and porn aren’t the same.  Neither are romance novels and erotica!  (You’re welcome for drawing that conclusion for you.  I know, I should be like a writing teacher or something right? So. Insightful).

what i liked
Wren- he was such a solid character.  I understood him and I liked him!
Simon- hello good stepfather! I mean, I am SO pro a good step parent- it could just be the old disney movies in my head, but I always assume they’re going to be the stereotypical step parent who should be banished to the ends of the earth.  Well, that’s not the case for Simon. You’ll love him, trust me.
I loved the name Calla – and overall I did like her.  I was nervous when she was proclaiming herself anti-confrontation, because in general I am pro confrontation and I really don’t like to read about characters who just whine in their heads all the time but never do anything about it.  So Calla wasn’t nearly as annoying as I thought she was going to be- and I did actually end up really liking her.
Agnes…. Okay wait. I’m sensing a pattern here.  I am actually going through the book and listing almost every main character.  Wow.  Okay, so I guess I enjoyed all of the characters in this book!
I LOVED the setting.  I mean, Alaska is DEFINITELY bucket list for me, and even more so after reading this book. I. Must. Go. To. Alaska.
I liked reading about the world of bush pilots! Something I never would have thought to ever spend any time imagining and now, I feel as if I’ve lived among them.

what i didn't like
I didn’t looooove Jonah. I know, this is going to be an unpopular opinion.  I didn’t dislike him, but I certainly wasn’t obsessed with him.  Here’s why- and this is FACT- he’s kind of a jerk.  I am NOT into the idea of someone who is SO judgemental of Calla so he totally messes with her just to entertain himself! Also he completely shames her for caring about her appearance, and nicknames her Barbie. Truth be told she may care too much about her appearance, but there’s no winning there- people who don’t care about their appearance have to have makeovers and people who do have to care less.  Down with the appearance shaming! The whole uppity girl- can’t help but fall in love with rugged jerk of a guy. NO! I’m done with that. I’ve watched Gilmore Girls approximately 12987059021 times – and have lived through Rory and Jess. Nope, I’m not into it.  Try to change my mind. Go ahead….
Really though, Jonah wasn’t awful- I just wasn’t personally remotely swooning for him.  What can I say, he just didn’t do it for me.

while reading you should
Eat: beef jerky
Listen to: Can’t Help Falling in Love by Kina Grannis
Do: Learn to drive a manual car
Request: My Oxford Year from the library because if you like this one then you’ll like that one!

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Beard Science (Winston Brothers #3) by Penny Reid

winston brothers 3

 

official blurb
Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate. And desperate times call for Cletus Winston. Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So… what’s a maniacal mastermind to do? Likely, the last thing you expect.

my blurb!
The Danny Ocean of rural Tennessee gets manipulated by the person he least expected.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
OMG you guys, this one was the best one so far.  I read it so quickly.   Let me tell you, I did expect this to me my favorite because I’m slightly obsessed with Cletus and his manipulative ways throughout the previous books. I was NOT disappointed. Cletus is the best!!! Let me tell you why he’s been my favorite since book one – he is so odd and quirky and vindictive and and sneaky – I love it all!
A lot of pros in this book- also the pros of reading the books in order- you get so many snippets of the previous characters lives in the other books! It’s so fun.
Jennifer is a fun and sad and open. She is an amazing heroine in the book.  I’m also slightly obsessed with her.  Do you remember in Truth or Beard when I said I just wasn’t in love with Duane and Jess?  That is clearly not the case for these two love birds.  I loved Jenn’s response to Cletus when he asked her what she wanted to be:

“A mother,” I said simply, because it was true.  That’s what I wanted first and foremost.  “And a really excellent wife and partner.  And homemaker.  I want to have a family to take care of, to love and fuss over and think about.  That’s what I want.  I know it’s not progressive or flashy, and I know people don’t place much importance on that stuff anymore, just like people don’t put much importance on humility and kindness, forgiveness and compassion.  But those things are important to me.  I know people will look down their noses at me for being just a mom, but I’m used to being marginalized for what I do and what I look like.  And I think being a great mother is the most difficult and most important job in the world.”

I mean, you guys! This quote is the bees knees!  It reminded me of Mona Lisa Smile when Julia Stiles says a similar sentiment to Julia Roberts.

what i didn't like
Now that I’ve been raving about this book you are wondering yourself why I didn’t rate it 5 stars.  Well you are right to wonder and I did almost rate it 5 stars but there are still two things as a whole in this series that I don’t LOVE.
The steam level. Truth be told, in this book it is lower than the others but then it gets right up to bat with the other books towards the last 8th of the book or so.
The biker gang plot.  I know- I should just accept it. It’s part of the plot! I just don’t like it, I’m sorry!

while reading you should
Listen to:  The Best of You and Me by Number One Gun
Watch: Mona Lisa Smile
Do: Bake! (And a tip from me to you, bake precisely as the recipe instructs.  It’ll be a game changer).

Future predictions for the other Winston Brothers books:
Claire and billy. Beaue and Shelly. Roscoe and ? (Who will Roscoe end up with?!)

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