Review

Maurene Goo Mini-Reviews

The Way You Make Me Feel

The Way You Make Me Feel
by Maurene Goo

Published May 8, 2018

Source: Purchased


 

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Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.


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I read this book while on vacation earlier this month and am so glad I decided to pick it up! It made me feel like I had been living under a rock when it comes to Maurene Goo’s books because I absolutely LOVED this.

Clara starts off as a bit of a brat, really. She is disrespectful towards her parents and people at school, and doesn’t care how her actions make other people feel. When one of her pranks at prom goes too far, she has to spend the summer working off her debt at her father’s food truck alongside her nemesis Rose.

This story had a lot of depth behind it — Clara is struggling with her mother abandoning her to go be a social media influencer and neither Rose or Clara have any female friendships in their life. Clara has a very friendship-like relationship with her dad when the story starts out and doesn’t seem to see him in a typical parental role.

I loved seeing Clara and Rose work through their issues with each other and start to find common ground as the summer wore on. The food truck setting was so much fun — I wish I was lined up at KoBra for lunch right now! The descriptions of food were amazing and mouth-watering and I can’t believe Korean-Brazilian fusion isn’t really a thing, because it should be.

Clara and Rose both grow so much throughout the course of the book, both individually and into a really lovely friendship. This book made me laugh and smile so many times as I read it, but it was far from being all fluff.

I gave THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL 4 out of 5 stars!

 

Somewhere Only We Know

Somewhere Only We Know
by Maurene Goo

Published May 7, 2018

Source: Purchased


 

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10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.


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I loved the concept of this book, but unfortunately the execution was a bit lacking for me. I felt that Lucky’s character read extremely young, and while a few deeper topics such as feeling like an outsider within your own culture and fitting into a family were discussed, I didn’t feel that they were given enough time to be impactful. There was a weird power imbalance between Lucky and her love interest for the majority of the story that felt weird to me and made it hard for me to ship Lucky and Jack.

I felt that this story had too much lightheartedness and not enough depth to back it up. It might work for a younger audience, but unfortunately I didn’t love this story.

I gave SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW 2 out of 5 stars.

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Review

Cover Reveal: Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey’s next romantic comedy, HOTSHOT DOC, releases December 6th! Check out the cover and find out more about HOTSHOT DOC below!

 

About HOTSHOT DOC (available December 6th)

Dr. Russell has a bad reputation around our hospital. The scrub techs say he’s cold-blooded, the nurses say he’s too cocky for his own good, and the residents say he’s the best surgeon in the world—really, just a swell guy!—on the off chance he’s within earshot.

I try to avoid him and his temper at all costs. It’s just as easy to admire his sexy, grip-it-while-he’s-ravishing-you hair and chiseled jaw from a healthy distance, preferably from the other end of the hallway…half-hidden behind a plant.

Unfortunately, my plan crumbles when my trusty ol’ boss decides to swap his white coat for a Hawaiian shirt. His retirement leaves me with two terrible options: switch specialties and spend months retraining, or take an open position as Dr. Russell’s surgical assistant.

That means I have to stand near him in the OR for hours on end and anticipate his every need without letting his biting words and bad attitude intimidate me. Oh, and as if that’s not difficult enough, my silly crush on him—the one I’ve tried to stomp on until it disappears—might just be reciprocated.

It’s fine.

I’m fine.

I take my job seriously. There will be no smoldering bedroom eyes across the operating table, no angry almost-kisses in the storage closet. (Well, no more of those.)

What’s the phrase? An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Maybe I should go for a whole damn bushel.

Add HOTSHOT DOC to your Goodreads list here!

HOTSHOT DOC releases December 6th – you’ll be able to preorder your copy for .99c starting December 3rd!

Keep an eye on R.S. Grey’s Facebook page for the link!

 

 

 

 

About R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at rsgrey.com

Website | Twitter | Facebook | R.S. Grey’s Little Reds Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram

Review

Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey’s newest romantic comedy, NOT SO NICE GUY, is available TODAY! Get your hands on it now!

About NOT SO NICE GUY

“Oh my god. Who is that?”

I get asked this question a lot.

“Oh him?” I reply. “That’s just Ian.”

Just Ian is the biggest understatement of the century. Just the Mona Lisa. Just the Taj Mahal. Just Ian, with his boring ol’ washboard abs and dime-a-dozen dimpled smile.

Just Ian is…just my best friend.

We’re extremely close, stuck so deep inside a Jim-and-Pam-style friendzone everyone at work assumes we’re a couple—that is until one day, word spreads through the teacher’s lounge that he’s single. Fair game. Suddenly, it’s open season on Ian.

He should be reveling in all the newfound attention, but to our mutual surprise, the only attention he seems to want is mine.

He’s turning our formerly innocent nightly chats into X-rated phone calls. Our playful banter sports a new, dangerous edge.

I want to assume he’s playing a prank on me, just pushing my buttons like always—but when Ian lifts me onto the desk in my classroom and slides his hands up my skirt, he doesn’t leave a lot of room for confusion.

I’m a little scared of things going south, of losing my best friend because I can’t keep my hands to myself. So, I’m just going to back away and not return this earth-shattering kiss—oh who am I kidding?!

Goodbye Ian, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal!

Helloooo mister not so nice guy.

Add NOT SO NICE GUY to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on NOT SO NICE GUY now! https://amzn.to/2Kzj8QE

About R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at rsgrey.com

Website | Twitter | Facebook | R.S. Grey’s Little Reds Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram

Review

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

My Oxford Year
by Julia Whelan

Published April 24, 2018

Source: Purchased

 

Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.

When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret.

Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for. [goodreads]

 

To start, this book had everything I look for in a summer read: romance, adventure, an and a hot guy with a sexy accent.

For the first half of the book, I was all in: quirky American girl arrives in England and has an awkward meet-cute in a fish & chips shop. She is torn between pursuing her degree in England (on a Rhodes Scholarship, of course) and the job offer of her dreams back in the US working on a presidential campaign.

I enjoyed Ella’s ambition and humor but felt that her passion for the political campaign job never shone through the pages. She would tell us that she wanted to work on the campaign, but I never really felt it. The only times that plot was really mentioned were when Ella’s boss would randomly call, presumably to remind us that the plot line even existed. If not for random little reminders, I would have completely forgotten about it.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I was much more interested in the developing romance between Ella and Jamie, but at times it felt unnecessary to the overall story.

About halfway through the book, something is revealed that changes the entire course of the novel. I won’t even hint at what it is because it would be a major spoiler, but I guarantee you will never see it coming. It was so out of the blue that it felt less like a plot twist and more like I suddenly started reading a brand new novel.

As the second half of the novel continued on, I honestly lost interest. The book felt like it had taken such a complete turn that I was no longer interested in the story. This was quite unfortunate as I really enjoyed the first half and would have liked to see a different ending.

It wans’t terrible by any means, but it was just not what I signed up for when I began the book. I think I would have really enjoyed the book more if I had an idea of what would happen in the second half, so that I could decide in advance if that was something I wanted to read about.

All in all, I enjoyed the writing style and the Oxford University setting. I do recommend looking up spoilers before you decide to read this one, as I think the benefit of knowing what you’re getting into outweighs the spoiler aspect in this case.

Have you read MY OXFORD YEAR? If so, what did you think about the total plot twist?

 

MY OXFORD YEAR is available now! Please support Julia Whelan by purchasing a copy at your local book store. 

 

Review

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett


SStarry Eyestarry Eyes
by Jenn Bennett

Published April 3, 2018

Source: I received an Advance Readers’ Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way affected my review.


Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars? [goodreads]


Can I give this book ALL THE STARS?

I loved Jenn Bennett’s 2017 novel, ALEX APPROXIMATELY, but after STARRY EYES she has officially cemented her place in my list of favorite authors.

This is a unique take on the ‘survival story’ trope. After being straight up abandoned in the mountains by their (terrible) friends, they have to spend the next several days together hiking through the wilderness to get back to civilization. This is further complicated by the fact that Zorie is still hurt that Lennon ditched her for seemingly no reason when they were starting to get together the year before. Lennon, however, happens to be an expert camper and hiker, and comes up with a plan to get them to where they need to be.

Lennon and Zorie were honestly not my favorite characters at the beginning of the book, but they really grew on me! And not just in a “you’re not so bad, after all” kind of way. They grew on me in a “I LOVE YOU AND I LOVE YOU TOGETHER. NOW KISS!” kind of way.

I love when a book’s setting is so real and perfect that it makes you want to go there. The Northern California Sierra Nevadas are described beautifully throughout the book. As I was reading, I could practically smell that mountain air and hear the pinecones crunching underfoot. 

There are also a few sub-plots surrounding Lennon and Zorie’s families. Jenn Bennett has SUCH a way of melding several fantastic plot lines and expertly tying them together by the end.

I don’t want to say too much because I think it is best to read it without expectations. The family drama was really well-done and added a fantastic layer to the story that will leave you rooting for Lennon and Zorie even more. This book also has quite a bit of diversity, which is always a plus!

I want to read this book over and over again. I want to jump into it and tag along on Zorie’s adventure through the mountains…but maybe at a distance. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one getting in the way of the romance!

STARRY EYES was easily my most anticipated book of 2018, and I’m so pleased to say that it was everything I wanted and more. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys romance with some added depth.

It certainly left me starry eyed.

STARRY EYES is out today! Please support Jenn Bennett by purchasing a copy at your local book store. 

Review

Frat Girl by Kiley Roache

Frat Girl
by Kiley Roache

Published March 27, 2018

Source: I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way affected my review.


For Cassandra Davis, the F-word is fraternity—specifically Delta Tau Chi, a house on probation and on the verge of being banned from campus. Accused of offensive, sexist behavior, they have one year to clean up their act. For the DTC brothers, the F-word is feminist—the type of person who writes articles in the school paper about why they should lose their home.

With one shot at a scholarship to attend the university of her dreams, Cassie pitches a research project: to pledge Delta Tau Chi and provide proof of their misogynistic behavior. They’re frat boys. She knows exactly what to expect once she gets there. Exposing them should be a piece of cake.

But the boys of Delta Tau Chi have their own agenda, and fellow pledge Jordan Louis is certainly more than the tank top wearing “bro” Cassie expected to find. With her heart and her future tangled in the web of her own making, Cassie is forced to realize that the F-word might not be as simple as she thought after all. [goodreads]


 

FRAT GIRL was a very interesting concept, and while it was not 100% right for me, I think there are definitely many teens who will benefit from this book.

FRAT GIRL provides a strong feminist message. While at times main character Cassie can sound a little preachy or public service announcement-y, the information she presents is helpful and important.

At the start of the novel, Cassie was very anti-Greek life and believed that all fraternity or sorority members were mindless, partying, idiots basically. I was quite off-put that this self-proclaimed champion of feminism treated her dorm roommate so poorly for pledging a sorority. If you don’t support your fellow women in whatever path they choose to take, your feminism is worthless.

I was glad to see that this was addressed later in the book but it was still an issue for me that Cassie acted this way to begin with.

Parts of this book flew by and parts of it dragged on. I was really into it for like the first 25%, the middle was a bit blah but not bad, and to be quite honest I skimmed a lot of the ending because I found myself no longer caring what happened.

I realize that I am not exactly the target audience for this book, and I do recommend it to teens. I wish I had read a book with this kind of information in it while I was in high school, because it certainly would have changed my perspective on feminism and would have equipped me with important information.

If you are a teen or someone interested in learning the basics of feminism, I think this book can provide some very valuable insight. If you are older or are well-versed in feminist beliefs, this book may come a cross a bit too on-the-nose for you.

Purchase a copy of FRAT GIRL here!

 

Review

The Beau and the Belle by R.S. Grey

The Beau and the Belle
by R.S. Grey

Published February 1, 2018

Source: I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way affected my review.


Beau Fortier starred in most of my cringe-worthy teenage fantasies. I met him when I was a junior in high school, a time that revolved exclusively around bad hair, failed forays into flirting, and scientific inquiries into which brand of toilet paper worked best for stuffing bras. That is, until Beau moved into the small guest house just beyond my bedroom window.

A 24-year-old law student at Tulane, Beau was as mysterious to me as second base (both in baseball and in the bedroom). He was older. Intimidating. Hot. Boys my age had chicken legs and chubby cheeks. Beau had calloused hands and a jaw cut from steel. Our interactions were scarce—mostly involving slight stalking on my end—and yet deep down, I desperately hoped he saw me as more of a potential lover than a lovesick loser.

Turns out, I was fooling myself. My fragile ego learned that lesson the hard way. Now, ten years later, we’re both back in New Orleans, and guess who suddenly can’t take his eyes off little ol’ me. My old friend, Mr. Fortier. But things have changed. I’m older now—poised and confident. My ego wears a bulletproof vest. The butterflies that once filled my stomach have all perished. When I was a teenager, Beau warned me to guard my heart. Let’s hope he knows how to guard his.

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R.S. Grey, just take my money and continue to hand over these fantastic books! I don’t know how you manage to write such compelling romances and put them out every few months, but please continue to do so.

THE BEAU AND THE BELLE was a compulsively readable rom-com that I devoured on a grey Saturday afternoon. The dreary Austin weather had nothing on me – I was whisked away to the French Quarter of New Orleans, enjoying king cake and hurricanes (of the beverage variety) while two quirky and interesting characters fell in love over a span of a decade.

The story begins in the past, and then later loops back around to the present. It starts in 1997 and Lauren is a self-conscious 17 year old who is unsure of herself, inexperienced in love, and crushing on the most popular boy in school. She’s the daughter of New Orleans socialites and lives in a Garden District mansion. It was so fun to see certain aspects of late-90s life depicted because it brought back so many memories and gave the story an unexpected authenticity.

I could have been Lauren in those moments – meticulously planning my moment to log online to the minute my crush would be there. Watching my buddy list to stare at his username and will the universe to let him message me. The message would obviously say “what’s up” (spelled crazy somehow) and I would respond “nm u” and he would be doing “nm” either. Love would ensue and my young heart would explode.

It was so funny to see those exact thoughts run through Lauren’s head, because it really was the perfect depiction of being a teenager at that point in time. I really enjoyed reading these bits of nostalgia.

Lauren develops a huge crush on Beau but it can’t be realized because she’s in high school and he’s in his 20’s. Approximately 30% of the book is spent in the “past” portion, giving plenty of time for us to get to know Lauren and Beau and watch Lauren’s crush on him grow. This is important because their relationship later on never feels like insta-love even though it does develop pretty quickly.

After a major hurricane hits the city and forces Beau and Lauren apart, they don’t see each other for 10 years. Lauren moves to New England and stays through college, beginning her career in New York City. Beau is transferred to UT Austin after his school closes, and he then creates a venture capital firm that becomes very successful. Ten years later, in the present day, both Lauren and Beau are back in Louisiana and Lauren is no longer unattainable.

Although as a reader you expect them to fall for each other right away, there is a lot of back and forth, will-they-won’t-they that is well-written and never feels forced. Reading the novel I felt like there were real stakes at play for each of them, making it that much more satisfying when they finally got together. I really enjoyed seeing them fall for each other and realize that the chemistry they had 10 years ago is still there. Beau is a kind, hard-working hero who loves his mother and is a good person in general. I rooted for him and Lauren through and through, and it absolutely paid off.

I adored the New Orleans setting as it is one of my favorite cities. Most of the story takes place during Carnival season (the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras) and I loved all of the New Orleans culture that was weaved through the story.

This may be my favorite of R.S. Grey’s books so far. While not quite as steamy as some of her other books, the great story line was more than enough to make up for it. It’s such an affordable e-book that it’s really a must read for anyone who loves contemporary romance. 5 stars!