FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey – double review!

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)
Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)
Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)
Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her..


Title : Fix Her Up
Author : Tessa Bailey
Series : Hot and Hammered (book one)
Format : OverDrive (eBook)
Page Count : 397
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : June 11, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3 star review

I’ve not had the greatest luck with past Bailey reads but this cover was super cute and I was seeing mostly positive buzz so, when my blogging buddy expressed interest in reading it, I thought, why the hell not. I’ll give it a go, too.

Where this story succeeded? Georgie. She’s one hell of a great heroine. Passed over by her family, overlooked in both her social and love life, and a clown. Literally, professionally, a clown. She’s got your trademark quirky girl thing down but it works. It really really does because she’s sweet, she’s genuine, and she eventually starts to stand up for herself. But she doesn’t change a single iota of who she is.

You turned my perfectly innocent backyard into construction worker porn. All we need is some light jazz.”
Yikes. What kind of porn are you watching?
The respectable-lady kind.”

Also a success? The lady friends. Or, as they call themselves, The Just Us League. Cue all the lols. Sure it’s an obvious ploy to write more books, featuring these other two friends, but whatever, it worked, I’m here for it. Based on the characters, I think one will be super angsty and the other could be super hate to love? Just a guess.

Where this book failed? The hero. And, actually, almost all the male characters? Georgie’s brother eventually redeems himself in a way but I was mostly just confused by some of the instances he popped up and when I wasn’t confused I was incredibly annoyed by him. But he served a purpose. Most spectacularly, though, I just.. I don’t get Travis. Sure he’s bruised, he’s battered, he’s got baggage. But other than a few pings of sympathy, I just didn’t care about him. Which made the romance not always my favourite and compounded with how much I did not get on with the sexytimes? Made for a weird mood. But I’ll give him credit (Bailey credit?) because the moments he stood up and supported Georgie? Particularly the early moments when he saw things amiss and wanted to put a stop to it, even if he sometimes resisted the urge For Reasons, those moments were lovely. Because he saw her.

So, yeah, this is a weird one for me. It’s incredibly funny at times, very heartwarming and empowered with female solidarity, but the underlying purpose of the romance just didn’t work for me. Would I read on in the series? Absolutely. So I guess that’s a win.


Micky’s 3.5 star review

FIX HER UP is a fun and sometimes delightful romance, not exactly rom-com but definitely served with a slice of quips and clever banter. The couple in this story are reunited in adulthood where before they were arrogant brother’s friend and annoying little sister. In the now, Travis was a washed-up baseball star with a less than stellar reputation and Georgie was a clown (yes, really).

Georgie was actually rather endearing from the start and I appreciated her individual journey in this book from innocence to empowerment. However, I also really appreciated the feminist undertones and message of the threesome friendship of women who Georgie was part of.

Travis I have to say, was pretty unlikeable initially. I wanted him to be less uncertain, have more balls generally and eventually he came through. BUT and there’s a bit but…I wanted to choke him on his constant use of the phrase ‘baby girl’. That phrase just goes through me and I don’t think I am alone in this. I seriously had to reduce half a star for this aspect because it was so overused and it plucked me out of the story everytime.

These two together had quite a lovely story, kind of fakey dating but not. I loved their chemistry together even if I didn’t always appreciate how the intimacy played out.

I am really excited about the next couple. They’re married and it’s not working and I am all grabby hands.

HITHER, PAGE by Cat Sebastian


A jaded spy and a shell shocked country doctor team up to solve a murder in postwar England.

James Sommers returned from the war with his nerves in tatters. All he wants is to retreat to the quiet village of his childhood and enjoy the boring, predictable life of a country doctor. The last thing in the world he needs is a handsome stranger who seems to be mixed up with the first violent death the village has seen in years. It certainly doesn’t help that this stranger is the first person James has wanted to touch since before the war.

The war may be over for the rest of the world, but Leo Page is still busy doing the dirty work for one of the more disreputable branches of the intelligence service. When his boss orders him to cover up a murder, Leo isn’t expecting to be sent to a sleepy village. After a week of helping old ladies wind balls of yarn and flirting with a handsome doctor, Leo is in danger of forgetting what he really is and why he’s there. He’s in danger of feeling things he has no business feeling. A person who burns his identity after every job can’t set down roots.

As he starts to untangle the mess of secrets and lies that lurk behind the lace curtains of even the most peaceful-seeming of villages, Leo realizes that the truths he’s about to uncover will affect his future and those of the man he’s growing to care about.


Title : Hither, Page
Author Cat Sebastian
Series : Page and Sommers (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 200
Genre : historical romance, LGBTQ+
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : June 18, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating
: ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

It feels like it’s been some time since I read something by Sebastian and I quite enjoyed this little reunion. But I’ll admit that of the plot, the characters, and the romance.. I think I only liked the characters.

He was so accustomed to playing a role, acting a part, completing a mission, that sometimes he found it convenient to ignore that beneath the mission there was a man.

The plot for HITHER, PAGE was an almost Clue-like whodunnit, set in a small English town after the war, and there was spycraft and secrets afoot. But I wasn’t really too bothered by the who or the why. I mostly just wanted to spend more time with the characters. This town had a whole host of interesting personalities and, to be honest, I’m not sure I disliked a single one. Some were just.. darling. Others clever and mischievous and precious af. And even more were all of the above plus suffering from mental trauma and PTSD and longing for quiet from the horror the world had just survived. Side note : all signs point to this being a series and oh I hope so. I want more of this little place and these people.

You’ve got what half the village seems to have. Half has a streptococcus infection and the other half is murdered. Quite the lovely place.

As for the romance. Because this wasn’t quite novel length, yet not quite novella (?), there was only so much time dedicated to the romance what with all the murder-yness murder going on. It definitely had moments of cute but, I think, if it is actually going to be a series.. I wouldn’t have minded waiting on them to cement things until the next instalment. Things moved a little quickly considering they knew one another for only the span of a week and I know it happens all the time in romance books but.. sometimes you just aren’t sold. Like I said, cute, but.

I wasn’t sure you’d want to see me.”
Then you’re not as clever as you look. I’m losing all faith in the intelligence services.”

I’ll definitely read on because I love the idea of a mystery series set in a small town and I’m looking forward to getting to know the other characters a little better each time. Plus I want a chance to be sold on the romance. So, yes, consider me invested.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JUNE 18, 2019

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


HITHER, PAGE is a new series starter by Cat Sebastian. This m/m romance is a set in a small town and features a jaded spy and a shell shocked country doctor who team up to solve a murder in postwar England. Hollis has a review for this one coming this week!

PROMISE ME NOTHING (Hermosa Beach #1) by Jillian Liota. This is a new series for this author that has characters in their early mid twenties but with a bit of a NA feel. This is a book about family, reconnecting and letting you guard down to make bonds with those around you. There’s a great romance in the centre of this story and Micky had an early copy of this one (and enjoyed) so watch for her review on the blog soon.

BROKEN PLACES & OUTER SPACES by Nnedi Okorafor is a non-fiction, auto-biographical offering from this science fiction writer. The blurb really caught me up because I didn’t realise the life changing experiences she has undergone that have led her from being able-bodied to paralyzed and becoming a successful author. She explores the lives of other famous people in history and how they have used their hardships to push creative boundaries. 

KISSING GALILEO (Dear Professor #2) by Penny Reid is the second romance in the academic world, previously released to newsletter subscribers weekly but now bundled as a book for release. This newsletter subscriber is the type to wait for the book, so I am pretty hyped up by now for this. This promises to be a quirky, intelligent, hot for the professor tale. As with the previous release in this series, the first month’s release proceeds go to charity, so that’s worth your click. 


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

PROMISE ME NOTHING by Jillian Liota

I didn’t pick up my life and move to this urban beach city to spend my days swooning over a rich bad boy who rides a motorcycle and seems to always get his way with just a flash of that smile.

I’m here to get to know the brother I’ve never met. Try and create a family when I’ve gone so long without one. Maybe find a place where I belong.

But I can’t seem to get him off my mind.

Hannah Morrison isn’t a good idea.

I’m back in town just for the summer, and my priorities are to spend time with my little sister, check in with my family, and make sure things aren’t really as bad as they seem.

But somehow, the new girl becomes my focus. She’s got a ton of baggage, and she doesn’t understand why she’s really here. But I’ll do anything to make her feel like she belongs.

Even give her promises I’m not sure I can keep.

Welcome to Hermosa Beach


Title : Promise Me Nothing
Author Jillian Liota
Series : Hermosa Beach #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 339
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : 17 June 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Hello new series by Jillian Liota, I’m happy to see you! Hermosa Beach #1 was a contemporary romance with something of a NA feel. By the end, I still wasn’t sure which genre I would categorise it as, but that didn’t really bother me because I enjoyed the vibe of the story and characters.

PROMISE ME NOTHING was unexpected in a few ways. Firstly, the lead protagonist, Hannah is a closed-off young woman with a rough life in her past. She was flung into the lifestyle of the rich and occasionally famous as she was reunited with a previously unknown family member. Hannah was endearing from the start, with little trust to bestow and yet a heart with a small crack open to those around her; she drew me in. Secondly, this story had unexpected twists, twists I’m going to tell you nothing about, so that you can find it all out for yourself.

Family was central to this tale and I really enjoyed Hannah opening herself slowly and carefully to family, friends and just a little bit of fun. The’just a little bit of fun’ came in the shape of Wyatt, ‘Pier Boy’. He was kind of scrumptious, a little moody, a lot entitled but with a down-to-earth nature (think The OC). There’s nothing simple about the connection between these two but the chemistry. I can say that of all Jillian Liota’s books I’ve read, this was the hottest and she wrote that aspect really well.

This read is a little bit angsty, a little bit twisty and a whole lot unputdownable. I’m looking forward to more from this context and characters. I highly recommend this read and considering it’s set in a beach town, this would be perfect as a beach or holiday read. Go get!

I voluntarily read an early copy from the author.

IF I’M BEING HONEST by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.


Title : If I’m Being Honest
Author : Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Format : OverDrive (eBook)
Page Count : 370
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date : April 23, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

IF I’M BEING HONEST is something of a love letter to the archetype of the mean girl. The girl who is pretty, blonde, popular and always there with a harsh barb. What these authors do with that character, however, is somewhat different from what we’ve come to expect.

If every glare I earned, or didn’t earn but received nonetheless, bothered me, I’d drown in the judgment.

Cameron is beautiful, blonde, popular.. but she’s not rich. She doesn’t have a string of broken hearts in her past — infact, she’s been very purposefully single for two years. She has plans for her life and she executes them accordingly, each task an item on her list to be crossed off. She’s methodical because it’s something she can control. Because her home life is complicated, fraught with emotional minefields, and her honesty — her drive — is a direct result of the neglect and belittling from her father, and the disdain she has for her mother’s string of failed jobs, failed motivation, failed ability to parent. Cameron feels driven to prove to her successful, and absent, father that she can be worthy of his attention, worthy of his love, that she is unlike her mother who earns only his scorn. She puts in the work because she can see, with her own two eyes, that work gets results.

Which is why she spends a year planning out her perfect relationship. She meets the guy, likes the guy, and waits. She wants to see that he has drive, has ambition. And when she finally makes her move.. it, unfortunately, backfires. And the boy in question no longer wants her, much less likes her, as a result.

I didn’t understand it at first. Wouldn’t a person be a better friend if they told the truth? [..] I’ve always thought of honesty as helpful even if it’s hurtful.

It’s in studying THE TAMING OF THE SHREW that Cameron sees so much of herself in the main character and decides to reinvent herself, to prove herself worthy of being liked, to soften her edges; to self-tame. And so begins her road of apologies, of amends, to reinvent herself.

I would have to be pretty desperate to put my fate in the hands of Cameron Bright, the girl who wrecked my life in the first place.”
Grant, you passed desperate when you were modelling lingerie for the innocent bystanders in a bookstore.”

IF I’M BEING HONEST is a retelling/reimagining of the aforementioned Shakespeare play, as well as Ten Things I Hate About You, and honestly? By about ten percent I wanted to shout my love of this book from the rooftops. It was funny, it was unflinching, it was heartfelt, it was raw. The evolution, not only of Cameron but the relationships — platonic and romantic — was so.. organic? Genuine? Real? Sure, it occasionally journeyed a somewhat expected path as far as plot progression, and emotional speed bumps, but it was the strong writing, and the solid characters, that carried it. That, infact, made it soar.

The ending doesn’t wrap everything in a bow; not every broken or bruised relationship is mended, not everyone is perfect and pleasant. The characters don’t change, they evolve. They don’t just apologize, they forgive.

Nobody’s ever bothered to figure out what would be the exact right thing to say to me. What I need to hear.

This book made me laugh (a lot), tear up (a few times), and even had a few less-than-subtle ‘these characters are from our first book’ cameos shoehorned in at near the end. I didn’t even really mind, even if it felt a little clunky, and I have no problem taking the hint and have, in fact, already put a hold on that first book. But other than that little tease, this is a true standalone, so don’t worry about missing anything.

It’s like there’s this horrible thing eating me from the inside, and the only way to let it out is to fall apart — or to lash out. To leave someone else with hurt and doubt and insecurity just to know they know how it feels.

If you appreciate characters being unfiltered and far from perfect, as well as a story that has plenty of grand gestures, fandom, and real issues that never cross the line into overwrought drama, you should definitely pick this one up. Sure it doesn’t get full marks from me but it’s really close. All the greatness is great and even the stuff I didn’t super love.. it’s still so good. This is a perfect summer-y kind of read, because it’ll make you feel good, but don’t expect too much fluff (not used in a derogatory way). This definitely has substance, and weight, and will be well worth your time.

STORM AND FURY by Jennifer L Armentrout

Enter a world of gargoyle protectors, rising demons and one girl with an explosive secret.

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…


Title : Storm and Fury
Author : Jennifer L Armentrout
Series : The Harbinger (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 512
Genre : YA paranormal romance
Publisher : Inkyard Press
Release Date : June 11, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ .5


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

I need to get one thing off my chest before delving into this review. Some readers don’t mind picking up a spinoff if there’s little to no character overlap (though, honestly, how can you really know beyond the fact that the leads are different?) but I am not that kind of reader. I like context. I thrive off it. I like references that harken back to previous events, I love cameos, etc, particularly when it’s a world that relies on context or worldbuilding; so sometimes I can roll with it if it’s, say, a contemporary but for a fantasy or PNR-style universe? Less ability to roll. So when I started STORM AND FURY only to realize this was a spinoff of one of the author’s previous series..? I was annoyed. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me, because, for some reason, some publishers don’t like mentioning these kinds of details in blurbs when books go up for request. I find this does a real disservice to reviewers. Or, specifically, me. Because that said, I saw many reviews mentioning that you didn’t need to have read those other books to enjoy this one. But as I didn’t actually enjoy this book.. I guess I’m just all-around an outlier.

Anyway, rant over.

Or different rant begins?

This book is very.. stereotypical early 2000s YA. I don’t really know how else to describe it. But it was such a shocking regression for me, as I do read a lot of really great, superbly written, and characterized, YA that I actually almost DNF’d. Instead I set it down around the 15% mark and took a break to read other things — something I almost never do. I did bring myself back to it though (obviously) just incase it was a mood thing. It wasn’t. But I finished anyway. Grudgingly.

STORM AND FURY has a typical fantasy plot, unfolding in a fairly typical way — — special ish snowflake girl meets special ish snowflake boy and sorta hate-dislike banter ensues along with unprecedented connection, in addition to girl generally just not conforming with restrictions placed on her for her safety and always getting into trouble but.. also just being totally unphased and letting everything roll off her back with some snappy reply? ugh — with fairly typical dialogue, secrets, and surprises. Also lots of pauses for inconveniently timed attraction due to proximity and high stakes moments. It made it all feel very young (even juvenile), very over done, heavily sprinkled with cheese, and as a result I just didn’t enjoy it. Sure the specifics of the plot or the world or the whatever might not have been cookie cutter but everything else made it feel that way.

Now, I want to pause to say : all these typical elements can be enjoyed. And I have, in fact, loved books that basically read exactly like this (rather) cutting summary. But the writing, or the characters, have helped me to overlook it.. or love it. As we all know, writing truly makes a difference. And, in the case of STORM AND FURY, we just didn’t have that.

I foresee a few comparisons to Cassandra Clare’s books, particularly her most recent trilogy, as there’s a particular element to both the dynamic and the relationship that mirrors something we’ve seen in that series. It’s not unique to Clare but combined with everything else it just feels like a sticking point for future books and future angst. And considering I was already annoyed at the direction of the romance.. welp.

There was an attempt made for some representation as the lead protagonist is losing her sight, in a specific way the author herself is (read the note at the end), but I was often confused by the consistency and convenience of it being fine and then not. I suppose some of it is factual and maybe the rest is made appropriate for the fantasy and excitement of the moment. I shouldn’t be critical of this as it’s #ownvoices in that sense and I am neither expert nor do I share this experience. Something that confused me a bit, though, was that it took until almost 75% for us to be told how she felt about her condition. Up until that point it had always seemed to be couched in context of how it affected her ability to fight which, sure, that’s her priority vs mine, but it was nice to get some dialogue about it all. Even if she was fairly laisser-faire about everything. She just rolled with the eventuality of being blind. Which, again, okay. I can appreciate some of that. Out of one’s control and all. But also. You’re eighteen and you’re just going to be blasé about losing a main sense? If I had a degenerative condition, I’d be pretty angry or sad or.. something. Frustrated. Not just focused on practicing more knife throws. Or at least not ONLY focused on practicing knife throws. And certainly not throwing myself off rooftops during the dark of night to prove points.

Would I have enjoyed this more had I read the companion series? I guess we’ll never know. But if you need a new drinking game, take a shot for every time the word ‘Hell’ is used. It’ll make for a short game but by the time you’re buzzing.. I’m not sure you’ll mind.

Because this is a series and not a collection of interconnecteds, with different leads, I seriously doubt I will read on.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THE FRIEND ZONE by Abby Jimenez – double review!

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen–especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.


Title : The Friend Zone
Author Abby Jimenez
Format : eARC
Page Count : 385
Genre : women’s fiction
Publisher : Forever
Release Date : June 11, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Phew.

I had been prepared (warned?) by mutuals that this story was a funny bit of fun but that it would be as equally heartbreaking as it was joyful. And I’m here to confirm that for you.

I am not drunk. I’m just talking in cursive.”

THE FRIEND ZONE starts off fairly lighthearted. A snarky first-meeting between our protagonists sets the tone for their association; Kristen is in a long-distance relationship with a deployed boyfriend and Josh is recently single, and recently relocated, and, despite his attraction, not all that bothered by her unavailable status as a result.

Nothing offended me except cauliflower and stupidity.

At least not at first.

There’s something you should know about me, Josh. I say what I think. I don’t have a coy bone in my body. Yes, you’re sexy. Enjoy the compliment because you won’t always like what I say to you, and I won’t care one way or the other if you do or don’t.

Their friendship, as it can only be friendship, was a delight. Kristen is unapologetically herself. She’s not to be messed with when it comes to food, she’s witty, she’s honest, she’s out to impress no one. And Josh was just game for everything. He was sweet, understanding, gave as good as he got, and they were just so fun together. And, having not read the blurb, I didn’t really know where things would go beyond what it seemed at first glance.

I already know how I’m going to die.”
How?”
Spider bite. Or being sarcastic at the wrong time.”

But this story is a lot more than snarky, sassy, when-will-they-can-they-ever times. This is hard hitting, emotional, devastating. It deals with loss, tragedy, and Jimenez’s story even skirts a certain line I am not usually on board for but, thankfully, never crosses it. Additionally, the emphasis on Kristen’s issues with fertility — which is of course emphasized as it’s a major point of conflict — was something I thought unique to the romance (women’s fiction?) world. Talk of periods, discomfort, tampons, fibrosis, IUDs.. nothing was off limits. This is not only a great bit of fun and sweetness, alongside some heartbreak, but also a book I think a lot of women will see themselves in. Feel represented by. I think that’s so fabulous.

You know, you seem too fearless to be afraid of spiders.”
A black widow killed my schnauzer when I was a kid. Embracing a lifelong debilitating fear of spiders is cheaper than therapy.”

What stops this from getting full marks is that.. I felt some things got dragged out. Same conversations, same hot and cold, same back and forth. It was a bit exhausting, too repetitive, and honestly I was pulled out of the story a bit because I just felt so bad for these fictional people. Both of them, really. It was kind of miserable for them for a while. And then of course a whole other kind of misery started but that was easier to lose myself in. No spoilers.

I hope you’re not planning on sending me flowers.”
What would you like me to send you then?”
Something practical that I’ll get use out of, like a dick pic.”

The ending was a bit of a surprise for me and I so loved it. I really did. Additionally the author’s note was an extra bit of wonderfulness and I definitely hope readers take a moment to experience that, too.

Overall, though, I’m blown away that this was a debut. It’s funny as all get out, it broke my heart, and I definitely want Jimenez to do it again. Lots of times. Will absolutely read whatever this author serves up next.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4 star review

This was a generally enjoyable read that took me from a friends-to-more romance into something of an emotional rollercoaster. I did have some insight into the context before reading but I had no idea where the story was going to go until I got into it.

THE FRIEND ZONE is the kind of read that drags you into its web very easily with characters that are something memorable. Kristen was just a woman I could get behind and identify with some of her characteristics. I loved her honesty (at times), her individuality and loyalty. I was then somewhat bemused to find myself reading a love triangle element, I did not see that coming with this character.

Josh, the main squeeze of this story was also a loyal hunk of fireman who simply fell for Kristen hook, line and sinker; there was no going back but there were so many immovable mountains in the way. This man had to show endurance.

The friendships in this book are crucial and something of a side-blinding storyline. I felt shocked when the twists came and then shocked again. It didn’t make me overtly emotional but it did affect me. Ive seen this book pitched as a romantic comedy but even in the earlier parts of the book, I didn’t find it comedic. It is no less of a book for this however.

Simply put, this is an impressive debut from Abby Jimenez and I will be looking out for whatever she writes next. I slipped into her words and believed the world she created.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the review copy.

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – JUNE 11, 2019

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


THE FRIEND ZONE by Abby Jimenez is a women’s fiction title that is getting tons of buzz right now in Romancelandia and is a read that will make you laugh, cry, and cry-laugh. My favourite kind of book! This four-star read (Hollis’ review will be up later today!) is also the author’s debut which is very exciting.

FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey is first of all a cover draw to me. This is a fake-dating romantic comedy in the backdrop of home renovations, featuring a washed up baseball star. I’ve seen buzz from friends who have read it early and I’ll be drawn to this when I’m in the mood for fake-dating goodness.

GETTING PLAYED by Emma Chase is an audio only release until the kindle and paperback release in October. If you’ve not met Emma Chase’s brand of romcom, you’re in for a treat. Dean is an easy-going teacher who has a one night stand, the end. Or not, because she’s mother of one of his new pupils…sounds fun.

STORM AND FURY by Jennifer L Armentrout is one for the fans of her Dark Elements series. It takes some aspects of that series and flies with it in a few ways it seems. The focus is on the supernatural and in particular, shape-shifting gargoyles. With demons, gargoyles and ghosts, this sounds a bit too scary for Micky!


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

TO REREAD OR NOT TO REREAD..

.. that’s the question that plagues almost every bookie I know. It definitely plagues me. Hi, Hollis here. Once upon a time I used to reread books on an almost yearly basis. Some of my favourite books, and series, were on constant replay, looping through my TBR the way I listen to a song on youtube these days (aka way too many times in a row).

Now it’s a rare event. Now it’s more like.. a reward, a special occasion, a holiday. Actually most of my rereads do happen on holidays, like Christmas. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of the season? I’m not sure. What is new about my pattern of behaviour when it comes to rereading is that, if I can find a copy on my OverDrive (and the narrator doesn’t make my brain bleed), I’ll actually choose an audio reread over a physical book reread. It’s a medium I’m still getting used to, will never be my go-to, but there is an appeal that I didn’t ever expect : it gives the experience a freshness and, bonus, lets me multitask at work.

Okay, Micky’s slice of pie here. I’m interrupting this intelligent rationalisation of rereading to tell you the only time I reread is for comfort. As a mood reader, sometimes I need a familiar friend, a quilt of a book to wrap myself up in, especially if life or work is stressful. I tend to want ease in a reread, not to be challenged by need for deep concentration, some light-ish angst is okay though. I have some go-to books for this like PERSUASION by Jane Austen, THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne, REAL by Katy Evans, OBSIDIAN by Jennifer L Armentrout and many others. Rereading has got me through some sticky life points and I am ever grateful to books for their balming words. I don’t like to reread a book before the next one comes out and will only do this if I really can’t remember; I have to force myself to do this.


So our question is, for the rereaders out there, do you find you have less time to re-experience your favourites? Do you like to flip between audio and reading? Do you find that the more time that passes, the less likely you are to want to reread incase your tastes have change? Or do you like seeing if your tastes change and don’t mind moving on from a favourite?

Can you tell we are curious or are we being too subtle with the barrage of questions? Let us know!

IF YOU LIKE THAT.. TRY THIS!

Hi hello, readers, welcome to the first edition of, “If You Like That, Try This!”.

Today we’re going to be talking THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne. If you’ve yet to read this book, stop what you’re doing and go get started. I’ll even give you a handy link. Here. One, two, click, boom. Enjoy. And you’re welcome.

For those of you who have already enjoyed this book (and for those of who have since come back from their impromptu read, hi, welcome back!), I thought it helpful to start out this blog feature with this particular book because something I often hear in Romancelandia/the book community is :

I want more books like THE HATING GAME.
I loved THE HATING GAME, can you give me similar recommendations?

Well, today you’re in luck!


First up we have WALK OF SHAME by Lauren Layne. This is a hate to love between a party girl heiress and a celebrity divorce attorney. They live in the same building and, every day, pass each other in the lobby : one just coming home, the other leaving for work. She loves to tease, he doesn’t have time for her ‘type’, and well.. we all know where that inevitably leads. I loved how Layne made these two go through all the typical motions, all the standard romance tropes, and yet.. make them so self-aware while still managing to change up the game. There’s relentless snark, delicious chemistry, so many two steps forward and three steps back agonies, adorable moments, heartbreaking moments, a little bit of drama, aaaand swoons. While this is shelved under Layne’s Love Unexpectedly series, there’s actually no crossover between any of the books so this totally stands on it’s own.

Next up we have PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT by Julie James. This book actually predates THE HATING GAME but it has that same vibe and is also set in an office; except in this story we have sassy lawyers snarking and pulling pranks on each other as they battle for the one partnership position open in their firm. We have misunderstandings, banter, quips, hijinks, and humour. James had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. I know it’s not very highly rated (at least not on GR) but I loved her writing and I enjoyed the hell out of these characters.

ACT LIKE IT by Lucy Parker might be the most un-THE HATING GAME-y of all these recommendations but it definitely a worthy addition to this list. Why? Because it’s an excellent hate-to-love romance full of tension and snappy rejoinders — but this one has a fake-boyfriend trope thrown in and is set against the London West End stage. Their chemistry was just so so great and while Parker doesn’t give us any explicit intimate scenes, they were instead a different kind of intimate. The heat was there, yes, but the tenderness and affection was so palpable that you didn’t feel the lack of graphic interactions between the two — just like with Josh and Lucy. With sprinkles of emotional and personal drama alongside the drama of celebrity and actors and PR nightmares, book one in the London Celebrities series was funny without veering into silliness, adorable and swoony, with drama, characters to love, characters to hate, a grumpy hero for all the readers who love them, a strong heroine who gives as good as she gets, a few thrills and chills, and an epilogue that will turn you into a walking talking heart-eyes emoji face.

BUNS by Alice Clayton (#3 of her Hudson Valley series) is a gently funny contemporary romance where hate to something more is on the menu at this hotel. Clara Morgan loves her life of going into a struggling hotel and fixing what is wrong. Being on the move and never really setting down roots works for her. Archie Bryant however, is deeply attached to his family’s hotel which might be a run-down money pit but he knows what he’s doing. Clara’s ideas seem to gain traction and these two are professionally at odds but there’s chemistry and sweet, sweet buns to be had. I honestly got all the feels reading this story. Archie had a stubborn but strong streak to him, with a side of geek. I found him very appealing and I loved reading these two together. If you liked the previous Hudson Valley books, you will see more of the previous characters, the women from previous books are friends with Clara. But you can read this as a standalone and won’t miss out. Got to say though, Cream of the Crop (#2) is worth your time!

BURN FOR YOU by J.T. Geissenger has some of the most delicious hate to love vibes I’ve ever read. Why delicious? Because Bianca is head chef in her own New Orleans restaurant and the food she makes had my mouth watering but the hate chemistry also had me hungry, if you catch my vibe. The ‘BEAST’ Jackson is a rude, rich, entitled arse who comes into Bianca’s restaurant and insults everyone, then he has the front to ask her to cater a fundraiser for him. Bianca needs the money for a very good reason. The sense of family on Bianca’s side paints a rich and bitter-sweet picture. Whilst on Jackson’s side, the breaking through of his persona to his humanity is something to behold. It took me time to be on the side of this couple but it made me all the more loyal. This book had heart and heat with a culinary context that was fantastic and you MUST READ THIS. I’d say I’m sorry we both talk about this book too much, but I’m not!

THE OPPOSITE OF YOU by Rachel Higginson is the first in a series of interconnected standalones that are also in the chef-ing world. What is it about chefs that equals grumpy and sexy? In this first book, both protagonists are chefs but Killan is the locally-reknown ‘IT’ chef with the Michelin star and Vera is the stubborn and strong chef working from the food van across the road with equal talent but unequal footing in the world. Killan is a grumpy grunter, low on communication but there is much more to this over-worked culinary genius than first meets the eye. There’s less banter in this book and more argument but you know what happens after an argument with a couple who create chemistry-laden fireworks? Yeah, THAT. This was a great hate to love read with a fantastic, rich and sometimes traumatic story to tell. I loved this whole series, but you have to start at the beginning.


And there you have it! We hope you check out and enjoy (if not love) these recommendations — please let us know if you do. And if you have any suggestions for our next “If You Like This..” feature, send them our way!