Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 mini reviews

Here's what I love about my mini reviews: they're perhaps not quite as objective as I try to be in my regular reviews. It's pretty much my "hot take" or gut reaction to the book, and I'm a little more blunt. None of these books are ones I agreed to review (review books always get a full-blown post); I either bought or borrowed them, and, for whatever reason, didn't want to write full reviews of them.

Note: Each book's title is linked to its Amazon page. This is an affiliate link.

The Boyfriend Agreement by Seven Steps

This book was, at turns, incredibly engaging and eye-rollingly painful. Apparently, it's supposed to be a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I didn't pick up on that at all. But I do know this: I have never seen any incarnation of Belle that was as blatantly stupid as Bella in this novel. I understand that Jake was threatening her, but seriously—that's why you tell someone. For someone who is supposedly the second smartest person in her class, she has surprisingly little common sense. And seriously, Jake's dad is a Russian drug lord, and Jake is stealing the merchandise to run his own drug ring at school? It just felt out of place, and the "resolution" with Jake was incredibly unsatisfying ... and you can't tell me that Bella's dad would be okay with her dating Cole if he knew about Cole's dad (who is also Jake's dad ... complicated family). I kept reading only because I wanted to know how it ended, and I thought that surely Bella would come to her senses. But no, she continues making bone headed decisions throughout. The novel's saving grace is Cole, who is wonderful. But I do wish I could get back the 2-1/2 hours I spent reading this book. 1-1/2 stars.

Content note: A few uses of "god" as an expletive; no other swearing that I can recall. A few heated kisses, some teen drug use and drinking. (Bella gets drunk a couple of times but never uses drugs.) And lots of atrocious grammar.

According to Jane by Danielle Thorne

This had potential, but it was definitely too short for me to care about the characters. Two men and one woman are stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash, and, for whatever reason, they also have a copy of Jane Austen's novels, which they take turns reading. There's a lot of potential here for an intriguing love triangle, but that potential is never realized, as the "very short" description is correct. All told, this story took maybe 5 minutes to read.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

I thought about doing a full-blown review for this sequel to Han's excellent To All the Boys I've Loved Before, but my heart just wasn't in it. Oh, I liked this book fine, but I am so totally 100% #TeamJohn that I know it's coloring my reaction to the book! 

The good: Margo (Lara Jean's older sister) is much more likable in this book. I love Lara Jean's family so much!

John Ambrose McLaren. Why, Lara Jean, why? John is amazing. Peter is ... not.

The bad: Everything with Genevive. Peter is, frankly, an idiot with a gigantic blind spot when it comes to Gen, and I thought Lara Jean's reactions were justified.

The language. Peter becomes fond of the "f-word" in the book, and there's a smattering of other language as well.

I don't know that this is a "bad," necessarily, but it's confusing. In the first book, Lara Jean writes a letter to Josh (remember him?) that begins "P.S. I still love you." So, naturally, I thought that this book would be about Lara Jean and Josh. Nope. Josh hardly even appears in the book!

Ultimately, I liked the book, but I didn't love it. Because I just love John so much!!! 4 stars.

Challenge Accepted by Amanda Abram

I borrowed this book with my monthly Kindle Owner's Lending Library pick, and I'm oh so glad that I borrowed instead of buying. It's written well, but there's absolutely nothing original about this "enemies to lovers" romance.

Next door neighbors Emma and Logan grew up hating each other. But when Logan supposedly ruins Emma's chances for a summer romance, his step-mother orders him to fix it. He decides to set Emma up with her longtime crush, his best friend ... and of course complications ensue!

This book really was quite cute, even though it's been done a million times before. However, I didn't enjoy the sexual innuendo throughout the entire book and the smattering of swear words (including one use of the "f-word"). It's much cleaner than a lot of YA out there (there's plenty of talk about sex, but no actual sex; there's nothing more than some fairly detailed kissing), but it's clearly hard PG-13 territory. 3 stars.

Her Billionaire Boss Fake Fiance by Cami Checketts

Workaholic billionaire Callum Hawk's life is turned upside-down when he nearly runs Alexia over with his motorcycle. He needs a fake fiance to take to his brother's wedding. She needs money for her mom's medical bills. It's supposed to be a simple arrangement, but the attraction simmering between Callum and Lexi makes it anything but simple.

Callum was a little too handsy for my taste. I did appreciate that he didn't kiss her until she asked, but the other ways he touched her and cornered her read as possessive and unromantic.

The big conflict is stupid. Yes, Callum is a workaholic, but I didn't think the deal was too unreasonable...and Lexi DID tell him to go (even if she didn't mean it).

The story was engaging—kept me flying through the pages. And now I'm dying to read Callum's brother Bridger's story, so that's something. 3 stars.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I bought or borrowed all of these books and chose to review them. The opinions expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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