Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace

Andrews McMeel Publishing – Review: 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, NetGalley, and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are entirely my own. All of my reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads { #partner }

TW : child abuse, toxic friendships, toxic romantic relationships, sexual harassment, eating disorders, fatphobia, suicide, trauma

I love all of Amanda Lovelace’s work that I have read, which is most of it. Particularly her Women Are Some Kind of Magic series is very dear to my heart. I read the first in that series, The Princess Saves Herself In This One, when I was recently out of (and recovering from) a very toxic situation, and after entering into a relationship with the amazing man that I would marry. It was a perfect time to read it, and it taught me so much about myself, and helped me work through things emotionally that even then I was ignoring.

So when I heard that she was coming out with another collection of her feminist, therapeutic poetry, and this time themed around a classic fairy tale like Cinderella, I knew that I was going to read it the second that I got my hands on it. And I did, and I loved it just as much as I was sure that I would. She turns the fairy tale details on their head – my favorite being that the Fairy Godmother is a personification of the voice we all hope for in our lives that counteracts the harmful voice in our heads, with positive, healthy, and affirming self talk.

All of this being said, and as much as I love Lovelace’s work, you definitely need to know exactly what you are getting into when you pick up one of these collections. As I noted earlier, these poetry collections deal with matters related to some very serious trigger warnings. So if this is something that would be harmful to you after reading, then please make note of that. And as she states at the beginning of each of her collections – “Remember to practice self care before, during, & after reading.”

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

Gallery Books – Review: 5 Stars

I knew before I even started this book that I was going to love it. I mean, it’s Christina Lauren. What’s not to love, right? Well little did I know that it would still exceed the already high expectations that I had for it! I have read a good number of Christina Lauren’s books, but this ended up being one of their tops for me! I only wish I hadn’t let it sit on my backlist-TBR for as long as I did.

Lets talk about the characters. Josh is cool, calm, and collected, and a perfect straight-man in this romantic comedy. He has this delightfully sarcastic and sometimes dry humor that just really tickled me while I was reading it. I mean it, this book had me in giggle fits almost the entire time reading through it! And now let’s talk about Hazel. Oh, Hazel. Hazel is now absolutely, 200% a favorite female lead in a book for me! She is so silly, and sassy, and wild, and I just want to be more like Hazel Bradford in my day to day life! She is a character that really knows how to have fun and get the most out of life, and I just really admired that in her as a character, and it made everything about this duo and their story just so enjoyable to read!

I love a friends-to-lovers romance as much as the next guy, but every once in a while it can feel like the stories can tend to blend together. There’s only so many versions of the same type of story, right? Well, sometimes that is true. And don’t get me wrong, that will not even remotely stop me from reading them! But this story went above and beyond the trope and added in some really fun details and twists that I hadn’t seen in the books that I’ve read before.
Josh and Hazel are friends that start living together while Hazel’s apartment is being fixed and updated, and soon after they start setting each other up and going on these (sometimes hilariously terrible) double dates. And that, to me, was just a really fun way to set up their story and transition into the next chapter in their relationship!

I don’t want to get into too many details on the plot, because I really don’t want to spoil any bit of this delight for anyone else who hasn’t read it yet. But let me say this – I finished this book in only a couple of days because I absolutely did not want to put it down. Hazel is forever my #WCW. This is one of the very top Christina Lauren books, in my opinion. And I would very highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys friends-to-lovers with a little bit of steam, and a whole lot of joy.

The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker

Atria Books – Review: 5 Stars

Another book that I was told over and over again that I needed to read, and about how much I would love it – from friends, fellow readers on Instagram, etc. And oh my goodness, were they right about this book! While yes, like just about any other book it is not without a fault or two, I absolutely devoured this read.

Just to jump right into the downer part before we get to the more fun part, my biggest annoyance with this book was the main character Calla during the first portion of the book. And up front I was to specify, it was not at all an issue with the way that the character was written – she comes across exactly how the author had meant her to for the purpose of the storyline. She is a deeply, and intentionally, flawed character. Which on principle I have nothing against, because you need the flaws in order to show growth. There were just a few more chapters (from Calla’s perspective) of the inconveniences and trials of her time in Alaska. Although, again, this gives the character the opportunity for all of the growth and development that she shows throughout the rest of the novel. And by the end of the novel I found myself liking and relating to her much more.

That being said, on to the fact that I really loved this book! Other than first-half-of-the-book-Calla, all of the characters in Alaska are incredibly charming and heartfelt, and it made me want to go for a visit myself! This story deals with some difficult subjects, like loss and sickness in a family member, but it tells those stories with such heart and such care that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the book and all of it’s characters.

This book was incredibly enjoyable, and had just the perfect amount of steam to meet my contemporary romance needs without being too much to read in public. It is perfect for a summery beach read, or curling up by a cozy fire in the dead of winter, with your favorite sweater and glass of wine. And I will definitely be going back in for second and maybe third trips into this world!

The God Game by Danny Tobey

St. Martin’s Press – Review : 4 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All opinions are completely my own. All of my reviews can also be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads { #partner }

TW : attempted suicide, strongly implied abuse, manipulation, death, bullying.

I just want to start by saying that this was a WILD read. This book was action packed, and smart, and a really intriguing cross between a number of different genres – young adult, sci-fi, suspense/thriller, and even moments of fantasy. What a way to start out my 2020 reading, by getting a little bit of everything in one of my first new reads! It was incredibly enjoyable, and it drew me in from the very beginning.

Jumping off of that point, I read this book in three sittings. It was a very quick read. And yes, part of that comes from the fact that it is YA, but (cough cough, no shade to any specific books) I have read some YA books that took me almost a month to read because I was having trouble getting through them. This book was the exact opposite experience for me. I had to know what was going to happen next with these kids, and what the next “level” of the game would look like, and I practically tore through this book in order to get those answers. Which made it a perfect addition to my TBR list this month, and to help me get out of a slight reading slump that I’ve been in. Highly recommend it if you’re needing a quick read for any of those reasons too! (Or just if you need to get your numbers on your Goodreads reading challenge back on track for the year. No judgement. Same, girl.)

Now I don’t think that we could talk about this book without talking about the characters and the different character development that we see throughout the book, as this game affects each of these high schoolers in very different ways. This book follows a group of high school seniors who are very close friends and call themselves “The Vindicators,” who are very smart and computer savvy, and who also perform yearly pranks. At the beginning of this novel they are planning their big, senior year prank, and in doing so they get themselves invited to be a part of this super exclusive online game, The God Game. But, while it seems so attractive to them in the beginning, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone, soon everyone who is now playing The God Game have to follow every rule – and as the rules get more insane and more dangerous, so do the consequences for not following them.
Without going into any spoilers, we get to see each character in this group go through their own independent transformations (as well as the transformation that the group and their friendships themselves go through) as they start to struggle with really hard real life issues – things like having to determine right and wrong on levels that greatly impact the people around them, and even things like having to figure out what is real and what is only virtual.

I am going to stop myself before I go too far in talking in this circle, since I want to make sure to avoid spoilers – which can be very difficult in these types of stories! Over all I will say that I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you enjoy sci-fi and you are looking for a really quick read that will drag you in from the very first page, then this is the next book for you. I would even recommend it to friends that sci-fi may not be their favorite genre, just because it is a really interesting and inherently terrifying story – what happens if AI and technology get so smart that they can be in control of the situation? And how do we know when we are on the path when it’s gone too far?

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Review: 3 Stars

All opinions are entirely my own, and all of my reviews can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

I was pretty late to the party reading this one, but it was definitely worth the wait for me! While this wasn’t my favorite book that I read last month, I tore through this book in only a few days (which is very quick for me), and I am definitely glad that (through a buddy read) I finally got around to reading it.

Characters. I love character driven novels, everybody knows it. That being said, there weren’t any characters that I loved in this novel. While there were definitely times that I related to Lucy (I’ve made some iffy choices for relationships in my past. I am not proud), there were more times that I found it a little bit difficult to root for her. The book follows this woman through years and years of her life – and we see her falling in love multiple times throughout. And I do understand that there are loves that always stick with you, and there are people from your past that may always be a part of your life. But she took it to another level. We see Lucy get married, and the whole time she was still in love with Gabe. Not in a “I remember our time fondly” way, though. In a “it’s my wedding day and I’m having second thoughts about getting married because I got a call from Gabe and he still remembers me” way. I don’t know, it made for a very interesting story, but at the same time I had a hard time rooting for her while she was married to one man and carrying on a fully formed emotional affair with another.
That being said, I didn’t really like Gabe or her husband Darren, either. In their own ways they were also kind of terrible people. So it isn’t like I was rooting for anyone else instead. Except maybe her brother. I liked him.

One more thing I would like to mention is the writing style and the point of view/narration of the story. This story is all told from Lucy’s perspective, but as she would tell the story to someone. And more specifically, how she would tell Gabe her side of their story. It was a type of storytelling that I haven’t really read before, or at least not often. I feel like there are a ton of books where the narration is the main character telling their story to their children, or to some other third party character, but I found it really interesting having the audience be another key player in the story. So you get a lot of thoughts and questions from Lucy to Gabe as she tells him her side of this story (ex. “This is how I felt. Did you feel like that too?” or “I remember this, do you even remember this happening?”) which made the story feel really personal.

Last point, without going into any specifics or spoilers, I think I need to mention the ending. Yes, the ending destroyed me emotionally. My fiance says that I am “empathetic to a fault,” so if I am even remotely invested in the story and the characters then any sadness or disappointment that the characters feel, I feel. That being said, the ending is telegraphed throughout the entire book leading up to it. So I was rather expecting what happened in the end, and was almost waiting for it to happen while reading the whole last quarter of the book, if that makes sense. Like “I know that something along these lines is going to happen, but when?” and just waiting for that shoe to drop. And I say again, the ending still greatly affected me (tears were shed), so it didn’t ruin the ending for me. But I just wanted to make a note of it, because I know that there are some people who wouldn’t love knowing the ending from the start.

One last thing about the ending, I wish we could have gotten some sort of epilogue. That’s it, no big grand thoughts on this one. I just wish we could have known what choices Lucy made after the end that we got, and what the aftermath of those choices would have been.

Overall, I am glad that I finally went back and plucked this novel from my backlog, and I would recommend it to my friends. It probably wouldn’t be one that I would go back and reread a ton of times, and it certainly won’t have been my favorite book of the year. But if you are looking for complicated love triangles, and lots of emotions, then this could be the exact book that you are looking for.

Snug: A Collection of Comics about Dating Your Best Friend by Catana Chetwynd

Andrews McMeel Publishing – Review: 5 Stars

Thanks so much to the author, NetGalley, and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts. All of my reviews can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads. { partner }

What is there even to say about Catana Comics? These sweet comics have been in my life and bringing me immense joy since I first saw them around two years ago, or so. And they are not only adorable, but so relatable. Sometimes I feel almost attacked with how much my fiance and I relate them to our own relationship. Socially awkward? Wants all of the pizza? Nothing but cuddles and no pants? Attacks their partner with all of the kisses and weird reactions? I feel you, girl. Especially during the year and a half that my fiance and I were long distance – we sent these back and forth to each other daily, and they always made us feel closer together, and definitely helped us get through that time. So I knew going in that I was going to love this.

This is a very quick read, as each comic is only a few panels on a page, so I just read through them all in about 25 minutes. I would highly, highly recommend this to absolutely anyone. It is funny, and sickly sweet, and I guarantee that every single person will find at least one (likely way more) that will make them smile!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Atria Books – Review : 5 stars

All opinions are entirely my own. All of my reviews can be found on Instagram @Tackling_TBR and on Goodreads.

TW : brief homophobia and slurs, physical and emotional abuse, death, implied suicide.

I don’t even know how to start this review, other than “Holy crap, I loved this book.” Which, while it is true, probably isn’t the first thing that people would want to hear about it. So instead I will say these things – I waited too long to read this book, and I wish I could have read it sooner. And that it was absolutely, without question, one of my top ten books that I read in 2019.

First, let’s talk about the characters. Love them or hate them, the characters were incredibly well written. And some of them I really did hate, but you can still find empathy for them at other times, just as I have to assume the author intended. Although, obviously, my favorite characters were our two female leads. I love character driven novels in general, which is a genre this story definitely fits into. But even more than that, this is a story driven by two strong and fiery women – working together, learning about each other, and figuring out their way through the rest of the world around them. I also love that they almost seem like two different sides of a similar story – Monique, heartbroken and lost at the beginning of her career, but along the way finding the strength that she needs through Evelyn; Evelyn heartbroken at the end of a very long and difficult career, who finds Monique and decides that she is the final piece of the puzzle she is trying to finish.
Neither character is perfect, they are at times calculating, they are at times cruel, and they are definitely always stubborn, but I think that those things just make them that much more interesting to read about. And I would read even more of both of their stories.

While talking about imperfect characters, you would think that I would mention Evelyn’s seven husbands and all of their imperfections and all they did for her story. Right? I mean, that’s the title of the book. So we’re going to talk about them, right? Wrong. Evelyn got what she needed from each of her husbands, and had different experiences and feelings related to each one, but (with the exception of Harry) I don’t actually believe that they are as important to her story as they may seem. They weren’t lifting her, necessarily, they were giving her the opportunities to lift herself. This isn’t the story of her husbands or how they helped her form her life/career, it’s the story of Evelyn forging her own way and taking the world by storm, the timeline is simply being kept straight by noting who was there with her at each point.

Just a quick note on how the story is told and on the writing itself – the book switches between newspaper clippings (primarily from Evelyn’s past), Evelyn’s words when telling Monique her story, and Monique’s interactions with other people. It made for a very fast paced reading style, because the switching narrators and points of view was very interesting, and I kept wanting to see what was going to happen next.

The last thing that I will touch on is the setting. This story is partially set in modern day New York (the portions of the book from Monique’s perspective) and partially set in the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood. I’m just going to go ahead and say it – I love stories set in Old Hollywood. I do. If I could read books and novels with that setting for the rest of my life, I would. What can I say, other than the political issues and a few (read: a lot) of the other issues of the time, I may have thrived in it. So the setting only helped to make me love this book and Evelyn’s story even more.

Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to the folks around me who haven’t read it yet, and already have on several occasions. I tore through this book, because I had to know what happened next and what the next part of Evelyn’s fierce saga would be. The night that I finished it I stayed up far past my bedtime, because I needed to know how it would all end for Evelyn.

Although, I will say that I maybe wouldn’t suggest finishing it alone in the middle of the night. The last 100 pages or so slightly destroyed me. I have a lot of feelings, okay? Geez.