THREADNEEDLE by Cari Thomas

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.

Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it? 


Title : Threadneedle
Author : Cari Thomas
Series : The Language of Magic #1
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count :576
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Voyager
Release Date : May 27, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Fantasy in a contemporary London setting
Coming of age
Magic exploration

I enjoyed the setting of Threadneedle immensely, I thought the idea of a contemporary London as the backdrop for this tale added an interesting layer. Anna was a mousey, scared character on first glance but she was living in a controlling household where free-thinking, never mind free actions were not permissable. Anna had a lot of character development through the book.

I don’t know why, but I thought this was adult fantasy when it was overtly YA from the off. That meant some teen drama and behaviour I wasn’t expecting and I don’t know if it was just that change to my expectations that brought this read down a bit. I wasn’t always keen on Anna’s grudging companions through the story although some did grow on me.

The themes of freedom, exploration and finding yourself were welcome ones and that was interesting reading in a magical context. This is a long book and the pacing had moments of slowness but then it picked up with gusto and I was enthused to continue.

Overall, this was an appealing concept, a good start to a series and it has a fantastic cover . It will be interesting to see where the series goes.

Thank you to Harper Voyager for the early review copy.

THE IVIES by Alexa Donne

Everyone knows the Ivies: the most coveted universities in the United States. Far more important are the Ivies. The Ivies at Claflin Academy, that is. Five girls with the same mission: to get into the Ivy League by any means necessary. I would know. I’m one of them. We disrupt class ranks, club leaderships, and academic competitions…among other things. We improve our own odds by decreasing the fortunes of others. Because hyper-elite competitive college admissions is serious business. And in some cases, it’s deadly.

Alexa Donne delivers a nail-biting and timely thriller about teens who will stop at nothing to get into the college of their dreams. Too bad no one told them murder isn’t an extracurricular.


Title : The Ivies
Author : Alexa Donne
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA thriller
Publisher : Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date : May 25, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

This is exactly the kind of thing that would make a great mini series. Mostly because it felt not unlike a Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars mashup (I say this without ever having watched or read PLL, so I could be off base, but from random ads I’ve seen it has the thriller vibes needed). Except throw in the Gilmore Girls education focus that Rory and Paris had in their final year at Chilton.

There were ruthless students before us — they just weren’t as well organized.

All that to say, this was a hot twisty priviledged backstabby underhanded mess and boy was I enthralled. I think what worked against it, though, and why I’m not rating higher, is I felt our protagonist was just a little too inconsistent in both her feelings and her reactions. I don’t know if maybe that was on purpose, particularly with how this ended, but.. it made for strange reading sometimes. But the cliquey Ivies, the school itself, it was all so messed up but so fascinating.

Equally, I think, had this been done (or when it’s done? who knows!) in a television format I think we could’ve had some extra nuance or layers that maybe would’ve rounded this out a bit. The mystery itself wasn’t too straight forward, despite the red herrings or supposed red herrings, but there were a few other twists I found rather easy to see coming. But, again, maybe that was on purpose so we didn’t guess the other? Hard to say.

Do you know how hard it is to be a rich, above-average white guy in college admissions?
Oh, wait, you’re being serious? Sorry.

I also found it interesting how much this actually said about the whole college admissions mania. Not being American I’ve only ever really seen this portrayed in fiction and this definitely took it up a notch or twelve but I think there’s a lot of reality buried into this fictional narrative, too.

I probably could’ve done without the two or three throwaway references to the pandemic but as this is an ARC who knows if that feedback will make it up the chain or not.

I had a fun time with this, though, and it was the perfect twisty ride to pass a gloomy afternoon.

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

TOKYO EVER AFTER by Emiko Jean

Crazy Rich Asians meets The Princess Diaries in this irresistible story about Izumi, a Japanese-American girl who discovers her senior year of high school that she’s really a princess of Japan.

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after? 


Title : Tokyo Ever After
Author : Emiko Jean
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA contemporary romance
Publisher : Flatiron Books
Release Date : May 25, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Can we just take a minute to appreciate this cover? And maybe a second minute? Because it’s stunning.

As for the book itself, well. While I found the writing-style to be easy going it did sort’ve trick me into think this was well-paced. Which in hindsight.. sometimes yes, sometimes no. But I was mostly convinced of that because at a certain point in the book, considering certain events, I was sure this wasn’t a standalone and we’d have a series to explore more. But from the looks of it, and considering the ending, this has a distinct one-and-done feel. I could be wrong, of course.

Equally, though it might seem obvious, this does feel like two different books. Likely because it’s two separate and very different worlds colliding. But as much as I enjoyed the immersion into the Japanese side of things I think the American just-another-YA-contemporary side felt more fleshed out. The close knit girlfriends, the single mum, etc, just felt so effortless and fun. The other side had moments of pure delight, don’t get me wrong, but I think more time to explore, ie not a standalone, would’ve knocked this out of the park. Given time to flesh out not only the relationships (the romance was too rushed, that was a true downfall for me) but the characters themselves, too. That said, I did enjoy the dialogue surrounding that struggle to find the right space to be. Izumi isn’t mixed race but she’s brought up in America without any roots; and yet, despite feeling an instant connection to Japan, she is too American. As a white reader I obviously can’t speak to how that impacts other readers who have experienced the same, or how true it read, so please, as always, seek out #ownvoices reviews. But it resonated quite a bit.

If you go in just wanting something to live up to the pitch, Crazy Rich Asians meets The Princess Diaries, I think you’ll be happy. It definitely fits the bill. Criticisms aside I did quite enjoy this, I just wanted more. Also, I thought this was a debut, so I was about to be all “and for a debut it was so strong!”. Delete delete. Not sure either of her backlist offerings are tempting enough to pick up but I would read her again.

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

THE COUPLE by Helly Acton

Millie is a perfectionist. She’s happy, she’s successful and, with a great support network of friends and family (and a very grumpy cat), she’s never lonely. She loves working at a big tech firm and is on track be promoted to her dream role. The last thing she needs is romance messing up her perfectly organised world.

Besides, normal people just don’t have romantic relationships. Everyone knows that being in a couple is a bit . . . well, odd. You know, like having a pet snake or referring to yourself in the third person. Why rely on another person for your own happiness? Why risk the humiliation of unrequited love or the agony of a break-up? No, Millie is more than happy with her conventional single life.

So, when Millie lands a new project at work, launching a pill that prevents you falling in love, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. That is, until she starts working with Ben. He’s charming and funny, and Millie feels an instant connection to him.

Will Millie sacrifice everything she believes in for love?


Title : The Couple
Author : Helly Acton
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre Books
Release Date : May 27, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
The war of singledom versus coupledom
Banter for days
A question of ethics

If you asked me what genre The Couple was, I’d describe it like this: rom-com/women’s fiction with side serving of dystopia. Have I read anything quite like it before? No. Did it deliver? Oh, yes.

Unusually, I’d recommend that you read the blurb before you start, otherwise you might not find your footing with the context easily because of that smattering of dystopia. I loved the context, the flipping on reality of singles and couples. I thought it was so clever to question the grand ethics of the world in this story and the idea of oxytocin. This was definitely a more feminist world than we live in.

Love is an illness. Love can make you miserable. Love can push you over the edge.

All that aside, the two characters at the fore, Millie and Ben brought a light and funny narrative. Ben especially was all the good guy you might need, alongside Millie’s cautious nature. Their friendship was fun and genuine and it was enjoyable to see changes happen. They had a natural chemistry and they had banter. The texting dialogue was amusing.

Helly Acton has a signature style of writing and is really good at telling an innovative story you can buy into. Fans of The Shelf won’t be disappointed with her second book.

I loke The Couple (not a typo).

Thank you to Zaffre Books for the review copy.

GOOD GIRL, BAD BLOOD by Holly Jackson

Pip is not a detective anymore.

With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.

But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, on the very same night the town hosted a memorial for the sixth-year anniversary of the deaths of Andie Bell and Sal Singh.

The police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time everyone is listening. But will she find him before it’s too late?


Title : Good Girl, Bad Blood
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 388
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : March 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

So this wasn’t quite the amazing, out of this world, sequel I had expected it to be, or been led to believe it was, but that’s just my opinion so, as always, grain o’salt.

This particular mystery plot was definitely a bit less of a disbelief stretch, though still a little wild, and even though I was far from crying or even tearing up somehow this ended up also being more emotional. There were some incredibly moving scenes from events leftover from the previous book and specific to this book’s plot and all that just made everything really solid.

I felt this particular installment also had a chance to really dig deep into both the main character and some of the characters on the periphery. I liked the changing, evolving, and surprising, direction of certain dynamics and am very interested to see how that all plays out in book three.

I also appreciate that Jackson isn’t leaving the main character unscathed by these rather unprecedented events. She’s almost sorta spiraling into self-destruction, but not quite, and battles a bit with coming to terms with who she really is, what she’s willing to do, and also forgive, and those were really interesting moments. Another thing I’ll be curious to see play out.

Overall this is a really solid series that definitely sucks you in. This installment might even be a four star. I may come back and change that later.

A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER by Holly Jackson

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.


Title : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author : Holly Jackson
Series : A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 389
Genre : YA mystery
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : February 4, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Was this the epic murder mystery contemporary I have seen everyone else say it is? Maybe not. Was this hella engrossing and did I finish it in a record breaking timeframe? Yes.

I’m sure the Veronica Mars comparisons have all already been done ad nauseum and so I won’t say much more about it. But I will say that while it’s far and away from a direct lift of season one’s plots and concepts, you might still get some of those vibes. I sure did.

You, of course, have to suspend a bit of disbelief around some of this, as one might expect going into a YA murder mystery, but I’m okay doing that. It does, overall, maybe keep it from being the perfect read, though. Hence the rating. While some of the twisting and turning plots and schemes and secrets might elicit some side-eye, though, I enjoyed the cast of characters and the multimedia aspect of the story telling. While the Marshmallow comparison is an obvious one, the media element also did give me a small amount of Sadie vibes, and one particular event felt like a throwback to a certain nineties movie franchise I can’t hint at further for spoiler reasons.

So, yes, I did like this! Obviously. I’ve heard, though, that book two is even better than and because I’m on a completed-a-book-in-one-sitting high, I’m diving right into the sequel.

BLADE OF SECRETS by Tricia Levenseller

Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.

Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims’ secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.

Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.

A teenage blacksmith with social anxiety accepts a commission from the wrong person and is forced to go on the run to protect the world from the most powerful magical sword she’s ever made.


Title : Blade of Secrets
Author : Tricia Levenseller
Format : Audio
Narrator : Emily Ellet
Duration : 8 hours, 53 minutes
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Macmillan Audio
Release Date : May 4, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Unusual protagonist
Anxiety representation

I knew absolutely nothing about Blade of Secrets before I started it and so I was happy to be drawn into an unusual tale with an unusual protagonist for fantasy. Ziva was a smithy with powers, unpredictable ones but she also had anxiety with a range of symptoms. I was all woah to seeing that in fantasy and in a good way. I really appreciated Ziva being a strong female but not diminished by her anxiety, she was still a strong and gifted character.

The story centred on two sisters with virtually no other family but this tale brought a bit of a found-family trope which I liked. This troop of Temra, Kellyn (hellooo), Patrick and the Secret Eater were pretty interesting to read about. They went from smithy to on the run and I was here for the story developments.

There was plenty of banter, fun capers and peril. I am 100% invested in these weapons and I want all the Secret Eater info. There was definitely a slow burn element to budgeoning relationships and the end left me wanting more. I am looking forward to book two.

The narration was great, the different gendered dialogue worked well and felt convincing. The characterisation captured the colourful crew well.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for the review copy.

LORE by Alexandra Bracken

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.


Title : Lore
Author : Alexandra Bracken
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 545
Genre : Contemporary YA Greek Mythology
Publisher : Quercus Books
Release Date : January 5, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

Headlines:
Like a super hero film but YA/greek mythology contemporary
Complex, full attention required
Gritty with a few brutal moments

Lore was a clever concept, greek mythology brought into the modern day NYC with the kind of fast pace that reminded me of a Marvel or DC movie. Lore was a descendent of Medusa’s bloodline and every seven years, there was a fight amongst ancient greek gods (kinda). It is a really complex plot that is slowly unfurled for the reader. What helped me with the complexity was being willing to go along with the story even when I didn’t quite know what was happening or why.

I was interested from the early pages, I liked the characters of Lore, Miles, Castor and Van. There were a crop of nasty characters and I enjoyed Lore’s strong feelings about other families and gods. The story never once lost pace and because it was complex, I’d advocate a one book approach and keeping going with the read to keep the plot straight. There was lots of action, fighting, some strategy, quick thinking and a bit of gore.

Sometimes you just have to survive to fight another day. Even I knew those were bad odds.

I was pretty grateful we read this for bookclub because I learnt a few more things I hadn’t picked up on in our discussions and we helped one another with plot points we hadn’t quite grasped. So it’s definitely not a perfect read but it’s still worth your time and investment. I think it would make a great film.

OFF THE RECORD by Camryn Garrett

The behind-the-scenes access of Almost Famous meets the searing revelations of #metoo in this story of a teen journalist who uncovers the scandal of the decade.

Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she’s equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She’s got this.

Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie’s world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn’t know whether she’s flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she’s in over her head.

One woman’s account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn’t step up, who will?

From the author of Full Disclosure, this is a moving testament to the #MeToo movement, and all the ways women stand up for each other.


Title : Off the Record
Author : Camryn Garett
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date : May 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

Oof, I feel pulled in a lot of directions right now, and hope I manage to do an okay job at explaining my thoughts with this one. But I think, not unlike another contemporary I’ve read this year (likely more than one, actually..) the main issues I had with Off The Record is that I think it’s just trying to do too many things.

While reading this book I had actually forgotten what the main plot point was going to be because I felt like it just took too long to get there. Which naturally made the catch-up, the acceleration of it all, that much more.. frantic. Balancing this whirlwind adventure after having won a write-in contest to interview an upcoming actor, catching feels, making friends, battling anxiety, body issues, slowly realizing said friends had experienced something terrible, being convinced to write about it in addition to the profile on the actor, have a romance, bond with a sister.. there are a lot of spinning plates.

In addition to all that, there’s also some good discourse over separating art from artists, which is something I know we all struggle with; more and more each day.

I don’t necessarily think anything beyond the romance really suffered for being rushed (Marius was such a soft lovely human but to be honest I wasn’t really convinced by the connection) but there’s also the suspension of disbelief over how quickly all the pieces fell into place for the big climax.

Sadly I also don’t think I liked any of the characters. No one was awful beyond the villain of the piece (though the main sister dynamic was tough for the majority of the story) but I was reading for the story, even oddly paced as it was, more than the characters. I’m not sure why I didn’t like anyone; not even Marcus, despite his soft loveliness — but I definitely felt for them. Josie’s anxiety overwhelming her, the mixed feelings about her weight and acceptance of her body, I could connect so well to both. But there was just.. something. I can’t put my finger on it.

The subject matter of this story is very relevant and important — and, of course, trigger warnings surround the whole issue so please be conscious of that — and despite my mixed overall feelings I definitely recommend people still pick this up.

Also, as always, you should take my review and my rating with a grain of salt. Though none of my criticisms touch on anything non-plot specific, please prioritize #ownvoice reviews over my own.

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

ROSALINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE by Alexis Hall

Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter, Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory.  Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious bakes come from the heart.


Title : Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake
Author : Alexis Hall
Format : eARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Forever
Release Date : May 18, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I definitely had warmer feelings about this story overall than I did about my last few Hall reads but unfortunately most of those warmer feelings kind of depleted over the course of the story. Not because of the events as much as because of certain characters.

When this story focused on some of the secondary cast, specifically Lauren, Harry, and Anvita, it was a great bantery blissful time. When we were in the bake-off segments with the ensemble in addition to all the filming hijinks? Delight. When we were dealing with Alain, or sometimes Rosaline herself? Ugh.

I don’t really want to reveal who Rosaline ends up with, especially for those #TeamNoBlurbers who won’t read the summary, or for those who might not infer from the synopsis how it all goes down, but. I’m very happy with the end result. It was just quite the journey to get there. And I’m not quite sure Rosaline deserved him, full stop, but also because the way things just fall into place is well.. convenient. For her.

Notably, another thing that dampened my enthusiasm about this story, was that it falls into a common and recent trend of feeling like a very “teachy” kind of book. Lots of discourse about gender stereotypes, important dialogue about biphobia, classism, and more, but not only does it handle that.. it also sorta beats you over the head with it. Both in how it’s challenged but also the frequency. Lumped into this were the circumstances of Rosaline’s life, her daughter, and so many horses died in the telling and overtelling of that plotpoint. But what made it worse was how inconsistent, and flipfloppy, even Rosaline told it.

Overall Rosaline was just a very flawed character, which is fine, I just wish maybe it had been showcased differently? For all that Alain was a dick, I understood his reasons (except for that one part; that one part is completely not understandable). I didn’t understand when Rosaline was also a dick (but I think maybe one specific area I couldn’t get was very British-specific in regards to classism that I just don’t think we have in my part of the world; at least not in this way). I didn’t understand her appeal. She had great friends but.. I don’t think she, herself, was always a good friend. We see everyone constantly stepping up for her and rarely does she return the favour. I realize this is her story, not anyone else’s, but it feels unbalanced, in a way.

There’s definitely a lot to recommend within the pages of Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake. I think a lot of people will like this. It is definitely an easier, more mainstream read, than Boyfriend Material (which I realize I’m biased against, so, I mean, grain of salt). But I can also see people who loved that book also loving this. Mostly I’m just happy that my experience with the other might have been an outlier because for all that this wasn’t a win, it wasn’t quite a fail, either. In the century that is 2020-2021, we take what we can get.

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