Monday, November 23, 2020

My heart is like paper: WRITTEN IN THE STARS.

Written in the StarsWritten in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Astrologist Elle Jones is looking for love. Even if she doesn't exactly have a successful track record of finding it. She and her best friend, Margot, are the pair behind the incredibly popular Twitter account, Oh My Stars. And they are just about to join with OTP, the coolest dating app ever, thereby realizing their professional dreams. OTP was created by Brendon, who is nerdy, sweet, and about to be their boss. So when he offers to set Elle up with his sister, Darcy, she agrees. But the date is a disaster. Darcy is the opposite of Elle: buttoned up, analytical, and completely against astrology. Still, neither can deny they felt a bit of a spark before their date went awry. And Darcy is sick of being set up on terrible dates by her brother. So when he asks how it went, she lies. And then, she begs Elle to play along, to say they are dating. Each agrees to a few conditions of a dating pact. Surely nothing can go wrong, right?

"What if? Wasn't that the million-dollar question, the spark of hope that kept her coming back for more time and time--and time--again?"

Bellefleur states that she set out to write a "quirky, queer rom com," and I have to say, I'm here for it. It's not often we get our own romantic comedies, with true blue queer characters, with their own problems and characterization and their gayness just being a part of who they are.

This is an incredibly witty, sexy, and sappy read. Yes, it was a bit drawn out and repetitive at times. Okay, we understand that Elle is the flitty one who needs family approval and Darcy is the hurt one unwilling to commit. That point was emphasized perhaps a bit too much. I get stressed out when books have a lot of misunderstandings, so one based on a fake dating relationship took a lot of my strength.

But, it makes up for it with some wonderful characters. I adored Elle, who is so sweet and funny and just "her." And, of course, I identified 110% with uptight, wary workaholic Darcy who was scared of falling in love again. Then there's Margot, Elle's best friend, who was the secret star of the show. I tell you, everyone needs a wise best friend like Margot!

In this end, this book is downright adorable, laugh out loud funny, and full of chemistry. A few pieces might have hit their point one (or two) too many times, but I still really enjoyed it. 3.5 stars, rounded to 4 here.

I received a copy of this novel from HarperCollins Publishers and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Saturday, November 07, 2020

Chase all the ghosts from your head: ONE TO WATCH.

One to WatchOne to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun and addictive reality romance

With more than half a million Instagram followers and a popular blog, Bea Schumacher has a great life. But she doesn't have love--she's still pining after her best friend, who broke her heart. Bea also loves the reality romance juggernaut, Main Squeeze, where men vie for the affections of a beautiful women. When Bea's critique of Main Squeeze goes viral--why doesn't the show feature any diversity of size in its cast--the show comes to her. They want Bea to be the next star. Bea agrees, but she's adamant: she won't fall in love. This is just for her career. But once on set, Bea realizes this might not be as easy as she thinks.

"Life isn’t often a fairy tale, even on a show that aims to create one.”

I've never seen "The Bachelor" (Main Squeeze's equivalent) before in my life, but I found this book fascinating. (Probably more enjoyable than the actual show, ha.) It's frothy and entertaining but also tackles serious topics like body issues and racism. Once on the show, Bea meets a host of men: some truly awful, some quite lovely. It's quite the ride to watch her have her choice of eligible and handsome men.

I found Bea a little frustrating in her absolute unwillingness to open up, leading her to wallow in self-pity and a complete inability to even consider love. But, she had her reasons. The body positivity in the book was excellent and frequent. Bea is fearful of opening up and revealing herself and her body after being hurt. But she's also a successful and strong businesswoman (and now a celebrity!). The book draws you in to the episodes of Main Squeeze--it's honestly quite addictive. It sprinkles in excepts from Twitter, chats, publications, and more to tell the story--a very effective format. And there's true humor, romance, and heartbreak involved as well.

Overall, this was probably 3.75 stars for me--bumping up due to its strong coverage of serious and important topics. Oh and for Bea's stepdad! I loved him so much. Worth a read, for sure.

I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing and Random House / The Dial Press in return for an unbiased review.

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