Reviews

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing ~ by Delia Owens

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Review: Where the Crawdads Sing ~ by Delia Owens

384 pages ~ Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery  

August 2018 ~ G.P Putnam’s Sons

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

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“Kya was bonded to her planet and its life in a way few people are. Rooted solid in this earth. Born of this mother.”

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My Thoughts:  

I am generally leery of overly hyped books, but when your big sister forcibly insists you read something for months at a time, you eventually give in. I am really glad that I finally listened because this book was like nothing I have ever read before. The natural world at the center of this book is remarkable. Owens’ love and affinity for the natural world came through on every page and it was as poetic as it was fascinating.

Biggest Highlight for me:

  • Kya’s life is so rooted in the natural world of the marsh that she relates everything she sees in nature back to human behavior. Unlike most of us who have to relate to the natural world through human behavior, for Kya, it is the other way around. Nature teaches her first. She uses her knowledge of the marsh to try and better understand the choices that the people around her make: ie: the Vixen leaving her Kits, the male birds using their extravagant feathers to attract a mate, the female fireflies and the praying mantis attracting mates only to kill them. All of this was SO beautifully crafted.
  • Owens has used her life as a Zoologist to layer a story that is rooted in the natural world but is also rooted in how we perceive that natural world. What do we really notice and try to understand nature? How much of humankind is reflected back to us from nature? How do our choices show who and what we really are? Are our choices primal or are they truly rooted in intellect? These are all questions that the book attempts to answer. This questioning never felt forced or heavy-handed. There were times that I found myself asking, “why do I need to read about the mating habits of fireflies.” But all of the information that Owens gives, comes into play at some point in the novel. Everything is very intentional and well placed. There were lots of “Ah Ha” moments where I finally saw the natural world the way Kya was observing it and how it was reflected back to her in human life.  

The slight drawback for me: (Spoilers Beyond this point)

The only slight drawback for me was regarding the ending. I really loved the twist ending and I was completely shocked when it came. However, I didn’t feel that Kya killing Chase- plotting and executing such an elaborate story- was completely consistent with her character. Owen’s did such a great job establishing her as a gentle and caring person, that to find out that she was actually the murderer at the end was a little tough to wrap my head around. That said, I loved how the murder connected back to the firefly ritual.

Overall, it was an amazing story of survival, love, and connection to our amazing planet. I think that this is a massive success and accomplishment for her first novel. This book really does deserve all the hype.

For more information Delia Owens and her books- Click here >Delia Owens< to find her on Goodreads.

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

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Reviews

Review: The Kiss Quotient ~ by Helen Hoang

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Review: The Kiss Quotient ~ by Helen Hoang

336 pages ~ Contemporary Romance   

June 5, 2018 ~ Berkley

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

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My Thoughts:  

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said?! Ok, I’ll give it a try…..

Like so many people, I found Stella and Michael’s story to be super sweet, funny, sexy, heartwarming, but also really inspiring. It was difficult at first watching both of these characters beat up on themselves for their perceived “flaws.” They’re both such genuine, honest, and loveable people, but I wanted them to love themselves as much as I loved them. It was frustrating at times that they didn’t realize their own awesomeness. However, this frustration ultimately gave way to inspiration when I saw them come together to battle for each other and for their own dreams.

This book will restore your faith in the healing power of love!

Here are a few highlights for me:

  • It was so interesting and insightful to read a book from an autistic perceptive, written by an autistic author. This really helped me better understand the struggles and the unique way people on the spectrum see the world. Getting inside Stella’s head- her work obsession, her daily routine, her approach to love and communication- this was all so fascinating and was by far my favorite element of the book
  • The sex scenes were actually about love and connection – there was no weird power play or struggle for dominance, everything is very tender and romantic
  • Michael’s family – I really loved the connection to Michael’s mom, sisters, grandma, and cousins. Not only were they all adorable and hilarious, but it was also a really cool look into a Vietnamese/American family. This also highlighted the cultural difference between Michael and Stella and how beautifully they were able to come together.  

Overall, I really loved this book. The only downfall for me was that I found it difficult at times to relate to Stella. However, this did not deter from my enjoyment or my appreciation for Stella as a character. If you are interested in other books that center around autistic characters, The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis-Graves is also wonderful.

Happy Reading!!

For more information on Helen Hoang and her books, check her out on Goodreads

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ACR- Passion on Park Ave. ~ by Lauren Layne

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Review: Passion on Park Avenue (The Central park Pact Vol. 1) ~ by Lauren Layne  

288 pages (Paperback) ~ Romance/Woman’s Fiction   

May 28th, 2019 ~ Gallery Books

My Rating: 3/5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Description:

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strong-minded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

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Note: I received a digital ARC of Passion on Park Avenue from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Gallery Books & NetGalley.

img_1883My Thoughts:

Passion on Park Avenue was a super fun, sexy read. I read it in one sitting and while I did find fault with a few things, overall, I enjoyed it.

Highlights for me:

  • The sexy banter between Naomi and Oliver had me laughing out loud through the entire book. The sexual tension and chemistry between the two made this the highlight of the book for me.
  • I also really loved the New York scenes and the juxtaposition between Park Ave and the Bronx. I’m always a sucker for a good New York setting.
  • Oliver was just adorable. He was smart, kind, devoted to his family, and loyal. I found myself relating more to him in this book than to Naomi, which usually never happens for me.
  • The “real life” struggles that Oliver and Naomi have to face- caring for sick parents, etc. was a refreshing departure from typical romance novels.

What I didn’t love:

  • The three friends, Claire, Naomi, and Audrey, become friends really quickly and in a super unrealistic way. I didn’t mind the unrealistic part because I’m not really looking for reality when I read, but the set up of their friendship could have been done better. They seemed to just randomly stumble into each other in Central Park, discover each other’s identities and decide “hey, we should be friends.” This was really hard to swallow. I think that the friendship between the three women could have been better set up and established. It just felt so awkward and forced.
  • There was a constant mention of fashion labels. I get that the author is trying to establish that Naomi has money, but the constant mention of “Chloe” bag and “Chanel” sunglasses became so distracting.
  • The beginning starts with a death and there were completely crass mentions of death and hell by the main character that really turned me off.
  • There were a lot of inconsistencies in the story- ie: characters who had supposedly never meet knew more than they should about each other. There was also a lot of repetition. The main characters having the same observations again and again – I hope some of these errors get worked out before the final edition is published.
  • A lot of cliches – for example- Naomi states that she wants to wear red high heels because that is the opposite of what a “good girl” would wear. What!? Who says “good girls” don’t wear red high heels?
  • Naomi was immature and annoying at times. There were times when I really liked her, but also times when I found her super annoying.
  • Steamy scenes did not deliver enough steam. There was a lot of build up, but very little delivery.

Overall, I enjoyed it- It was a nice palette cleanser and a fun distraction. This story is a perfect vacation or beach read! It comes out May 28th! Just in time was Summer!

For more information on Lauren Layne and her books, check her out on Goodreads 

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC- The Girl He Used to Know ~ by Tracey Garvis Graves

Review: ARC- The Girl He Used to Know ~ by Tracey Garvis Graves

304 pages (Hardcover) ~ Literary Fiction/Romance   

April 2nd, 2019 ~ St. Martin’s Press

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

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My Thoughts:  

I read The Girl I Used to Know in one sitting. These two characters captured my heart from the start and would not let go. At first, it seemed to be following the typical trope of a college couple reuniting after years apart, but this story became anything but typical. Reading this book was an emotional, heartwarming, and inspiring experience for me.

The writing is really smart and thoughtful. The story alternates between Annika’s and Jonathan’s perspectives and between two different time periods-  both characters have their own unique voice that is true to their character. Their voices change and grow over the years and really shows the full arc of their characters. Getting to read the unique perspective and understanding of Annika- who is on the autism spectrum- really endeared me toward her. It was really heartwarming to see her grow over the course of the novel and command more agency in her own life. I absolutely fell in love with her character- crying when she was struggling and rooting for her success. It was heartbreaking to read, but also really refreshing and inspiring at the same time.

“I remember feeling stunned when Tina explained that most people draw these conclusions instantaneously, without any extra analysis at all. How amazing but also heartbreaking, because I’ll never be one of them.”Annika

  • The support that Annika receives from those that love her- her parents, Janice, her brother, and Jonathan-  really shows that it is not about those that try to bring you down for your differences, but the precious few that love you because of your differences.

“I’m trying to explain that the way you navigate the world will never be more important than the type of person you are.” Jonathan

My only complaint was that the climax and resolution both seemed a little rushed. I wanted the long, super sappy, drawn-out ending, but I was still really happy with the ending overall. This story has a powerful and heartwarming message that I think will resonate with everyone. It hits bookstores on April 2nd!!

For more information on Tracey Garvis Graves and her books, check her out on Goodreads.

Note: I received an E-ARC of The Girl He Used to Know from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: The Black Coats ~ by Colleen Oakes

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Review: The Black Coats ~ by Colleen Oakes  

376 pages (Hardbound) ~ YA Fiction  

2019~ Harper Teen

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

The deeply secretive Black Coats have been exacting vengeance on men who hurt girls and women for years. And Thea has just received an invitation to join them. This is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to finally get justice for her cousin Natalie, whose killer went free.

Thea dives head first into the group, training every day with other girls whose stories rival hers. Together they carry out Balancings—acts of revenge guaranteed to teach a lesson. With every predator threatened, every blackmailer exposed, and every date rapist punished, Thea can feel herself getting closer to avenging Natalie’s death.

But then the Balancings begin to escalate in brutality, and Thea discovers that the Black Coats are not all they seem to be. Thea must confront just how far she’s willing to go for justice—and what kind of justice Natalie, and Thea herself, deserve. Because when the line between justice and revenge is razor thin, it’s hard not to get cut.

“Soulevez-vous, femmes de la vengeance”

“Raise up, women of revenge”

My Thoughts:  

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Even though the synopsis was really intriguing, The Black Coats is not typically the type of YA a book that I would ever pick up. I generally stick to fantasy and dystopian when I venture into YA territory. But isn’t that the point of a reading challenge- encouraging you to read things that you would never have picked up otherwise? I think so, and I am actually really glad that I picked this up. It has a really interesting and unique concept, one that I have heard many people call “unrealistic,” but I am definitely not looking for reality in my books, so I was ok with that. The Black Coats are a vigilante group of women who hold various positions of power in their Community. The community, in this case, is Austin, TX. They’re sworn to right the wrongs done to women. In other words- they take matters into their own hands when the law fails to punish men for their crimes against women. They also have a long history that reaches back generations and influence that reaches beyond Austin. They reminded me of ninja-witches (minus the magic). Instead of using magic to achieve their goals, they use their physical prowess and the numerous skills of the women in their secret organization- lawyers, policewomen, politicians, etc. However, they are not a perfect organization. I loved that the reader was meant to question this from the start. Our main character, Thea, who is a funny, endearing, and typical 17-year-old, quickly starts to see the issues within the organization, but she grapples with the notion that they are also administering “justice.” The book brings up a lot of interesting questions – The most valuable bring – vengeance vs justice. Can revenge ever really buy true justice or bring peace? Will revenge lessen the grief of losing someone you love? These are all questions that the characters have to figure out for themselves which was something I felt we could all relate to. Despite the seriousness of these issues, Thea is still able to find real purpose, friendship, and clarity as a member. Ultimately, the book has a very hopeful message about what women, and men, can accomplish through true friendship and understanding.

What I didn’t love:

  • One complaint was that certain plot points were a little predictable- there was a lot of foreshadowing and certain elements just seemed inevitable. 
  • I also would have liked more history on The Black Coat National organization- I get that there is only so much room in a book for Oakes to explore all of this, but I had a lot of questions about the organization outside of Austen and I felt like that would have been a really fascinating connection.

Possible trigger warnings here: rape, domestic violence

Overall, I really enjoyed it- It was a quick read with a really interesting message and I would definitely recommend it to other YA readers.

For more information on Colleen Oakes and her books, check her out on Goodreads and Instagram

Note: I received a copy of The Black Coats from BookSparks in exchange for an honest review and as a #YAWRC2019 ambassador. Thank you so much BookSparks.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC- Daisy Jones and the Six ~ by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Review: ARC: Daisy Jones and the Six ~ by Taylor Jenkins Reid  

349 pages (paperback ARC) ~ Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction  

March 5th, 2019~ Ballantine Books (an imprint of Random House)

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

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My Thoughts:  

I wanted to read this book the minute that I read the synopsis…..late 70s, Rock-n-Roll, LA….sign me up! I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, so knew that Taylor Jenkins-Reid would do justice to this amazing concept. Because of all of the hype surrounding this book, getting an ARC proved to be rather difficult for me. Luckily, the lovely ladies at BookSparks hooked me. And I am so glad that I was able to read it. This book is definitely worth all of the hype it’s been getting. It is entertaining, fast-paced, and fun, while still managing to be really complex and thought-provoking.

Here are a few of my highlights:

  • Themes– the book dealt with a lot of heavy themes: addiction, childhood trauma, and the power of choice, just to name a few. These characters are broken in so many ways, and they go through so much together. However, they still manage to look out for each other no matter what.
  • I like the way that Jenkins-Reid was able to portray addiction as something that one never really recovers from. It is a constant choice day to day. She also uses this theme of choice in order to show that it is not what we desire or what we think of doing that defines us, but rather what we actually end up doing. Our choices define us, rather than our addictions. Both of these themes were explored so well and were really powerful when placed in the context of celebrities who have a world of choices at their fingertips.

“History is what you did, not what you almost did, not what you thought about doing. And I was proud of what I did.”

  • The Music- The process of creating music in the 70s, lyrics, instruments, mixing, producing, all without the technology we have today, was all explored so well here and in such detail. It was so cool to be behind the scenes of this creative process. It was even better than watching “Behind the Music” because you feel like a member of the band.
  • Imperfect love- The idea that love doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be true and real was another theme explored here. There was part of me that really wanted to scream at these characters for making the mistakes that they do, but the story really makes to acknowledge that people and relationships aren’t perfect and that is ok. This really made me rethink strongly held beliefs.

“No matter who you choose to go down the road with, you’re gonna get hurt. That’s just the nature of caring about someone. No matter who you love, they will break your heart along the way….But I just kept choosing trust and hope. I believed he was worthy of it.”

What I didn’t love:

  • Interview style- I didn’t care for the interview style of the book. I would have liked if the interview style was mixed in with actual prose. The interview style made the book move really fast, which was great, but I felt that more depth would have come from prose.
  • Predictability- because it was an interview style, there was a lot of heavy foreshadowing by the characters who are telling the story. This made the climax of the story a little predictable for me.

Overall, it was a great ride. I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone, but especially those that love the 1970s Rock-n-Roll scene.

For more information on Taylor Jenkins Reid and her books, check her out on Goodreads and Instagram

Note: I received a copy of the ARC for Daisy Jones and the Six from BookSparks in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much BookSparks.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

Reviews

Review: ARC of The Unhoneymooners by ~ Christina Lauren

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Review: ARC of The Unhoneymooners ~ by Christina Lauren

Pages 416 Paperback ~ Gallery Books

May 14, 2019 – Adult Romantic-Comedy

My Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Description:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

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Note: I received an ARC of The Unhoneymooners from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are all mine.

img_1761My Thoughts:

This was my third Christina Lauren book and it was hands down my favorite. These two authors have really outdone themselves with this book. It is absolutely hilarious, I had a smile plastered on my face the entire time, the writing is smart and insightful, and I could not put the book down for two days straight. Both Olive and Ethan completely captured my heart, and I did not want to let them go.

Here are a few of my highlights:

  • Christina & Lauren do such an amazing job with their characters. Both Olive and Ethan are fully fleshed out characters with their own dreams, struggles, personality quirks, sense of humor, family issues, and personal issues that they are each trying to work through individually. Many romantic comedy novels do not always give a complete picture of who these individuals are apart from the relationship, but that is never the case with Christina Lauren, and definitely not the case in The Unhoneymooners. Olive is adorable, awkward, and a little salty at times, which is something that I really related to, but she is also so caring, thoughtful, and loyal. Ethan is really insightful and honest in a way that felt true to his character. It was so much fun watching them fall in love and overcome their “pride and prejudice” moment of misunderstanding.
  • The Banter – because this is an “enemies-to-lovers” story, there is some seriously epic banter between Olive and Ethan. These two are so funny and smart that I was laughing the entire time. I can only imagine the fun that these authors had when they were co-writing this book.
  • The theme of luck/fate vs. choice- Olive struggles with the idea of luck at the start of the novel and the authors do such a great job of weaving this theme throughout everything that she experiences with her family, with Ethan, and with her job. Olive’s changing perception of luck vs. choices made this more than just a romance novel for me. It is also a journey of self-realization and understanding.
  • Realistic nature of family/relationships: Both Ethan and Olive are fiercely devoted to their siblings which is a quality that is really admirable in both of them. However, when these sibling relationships start to come between them, their loyalty to each other is tested. I thought that this portion of the plot was really realistically portrayed. Ethan and Olive have found something special, but it is often difficult to reconcile new love with family responsibility and expectation. None of these issues felt forced or exaggerated. It just felt very natural and honest, and something that we can all relate to. 

If you enjoy a good rom-com in between some more “serious” reads, I can’t recommend this book enough. It is funny, heartwarming, honest, sexy, and just an overall fun escape. The Unhoneymooners comes out May 14th (just in time for summer vacation)!

Thank you so much Gallery Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read this early edition. I absolutely loved it!!

For more information on Christina Lauren and their books, check them out on Goodreads & Instagram. You can also check out my reviews of two of their other books: Roomies & Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating.

Follow me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi