Review: Always and Forever Lara Jean


Always and Forever Lara Jean by: Jenny Han

My Rating: 5 stars

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Lara Jean and her boyfriend Peter are in their last year in high school. Lara Jean is hoping that she’ll get into UVA. As she’ll be with Peter but also remain with her family while she’s at college. Her father’s relationship with Ms. Rothschild is going well. In fact Ms. Rothschild has become apart of the family.

Lara Jean is preparing for her classes trip to New York City, college, and the inevitable good-byes to her teachers and classmates. Unfortunately not everything goes according to Lara Jean’s plan. Throughout this book Lara Jean has to decide what she wants in life and how will she and Peter navigate their relationship.

When I heard that this book would be released I was overjoyed! This is my favourite contemporary series! I am glad to say that it was wonderful! Just like the previous books it is written in first person all in Lara Jean’s point of view. And there are chapter numbers. There are text messages, admission emails, and a letter of sorts at the end of this book.

I loved everything about this book! From the trip to New York City, the wedding, as well as Lara Jean and Chris’s spontaneous road trip to North Carolina. I especially love that in every book Lara Jean develops. There’s no reset button just growth.

Like the previous books there is such a large emphasis on family. Margot, Kitty, their father, and Lara Jean are a very close knit family. Ms. Rothschild and Peter are additions to their family. Partway in the book their father proposes to Ms. Rothschild with Lara Jean, Kitty, and Peter’s help.

Margot doesn’t quite like that Ms. Rothschild has such a huge role in their family. As she was in university for most of this book, Margot gets the shock when she sees how close her father is to Ms. Rothschild. For the majority of the book Margot has a very strained relationship with Ms. Rothschild. Margot doesn’t have a problem with Ms. Rothschild as a person, just that she didn’t expect her father to ever get married. Despite this Margot remains supportive of her father and his decisions. The two do make-up and it was beautiful!

Applying for college was a huge part of this book. All of Peter and Lara Jean’s friends are going their separate ways. The seniors all plan to have one last get-together before that happens. They have the trip to New York City, seniors week, and some plans after graduation. It was so much fun to read about, but also had a bittersweet feel to it. Kind of reminds me of my high school days. 

As foreshadowed in the synopsis Lara Jean doesn’t get accepted in UVA. This obviously puts a strain on her relationship with Peter. The two come up with another plan instead. They plan to spend their first year apart but in their second year Lara Jean will transfer to UVA.

Peter’s family is actually a huge part of this book. His father actually make’s an appearance and it attempting to get back into Peter’s life and good graces. Due to his insecurities with his father Peter felt that Lara Jean would dump him  Further proven to him when Lara Jean made a scrapbook so that he could take it to him in UVA. Peter thought that this was Lara Jean’s way of saying good-bye. The two make-up (of course) and decide to face any obstacles that come in the future together.

I was actually happy that Peter’s family life came in. And that this time it was his insecurities that drove them apart rather than his relationship with Genevieve. It has been heavily implied that Peter has many insecurities. And I have always assumed that his parent’s divorce had more of an effect on him than he implied. I felt that it was done well.

Lara Jean is really upset that she didn’t make it into UVA. She won’t get to be with her family nor will she be in school with Peter. Once Peter lays out the new plan to Lara Jean she has a purpose. Though she is very depressed and instead of meeting with her future peers (one of the those college freshmen get-together’s) Lara Jean puts all her energy into planning the wedding. Surprisingly Lara Jean gets accepted into UNC. When Lara Jean tells Chris, she (Chris) tells Lara Jean that they should go a on spontaneous road trip to North Carolina.

The road trip was a blast to read about! Chris and Lara Jean saw UNC (which was beautifully described), they meet new people, ate new food, and just had fun. Of course when the two arrive home they get into trouble. Lara Jean’s family is overjoyed that she got into UNC. Her family urge her to choose what she wants and that they’ll always support her.

Now I know that there were some people that weren’t happy when this book was announced. But I personally felt that this book was necessary. Unlike P. S. I Still Love You, Always and Forever Lara Jean felt like a conclusion book. Lara Jean has a last hora with Chris (I like to imagine that they’ll still keep up in the future), has last conversations with Lucas, John, Genevieve, and Stormy (who sadly passed away in this book), and her father gets remarried (the wedding planning and the wedding itself was awesome)Even the drama was realistic and well done. 

Overall Always and Forever Lara Jean was a beautiful conclusion to the series. I recommend this series to everyone. 


Review: Girl Out of Water

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Girl Out of Water by: Laura Silverman

Rating: 4 Stars

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating with the Sunday Street Team to help promote this book. I had heard about this book through GR. I liked the synopsis (mostly because of her cousins mentioned) and when I saw it on Netgalley I immediately requested it. I am happy to say that I quite liked this book!

The book begins with Anise surfing and generally enjoying her summer. Anise and her friends are looking forward to this surfing competition (I think). Anise also has a possible romance blooming with a friend of hers.

This all changes when she goes home. Her dad informs her that Aunt Jackie got into a car accident and broke her legs. Anise is in shock and concerned about her young cousins. Anise asks her father whether or not they (cousins and aunt) will be visiting this summer considering the accident. Her father then informs her that they (Anise and him) will be staying with them for the whole summer. This doesn’t sit well with Anise as she had plans this summer and doesn’t like the idea of traveling. 

Anise then informs her friends about this development via text. All of her friends spend the night together celebrating. As Anise is leaving tomorrow and she likely won’t see all of them when she comes back (some of her friends have graduated and are going to university). Anise and her father fly the next day to take care of her cousins.

Wow this book took me by surprise! I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. This book is written is first person in Anise’s point of view. There are some flashbacks here and there as well as text messages.

My favourite part about the book was without a doubt how family had such a big role in this book. There aren’t a lot of contemporaries where family is a major focus. And I really appreciated that! I felt that Aunt Jackie’s accident was handled well. Everyone’s reactions was realistic and I really felt for all of them.

I really liked Anise’s relationship with her father. They were really close. And both supported each other while Jackie was in the hospital. Anise’s mom also played a huge part of the book. Even though she didn’t actually come in. Her mom really shaped Anise as did her father.

I really enjoyed reading about her cousins! Parker and Nash were adorable as was Emily. I liked reading about their interactions with one-another. And how much they looked up to Anise and her father. Especially Emily. I liked how despite Anise struggling to comfort them and give advice, that she didn’t give up.

The romance between Anise and Lincoln was sweet. I especially loved how it didn’t take over the plot. And for once the male lead didn’t have some horrible dark past. I liked how Lincoln encouraged Anise and helped her with her cousins. I also felt that Lincoln having one arm was handled well. And it was interesting to read about.

Anise’s relationship with her friends was also fun to read about! I especially loved the best friend (whose name I’ve forgotten).  The almost romance was also sweet and sad to read about. 

I liked how the internet played a big part of the book. As the was Anise’s way of contacting her friends. It was also fun to read about surfing and skateboarding. Anise is really competitive and I liked that about her.

I really enjoyed Anise’s character. I liked how she subtlety grew throughout the book. It was really heartbreaking to read about her mother and just how much it shaped her as a person. When she moved she lost contact with her friends in fear that they were moving on without her. It was done well and realistic. I liked how throughout the course of the book that Anise found a way to balance her friends and family. The ending really proves it to you. It was sweet to read about.

 I only had a few problems with this book. I did not like Anise’s reaction to moving at first. After reading more I came to understand her reaction because had it been me I think I would’ve had a similar reaction. I especially did not like her friends contacting her and trying to convince her to come back. Her aunt could’ve died and Anise’s friends know this. There were times that the dialogue was off and left the book feeling slightly dramatic. Nonetheless I slight enjoyed this book!

Overall I really liked this book! I highly recommend this book to contemporary fans. 

Review: All the Feels


All the Feels by: Danika Stone

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life…and her last tangible connection to her deceased father. Thus, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.

Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinare, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a call that ignites the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life, and her disapproving mother’s new boyfriend. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to get away from it all… and figure out what (and who!) she really wants.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the Sunday Street Team for this book. 

I had heard about this book through GR. At the time I didn’t really pay attention to it. Then when I joined the Sunday Street Team for the author’s other book Edge of Wild I noticed that the author was having another book coming out this year. Honestly the first time I read the synopsis I thought I would hate this book because at the time it sounded really dumb. But I decided to give it a shot. There are a lot of books that I now love and at one point I thought I would hate. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book!

The book begins with explaining us a movie. The only thing you know is that it’s an alien movie. The main character whose name is Spartan is trying to kill the aliens. With him is a little girl who is attempting to help him. When the two reach an escape pod Spartan tells the girl to run while the countdown is going off. The girl is able to reach the pod and escape. Meanwhile Spartan dies in the explosion.

We are then taken to Liv and Xander. The two are both in shock. Although Liv is in much worse shape. Xander gently tells her that they need to leave the theater and guides her out. He goes to get the car meanwhile Liv waits inside. She has an emotional outburst and takes it out on the workers. Eventually she leaves still very upset. The minute she reaches her house she goes to Twitter and tells some of her friends that Spartan died. Spartan could have made it out  as there was one more pod left.

The following week Liv remains depressed. Xander has tried his utmost to help her and get her out of the house. Her mother has tried to same although she doesn’t do it very nicely. Then one day when her mother’s boyfriend comes over and Liv’s mother wakes her up. Liv changes and goes downstairs to find her mother and her boyfriend going out somewhere. Liv’s mom asks her to tag along but Liv declines noticing that Gary (the boyfriend) doesn’t want her to come. They leave and she opens the fortune cookie’s they left her. Taking the fortune as a sign Liv comes up with #SpartanSurvived and enlists Xanders help.

Wow I seriously did not expect to enjoy it that much! The book is written in third person which I found surprising considering it’s a contemporary book. But luckily I liked the writing style! I found that it suited the story. It is divided into two parts. Before Dragon Con and during Dragon Con. There are text messages, twitter conversations, and some fanmade pictures! This was really cool! I’ve never read a book that’s formatted this way. The chapter titles are quotes from things like Harry Potter and Doctor Who. I think that added a nice touch the to overall story.

I completely understood where Liv was coming from! While I haven’t been an active member in fandoms I have loved so many tv shows and books, and mourned the characters that died. While I never let it take over my life I can see why some people would.

Liv’s only connection to her father was through the Starveil films and when Spartan died her whole world feel apart. It wasn’t much help from her mother who viewed fandoms to be dumb and also internet friends. She isn’t close to her mother because of this. Xander and his girlfriend Arden helped whenever they could. 

Xander and Liv’s friendship was adorable! He was so sweet to her and understanding. He agrees to help her with #SpartanSurvived and eventually gets sucked into the fandom. This in particular was amusing to read about. I was really glad that for a majority of the book they remained friends. The romance was really slow burn but I liked it.

I thought it was brilliant when Liv came up with #SpartanSurvived and it was awesome watching it grow and become such a big deal to the fans that Liv talked to! I would never have come up something like that. And I absolutely loved reading about Dragon Con! It was amazing and I so need to go there one day!

The author did an excellent job writing about being in a fandom! It was so much fun reading and it reminded me about how I converse with my friends on GR! While Liv loved Starveil Xander loved steampunk and cosplays. The author did a good job fleshing out the two different fandoms.

The characters in this book was realistic! Liv eventually finds the confidence to get out there and explore the real world and try to make friends with people in her classes. Xander was her support system as was the other fans of Starveil. She grew into a strong and likable character! Xander was a doll! I loved how he said things like ‘dearest’. He’s so different than the other male love interests. It was refreshing reading about him.

I only had three problems with this book. I would have liked to see her of Liv and her mothers relationship. When she goes to Dragon Con you’re not shown her mothers reaction and I really wanted to read about that. And when she reached Dragon Con Liv only called her mother once. I’m surprised that her mother never called her. And like most contemporaries Xander and Liv get into a bit of a fight which I didn’t understand. Thankfully it was resolved quickly. While the epilogue was sweet I felt that it was rushed and somewhat unnecessary. Nonetheless I still liked this book!

Overall I enjoyed this book! I recommend it to all fangirls and fanboys. And anyone trying to understand fandoms.   

Review: How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True


How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by: Sarah Strohmeyer

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl’s summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they’ve hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she’s assigned to serve “The Queen”-Fairyland’s boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe’s job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Last year I had read the authors book Smart Girls Get What They Want and fell in love with the story and the characters! I was quite happy to see that How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True was in my library. While I didn’t like it as much I was hoping to I still enjoyed it!

The book begins with a prologue. Zoe is walking the Queen’s dog Tinker Bell. Tink has managed to run off and Zoe is attempting to find her. Zoe crosses into a forbidden area and gets stuck in quicksand. With Tink nowhere in sight and with Zoe sinking she has no idea what to do. Then one of the princes comes to her rescue. Zoe can’t tell which one of the princes because she has her back to him. The prince comments that Zoe is stuck but he can’t help her because she’ll tell the Queen and he’ll get disqualified. Zoe promises not to tell the Queen and that if he helps her she’s in his debt. He manages to find Tink and saves Zoe. When Zoe turns around to thank him, he’s gone.

We are then taken to the first chapter in which Jess and Zoe are on their way to Fairyland. Their quite excited for their summer! A year and a half ago Zoe’s mother passed away. She died of some sort of cancer. Jess (Zoe’s cousin) was there for Zoe. Unlike Zoe’s boyfriend at the time who wanted to dump her at the funeral but didn’t because his parents told him not to.

Over time Zoe started noticing changes in Jess as well. When Zoe asked what was going on Jess said that her parents lost their job. And they’ve blown through her college fund. So now she can’t go to that arts school she wanted to go in. Jess feels to guilty to ask her parents to work out a way to send her to college. The advantage of getting the internship at Fairyland is the Dream and Do Grant. A girl and a boy will win $25,ooo. Zoe is hoping that Jess will win and she intends to help her in any way she can.

When they reach Fairyland they are told by the interns that there internship starts tomorrow. A guy announces all the cast members. Jess gets Red Riding Hood 2. But Zoe’s role is not announced. She tells as much to Andy and he mentions that she is a Lady-In-Waiting assigned to work with the Queen. The way he mentions this scares Zoe. Andy gives her a list of what to do and what not to do. Then sends her off to meet the Queen. Upon meeting the Queen Zoe is surprised because she is not all that bad. The Queen gives Zoe a list of instructions and sends her on her way.

I was definitely expecting more out of this but nonetheless I enjoyed it! This book is written in first person in Zoe’s point of view. And it takes place within the summer.

I liked reading about Zoe and Jess’s relationship! I loved how close they were and how much they supported each other. Fairlyand was fun to read about. I actually felt like I was there! I liked how it’s mentioned that Zoe saw a grief therapist and it was mentioned in a positive light. Reading about her therapist was interesting and sometimes you were told about their conversations. I also liked the relationship between the Queen and Zoe. The Queen wasn’t all that bad. She just had a very long list of likes.

When the synopsis mentions the ‘cutthroat’ competition it was very accurate. It felt like the only reason half of the people were there was because of the Dream and Do Grant. Yes I understand winning money would be really cool. But what about the experience? They got to dress up as fairy tale characters and entertain little kids. That sounds like fun to me.

I enjoyed reading about Zoe’s growth. I felt that in the beginning she wasn’t as confident until she started working for the Queen. It was also nice how she found a way to move on with her life after her mother’s death.

The romance was well done!  It was slow burn. Zoe and Ian started out as friends and then became something more. I liked how it didn’t  take away from the plot. And when Ian found out about Zoe’s mom he didn’t force himself on her. He was willing to give her time and space to figure everything out.

There was the mystery of the about the mysterious prince that saved Zoe and some other things at Fairyland. I suppose now that I think about it the prince was kind of obvious. The twist at the end was unpredictable. I so didn’t see that coming. I liked that ending and the name really fits that book quite well.

I only had two problems with How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True. I was expecting the Queen to be a lot worse. I thought that she would treat Zoe terribly but she didn’t. I also would’ve liked to read about the other characters a bit more. A lot of this book was Zoe doing some ridiculous things for the Queen. For example walking Tink at dawn. Nonetheless I still enjoyed it!

Overall this was a cute book! I recommend this to fans of the author and contemporary fans.

Review: The Art of Lainey


The Art of Lainey by: Paula Stokes

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book through GR. It sounded really sweet! After a few weeks of contemplating I decided to add it to my shelf. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins with Lainey working at her family’s coffee shop. As she’s getting a girl’s order ready she notices her boyfriend Jason coming. Once the girl’s order is ready Lainey goes over to Jason. Something is screaming in her brain that Jason is off. But she ignores these voices and continues to talk to him. When it becomes clear that there is really something wrong with him she asks him what’s bothering him. He says that he needs a break and basically breaks up with her in her family’s store.

Lainey is in absolute shock and heartbroken. She goes to take a break so that she can have a minute to herself. One of her coworkers Micah comes in the office to get a recipe. He attempts to comfort her. Lainey being in a bad mood brushes it off. Eventually she has to get back to work.

Lainey and her best friend Bianca ‘Bee’ go to Lainey’s house after work. Lainey contemplates for awhile as to why Jason broke up with her. Freaking out Lainey texts Jason asking if he broke up with her because of his father coming back. Bianca tells Lainey that she can’t text Jason. The two of them pull up some websites and find that the best thing to do is ignore him for a week. Lainey doesn’t think that she can do it but tries anyways.

Bianca also suggests using The Art of War for some strategies to help win Jason back. Lainey is completely against the idea. But keeps the book anyways. Surprisingly Lainey does continue to read The Art of War thinking it might actually help her.  

A week has passed since Jason broke up with Lainey. Thanks to Bianca Lainey was able to avoid stalking him and texting him. The two of them plan for Lainey to ‘run’ into Jason with the purpose of returning his DVD’s. Lainey gets all dressed up and brings some food with her. When she reaches her destination she sees Jason with another girl. At first she thinks that the girl is carpooling, but then she sees them kiss.

Lainey shares the news with Bianca and the two of strategize using The Art of War. Bianca realizes that in order for this plan to work Lainey will need to date someone to send the point home. Lainey mentions yet again that she doesn’t want to date anyone as that would be leading said guy on. Bianca then suggests that Lainey needs to find a fake boyfriend. Just then Micah and another coworker pass by. Lainey then remembers that Micah mentioned breaking up with his girlfriend. Lainey asks Micah to be her fake boyfriend and tells him this will benefit him as well. After a week Micah agrees and they make a plan. 

I am so happy that I enjoyed this! I was scared that I wouldn’t like it considering how rude and judgmental Lainey was in the beginning. The book is written in first person in Lainey’s point of view. I liked the writing style. It was also really cool how every chapter there was a quote from The Art of War. 

I loved the friendship between Lainey and Bianca! It’s nice to read about awesome female friendship. I also loved the tibits of the family. Micah was very close with his sister Trinity and his mother. Lainey’s mom read tea leaves! This is literally the only book in which the parent can read tea leaves. Her mother would give predication’s every now and then. Lainey also emails her brother and gets advice from him. Her father doesn’t come in that much but whenever he does he’s always nice.

I found it interesting how the author tied The Art of War aspects into the ‘Get our exes back’ plan. While it was probably obvious what they would need to get and how they would do it, I still looked forward to the progresses in their plan. It was also nice that Lainey and Micah had a lot of help.

 I really enjoyed reading about Lainey’s character development! She really grew throughout the book. In the beginning Lainey was popular and judgmental. She judged her coworkers based on the fact that they had tattoos and how one of them was bald. She was your typical popular girl who only thought about herself. Lainey wasn’t always like that though.

When she was younger she was friends with Micah. But then she met Kendall and her brother Jason. Kendall made her popular and Lainey never wanted to feel invisible again. While Kendall is away filming a show and Jason has broken up with her, Lainey now has some time to think about who she wants to be. She realizes that she doesn’t like who she was earlier and now wants to change. Micah contributed to some of that change.

 Micah stopped being friends with Lainey after his father was killed in a convenience store. Micah blames himself for what happened because he asked for a drink. Then of course Lainey became popular and he had his own life to deal with. 

I enjoyed reading the relationship between Micah and Lainey. I liked how Micah teased her and in the end understood her better than Jason did. Despite Micah continuing to tease Lainey he did care for her. It was a slow burn romance. And definitely one of my favourites.

I loved how every character was realistic! Even characters like Kendall who was the mean girl of the book. While yes at times Lainey was annoying she was realistic as you do meet girls like her in life. I also liked the ending. I felt that it was a good conclusion to everything. 

I didn’t have any problems. I simply didn’t love it which is why I rated it 4 stars.

Overall this was a fun book! I recommend it to contemporary fans and fans of the fake relationship trope. 

Review: No Love Allowed


No Love Allowed by: Kate Evangelista

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

It’s all fun and parties until someone falls in love in this modern fairy tale from author Kate Evangelista.

Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend. Either he attends a series of parties for his father’s law firm with a pretty girl on his arm, or he gets shipped off to Yale to start a future he’s not ready for and isn’t sure he wants. And sadly, the last unattached girl in his social circle has just made the grievous mistake of falling in love with him. Fortunately, Didi, recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, is open to new experiences. As the summer ticks by in a whirl of lavish parties, there’s only one rule: They must not fall in love!

Beware spoilers ahead!

This book was recommended to me by Irena! Click on her name to read her review. 

I had heard about this book through Netgalley. I tried requesting it but got denied. Back in 2015 I went on the Swoon Reads website and read the sample. It was around 48 pages long. At the time I found that I didn’t really like it. While it was engaging and I liked the characters I didn’t like the writing style. I saw Irena’s review and decided to give it another go. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins with Caleb dumping his girlfriend Amber. When they started dating he made it very clear to her that he wanted a no strings attached relationship. At the time Amber agreed and they begun dating. Then at a party Amber tells Caleb that she loves him. Caleb realizes that he needs to act fast. So he told her to meet him at a restaurant. The break up isn’t really going well. Amber has burst into tears  And now everyone is looking at him. To calm things down Caleb asks for water.

Diana ‘Didi’ is not having a good day. Her mother forgot to pay the electricity and her alarm clock didn’t go off. Waking up late she couldn’t find her lucky boots and took some clothes that looked relatively clean. And the bad day seems to continue. That rich brat has successfully caused that girl to cry.

While Didi is giving them their water she hears her name being called. She turns around and trips on her untied shoe laces sending the water tumbling down on the girls head. The girl makes a big show of calling Didi names and shrieking. Blissfully she leaves. This leaves Caleb and Didi together to clean up the mess. Didi’s worsens and she angrily quits.   

Caleb decides to take a smoke break. He runs into Didi and she takes a drag. Then all of a sudden Didi jumps into the water. Terrified Caleb jumps after her and the two talk. After a very personal conversation the two go their separate ways.

When Caleb arrives home his father surprises him. Now of course his father is usually very angry so that’s not out of the ordinary. It’s what his father says that surprises him. Apparently after the break up Amber ran straight to her father. Who then called Caleb’s father. Caleb’s father tells him that this is the last straw and that he won’t allow Caleb to take his gap year across Europe.

Caleb has been looking forward to taking his gap year because he can take a break from responsibility and going to law school. Caleb then negotiates with his father. He explains that he can’t change what happened with Amber but he can do whatever his father asks to make it up to him. Caleb’s father then says that he wants to have Caleb intern at his firm. And on top of that Caleb will have to attend all the functions.

Caleb calls an emergency meeting with his cousin Nathan and their friend Preston. As the three of them talk, Preston points out that the only reason Caleb’s father is only caring about Caleb’s date record because Amber’s father is one of his clients. He’s afraid of losing an important client. Caleb realizes that because he is single all the women will try to set him up with their female relatives. Nathan offhandedly mentions that Caleb needs to find a fake girlfriend. Caleb decides to ask Didi. 

I honestly did not expect to like it this much! When I read the beginning for the second time I thought that I would rate this three stars. The book is written in third person, switching between Didi and Caleb’s point of view. It’s written in third person for the sake of being vague. Specifically with Didi’s character. The second time around I actually liked the writing style. 

The only reason Didi agrees to be a fake girlfriend is because she was bored and wanted to get a glimpse of Caleb’s world. Didi isn’t exactly poor but her family aren’t rich either. Her father left her and her mother when she was eight years old. Her mother juggles many jobs to pay for Didi’s medicines. Didi works as well but for the duration of the book she doesn’t have a job. It is implied for a majority of the book that Didi has a mental illness. But it isn’t until the end where it’s revealed what her mental illness is. Didi has an excellent relationship with her mother; they’re close. 

Caleb is rich. He’s got life pretty easy. When he was 12 years old his mother committed suicide. He doesn’t know what happened his father refuses to talk about it. Since then his father has buried himself in his work. He became cold and ignored Caleb. Caleb has vowed to never fall in love least he turns out like his dad. While Caleb isn’t close with his father he is close with his cousins Nathan and Natasha. And their mutual friend Preston.

I really loved how No Love Allowed focused on family relationships! I loved Natasha and Nathan! Whenever they came in I started laughing. I liked Preston even if he was very quite. And Didi’s mom was sweet.

I enjoyed reading about Didi and Caleb’s relationship and their characters! I liked how honest and loyal Caleb was. And I liked how Didi wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and let her emotions show. Even if she was surrounded by the very rich fake crowd. Their friendship was sweet and I liked seeing them becoming something more.

I only had two problems with No Love Allowed. I wish that Didi’s mental illness was revealed earlier so that I could learn about it and see more of Didi’s growth. And I didn’t like how things ended with Caleb and his father. They got into an argument but Caleb’s father actually started being nice to him and you never see where that goes.

Overall this was a really fun book! I recommend it to contemporary fans.  

Review: Tell Me Three Things


Tell Me Three Things by: Julie Buxbaum

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Beware spoilers ahead!


This book was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Alyssa! Click on her name to read her review. 

When I had first read Alyssa’s review I was sold. At the time I was in a contemporary funk and added it to my shelf. Then one day I started thinking about this book. I realized that I couldn’t bring myself to buy it because I thought the SN thing was stupid. What was the point of the mystery? If it had been me going to a new school I would’ve rather had someone physically show me the ropes rather than keep his/her identity a secret and just email me. A few weeks back I saw that it was in the library and thought ‘Why Not’. Maybe there really was a reason for the mystery behind SN. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this. 

The book begins with Jessie coming across an email from a mysterious SN. In the email SN mentions that SN took an interest in her because Jessie is different from everyone else at her new school. SN offers to be Jessie’s guide. Jessie thinks that this a is a trap. SN replies that it is not a trap and that SN indeed wants to help her. Jessie turns SN down claiming she can handle it herself. 

Thus far Jessie hasn’t been able to make any friends. She’s having a hard time adjusting and her situation certainly doesn’t help. Jessie’s mother passed away about a year back. Since then she only had her father. Her father arrived at home one day explaining to he eloped with a woman he met online. Jessie had to leave her home behind and her friends. What bother’s her is that she didn’t even get a say in the matter.

Once they moved Jessie makes it a point to be polite and civil, all while avoiding conversation with her step-mother Rachel and her step-brother Theo. Rachel is nice enough but Theo is pretty rude. He doesn’t make any small talk with Jessie and whenever he sees her at school he pretends like he doesn’t know her.

School is proving to be rather difficult. She has successfully managed to humiliate herself on several occasions and so far no one talks to her. Two girls in her grade make it a point to make fun of her every time she’s around them. Eventually she decides to take SN’s offer because she is a lost cause.

Tell Me Three Things started off pretty good. I liked the humour and the writing style. I was engaged. Then it all went downhill as I continued to read. I started to notice that this book is overly dramatic. Yes it sucked that her mother died. And I understood why she was angry at her father. But I couldn’t connect with any of her pain because of all the needless drama. It seemed like everyone hated Jessie and all she did was humiliate herself repeatedly. SN literally writes in an email that their high school is a war zone.

From my personal experience most high schools aren’t like that. Yes there are bullies who every time you walk by them will start ‘whispering’ about you. And it isn’t easy making friends especially if you’re the new kid. But it was really overdone in this book. I kept on thinking ‘Wow that’s a lot of drama’ and ‘This book is awfully dramatic’. There were times were it felt like the author was intentionally making Jessie miserable so that she could contact SN.

I’ve rated this two stars because I did enjoy the beginning of the book. Aside from that I can’t think of anything that appealed to me.

Overall I did not enjoy this book. I cannot bring myself to recommend it.