The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

Carey has been working for decorating gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp since she was a teenager. The Tripps have released a new book on marriage and have a book tour to go with it, but the only problem is that they hate each other. Carey, with the help of Rusty’s new assistant James, has to keep the Tripps together long enough to complete the tour.

Romance, 308 pages, published in 2020

Carey has been working for decorating gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp since she was a teenager. The Tripps have released a new book on marriage and have a book tour to go with it, but the only problem is that they hate each other. Carey, with the help of Rusty’s new assistant James, has to keep the Tripps together long enough to complete the tour.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I had heard that it was similar to Twice in a Blue Moon, which I didn’t enjoy, but now that I’ve read it, I don’t think that comparison holds up.

I think my only real complaint about this book is that I just wish it was a little longer! The relationship between Carey and James was really fast and the book focused on a lot of stuff outside their relationship as well.

I really enjoyed how they got to know each other! They had met before having to help during the Tripps’ tour, but they definitely got to know each other better during the tour. I really enjoyed seeing them open up to each other. Carey has focal dystonia, a neurological condition that her fingers to curl up and her hands to spasm, and James handles everything about it very well.

Carey also has to deal with working for people she is almost too comfortable with. There aren’t very clear work and personal boundaries between her and the Tripps, so her time and work get taken advantage of a lot. James was screwed over by the last company he worked for, and has to take a step back in his career in order to regain his reputation. I really enjoyed seeing both of them work through their career issues, both alone and together. I think a lot of what both of them went through was really relatable.

There was a fair amount of time spent on Melissa and Rusty’s relationship, which I thought was fine, but that’s why I wished this book was a little longer.

Overall, I just thought this book was really cute and enjoyable! It isn’t the most memorable, but I still had a great time reading it.

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My Favorite Female Authors!

Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, I wanted to chat about some of my favorite female authors! To be honest, most of the books I read are by women, so most of my favorite authors are women, but they still deserve a shoutout.

There are definitely more that I could have added to this list, but I wanted to include only authors that I’ve read multiple books/series from.

Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate, I wanted to chat about some of my favorite female authors! To be honest, most of the books I read are by women, so most of my favorite authors are women, but they still deserve a shoutout.

There are definitely more that I could have added to this list, but I wanted to include only authors that I’ve read multiple books/series from.

CHRISTINA LAUREN

I have read 10 of Christina Lauren’s books and honestly, they are hit or miss for me. Looking back, I have loved less of them than I’ve disliked, but still, the ones I’ve loved are absolute favorites of mine. Their books don’t feel formulaic to me, so each book stands out in my mind. I can’t wait for the release of The Honey Don’t List later this month!

AKEMI DAWN BOWMAN

I was drawn to Starfish initially for the cover, but the main character ended up being very relatable to me because of her social anxiety. I loved the book and all the other issues that were dealt with. Her second book, Summer Bird Blue, was quite different than her first, but was so emotional. I just adore both of these books and I can’t wait to read anything and everything she writes in the future!

TAYLOR JENKINS REID

I’ve loved every book that I’ve read by Taylor Jenkins Reid, starting from when I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. She comes up with such heart-wrenching ideas for her stories and they always impact me.

ALICE OSEMAN

I broke my rule with Alice Oseman, since I have only read Heartstopper from her, but I just love it so much. It is so pure and heartwarming and I love it so much. Eventually, I would love to read some of her proper novels.

MARGARET ROGERSON

Both of Margaret Rogerson’s books were just such enjoyable reads! She does standalone fantasy so well and I love the worlds and characters she creates. I don’t know what she has planned in the future, but I will read it for sure.

LAINI TAYLOR

Laini is the queen of beautiful writing! Thinking about Strange The Dreamer still does things to my heart. I’ve read both of her series, and while I didn’t love the end of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, she is still an exceptional writer and her stories stay with me.

LEIGH BARDUGO

Leigh Bardugo is another author where I don’t necessarily love everything she’s written. The Shadow and Bone series wasn’t for me (though I have been feeling like rereading it lately…) and King of Scars was one of the most disappointing books I read in 2019, but I love Six of Crows. I think I will continue to read anything she comes out with.

SARAH J. MAAS

It feels controversial to have Sarah J. Maas be among my favorite authors, but truly, I love her books. They are fun and addicting and mean a lot to me. I’ve read and loved pretty much everything she’s written and now that I have House of Earth and Blood in my possession I can’t wait to dive in!


Who are some of your favorite female authors?

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Twice In A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

On a trip to London after high school, Tate meets Sam, a farmer from Vermont. They immediately hit it off and spend the entire two weeks of her trip together. Tate thinks it could be love, but then Sam reveals her biggest secret to the press: she is the daughter of a world famous actor. This single moment changes the course of Tate’s life forever, and when she meets Sam again fourteen years later, she deal with what happened.

Romance, 358 pages, published in 2019

On a trip to London after high school, Tate meets Sam, a farmer from Vermont. They immediately hit it off and spend the entire two weeks of her trip together. Tate thinks it could be love, but then Sam reveals her biggest secret to the press: she is the daughter of a world famous actor. This single moment changes the course of Tate’s life forever, and when she meets Sam again fourteen years later, she deal with what happened.

Spoiler Free Review:

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Christina Lauren’s books tend to be one of two things for me:
1. Absolutely amazing, one of the best romances I’ve read
2. Enjoyable while reading, but ultimately, the problems outweigh anything I liked about it

Unfortunately, this book fell into the second category for me. It just overall felt like it focused on things that didn’t matter.

The first part of this book covers the entirety of Tate’s time in London. You get to know her and her grandmother, as well as Sam and his adoptive grandfather. I just felt like this part went on just a little too long. After getting to know 18 year old Tate, we get thrown into 32 year old Tate’s life and she is so different that it is a little jarring. Sam and Tate have an initial connection that is strengthened by spending time together, but I still don’t feel like it was love, so I didn’t need to spend that much time getting to know them as young people.

I would have much preferred if they did have a connection and a relationship for those two weeks, but then expanded upon it in the 14 years later section. It felt like their London experience was the only reason they were drawn to each other as adults, rather than something they could build off of. Fourteen years is a long time, so it just felt unrealistic that they would feel the same connection right away because both of them were different people at this point in their lives.

There was also a ton of stuff about Tate’s dad. I just didn’t care. He was not a good person and there was never any real closure with him anyway.

It was enjoyable while I was reading, but I don’t think I will ever really think about it again and I certainly won’t read it again. I’m still a huge fan of Christina Lauren’s, but this was just a miss for me. I can’t wait to see what they write in the future!

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My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Synopsis: After finding out that they need a date to an important event, Millie, Reid, and their friends all join an online dating service. Millie and Reid have been just friends, but one night, they accidentally sleep together. It means nothing until Catherine, Millie’s online dating persona, and Reid hit it off.

Romance, 384 pages, published in 2018

Synopsis: After finding out that they need a date to an important event, Millie, Reid, and their friends all join an online dating service. Millie and Reid have been just friends, but one night, they accidentally sleep together. It means nothing until Catherine, Millie’s online dating persona, and Reid hit it off.

SPOILER FREE REVIEW:

💜💜💜

I have read the majority of Christina Lauren’s books at this point, so I kind of knew what to expect. Their books fall into two categories: amazing and just fine. Unfortunately, this one was just fine for me.

My biggest hang up on this book was that Millie lies to Reid. She knows she is talking to him on the dating app, but he doesn’t know that it’s her. It dragged on way too long. I think it would have been really cute if they both didn’t know who the other was. Unfortunately, it just came off as kind of gross.

Another problem that I had was that Millie and Reid’s three friends were the same in my head. They didn’t have distinct enough personalities for me to bother remembering who was who.

I thought the main characters weren’t very interesting. Their romance was fine.

One positive thing this book did, which I wish I saw more of, was that Millie goes to see a therapist. This happened at the very end of the book, though it isn’t really a spoiler because I won’t say why she went. I just appreciated that she realized that something wasn’t quite right, so she sought help.

To be quiet honest, nothing in this book really stood out to me. I’m writing this review a few weeks after reading the book, and already I’m forgetting many of the details. I did mostly enjoy it while I was reading it, but I don’t think I would ever pick it up again.

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Synopsis: While attending her sister’s wedding as the maid of honor, everyone gets food poisoning except for Olive and the best man, her arch nemesis Ethan. Not wanting to waste the ten day honeymoon that her sister had planned, Olive and Ethan go to Hawaii together and have to pretend to be a newlywed couple.

Romance, 432 pages, published May 14th, 2019

Synopsis: While attending her sister’s wedding as the maid of honor, everyone gets food poisoning except for Olive and the best man, her arch nemesis Ethan. Not wanting to waste the ten day honeymoon that her sister had planned, Olive and Ethan go to Hawaii together and have to pretend to be a newlywed couple.

NON-SPOILER REVIEW:

The cover, the synopsis, the tropes, the author, all drew me to this book. I feel like I’ve been on the Christina Lauren train lately, but I do really enjoy their books!

I thought the romance in this was super cute! I love the banter that Olive and Ethan had, and they were genuinely funny sometimes. I adore fake relationships because it is so fun to see people fake it until they either realize that they aren’t faking anymore or they don’t want to continue faking it. My favorite parts were when one of them would let slip that maybe they don’t hate each other as much as they thought they did.

I thought the plot was fine. There were some things that I thought were pretty ridiculous, like everyone getting food poisoning ( specifically that scene, not the fact that everyone got sick except for the main characters) and who they meet at the resort, but it all was fun. It didn’t go any deeper than a typical romance novel plot does, which I was prepared for and was fine with.

I really liked Olive. Everything is just going so wrong in her life, and even though everyone says she’s a pessimist, I don’t think she was as down as she could have been. I thought she was really relatable! I feel like in romance a lot, the main characters have these super flashy, ideal jobs and everything is going right for them, so it was refreshing to hear a story where that wasn’t the case.

The one thing I had any issue with was the ending. I think Christina Lauren’s books have great setup, fun characters, and steamy scenes, but they are almost always lacking in the ending for. There will be really great progression and pacing, then everything gets wrapped up so quickly and sometimes, unexpectedly. This book in particular felt really fast at the end. I would have liked more from the characters in terms of sorting out what happens in the climax. This wasn’t a huge issue, since I obviously gave the book 5 stars, but it is something that I would like to see them work on in future books.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Synopsis: Macy and Elliot spent years of their young lives becoming friends, and then something more, but one night changed everything for them. After ten years of not seeing each other, they are suddenly back in each other’s lives. They must come to terms with what happened that night, and what feelings remain. This is told in alternating past and present chapters.

Fiction, 432 pages, published in 2018

Synopsis: Macy and Elliot spent years of their young lives becoming friends, and then something more, but one night changed everything for them. After ten years of not seeing each other, they are suddenly back in each other’s lives. They must come to terms with what happened that night, and what feelings remain. This is told in alternating past and present chapters.

NON-SPOILER REVIEW:

I have read a bunch of Christina Lauren’s books at this point and they are usually hit or miss for me, so I was a little nervous going into this one. However, I think I have found my favorite genre of theirs! I really, really enjoyed this book. I think it is classified as just fiction, rather than romance like their other books are, but I could be wrong about that.

I think the format was one of the things that made this book so good. Until the end, you are kept guessing about what exactly happened on the night that changed everything. It was interesting because in one chapter, you hear about the events as they happened, but in the next, you get to hear the characters thoughts about it 10 years after the fact.

I absolutely loved the way Macy and Elliot’s relationship developed. It was not rushed in the slightest. It took years for them to get to where they were and I loved it. I loved their connection through books as well. I feel like a lot of books, even some other Christina Lauren books, tend to rush romantic relationships that are based on attraction, but this steered clear of that.

The emotional investment I felt was really why I loved this book so much. I know this technically just fiction, not a romance, but with romances, I don’t get too attached. This book, however, had me smiling and crying and I could not put it down (aka could not stop the audiobook). I just think this story was so good.

I want to read more Christina Lauren books like this! I much prefer this style over their Beautiful series or Dating You / Hating You. While Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is still my favorite, I will definitely cherish Love and Other Words!

Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

Synopsis: Evie and Carter meet at a Halloween party and immediately hit it off. Just as they are getting to know each other, their companies merge, and suddenly, they are both competing for the same position, but can their budding romance survive the competition?

Genre: Romance

Published: June 6th 2017

Pages: 350

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: Evie and Carter meet at a Halloween party and immediately hit it off. Just as they are getting to know each other, their companies merge, and suddenly, they are both competing for the same position, but can their budding romance survive the competition?

Non-spoiler Review:

I haven’t decided if I like Christina Lauren’s writing yet, even after reading six books of theirs. Some of them I have loved and some I thought were just okay, and this one ended up right in the middle for me. It has been a few weeks since I finished the book, and already it has become pretty hazy in my memory, which says something.

I didn’t have a problem with either of the main characters, but they weren’t memorable or super special. Their relationship was pretty cute, but it just felt like something was missing in this story. It felt like too much of the story revolved around work. Obviously, work is an important and takes a lot of a person’s life, but it was just overwhelming in this book.

From the premise, this book can sound similar to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, and while they do both have the office competition plotlines, they are fairly different stories. The biggest difference is that in The Hating Game, the characters have met at work and develop feelings after already hating each other, whereas in this book, the characters meet and develop interest in each other before meeting at work. If you want an office romance, I would definitely suggest The Hating Game over Dating You / Hating You.

There were no glaring issues with this story, but it just wasn’t very memorable. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I probably will not read it again.

Review: Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

Synopsis: Hazel is at a party at her best friend’s house celebrating her new position as 3rd grade teacher when she runs into Josh, a college crush that she hasn’t seen in years. Hazel declares that she will become his best friend, so the pair starts to hang out and get to know each other. To help Josh get over his cheating ex-girlfriend, the two go on a series of double blind dates.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Published: September 4th, 2018

Pages: 309

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Hazel is at a party at her best friend’s house celebrating her new position as 3rd grade teacher when she runs into Josh, a college crush that she hasn’t seen in years. Hazel declares that she will become his best friend, so the pair starts to hang out and get to know each other. To help Josh get over his cheating ex-girlfriend, the two go on a series of double blind dates.

Non- Spoiler Review:

I have read multiple other books by Christina Lauren, but wow, this is one blows the others away!! I listened to the audiobook for this and normally when I’m listening to an audiobook, I’ll play a game or use a coloring app on my phone, but for this one, I was so engrossed that I just listened (until 3:30 in the morning, I might add). The concept of this book isn’t groundbreaking, but the execution was just so good. It has alternating chapters from Josh and Hazel, which I think works so well in romance because you can see the relationship from all sides. I also thought the characters were really interesting. Hazel is so unapologetically herself, from her loud outfits to her mass quantity of pets of with funky names, and I loved it! She knows who she is and she doesn’t let other people bring her down just because she’s not ‘normal’. I feel like most of the romance I’ve read, the main man is always kind of a jerk in some way or another, but Josh is just so nice in the best way. He respects people and always has Hazel’s best interest in mind. The progression of their relationship was so exciting and well timed! There was a solid foundation of friendship laid down before either had serious romantic feelings.

The side characters were fine, but I don’t really expect much from side characters in romance since I’m here for the main couple. My one complaint, if you can even call it that, was the ending. The problem they had to overcome, without saying what it is, is something I don’t personally like seeing in romance books and it felt like not enough time was really spent on the solution to that situation. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I really need to own a copy.

One other thing about this book before I get to spoilers is that Todd Haberkorn narrates Josh’s chapters and my past anime-obsessed self was screaming the whole time because he does a lot of anime voice acting and I could not get that out of my head.

SPOILERS:

The “situation” at the end that I mentioned above was Hazel’s pregnancy. I personally don’t ever want kids, so this is always a tough thing for me to relate to, especially because some authors tend to use kids as a kind of end goal for happiness in relationships. Don’t get me wrong, anyone who wants kids is completely valid, it’s just that I can’t relate. In terms of the book, I feel like Hazel’s whole bleeding dilemma wasn’t explained enough. Obviously, she was fine because of the events mentioned in the epilogue, but I felt like it was too vague about what actually happened. There was no actual resolution since the main story kind of just…ended.