The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

glass hotel

official blurb

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I’ve only read Station Eleven by Mandel, but I loved it. In fact it is probably my most widely recommended books.  However if you’re reading this review and you’re still in the throws of coronavirus- now is not the time to read Station Eleven.  But feel free to still go over and read my review of it! 🙂

Now let’s get started with this review.  I decided to format this one a little bit differently because why the heck not.  Here are some of my notes I wrote down while reading this beautifully written book.  You can decide when you read them, what my rating should be. Because I still haven’t totally decided what this book should be rated.

  • 55 pages in and it’s really confusing. There are seemingly random numbers on the pages throughout the chapters. The chapters are written from multiple characters perspectives. There are a ton of names to keep track of and I can’t remember them all. I keep flipping back and forth to see if it’s a name from a previous section and it rarely is.
  • There’s a girl named Vincent. Who names a girl Vincent? It has taken me at least 50 pages to remember that Vincent is a girl.
  • Over 90 pages in and no real plot yet. They keep alluding to the plot but not much of anything has happened. I’m enjoying the journey though.
  • I don’t know anything about pyramid schemes other than people making jokes about Young Living. Which I think is more MLM but honestly don’t know. After reading this I’m still completely confused about it. I think it needed to be actually explained to the laymen better. Page 205, an actual explanation! Yay! (And I actually even followed the explanation with “newborn mom brain” working against me!)
  • Page 240 before the storyline of “the woman who disappeared off of the boat.” This whole time I thought it was referring to… well to someone else (I don’t want to spoil that) It wasn’t…
  • I think this book should have a different title. Maybe Ghost Stories.  You decide what you think when you finish it and let me know what you think the title should be.  I feel like Ghost Stories is a pretty strong contender.

I would recommend reading this on a Kindle. Like station eleven, only in writing style, there are roughly 7000 names in this book. Okay, you got me, not 7000. I have a flair for the dramatic. But there were a lot of names. And if you have a memory like mine, a Kindle will be your best friend for the X-ray feature.

After finishing this book I have NO idea what to rate it. I didn’t feel fulfilled with the ending and it actually seemed like it was a two different stories written in the same book. That’s not to say that the stories didn’t converge in some sense but… Not enough for it to make sense to me.

I HAVE to mention that there are little easter eggs in this book if you’ve read her other books.  I’ve only read Station Eleven, like I mentioned, but I’ve heard that some characters from her other books made their way into this one as well.  That’s right, keep your eyes peeled and you might see some of your old friends from Station Eleven in this one!  

When I say I really enjoyed the writing style, I mean it!  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

-“Why were the righteous so often irritating?”
-“One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid.”
-“It’s always possible to fail to know the people closest to us.”
-“That’s what money gives you: the freedom to stop thinking about money”
-“Very few people who go to the wilderness actually want to experience the wilderness. Almost no one.”

Okay it’s time for me to rate this thing.  I know I won’t be widely recommending it like Station Eleven.  It really had a slow but steady pace… which in fairness I think quite a lot of adult fiction has this pacing.  It seemed like different stories were all jammed into one book.  The characters weren’t very likable (I think this is a trend for Mandel that she writes “realistic” characters.  I put that in quotes because I hope that if you met me in real life I would be likable and I am also a real person.  So with all of that in mind… I think I’m going to officially rate it:

3.75 our of 5

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Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

happiness for beginners

official blurb
A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen’s well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

my blurb!
A girl who deserves better out of life decides to go on a trip where she hopes to leave with the gumption to demand better.  Also there’s a cute guy involved.

 

Okay remember how I was slightly (read: entirely) obsessed with How To Walk Away by Katherine Center?  I had so many people talking to me about this other book by her that I needed to read (I’m looking at you Kate and Joee)!  But for some reason I just never read it.  Maybe because it reminded me of Wild which I couldn’t get through?  But I finally read an ebook copy when it came in for me at the library.  Truth be told this was at least the third time I secured the ebook from the library, but I finally read it this time!  And woah… two words – freaking amazing. (I already ordered myself a copy and started annotating it).

5 out of 5

🔥 out of 5 steam level

REQUIRED READING FOR FICTION LOVERS

 

what i liked
Omg, what didn’t I like would be an easier question!!!  I’m slightly obsessed with Jake.  I was hooked on this book at the end of the first chapter.  Like couldn’t put it down, couldn’t stop thinking about it, knew I would buy it – kind of hooked.  At 60% of the way through I messaged my best friend and said “You really don’t have a choice with this question- but do you want to read this book?”  (She is going to read it of course… because she has amazing taste.  In books and in friends. hah!)
It’s so hard for me to review this without spoilers- but I will say that the message of the book is really on brand with The Gratitude Diaries (are you tired of me talking about that book yet? Too bad! I’ll never stop!!!)
There were approximately 7000 quotes in this book that I highlighted on my kindle. I’m obsessed with Katherine Center’s writing!  I’ve touted it in multiple reviews of her books but honestly- this is her calling. She is such an amazing writer!!!
I heard that Katherine Center’s next book is all about Duncan and I cannot freaking wait!!!! I’m so here for all of her writing but this book spoke to me.  It was a fictional practice of changing your mindset towards positivity. Read it!!!! Drop everything and read it!!!!
Lastly, I think it should be mentioned that I have two toddlers and a two week old newborn.  I should have been sleeping when I was reading this book. Instead I was up two nights in a row reading this. I have zero regrets. That’s how good it was!

while reading you should
Read: The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan
Do: break out some old dance moves to The Cha Cha Slide
Eat: A fish dinner
Do: unfriend exes on social media!
Do: I mean while you’re at it, you might as well go for a walk!

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Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid

knitting 1

official blurb
There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit. After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store.  To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan—aka Sir McHotpants—witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

my blurb!
A girl with a talent for random facts and lacking some social cues falls for a mysterious guy dubbed Sir McHotpants.

4.5 out of 5

                                                            🔥 out of 5 steam level

Wow did I miss reading Penny Reid books! I think this is my last free month of Kindle unlimited and I haven’t decided if I’m going to pay for the subscription or not but this month the entire knitting in the city series by Penny Reid is free on Kindle unlimited! Do you guys remember how much I loved the Winston Brothers series? I actually loved them more than my ratings even show you, because I’ve missed hanging out with that family! so, I should probably go back and move up the ratings for that series!

This book featured another dynamic leading woman! It wasn’t overtly mentioned that she was on the spectrum but her characteristics were that of having a photographic memory, reciting a lot of facts in social situations, and being oblivious to people’s intentions in social situations. She was incredibly likable, self-deprecating, smart, beautiful and earnest!
I loved the main guy in it as well (Quinn)! He was a bad communicator but I was rooting for him nonetheless…. which is very rare for me when it comes to poor communication. I also loved his name- you know how I am about names in books- they’re not always good!
Similar to the Winston Brothers series this book had a bit of crime drama involved as well. Not really a spoiler but the women saved themselves and I loved that aspect!
Okay let’s get down to the steam! Penny Reid has always written really high-steam novels (from the books that I’ve read of hers so far) it’s one of the reasons the Winston Brothers series wasn’t all five stars for me because the steam level was too high. This book was such low steam! There was plenty of kissing and you knew that they were sleeping together but you didn’t experience it at all. There was a “closed door” to all of the bedroom scenes and I was shocked! So for all of you romance lovers looking for a follow-up to the unHoneymooners for a low steam, check this book out!
I should also mention that I read this in its entirety in one night, staying up till about 2 in the morning and I have no regrets.

what i didn't like
There was a storyline with Janie’s ex-bf that I just could not get into.  Don’t you just hate it when you’re friends are still in random communication AT ALL with their shady ex’s? That’s how I felt in certain scenes and I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t as bad as The Bright Side of Disaster, but it was still bothersome.

while reading you should
Do: math exercises. Might as well download a new app onto your phone and start remembering rudimentary math skills!
Listen to: Into you by Ariana grande
Eat: a sandwich… Sandwiches seem like good go to meals for the working woman right?

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Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

serious moonlight

official blurb
After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately. Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel. In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel. To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

my blurb!
A semi naive aspiring sleuth teams up with a former fling to uncover the identity of a mysterious author using a pen name.

 

Want to read my other reviews of Jenn Bennett books?  Click here for Starry Eyes.  Click here for Alex, Approximately.

4 out of 5

what i didn't like
I was ready for it to end a little sooner.  Otherwise this book MIGHT have been 5 stars for me.
I also didn’t always love Birdie.  But I did for the most part.  Her indecisiveness got old.  To be fair, that was addressed by the end of the book.
There is also storyline with Aunt Mona that was 100% predictable to me.

what i liked
A main character obsessed with mysteries? Sign me up!  I love BBC masterpiece mysteries and consider myself to be an amateur sleuth of sorts.  Okay, I don’t really consider myself to be one, more like I think I’d be good at it if I ever tried it.  (Oh, come on. Like you didn’t watch the Bourne movies and think you’d make an awesome Bourne!  I’m basically the same except more like Veronica Mars).
Jenn Bennett writes some really funny dialogue, but also some hard hitting dialogue.  Here’s a couple snippets from the book to wet your appetite.

“Come on, Nick.  Are we solving a GD mystery, or aren’t we?”
A slow grin split his face.  “Nora, my dear, you know I can’t resist it when you use profanity.”

“We didn’t come out here to help you seek vengeance.”
“No one plans vengeance,” she argued.
“Yes! They do!” I said, exasperated.  “It’s a planned act of revenge.”
“For you maybe.  For me vengeance just happens.”

“When you pin impossible ideals on someone, nobody wins… Judging other people unfairly doesn’t define them; it defines you.  And in the end everyone will be disappointed… Most of us are just living our lives, trying the best we can.  Accepting people for who they are is hard, but in the long run, it’s easier than sitting around, wishing they were something they’re not.”

I mean… I know you’re wanting to run out and get this book right now. And you should.  But just wait a minute because I’m almost done with my review.
If you don’t follow me on instagram (you should), then you don’t know that I’m obsessed with berets.  In fact you can often see me sporting the hashtag of #beretoftheday.  Picture this, I’m just sitting and reading…minding my own business and adjusting my beret when necessary, when all of the sudden I stumble upon this gem of dialogue:

“Don’t bother being polite to Old Man Jessen.  If an asshole could were a beret, that’s what it would look like.”

A line featuring a beret?! YES!! Okay, so it wasn’t totally favorable.  But still.  I’m throwing a party for a beret mention!
If it wasn’t totally clear with the above line, this book features some profanity.  It also starts out recalling a (sort of) one night stand.  Yes, this book is YA.  It’s not “open door” descriptive in the romance scenes but mentionable nonetheless.  There is also trigger warnings for suicide in this book.
I can’t believe I went this long in the book without  talking about my main man Daniel!  Daniel is our male protagonist and he is amazing!  I dare you not to develop a crush on him and his grand gestures.  Go ahead and try… you will not be successful.  Shout out to diverse reads here because Daniel Aoki is in fact Asian.  There’s nothing I’m more of a sucker for in a book than an interracial couple!  Bring them all to me!!! I will read those books os fast!

while reading you should
Watch: Veronica Mars
Read: Agatha Christie books
Listen to: David Bowie

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

the flateshare

official blurb
Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.  But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

my blurb!
Two people share a living space (bed and all).  One person lives there during the day, and the other at night.  They never plan to meet.

5 out of 5

 

1 / 5 steam level

For all of you looking for LGBT character in books- this book did feature a supporting character subplot with an LGBT romance.
Trigger Warning: Emotional Abuse.

what i liked
Have you noticed yet that I don’t love “women’s fiction” books yet?  (I don’t know why they’re usually called that and not just fiction, btw).  I get kind of depressed when I read them, because the adults lives are so humdrum.  But guess what? I read a fiction book that I loved!!!  Oh… you knew that?  You already saw the part where I rated it 5 stars? Fair enough.
While this book wasn’t all sunshine and roses (trigger warnings in this book for emotional abuse), I did find myself smile-reading quite a bit throughout it.
This book was for sure British but while that can be a hindrance in understanding the flow or tone in some books (I’m looking at you When Polly Met Olly) , it was great in this book! (More like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine). 
So many words came to mind when I was thinking of this book… funny, stressful, cute.  It was all of these things!
There were some amazing pop culture references in this.  I LOVE a good pop culture reference so everytime I read one I would get a little giddy.
Guess what else this book had? An Epilogue!!! I can’t help it, I am a sucker for a good epilogue! I love the wrap up in a book!
I adored the main couple in this book.  Tiffy and Leon.  First of all, let me shout out to them being an interracial couple.  Secondly they were so freaking likable!  I am totally fictional friends with them.
Here’s a little snippet from my main man Leon:
Tiffy: You’re an introvert.
Make a face.  I’m not a fan of those Myers Briggs – type things that tell you your personality type, like horoscopes for business people.
Me: Guess so.
If you didn’t know this about me- I HATE personality tests.  I know, you want to tell me my enneagram number.  I’m happy for you and your number, and I don’t want to take the test!  (Did that just giveaway my number? Crap.)
Need a little pallet teaser for Tiffy?  I didn’t leave you hanging!
Leon looks at me with amusement.
“What a hat,” he says.

“What a day,” I counter, spreading my arms out wide.  “No other headwear would do it justice.”
Need I say more? Tiffy and I are soul sisters?!  If you don’t follow me on instagram (you should be ashamed of yourself!) then you don’t know about my hat obsession. In fact I regularly post to my Instagram story with #beretoftheday.  That’s right, berets are awesome and there’s nothing you can do to talk me out of it!  Do you see why Tiffy and I are besties?
Also, if it wasn’t clear from those excerpts, the chapters are told from alternating POVs.  So you hear from Tiffy and you hear from Leon’s perspective and they’re both perfect!
I loved this book- if you’re looking for your next great fiction read then look no further than The Flatshare!

while reading you should
Do: bake something to share with your neighbors!
Listen to:  Manhattan by Sara Bareilles and Sun-Drenched World by Joshua Radin

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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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The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

the proposal.PNG

 

official blurb
When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans… At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

my blurb!
A girl who gets brutally embarrassed online falls for her no- strings white knight.

3.75 our of 5

1.5/5 steam level

what i liked
This book is kind of like the second in a series- but also it’s not.  That was really good, right? I know, I should try to write reviews for a living!  Did you read The Wedding Date?  Well this book features the best friend from TWD, so it is a stand alone novel.  But also, it could be read as the second book in a series!
I loved the peak at Alexa and Drew from TWD.  I didn’t love TWD when I read it, but that was before I became a romance reader!  Now I think if I read it again, I might like it more.  So overall, it was fun to look back at some old friends from TWD.
I’m not sure if I just missed it in the description, but it was a good 3/4 of the way through the book before I realized that Nikole was black.  They have a scene where they really reference this- and I was like… wait what?! I was picturing her so differently so that was a funny and fun surprise.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- the most diverse characters I’ve read in any books have all come from romance novels!  I hadn’t read very many black leads until I started reading this genre and I’m so happy to read about characters like me!
These books feature what I would call closed-door sex scenes.  It’s not an open look at the dirty deed. It basically features very little description and the reader is left easily understanding what the characters are doing.  I really liked that myself!
There’s also a solid group of friends in this book- so shout out to that!

what i didn't like
I feel like going back, this book should rank higher- but for some reason it just didn’t rank THAT high for me.  There were things I loved about diversity in the book and things I hated.  There’s a scene where Carlos kind of tests Nik by ordering her tacos.  I won’t go into it… but I didn’t like it.
The writing wasn’t amazing.  Is it too lame as a reviewer to say the writing fell flat?  The dual perspective wasn’t varied enough, and the characters found each other so charming and funny but I never laughed out loud while reading the book.

while reading you should
Go: to a baseball game
Do: make a recipe at home that you’ve been wanting to try!
Listen to: Blank Space by Taylor Swift

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