Book Review: One? by Jennifer L Cahill

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A story that was literally so close to being something for me.

Book CWs

  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexism
  • Lots of drinking
  • Mentions of sex
  • Controlling characters/parents
  • Slut shaming
  • Homophobia

Premise

Penelope and Charlie have just leased a new 4-bedroom apartment when they realize that, due to a mix-up, a complete stranger named Zara has also moved in! Deciding that the best option is for the three of them to just live together, they form a bond of friendship, love, and support to help each of them through their daily London routines.

Charlie is a musician on the brink of discovery. His lifestyle keeps him busy and out of the apartment most of the time–that is, until he finds any attractive fan willing to go home with him.

Zara is a small-town girl who is trying desperately to understand how to live a big city life in London. She begins a new job and befriends her coworker Rob, but just when things begin to look up, her company announces that many positions are being made redundant. Zara struggles to deal with the likely possibility of losing her job and becoming stranded in a town she has so few connections in.

Penelope is a hard-working young woman who is struggling to get her male-dominated company to take her seriously. At 28 years old, she is being pressured by society–and her mother–to find someone and settle down. One night, she meets a man named Alyx who seems to be a perfect match for her. The only problem is that Alyx is constantly traveling and has never been able to hold a committed relationship. And when Alyx leaves Europe for several months, Penelope starts wondering if she should begin spending more time with Richard, the man with a castle in Scotland who has been courting her for weeks.

Review (No Spoilers)

First of all, thank you Jennifer L Cahill for sending me a free ebook copy in exchange for a review! It was also super helpful that you sent me a copy of the cover to use for my banner graphic.

As always, it’s always disappointing when an author is kind enough to send me a copy and the book doesn’t end up working out. I feel like this book came so close to being something I could enjoy but that it was always just out of reach. This is going to be a lengthy review so please bear with me!

Let’s start with the characters.

I really wish that there was more information about the men, in particular Alyx, Charlie, and the last roommate who I can’t remember his name because he was mentioned so little.

When I read the blurb, I thought it was going to be one of those books where each chapter is about a different person, giving an equal view of everyone. What the book actually is, is a story about Penelope with side stories about Zara. I actually might have been okay with this change if I didn’t dislike Penelope so much.

Her character not only seemed to randomly play into sexist tropes (more about this later) but I also couldn’t understand why she was doing what she was doing. I can’t go into much detail without spoiling some of the plot but basically Penelope’s best friend George (and to some extent other friends and family) piloted Penelope’s romantic life, not Penelope. I felt like she was incapable of making decisions for herself, even in the end.

Zara was by far the best character so I would have much rather seen the story focus on her instead. Jennifer does have a sequel “Two?” coming out next year so it’s totally possible that those books will delve into some of the side characters.

Okay, let’s move to the plot.

I had a huge qualm with the weird sexism that was splayed throughout. There definitely were times where the book made the point to say things about how women can be just as capable, if not more, than men and I am super thankful for these instances. But so many times in the book, women would be going on and on about how they are constantly thinking about who is the one–so much so that they’re terrified of jinxing it–and how men don’t think about this like women do. I was definitely not into that.

Further, the ending came literally out of nowhere. I didn’t see it coming because to be it made zero sense. Up until like the last two chapters, there was a very concrete path that seemed to be laid out (and I was into that path) and then all of a sudden, it took a hard right and I ended up confused and upset. I’m hoping that the sequel will kind of nullify, or at least explain, the ending of this first book.

Finally, let’s talk about the writing.

This is kind of embarrassing to admit but there were a few times where I was confused simply because I’m American. Here is an example of a quote that I sent to my partner asking him what was going on because I couldn’t read it:

Richard’s brother came to collect Grace and Bernard bang on eleven o’clock and she felt like The Queen…

Thankfully my partner explained that “bang on” means “on the dot” in British English. I think I need to read more books by/about British people because I don’t want this to keep happening to me when I’m reading.

Speaking of this, the quotes in the book are indicated using ‘ ‘ instead of ” ” and I don’t know if that’s a mistake or just a think that British people do? I was very confused at the very beginning of the book because I thought the spoken words were thoughts. (BTW thoughts are also indicated using ‘ ‘ but in italics). It didn’t take me long at all to realize what was happening, but it kept me wondering.

Aside from my American ignorance, the book does need a good copy edit. There are tons of comma splices so I don’t know if that’s a style or if it’s just the case of not knowing when to use a semi-colon vs. a period. There were also a few typos that I noticed.

The thing that I felt really took away from the story, though, was character thoughts. Almost all of them read like ramblings to me because they were often used to portray background details that I think should have been added to the narration instead. Here’s an example (warning: it’s long):

‘Thank god she’s gone…the tears were welling up there, I was struggling to hold them back. I feel so depressed. I think I might have a bath, and see what’s on TV. Thank god I have a TV in my room, so I can have a good cry if I need to. I might go and get some junk food, and see if there are any films on tonight. Oh no, my life is so sad, I’m living in the big city, or should that be “the City”, and I am sitting in with the TV on a Saturday night! Saturday night!…That kind of thing is ok on a weekday night, but not Saturday! Oh no, here come the tears again. I’d love to ring mum, but they were so proud of me getting a job in London, she told everyone in the town practically, it would break her heart if she thought I wasn’t happy here. I might go back up as soon as I get paid to collect some more stuff, and go out with the girls. That’s better, something to look forward to.’

That’s pretty much it for my review! Since Jennifer sent me an ebook copy, I made a lot of notes on it using my Kindle app that I didn’t have time to add in here. I’m still trying to figure out if you can sync mobi files to Goodreads to share your notes and highlights like you can with Kindle books. Does anyone know?

If there is a way, I’d like to share my notes and highlights from One? because looking back, I’m laughing at some of the things I wrote. Here are some examples:

  • Wtf
  • Booooo
  • Dawww
  • Bruh your name is Zara chill
  • She gay
  • This entire exchange is amazing
  • Rude af Charlie
  • Jesus
  • God no tf
  • Bruh

I’m on the fence about whether I want to read Two? when it comes out. I’m curious to know what happens to the characters but I’m mostly worried that my feelings for Two? will just be similar to this one (pun intended).

The Fall Bucket List Book Tag

I was tagged by Chocoviv!

I’ve never done a tag like this before so hopefully I don’t secretly suck at it. You might realize that most of my books are from this year and that’s because my memory is terrible so I have to go with my most recent reads.

The Rules

↠ Link back to Tiffany of Read by Tiffany in your post.
↠ Feel free to use any of Tiffany’s graphics in your post, or create your own!
↠ Tag 7 other people at the end of your post, and let them know you’ve tagged them.

Red, White and Royal Blue

This book was so freaking amazing. It was basically everything I’ve ever needed in a feel good romance book and I absolutely adored it. You can read my review for it here!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

If you read my review for this book, you are familiar with the fact that I loved the adorable romance so much that I started rereading it before I even finished it!

Fangirl

I chose this book specifically because the relationship between Cath and her roommate was both hilarious and endearing.

Wilder Girls

I saw this book all over my twitter and instagram feeds for weeks before I finally bought it to satisfy a House Battles prompt. I actually had no idea that I was going to like it as much as I did!

Hot Dog Girl

I borrowed this book from the library because someone had suggested it to me when I asked for cheesy romance books and I just realized that I never wrote a review for it (oops!). The book is pretty lighthearted (though it’s not without its drama!) and the MC was incredibly awkward. She kept me laughing almost all the way through

I am tagging the following people!

Would You Rather Tag

I was tagged by Emily! I love doing tags. Please tag me in more things everybody.

THE RULES!

  • Answer the questions given to you by your nominator
  • Make up your own questions and tag others! 

#1 Would you rather have only vintage outfits to wear or only the latest newest trends?

Vintage outfits. I usually hate the latest trends.

#2 Would you rather only read your favorite book for the rest of your life and never read anything else or never read your favorite book again and only read new books?

Only read new books because I know that if I could only read one book for the rest of my life, I would start hating it.

#3 Would you rather have a couple of really close friends or a bunch of random acquaintances? 

Couple of really close friends. I feel like right now I’m struggling with not feeling like I have close friends.

#4 Would you rather lose the ability to lie or believe everything you’re told?

Lose the ability to lie. Believing everything you’re told sounds super dangerous.

#5 Would you rather Experience the beginning of planet earth or the end of planet earth?

The beginning of the planet Earth UNLESS the end of planet earth didn’t mean I was also going to die. Like that one scene from Dr. Who.

#6 Would you rather have free Wi-Fi wherever you go or have free coffee where/whenever you want?

If you replace coffee with just like cafe drinks then definitely the free coffee. I don’t like coffee but if for instance you let me have free chai lattes whenever I wanted that sounds like heaven. I have unlimited data so I don’t really need the free Wi-Fi. Plus so many places already offer it.

#7 Would you rather give up your love life or work life?

Work life. Bruh.

#8 Would you rather read minds or accurately predict the future?

You know….like neither. Reading minds sounds terrible and so does predicting the future. If I could control this ability then sure read minds. I don’t need to know about terrible things before they happen.

#9 Would you rather have no taste buds or be color blind?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm color blind I think.

#10 Would you rather infinite battery life for your cell phone or infinite fuel for your car?

Fuel. Definitely fuel. I live in Hawaii. Gas is expensive, y’all.

IF YOU’RE TAGGED, THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT I MADE FOR YOU TO ANSWER! (EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT TAGGED FEEL FREE TO ANSWER THEM ANYWAY)
  1. Would you rather never read another book again or never watch another tv show again?
  2. Would you rather have the ability to control fire or have the ability to control water?
  3. Would you rather travel to the past or the future?
  4. Would you rather never be able to talk to anyone or never be able to touch anyone?
  5. Would you rather break your arm or your leg?
  6. Would you rather be rich and ugly or poor and attractive
  7. Would you rather have the ability to grow or the ability to shrink?
  8. Would you rather give up meat or give up vegetables?
  9. Would you rather have the ability to talk to animals or have the ability to speak to any human regardless of language?
  10. Would you rather give a speech in public or sing in public?

TAGGING:

Book Review: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (The Heroes of Olympus #1)

Rating: 4.5/5

A book with enjoyable characters but annoying tropes.

Book CWs

  • Character Death
  • Mythological Creatures
  • Parental abandonment
  • Bullying
  • Manipulation

Premise

Jason is on a school bus for a class field trip. His hand is happily intertwined with his girlfriend Piper’s, and his best friend Leo is jabbering away in front of him. The problem is, Jason doesn’t remember getting on the bus. In fact, Jason doesn’t remember Piper. He doesn’t remember Leo. He doesn’t even remember that his name is Jason.

And that’s just the beginning.

During the field trip, the three of them are suddenly attacked by mysterious storm creatures and are forced to fight for their lives, slowly discovering that they have abilities no normal human should posses.

They are then whisked away to a place called Camp Half-Blood where the inhabitants claim to be descendants of gods.

Review (No Spoilers)

I read this book for a few Witchathon prompts and I was really worried about the fact that I haven’t read any of Riordan’s other books. I can safely say that while it was not necessary for me to read the Percy Jackson series first, I definitely wish that I had. Riordan does a decent job of filling you in with the important details you might have missed out on but there were many nods/references that I wasn’t able to fully appreciate.

My favorite thing about this book was, by far, the characters. Almost every character introduced was likable, which is a very rare thing for me. And by likable, I want to clarify that they were likable as who they were meant to be. In other words, heroes were hero-y, villains were villain-y, and other random character were…random-character-y.

Where the story lacked for me was the plot. As someone who is super unfamiliar with Greek/Roman mythology, I really wish there was more background given regarding some of the gods mentioned. There is a glossary at the end with very brief definitions/summaries about each mythological being, but I would have preferred to have these inserted into the narrative rather than as an endnote.

Some other things about the plot that I didn’t like was that the story is kind of moved along by vague prophecies and dream visions. And while I was totally fine with the prophecies, I felt the dreams were super unnecessary. I can understand that they were probably inserted as fan service for people who want to see some of the big-shot gods, but while reading them I felt like I was just wasting my time. Basically nothing of use came from these visions and any time a character would ask the god a question, the god would do the classic “you already know the answer” or “I can’t tell you because it’s something you need to find out yourself” which is a trope that super annoys me.

I bought the entire series at a used bookstore for super cheap so I definitely plan on finishing the rest. I’m just also going to be sure to read the Percy Jackson series before I read any further with this one.

Book Review: Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun and rhyme-y kids book full of adventures from across time!

Book CWs

  • Child (non-imminent) Danger

Premise

Timothy Mean is a young kid who gets bored one day and decides to make a time machine out of junk in his house.

Using his new machine, he travels across time–all the way from dinosaurs to hover boards!

Review (No Spoilers)

Thank you William for the free pdf copy in exchange for a review! This is the first kids book I’ve picked up in a long time and since I’ve never reviewed a kids book before, I had to stop a lot to think about what I could say.

Kids books are very short and fast paced so it can be difficult to tackle things like “plot” and “character”, but what I really enjoyed about this book was all of the different time periods that it ventured into. I can definitely imagine it conjuring up educational interests in young kids who want to learn more about things like vikings, dinosaurs, and the first trip to the moon.

The book also threw in some sci-fi which was really fun! There were dragons and futuristic technology mixed in that I think would allow this book to reach a wide audience.

The only thing that I didn’t like was that sometimes the art totally freaked me out. It was actually kind of strange because there were times when I would look at a drawing and be amazed at how nice and detailed it was and then other times when I would look at a person’s face and feel terrified. I fully admit though that I have weird reactions when it comes to how faces are drawn in books. There are some mangas that I actually refuse to pick up because the art scares me.

I recommend taking a look at this book if you’re shopping around for kids. It seems like the physical copy might also have stickers!

Book Review: The First I Do by Sarah N. Ham

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A quick read with some issues that I think could be easily fixed.

Book CWs

  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Bullying
  • Controlling/Abusive behavior

Premise

When Maybelle Lloyd and Michael Hawkins were children, they participated in a wedding–their wedding. They don’t remember, but it was enacted at the request from Michael’s terminally ill mother.

Thirteen years later, Michael overhears the Lloyd’s arguing with his father about a piece of mail. When he sneaks in to take a peak, he is met with the biggest shock of his life: the wedding was signed off on and has been recognized as legally legitimate for years!

When Michael tells Maybelle the truth, the two of them are forced to decide if they should get their marriage annulled, or give it a fair chance.

Review (No Spoilers)

I feel like I need to give a bit of background before I get to my main review.

Firstly, thank you so much to Sarah for sending me a free copy in exchange for a review. If any of you have talked to Sarah, you might have observed that she is possibly the kindest person in the world. When she reached out to me about reading her book, she did so in basically the nicest, most respectable way possible, and I super appreciate her for that.

Secondly, this genre is totally out of my norm so even though I didn’t like this book, it’s definitely possible that some of the things I didn’t like are actually completely normal.

The book is classified as a Christian young-adult romance and basically I figured, hey, I’m Catholic and I love me some young-adult romance so it can’t be much different right? Wrong.

For starters, the book is censored. And by censored, I mean super censored. For example, the word “piss” as in “you piss me off” was written as “p*ss” (which idk about you but that kind of looks much sketchier to me).

Also, there was a lot of emphasis in not having pre-marital sex, which again, could totally be a Christian genre thing but it felt super weird for me (despite the fact that I, myself, am celibate).

Okay, now let’s talk about some other things.

This book has at least 3 instances of sexual assault in it–one of them basically being rape. To add on to this, the rapiest one of all was totally excused after like a page. When I read it, I kind of went into full on rage mode and even considered not finishing the book. I really don’t think it needed to be in the story.

Something else that I thought was out of place was the weirdly dramatic ending. I thought the book was coming to a really nice conclusion when all of a sudden the end of Chapter 19 basically jumped out of the bushes and punched me in the face. From then on, I felt like the book had suddenly changed tone and I had no idea why. I literally wrote “honestly wtf is happening” as a note because I was so confused.

The last thing I want to mention is just a quick note that the writing needs a copy edit. The book itself is a super quick read–I read it in a few hours even with all of my highlighting and notes–but typos and awkward/clunky wording did slow me down a few times. If you check out my Kindle notes on Goodreads, you can see some examples of the types of things I commented on.

All in all, I think this story has a lot of potential as a light-hearted, non-serious read. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but if you do decide to take a look at my kindle notes, you’ll probably notice that I was having a lot of fun at times. I even laughed out loud during several parts. I probably won’t pick up another Christian romance novel anytime soon but I am sincerely grateful to Sarah for giving me the opportunity.