Ugly Love Review

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Author: Colleen Hoover

Series or standalone: Standalone

Genre: New Adult

Publisher & Date of Publication: Atria Books, 2014

Source: Overdrive

Summary: “When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.

Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.

Promises get broken.

Rules get shattered.

Love gets ugly.”  (Goodreads)

Review: I went into Ugly Love knowing it was a well-loved book by the Goodreads and BookTube community. This was my second experience with a Colleen Hoover book. A few years ago, I read Maybe, Someday and had the very unpopular opinion of hating it. For reference, it’s average rating on Goodreads is 4.31 stars and I gave it 2. After finishing Ugly Love, I realized Colleen Hoover and I just aren’t meant to be.

I didn’t hate Ugly Love like I hated Maybe, Someday, but I didn’t like it very much, either. Considering my genre of choice is contemporary romance, I should have loved this book. For some reason, though, I just could not bring myself to have more than a “meh” feeling about it. As far as plot goes, the friends with benefits storyline is always predictable. No matter what drama happened between the main characters, you still knew how the story was going to end.

Speaking of characters, Tate and Miles are something else – and not in a good way. Tate is a recently graduated RN working toward her Master’s degree. This is totally awesome, but it’s so minor in the scheme of the story. She barely talks about her job or her classes and only discusses homework when it’s an excuse to be around Miles. To put it bluntly, I didn’t find Tate to have much self respect. She was just happy to get what she could of Miles without any consideration for herself. To me, that’s not a healthy relationship. Miles has a tragic backstory – and it is really awful what happened – but he uses it as a reason to be kind of an ass to everyone. He’s hot, but beyond that I didn’t find him to be incredibly likable. I felt for him, but his treatment of everyone else was unfair.

One thing that I also really disliked about Ugly Love was how the story was separated. Tate and Miles each had their own chapters – which is fine – but Miles were set in the past and written in verse. It just didn’t work for me. I couldn’t bring myself to care about what was going on. I was curious about what his backstory was, but the verse just ruined it for me.

Overall, I know my opinion of this book differs from the general consensus, but I just couldn’t bring myself to love it.

Rating: 3 stars

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When It’s Real Review

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Author: Erin Watt

Series or standalone: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher & Date of Publication: Harlequin Teen, 2017

Source: Overdrive

Summary: “Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?” (Goodreads)

Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt tells the story of a “normal” girl who gets sucked into the extravagant life of a pop star in an attempt to clean up his image. The book reads like fanfiction, but luckily for Erin Watt, I love fanfiction and, in turn, enjoyed the novel.

The plot and characters of When It’s Real are not even remotely realistic, but I didn’t mind that; it’s what made the book fun. For example, Oakley Ford, the male lead, is completely based on Justin Bieber. From the blond hair to the tattoos, the author did not even attempt to distance Oakley from Bieber’s image (although Oakley is described as being much better looking). In addition, it’s incredibly convenient how Vaughn’s sister works at the talent agency that manages Oakley. The convenience of the plot and Hollywood setting are the main reasons why When It’s Real felt like fanfiction. Personally, because I wanted something light to read, I didn’t care about the convenience of it all.

The romance in this book was incredibly predictable. Vaughn’s boyfriend is shown from the beginning to be awful, so it’s no shock to the reader that Oakley ends up being the better choice. Vaughn, herself, is a former Oakley fangirl, so that adds some predictability, as well. Nothing about When It’s Real was surprising or shocking. Vaughn and Oakley’s relationship followed the exact formula I was expecting – girl and boy are antagonistic, girl and boy start having feelings for each other after finding some mutual understanding, girl and boy have a falling out that could have been easily avoided. When It’s Real, essentially, does not bring anything new to the YA contemporary genre.

When It’s Real is a fun, easy, and slightly mindless read. While that was exactly what I wanted from this book, I can also see how some people may really dislike it.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Alex, Approximately Review

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Author: Jenn Bennett

Series or standalone: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher & Date of Publication: Simon Pulse, 2017

Source: Overdrive

Summary: “Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.” (Goodreads)

Review: Jenn Bennett’s Alex, Approximately is everything I want in a YA contemporary. Everything about it is amazing and fun, and I would highly recommend this book to YA fans.

What initially caught my attention about this book was the fact that it is a retelling of You’ve Got Mail, a film that I love. This gave me very high expectations for this book, and it one hundred percent lived up to them. The romance in Alex, Approximately was adorable. Bailey and Porter’s relationship is antagonistic in the beginning, which is a trait I kind of love in YA romance. I enjoy being able to experience the couple grow to like each other. Despite Porter constantly sassing Bailey in the beginning, it’s really hard to not fall in love with him. He’s loyal, dedicated to his family, and cares about people. Bailey is great in her own right, as well. She’s funny, self aware, and grows a lot throughout the novel. The secondary characters in this book are just as lovable as their more central counterparts. I was particularly fond of Bailey’s dad. He’s very nerdy and is more aware of what’s going on around him than Bailey gives him credit for.

Despite this novel being marketed as a fluffy, YA contemporary, it goes far beyond that. Alex, Approximately contends with family issues, divorce, past trauma, drugs, and sex. I enjoyed that this book went deeper than the stereotypical YA romance. It added complexity to the characters and their situations. Granted, some of these aspects were one the more extreme end, but they still added some believable complications to the plot.

Even though I loved this book, it is not without faults. Bailey, at times, can appear like a character who is “not like other girls.” Typically, this makes me cringe. However, in this book, I never got the feeling that Bailey was attempting to be different than her peers. Personality-wise, she is like most girls her age and she never speaks negatively of the other female characters in the book. In addition, Bailey is very clueless about the Porter/Alex situation and is somehow the last one to figure it out. I didn’t think that was believable because she’s an intelligent character.

Overall, if you’re a fan of YA contemporary or have a soft spot for You’ve Got Mail, read this book.

Rating: Five stars

The Distance Between Us Review

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Author: Kasie West

Series or standalone: Standalone

Genre: Contemporary

Publisher & Date of Publication: HarperTeen, 2013

Source: Overdrive

Summary: “Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.” (Goodreads)

Review: The Distance Between Us has been on my radar since it was released. For some reason, I never bothered picking it up until now, four years after its release date. To be honest, I’m glad it took me this long to read this book because it was exactly what I needed to get out of my college-induced reading slump.

The Distance Between Us is a really sweet contemporary. I wouldn’t say it’s spectacularly unique book, but it’s fun and engaging nonetheless. First, I really enjoyed the characters. Beyond her ridiculous name, Caymen is probably one of my favorite contemporary characters. She is incredibly witty and I loved her dry, sarcastic sense of humor. Xander is a fun character, as well. He’s well-meaning and aware of how ridiculous his life is.  In terms of transformation, Caymen’s was more obvious than Xander’s, but she also had a lot more to work on. The secondary characters are fleshed out and believable, as well. Caymen’s friend Skye and her boyfriend, Henry, are quirky and enjoyable, although Xander’s family could have been given a bit more life.

The plot of the novel is entertaining and simple. There is a love triangle, but it is minor and surprisingly not annoying. The Distance Between Us did wrap up a little too quickly, though. Things that should take a while to resolve (i.e. years-long family drama) were fixed in a matter of hours. To be honest, I’m still a little confused about the family drama and who was to blame for it. I wish we could’ve gotten more closure, especially with Caymen’s absent father.

Overall, The Distance Between Us is a cute, quick read. If you want something fluffy and light, I would definitely recommend this book.

Rating: 4 stars

The Kissing Booth Film Review

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Director: Vince Marcello

Starring: Joey King, Jacob Elordi, Joel Courtney

Rating: TV-14

Netflix Summary: “He’s off limits, but he’s the only boy she wants. And the price of following her heart could be losing her best friend.”

Goodreads Summary: “Meet Rochelle Evans: pretty, popular–and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile–and a total player. And also Elle’s best friend’s older brother… When Elle decides to run a kissing booth for the school’s Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer–this romance seems far from fairy tale and headed for heartbreak. But will Elle get her happily ever after?”

Review: Based on Beth Reekles’s YA novel, the film The Kissing Booth was recently released on Netflix. The film follows Elle as she battles her attraction to her best friend Lee’s older brother Noah. I’ve never read the book the movie is based on, but I opted to watch it because I love a good YA romance. What I thought would be 104 minutes of feel good, heartwarming teenage romance instead turned out to be something that literally caused me inner turmoil.

I have a powerful love/hate relationship with this movie. I’ll start with love first. First, Elle and Lee’s friendship was adorable and I loved how it stayed completely platonic. It’s hard to find solely platonic male/female friendships in tv shows, films, etc. so their relationship was refreshing. The actors (Joey King and Joel Courtney) exhibited genuine chemistry making the friendship easy and believable. I also loved how Elle was not a complete Mary Sue. While the plot tries to play up her innocence through never being kissed, she still breaks some rules. For example, there is ample teenage partying in this film and Elle participates. I will say, though, the parties in this film seem very exaggerated, wholly unrealistic, and mildly concerning. For example, during a party on an apparently public beach, the group plays flip cup despite being underage.

Now onto the hate. The relationship in this film is so so so problematic. Noah is super controlling and reacts aggressively to literally everything. He’s known for getting into fights and (mild spoiler) he threatens all the other male students with physical harm if they pursue Elle. He plays his actions off as being protective of his figurative little sister, but they’re still incredibly inappropriate. There’s also sexual harassment in this film that is brushed off way too easily and leads to “you asked for it” style  victim blaming. The film is just sexist really; there’s no other way to put it.

While watching this film, I found it simultaneously entertaining and cringeworthy. I’m a sucker for YA romance which is why I didn’t completely loath this film. If I was fifteen when this movie came out, I would have absolutely loved it. However, as an older and wiser adult who knows what a healthy relationship is, I worry about the message this film is putting out.

Rating: 2.5 stars

What I’ve Read During My Blog Break

Hi all!

Despite not having the time to read during my past year at college, I have listened to an several audiobooks while at work. Here’s a list of what I’ve listened to and my ratings for them:

Until Friday Night – Abbi Glines

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Rating: 3 stars

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

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Rating: 4 stars

Turtles All the Way Down – John Green

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Rating: 3 stars

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert

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Rating: 4 stars

Once and For All – Sarah Dessen

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Rating: 4 stars

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

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Rating: 5 stars

The Selection Series – Kiera Cass

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Series Rating: 4 stars

The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli

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Rating: 4 stars

I’m Back (Again)

Hi!

I’ve been on a lengthy hiatus because college is extremely time consuming, and my reading-heavy major left me with little want to read for pleasure. However, I’ve recently graduated college (yay!) and plan on finally diving back into the world of fiction. I look forward to posting again!