Review: Lovers Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Lovers Like Us
Series: Like Us, #2
Authors: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-seven-year-old Farrow Keene lives by his All Postsactions, and his actions say he’s the best at whatever he does. As a 24/7 bodyguard and the new boyfriend to Maximoff Hale, protecting the headstrong, alpha billionaire has never been more complicated. And one rule can’t be bent:

Keep your relationship secret from the public.

Farrow is confident he’s the best man for the job. But a twist in Maximoff’s fast-paced life sticks them with the rest of Security Force Omega and their clients.

On the road.
In a sleeper tour bus.
For four rocky months.

Sexual frustrations, check. Road trip drama, check. Awkward bonding, check.

But Farrow couldn’t have accounted for a high-risk threat (identity: unknown) that targets Maximoff before the ignition even turns. And it hits Farrow — someone has it out for the guy he loves.

Every day, Maximoff & Farrow’s feelings grow stronger, and together, they’ll either sink or swim.

The Like Us series is a true series, one continuous timeline, that follows a family of wealthy celebrities and the people that protect them. You must read Damaged Like Us, Book 1, before reading Lovers Like Us.


After the big bombshell in Damaged Like Us, I was wondering where Lovers Like Us would go. I knew we would get lots of Moffy and Farrow time, but I wasn’t sure how their relationship was going to change things between the Hale – Colbalt – Meadows clan. I also wasn’t sure how they were going to be able to keep their relationship a secret from the media. Lovers Like Us answered all of the questions I had. It also made me an even bigger fan of Moffy and Farrow’s relationship.

Moffy has always seemed mature for his age, but he truly grew up in this book. I felt like he gained a deeper understanding of his siblings’ and cousins’ feelings. He also grew to understand Farrow better. I liked how he handled all the situations thrown his way.

Farrow was strong and steady. He was good at being himself. I liked that he didn’t back down from a fight or give into anything that would compromise his beliefs.

My favorite thing about Lovers Like Us was that it showed a real progression in Moffy and Farrow’s relationship. I got to see some ups and some downs, and how their relationship only grew stronger because of them. I was sad when the book ended because I loved where things were for them, and didn’t want to wait to find out what comes next.

I can’t end this review without talking about some of the other family members. I want books for all of them, but I desperately need books for both Jane and Charlie. Jane because I love her and she deserves more than she’s got so far. Charlie because I kind of hate him right now, and I need to understand him better. I also need him to meet his match.

Lovers Like Us took the Like Us series exactly where I wanted it to go. I enjoyed reading this book so much. If you’re a fan of Hale, Meadows, and Cobalts, you’ll love it!

 

Review: Hello Forever by Sarina Bowen

Hello Forever
Series: Pay it Forward, #2
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: July 14, 2017
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance,  LGBT+
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

A SINGLE BASKETBALL GAME CHANGES EVERYTHING…

When they were only teenagers, Axel and Caxton were caught making out in the woods at church camp. And afterward, Cax had disappeared from all the youth group activities.

Six years later, Axel is astonished to spot his first love’s face in the crowd of a college basketball game he’s watching on TV—at a school which has just offered him a job. It’s a thousand miles away, in a tiny rural town. But suddenly, he can’t wait to get there.

Cax can’t believe his eyes when Axel appears in the same Massachusetts town where he now lives. And he’s still just as drawn to Axel as ever. But he can’t let himself go there again, because loving Axel will mean giving up everything else he holds dear.

Both men have so much to lose. But as far as their love is concerned, it’s Hello Forever.

Hello Forever is a stand-alone novel with no cliffhangers. Readers of Goodbye Paradise will get to check in on Caleb and Josh and their clan.


Hello Forever is a second chance love story. It’s the story of two men who fell in love as teenagers, but were forced apart by the expectations of others. Neither Axel or Cax thought they would ever see each other again. Then, Axel spots Cax on a televised college basketball game. Seeing his first love again inspires Axel to accept a position at the very same school. Axel hopes he’ll run into Cax again, and that they will be able to rekindle what they almost had.

Their reunion isn’t exactly what Axel had hoped. The same demons that drove Axel and Cax apart are still at play in Cax’s life. As much as Cax wants what Axel is offering, he may not be able to accept it. Some things in Cax’s life are more important than his love for Axel.

After reading Goodbye Paradise, I had very high expectations for Hello Forever. I loved that first Pay it Forward book so much, and I wanted to have a similar experience with this book. Hello Forever was a great book, but not quite as amazing as Goodbye Paradise. I can’t put my finger on exactly why that was. The only thing I can think of was that it took me a little longer than usual to connect with the characters. A lot of the beginning was Axel setting up his history with Cax. It wasn’t until Cax and Axel were back in the same room that I felt engaged with the story.

I don’t want you to think I didn’t love Cax and Axel’s story. I did.Their second chance at love was sweet, sexy, and had just the right amount of drama. Cax having to decide if his personal happiness was more important than his devotion to his family was a really great story line. It was a tough choice for him, but I loved the way it all played out. It was fun to read. I especially loved the ending!

It was exciting to be back in Josh and Caleb’s world. I loved seeing them again and how they worked into Cax and Axel’s story. I also liked the other new characters I met. I’m hoping some of them (Jason) will get their own stories in the future.

Overall, Hello Forever was a great M/M romance. It’s one I would recommend if you’re a fan of M/M romances, Sarina Bowen or new adult romances in general.

Review: Damaged Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie

Damaged Like Us
Series: Like Us, #1
Authors: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: K.B. Ritchie
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, M/M Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Don’t date your bodyguard. 
It was the one rule he had to break.

Maximoff Hale is a force of nature. A ship unwilling to be steered. Headstrong, resilient, and wholly responsible — the twenty-two-year-old alpha billionaire can handle his unconventional life. By noon, lunch can turn into a mob of screaming fans. By two, his face is all over the internet.

Born into one of the most famous families in the country, his celebrity status began at birth.

He is certified American royalty.

When he’s assigned a new 24/7 bodyguard, he comes face-to-face with the worst case scenario: being attached to the tattooed, MMA-trained, Yale graduate who’s known for “going rogue” in the security team — and who fills 1/3 of Maximoff’s sexual fantasies.

Twenty-seven-year-old Farrow Keene has one job: protect Maximoff Hale. Flirting, dating, and hot sex falls far, far out of the boundary of his bodyguard duties and into “termination” territory. But when feelings surface, protecting the sexy-as-sin, stubborn celebrity becomes increasingly complicated.

Together, boundaries blur, and being exposed could mean catastrophic consequences for both.

The Like Us series is a true series, one continuous timeline, that follows a family of wealthy celebrities and the people who protect them. Damaged Like Us can be read and enjoyed without reading any of Krista & Becca’s other novels.


Thank God they’re back!

I know the blurb says the Like Us series can be read without reading any of Krista and Becca Ritchie’s other books, but let’s be honest. There’s no way anyone who hasn’t read the Addicted /Calloway Sisters series could be near as excited for Damaged Like Us as fans of those series. I binge read the entire series last year, and the countdown to release day began the minute I heard Moffy was getting his own book. I couldn’t wait to be back in that world. When Damaged Like Us finally showed up on my Kindle, I dropped everything to read it because I needed more of the Hales, Cobalts, and Meadows in my life.

I found Damaged Like Us to be just as addictive as Krista and Becca Ritchie’s other novels. I immediately loved adult Moffy. I got to know him a little bit as a kid in previous novels, but it was so rewarding getting to know the adult version in this book. He was exactly who he should have been, who I would have pictured him to be. Moffy had a quiet strength. He was there for his family members in the most unconditional way. He put them first, even when he shouldn’t. Sometimes that meant he suffered, but that didn’t really bother him. Or at least it didn’t bother him until Farrow was assigned to be his body-guard.

Farrow was dreamy. He was tough and tatted on the outside, but kind of a traditionalist on the inside. I loved that about him. I also loved that he knew what he wanted in all aspects of his life and went for it. The way he pushed Maximoff’s boundaries made Farrow a great match for him.

I wanted more of this book. I felt like it flew by and ended before I was ready for it to be over. I know that Moffy and Farrow are getting a second book and that I’ll get more of their story, but I wanted this one to be longer. It left me with some major questions about how things progressed after the end. It’s me being selfish, but I want to know now!

I’m really hoping that this series is not going to be just Moffy’s story, but will also include each of the Hale, Cobalt and Meadows kids. Reading about them again only furthered my curiosity! I am especially interested in Jane’s story. I got to see a bit of her life in Damaged Like Us, but there has to be more to her story! The little I read about her didn’t do her justice. I needed inside her head! Same for Xander. I have so many questions about what’s next for him.

If you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed Damaged Like Us. I’m so, so happy Krista and Becca Ritchie decided to write this spin-off series.

Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters-in her faith and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp-one for troubled kids-Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Emotionally charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.


I’m going to apologize before I start this review because it might be a little scattered. I had a hard time reconciling my thoughts and feelings after reading The Names They Gave Us. On one hand, I loved what Lucy discovered about her faith and the world around her in this book. On the other hand, this book might have tried to accomplish too much.

Religion and faith make up a huge part of this book. That wasn’t a problem for me. I grew up going to church. I’m not part of organized religion now, but I do have my own personal beliefs and faith that was shaped by my early years in church. Even though I wasn’t as religious as Lucy was growing up, I found myself identifying with some of the teenage questioning of her faith. I liked the way her doubts and confusion regarding certain decisions were portrayed. At times, I did feel like Lucy’s faith felt overly dramatic or built up, but then I had to remind myself that Lucy’s experiences may be another reader’s, even if they weren’t mine. Overall, I really liked the message this book sent.

As for the accomplishing too much…This will sound bad, but there might have been too much diversity and too many issues included. I know, how can I say that when everyone is crying for more diverse books these days? While I applaud Emery Lord for trying to include someone from every walk of life in this book, it felt forced in the time span of a summer. It was overwhelming for both Lucy and me. There just wasn’t enough time to devote to every separate person or issue.

One more thing I need to talk about is the ending of this book. It left me reeling. And crying. Yes, crying. It was perfectly imperfect. I wasn’t exactly happy with it, but I got it. I just needed more. I was disappointed that I didn’t get more. You’ll understand if you read this book.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Names They Gave Us. I was immediately immersed in Emery Lord’s writing, and I couldn’t wait to find out how things would turn out for Lucy. I loved Lucy and Jones’ new found relationship, and all the friendships she made. The Names They Gave Us felt relevant and important to today’s teens, even in moments that felt like too much.

Review: The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, GLBT+

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?


I don’t even know where to start reviewing this book. There are so many things to talk about! To me, it was utter perfection. The writing was fantastic, and the characters were perfectly flawed. I loved every moment of it. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one evening, sacrificing much-needed sleep to finish it.

The Upside of Unrequited is told from Molly’s point of view in first person narration and was very easy to relate to. She’s this sweet girl (everyone confirms it) with some extra weight on her frame. That weight defines Molly. It’s hard for it not to when her twin sister, Cassie, and the rest of their friends are thin. Molly feels like she’s always in the background. She’s always the sidekick, never the one the attention is on. Guys don’t like her, they like her friends.

Cassie disagrees with Molly on this point. She thinks Molly needs to abandon her meaningless crushes and put herself out there. When Cassie falls for a new girl, she takes the opportunity to hook Molly up with her girlfriend’s best friend. The opportunity excites Molly — or at least it should. Will’s cute and funny, but Molly can’t keep her mind off her co-worker Reid.

Weight is a tough topic. Everyone has one, but rarely does anyone seem happy with theirs. I’ve been fit. I’ve been fat. I’ve been somewhere in between. At all of those stages I felt like Molly did in this book. Feeling uncomfortable with your body and knowing it affects how people see you is tough. Not letting your weight dictate how you feel about yourself and the actions you take is really hard. I think it’s especially tough for a teenager. Becky Albertalli did an amazing job conveying the thoughts and feelings Molly had. They felt truthful and real. I could identify with each and every one of them. I applaud her for the way she wrote this book.

I’ve also felt the way Molly felt about her sister trying to hook her up with Will. I remember my best friend always being in a relationship. She would try to push her boyfriend’s friends at me. It was exciting, but also uncomfortable. No one wants to be forced on a guy (or girl) just because your best friend is dating theirs. It rarely works out and is so awkward. I loved watching Molly try to navigate through the situation and discover that maybe Will wasn’t what would hold her relationship with Cassie together.

Molly’s friendship with Reid made me smile so hard. He wasn’t the super cool guy Will was, but he was cool in his own way. The way he was unapologetic about his likes was awesome. I loved how that was Molly’s favorite thing about him. It was cute how Molly’s attraction to Reid came in bits and pieces.

Another thing that struck me as true was the evolution of Cassie and Molly’s relationship as girlfriends/boyfriends entered the picture. It’s so true that the dynamic of friendships change when one or both of the people are in a relationship. It’s no longer just the friends against the world. You do kind of lose part of your relationship. The way Molly and Cassie thought about this really made me think back to my younger years and how I handled that will all of my friends. I thought this was a great topic to include in the book because this happens to everyone at some point, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it discussed anywhere.

This is really random, but I also totally got the Molly looks like everyone thing. That is so me. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told by people they know someone who looks like me. It’s cool, but strange. Once, someone even showed me a picture of their friend. We did look exactly alike and it was creepy.

I know this review has been one big ramble, but I couldn’t help it. I loved The Upside of Unrequited so much. It’s a book I think every teenager (and adult!) should read. It’s filled with so many great moments and topics. It really made me examine some of my thoughts and feelings from the past and present that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t read it.

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction; Romance; LGBT+
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From Taylor Jenkins Reid, “a genius when it comes to stories about life and love” (Redbook), comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid’s signature talent for “creating complex, likable characters” (Real Simple), this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.


Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author I’ve always wanted to read a book by but hadn’t yet. I was very excited to get to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and experience her writing. I had heard such great things about her books.

I was a little nervous about reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because a couple of my trusted blogger friends were not impressed by it. After reading it, I can understand why this book may not be for some readers. It’s filled with uncomfortable situations and moments. Evelyn was unabashedly candid in the telling of her life story. She was unapologetic about the people she hurt or wronged. Some, if not all, of her decisions will disgust some readers. Evelyn was simply unlikable.

I wasn’t a fan of Evelyn’s, but I did appreciate her story. The methods she used to get what she wanted were brash, but she acknowledged that. Everything she did, right or wrong, made for an interesting tale. I wasn’t put off by most of her actions. I liked how they led to and explained her seven husbands. I truly enjoyed the journey through Evelyn’s life and loves.

Monique wasn’t much of a character at first. Her story loosely wove around Evelyn’s, and I also found it hard to like her. I don’t know that I ever ended up liking her, but I did end up respecting her. The things she learned about Evelyn and from Evelyn were profound. I loved that she put to use what she learned.

From the book blurb, the reader knows going into the story that Evelyn and Monique’s lives intertwine in some way. I never could have guessed how. It was definitely a twist I didn’t see coming. It was perfect and I really like what it did to the story line. It made the ending all that more perfect.

I may not have fallen in love with the characters of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but I was mesmerized by the story. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer capable of weaving a multifaceted tale. I loved her writing style, and I am looking forward to reading her other books.

Review: We are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

We are Never Meeting in Real Life
Author: Samantha Irby
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Vintage Books
Genre: Memoir, Essays, Humor
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire. With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., “bitches gotta eat” blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette–she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”–detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms–hang in there for the Costco loot–she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.


I learned of We are Never Meeting in Real Life on Goodreads. I was sorting through the giveaway section and saw it. The witty title and adorable cover drew my attention immediately. When I read the blurb, I knew I had to enter to win it. And I did, so I’m lucky!

We are Never Meeting in Real Life is a group of essays about blogger/author Samantha Irby’s life. She has a straight forward way of telling things like she sees them and is great at describing the outrageous experiences of her past. Her tone is sometimes upbeat, sometimes not, but it’s always humorous. Irby has a way of saying things that others will either detest (language and issue sensitive) or wish they had thought of (down with the swearing and oversharing).

I fell in the latter category. I truly enjoyed reading We are Never Meeting in Real Life. I wasn’t aware of Samantha Irby prior to reading her essays, but I loved her style. She wasn’t apologetic about her thoughts and experiences, and I liked that. My favorites in this collection were My Bachelorette Application, You Don’t Have to Be Grateful for Sex, Fuck It, Bitch. Stay Fat, and A Christmas Carol.

I probably would have given this set of essays 5 stars if I hadn’t been slightly concerned about the way the author presented some of her stories. She has been dealt with some very crappy situations in life, and while this book seemed upbeat about it all, there was a hint of sadness behind some of it. Like if she made fun of her own life enough, it wouldn’t be so depressing. That made me sad. She seems like a cool, introverted chick. I wanted sunshine and rainbows for her. Hopefully, the rest of her life will be.