Tag: Christina Lauren

Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Posted November 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 358
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

As an adventurous send-off to her childhood, eighteen-year-old Tate Jones travels with her grandmother from their small town in Northern California to London. But the vacation of a lifetime is wonderfully derailed by the appearance of two charming Vermont farmers: grandfather Luther and his handsome grandson Sam.

Sam and Tate fall hard and fast. For two glorious weeks, the couple share their hopes, dreams, and secrets. Sam admits he suspects his grandfather is dying and that this could be the last trip they take together, and Tate reveals that she is the hidden daughter of one of the biggest film stars in the world—a secret she’s never told anyone before.

But when Tate is exposed by a crush of cameras and reporters, she knows she's been betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust. She is forced to decide whether she will return to her quiet life or embrace being in the public eye. So when Sam reappears in her world more than a decade later, can Tate forgive the past and rekindle the passion they shared on their magical trip abroad? And does she even want to?

Christina Lauren’s latest addition to their backlist released last month and I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough. It may have taken me a little bit to get this review written but reading the book? Nah. I read this one as soon as I could. My initial thoughts on this book upon first finishing it were that it wasn’t my favorite book by this fantastic writing duo but it certainly wasn’t my least favorite either.

So Twice in a Blue Moon tells the story of Tate and Sam. They met the summer after Tate graduated from high school and went on a trip to England with her grandmother. Sam, who was twenty-one at the time was there on his own vacation with his grandfather. When the two of them keep bumping into each other and then swap hotel rooms, a friendship sparks between them. They spend a good chunk of their vacations getting to know each other under the stars in London. Tate, who is the daughter of an aging A-List actor is pretty closed off from the world. She lives in a small town in the Bay area with her mother and her grandmother and she lives far away from the limelight of Hollywood. Nobody knows who her father is and she’s kept that secret close to her vest for the longest of times. She remembers the mob that greeted her the last time she was found out and she has no wish to repeat that adventure. There are three people in her life that know who she really is and when she meets Sam, she feels a connection with him that has her opening up to him about things she never speaks about aloud. She falls head over heels in love with Sam and even though she was only eighteen, she knew her mind and she knew her heart and both of them wanted Sam. So when Sam betrays her trust in the cruelest of ways, she leaves him behind and never looks back.

Years and years later, Tate has become a break out star in Hollywood and she’s just signed on to shoot a movie with her Dad. It’ll be their first job together and Tate secretly hopes that they’ll finally forge a bond that’s real and not the smile for the camera’s relationship that they have now. This movie could be a really big break for Tate and she’s stoked to be a part of the film until she comes face to face with Sam. An all grown up Sam that is just as good looking, if not more good looking than he was the last time she saw him.

So this story is told in parts. The first part is for young Sam and Tate. We see them falling in love as young adults in London and their love was super sweet but fun. I really enjoyed the young Sam and Tate. I loved seeing their friendship grow and grow into a love that took them both by surprise and yet I fully supported. A summer romance that they both wanted to try to keep alive when they returned home held so much promise and I was here for it…until Sam does the unthinkable and then I was heartbroken for Tate. I mean, she didn’t trust anyone with that information but she trusted Sam and he did her dirty. So that brings us to part two, when they come together on the movie set of the movie that Sam wrote about his grandparents. They’re both grown adults now and on Tate’s part, there’s a lot of resentment and on Sam’s part, there’s remorse. I thought I’d get a whole lot of groveling from Sam and sadly, we didn’t get that. A huge part of the reason for that was this story was told in first person, strictly from Tate’s point of view. She’s pissed off at Sam (rightfully so) and so that’s what we see. We see glimpses of Sam being remorseful and we see Sam’s apology to Tate but for me, it wasn’t enough. Sam didn’t grovel nearly enough to make up for the giant kick in the teeth he delivered to Tate all those years ago.

I will say that I adored all of the side characters. Tate’s best friend Charlie was the bomb. I love me a loyal bitch and Charlie was that and more. I loved how fiercely she had Tate’s back and I was really hoping that her and Nick would become a thing. I really adored Nick and wished that his part was a bigger part of the story. I felt like the biggest thing about the movie that Sam wrote was the relationship between his white grandmother and his black grandfather. Nick’s reasons for wanting to do the movie hit me in my feels and I wanted more from that so I was bummed when it was such a small part of the book. Also, the whole thing with her Dad felt displaced. Like, it didn’t really fit in with everything else in the book. I wish that was dropped and that Tate hadn’t wasted so much time and energy into trying to forge a bond with her Dad that he just did not seem to want to reciprocate. I felt like she was too old to still be chasing after her father’s affection. When all of that was said and done, I was completely underwhelmed.

This book was a lot more serious than other Christina Lauren books. It’s not the rom=com books that we’ve come to expect from Christina Lauren like Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Dating or My Favorite Half-Night Stand. I enjoyed the first half a lot more than I enjoyed the second half but overall, the story was solid and I’m glad that I finished it. I’m looking forward to the next one from Christina Lauren for sure.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Buddy Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Posted June 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Buddy Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina LaurenReviewer: Ames & Rowena
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Format: eARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 395
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, 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.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren features Olive Torres and Ethan Thomas as they go on their sibling’s honeymoon because the happy couple and everyone else that attended the wedding got serious food poisoning and couldn’t go on their non-refundable trip. Olive and Ethan don’t even like each other for reasons that neither of them is aware of but that is not going to stop them from going on this trip…for free.

Once they land in Hawaii, things get really complicated when they both have to pretend to be together …they get really good at pretending to be together, so good that it soon starts to feel like they’re not pretending anymore. The trip brings out some truths between the two of them and when they return home, the party is still going but other things outside of their love bubble complicate things for them and Christina Lauren did their magic with bringing the drama. Olive and Ethan had to work for their happy ending and I thought everything was handled well.

Rowena: This was a fast read for me and I really enjoyed the whole thing. What about you, Ames?

Ames: It was a quick read for me too! I got swept right up into Olive and Ethan’s story so I wanted to see how it all worked out. I love that they went from enemies to lovers. One thing that just made me so happy was how Ethan purposely got Olive’s name wrong so then she started to do it too. I thought them calling each other by different names was too funny. Oscar…LOL The set up of the book was very well done too, the forced proximity really made Olive and Ethan see each other in a new light. There wasn’t anything forced about how their minds change over time.

I liked how the characters were built up too. Olive was the unlucky twin but she still had a go-getter attitude and wasn’t too woe is me. So I really felt for her when her sister and Ethan didn’t believe her at the end of the book. Jerks. LOL.

What did you think?

Rowena: I had the same thoughts toward Ami and Ethan at the end…and the way that Ami confronts the big bad and Ethan shows up and you can just feel how sorry he was toward Olive? Man, Christina Lauren did a great job of writing that scene. It pulled at my feels and I was so Team Olive through it all.

This was such a work of fiction, a little over the top with certain things (the lucky and unlucky twin thing is one thing that comes to mind) but I didn’t care about any of that. This book entertained the socks right off of me and I enjoyed getting to know Olive and Ethan, seeing them work things out between them since they spent so much time hating each other. They came together in a believable way and Ethan’s grand gesture had me smiling from ear to ear. So good.

Ames: See, I don’t know if I would have forgiven Ethan so quickly. Maybe I’m just a petty bitch and would have held on to my hurt for a bit longer but I thought it was too easy. Mind you Ethan did redeem himself…so it must just be me. haha!

I really liked Olive’s character. She hated lying to her new boss and she couldn’t lie to save her life! She did jump to conclusions quickly but Ethan always called her out on it so I liked that he balanced her that way. And I like that she eventually comes clean. She has integrity.

You know what I realized? The whole running into your ex with their new partner in Hawaii was very Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Remember that movie?

Anyway, I really enjoyed The Unhoneymooners. It made me laugh, it was definitely steamy and it was full of good characters. Even the extended family members were fun and added to the story. Olive had herself a little journey of self-discovery throughout the whole thing (especially around her career goals) so I feel like this one just checked all the feel-good boxes.

Rowena: Haha, you’re right. This movie was so Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I forgave Ethan a lot sooner than I thought I would because I knew that he was sorry and he got me with the, “I’ll spend the rest of my life being sorry for this” line so yeah, maybe it was just you. LMAO!

Olive was the highlight of this book for me. I loved her, her family support system and I loved her relationship with her twin sister. It wasn’t perfect and I was annoyed with Ami at first but man do they really come around for me. This book was definitely funny but I could have used for some more steam. I think there was like one sex scene in the entire book, I didn’t know that I needed more of those but it wouldn’t have hurt this book.

Christina Lauren did their thing with this one and I’m glad that we read this one together. It was a lot of fun and I’ve come to expect these kinds of stories from the Christina Lauren duo. I give this one 4.25 out of 5 stars, you?

Ames: I’m giving the Unhoneymooners a 4.25 out of 5 as well.

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Featured Review: My Favorite Half Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Posted December 17, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Featured Review: My Favorite Half Night Stand by Christina LaurenReviewer: Casee, Holly, Rowena
My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

By the New York Times bestselling author who “hilariously depicts modern dating” (Us Weekly), My Favorite Half-Night Stand is a laugh-out-loud romp through online dating and its many, many fails.

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Perfect for fans of Roxanne and She’s the Man, Christina Lauren’s latest romantic comedy is full of mistaken identities, hijinks, and a classic love story with a modern twist. Funny and fresh, you’ll want to swipe right on My Favorite Half-Night Stand.

Casee: I listened to this book on audio & the narrators were not very good. I was very disappointed with that part.

I really like the friends to lovers storyline. I loved Reid. I thought he was a fantastic hero. I didn’t really care much for Millie. I understood her hang ups, I really did. They just got old after awhile.

Holly: It’s funny, because I expected to dislike Millie. I thought what she did, the way she catfished her best friend, would kill her character for me. That wasn’t the case, though. I really sympathized with her. I think, in part, because she fully expected him to figure it out in the beginning. She didn’t start it to be malicious or get one over on him. She thought he’d know it was her. I also understood why she created a second profile to begin with.

Rowena: Same. I thought that I would hate the catfishing thing a lot more than I did because it reminded me of the Netflix movie that I watched a few months ago, Sierra Burgess is a Loser, and I freaking hated that movie. I was so happy that I didn’t let my feelings for that movie keep me from reading this book because Millie was no Sierra and I really enjoyed seeing her and Reid fall in love.

Millie was such a likable character and from the jump, I liked her. She was so normal and so funny that I just fell in with whatever she had going on. I didn’t agree with how long she kept the catfishing going and I also wanted to smack some sense into her when she thought she’d keep the whole thing from Reid forever but man did I like the way that she redeemed herself to Reid. She was just great.

Casee: I also agree about Molly not having malicious intentions with her second profile. I completely understood why she created it, but I really thought it went on too long. I disagreed with her decision to keep it from Reid at the end. Especially when it was Millie that wanted to tell him the truth.

Holly: I do think it went on longer than it should have, and I didn’t agree with her choice to act like it never happened, but I couldn’t not like her. She was so real and down to earth. She reminded me of us. She could have been any one of us.

Casee: What was hard for me was that she was so unavailable. How did Reid like her that much when she never shared anything personal? That didn’t make sense to me.

Holly: See, I thought her being emotionally unavailable was explained well by her childhood and the way her father was. After the death of her mother, she was praised for keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself, and basically stonewalled by her dad any time she tried to talk about her feelings. She chose to put a “happy” front on, then got to the point where she just couldn’t open up. It made me sad for her in the end.

I also kind of liked the role reversal. How often do we read romance novels where the hero is closed off and refuses to share anything personal? I thought it was great that it was the heroine this time around.

View Spoiler »
 

Rowena: I did like Reid’s family and was super glad that his sister Rayme got her man because I was low key waiting for Chris to open his damn eyes. Ed and his boo were cute too.

Holly: Man, my heart broke for poor Reid when he found out. To lose his best friends and the woman he loved all at once? I felt for the guy. I really liked Reid all the way around. He was a stand-up guy.

Rowena: I also adored all of the boys. They all had me cracking up.

Holly: I loved all the group messages between the friends. Hilarious.

Casee: I loved the group dynamic when they were all together. The instant IM’s cracked me up.

Rowena: Another thing that I really liked about this book and with this writing duo is that this is a standalone romance. Everything was wrapped up in this book and there weren’t any loose ends, no teasers for books for the other characters in this book, just a straight up romance all in one book. I dug it.

Holly: I also liked that this was a standalone romance (a real one this time).

Casee: I was super happy that this ended up being a stand-alone. Not too many authors do this these days and I really appreciated it.

Final Grades

Casee: 3.5 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Posted September 17, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Point-of-View: First

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

I haven’t read very many books by Christina Lauren but the books that I did read, I enjoyed. I didn’t love them but they were solid contemporary romances that brought the goods. The time has come where they wrote a book that I absolutely adored.

Josh and Hazel went to college together and while they weren’t friends there, they were in each other’s orbits because Hazel was a hurricane of a young girl and Josh was a TA for one of Hazel’s classes. They’re complete opposites and even though Hazel has always a bit of a crush on Josh, she knows it’s not going to happen because she won’t ever change who she is for anyone, she settles for being Josh’s friend. They don’t become friends until after they run into each other 7 years after college but friends they become.

Josh is reserved and he’s careful and when he finds out that his long-distance girlfriend is cheating on him, he becomes single and his sister puts Hazel into his path to make sure that he has fun. He needs to have more fun in his life and there is nobody more fun than Hazel Bradford.

Hazel is a third-grade teacher who loves life. She’s eccentric, she’s bold, she’s loud and she knows that she’s a lot to take on so she’s not at all surprised that she’s single. She respects that she’s a lot to handle and doesn’t let that stop her from being her. She’s not for everybody and deep down, she hopes to find her person. Her person will be someone who accepts and loves her the way that she is. She sees the good in people and she doesn’t waste a lot of energy on negative shit so she’s just a ray of sunshine.

When Josh and Hazel become friends, we see their relationship form. For Josh, Hazel goes from being the loud and inappropriate young woman to the caring, will do anything for him best friend that he appreciates more and more with each passing day. She’s a lot of things, but she’s also one of the very best people that he knows. In an effort to help him move on from his cheating ex, Hazel starts setting him up on blind dates that Josh drags her along on with a blind date of her own. They choose dates for each other and then they go on these dates together and each date cracked me up.

I read this book in one sitting and throughout most of the book, I was laughing. I had a clear picture of both Josh and Hazel in my head (Jung from Kims Convenience for Josh and Jessica Day from New Girl for Hazel) so I could see each scene play out perfectly. Christina Lauren wrote a fabulous romantic comedy with a friendship that I was jealous of and a love that charmed the socks right off of me. Josh and Hazel made no sense and yet they were perfect for each other. I loved that Hazel could bring Josh out of his funk and I adored that Josh accepted and loved Hazel as she was. Their romance completely worked for me and I definitely recommend this book. This book isn’t being as well received by other readers but for me? I loved it all.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Posted December 11, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 11 Comments

Review: Roomies by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Roomies by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 5th 2017

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

Roomies is the second book that I’ve read by Christina Lauren and it certainly won’t be my last. This book was a lot of fun, once the story took off. Unfortunately, for me, the book didn’t pick up until about 52% into the story. The beginning started off interesting but then for a long time, I read and read and read and waited for something to happen and felt like there was too much Holland and not enough moving the story along. That changed once the story took off and once it did, my enjoyment of the story picked up as well.

So Holland Bakker is a young woman living in New York City, trying to find herself. She’s working with her Uncle, who is a musical director for a Broadway show and she’s doing the little jobs that anyone can do while she figures herself out. She’s not particularly happy with her life, there’s some guilt over living off her Uncles and not really having a direction, or a purpose. She’s got a huge crush on this subway musician and when her uncle needs help finding a new musician to step in for his play, Holland brings her uncle and the subway musician together and things really take off from there because before Holland knows what’s what, she’s got a new roommate who is her husband and her new Irish husband is on his way to being in the states legally.

The whole story is about Holland finding her purpose and her way. She does a lot of growing up in this book and there were times when I wanted to strangle her. I thought she spent too much time in her head and not enough time expressing what she needed and wanted from Calvin, her new husband. It was great to see her and Calvin growing closer and closer but because of the situation that they were in, I felt that they didn’t communicate nearly as much as they should have. I mean, toward the end of the book and they were still not communicating clearly with each other and I kept thinking, “Ugh, not again!”

Aside from that, Hollands ends up being such a strong character in the end and I was glad for her. I was also glad that we got to see the growth in Calvin’s character as well. We only got Holland’s POV so Christina Lauren did a great job of showcasing the growth of the secondary characters as well. I adored Holland’s Uncles and the small bits that we got of her brother, Davis. I did not really care much for Holland’s friend, Lulu. I wanted to smack the shit out of her multiple times in this book because she was such a shit friend but alls well that ends well and even though she wasn’t my favorite person, she came around.

Overall, this was a solid story. It had likable characters, a heroine that young women will be able to connect with, a sexy musician hero and a story that makes things interesting. The beginning was a little slow but when it picks up, it really picks up and I’m not at all mad that I read this one. It wasn’t the most perfect of reads but it was entertaining and all in all, it was good. I recommend.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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