Book Review: The Love Study by Kris Ripper

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

This book has a lot of potential but I couldn’t connect with the main characters or the writing style

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.

And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.

When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.

The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.

Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.

Review (No Spoilers)

I really wanted to like this book. The premise is 100% up my lane and I actually ignored my August TBR to read this book as soon as possible. In the end, what didn’t work out for me was a mixture of writing style and pacing.

If I had to describe how this book is written, I think the best way would be to say that it reminded me of what a transcription of a video diary might sound like. There are a lot of “um”s, “like”s, “…”s, and question marks (to indicate a raise in pitch rather than a real question) in the narrative that you don’t normally see in adult novels.

To explain what I mean, here are two quotes from my copy of the book:

‘Um, but yeah, I don’t know, it seemed like I wasn’t adult enough for romantic relationships so I just didn’t go there. Like, other people wanted to go out for fancy dinners and I wanted, I don’t know, to stay home and bake cookies together.’

I was super happy for my friends getting married. And also? Part of me? Couldn’t wait until it was over.

While this type of formatting might work for YA novels, I felt like it didn’t quite fit in with the age bracket of our characters (who were around 30 years old). I often felt like the characters behaved like teenagers rather than established adults.

Another thing that bothered me about the writing was that I felt like everyone was constantly tripping over themselves about what the most PC way to say something was. Here is one example:

“It’s seven a.m. Who doesn’t look bad at this time of day?”
He glanced up. “You don’t look bad, Declan.” He winced. “Shit, I don’t mean that in a harassment way, I’m not hitting on you. I just mean it looks like you took a shower this morning.”

Interactions like these happened so often that reading conversations between characters was actually quite exhausting. At some point in the book, a Black character mentions that attempting sensitivity can actually be worse than not attempting sensitivity, which encompassed my feelings about a majority of these awkward scenes.

That being said, I think this book has a lot of potential. I would have liked Declan to go on more dates and for the chemistry between him and Sidney to have more time to build, but I can’t deny the fact that they shared many cute moments together. And though this book is full of queer characters of different genders and sexualities, there was absolutely no focus on queer pain/tragedy which is something that I very much appreciated.

I also always enjoy when books include supportive side/background characters and Declan’s friend group basically consists of the most supportive people you could imagine. Although it seems the next book in this series will be about Oscar (there was a sneak peak at the end), I’d really like to read a book about Mason as I felt he had a lot of character depth that wasn’t fully explored.

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review! If you’re looking for a feel-good, light-on-drama novel with lots of queer rep, then I’d recommend checking out The Love Study, either on NetGalley or when it comes out in September!

Book Tour Review: Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A story about first love and foolish, but relatable, mistakes

Thank you so much to Hear Our Voices and Pintip Dunn for allowing me to be part of this book tour and for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! If you’d like to follow along with the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Book Links

Premise

The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name—hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed.

Until now.

In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of dating practice.

In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must date in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course — and on dates they organize based on their favorite rom-coms. The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, dreamy, and infuriating.

Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. Her parents love him, so naturally he’s the perfect person for her to pretend date.

If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.

About the Author

I’m a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. I graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received my J.D. at Yale Law School. 

My novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance.

In addition, my books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award; and a Kirkus Reviews Best Indie Book of the Year. My other novels include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and MALICE.

Review (No Spoilers)

When I first read the blurb for Practice Makes Perfect, I couldn’t sign up for this tour fast enough! Hate-to-Love and Fake Dating are my absolute favorite tropes of all time. Put them together and I am SOLD.

While the hate-to-love aspect of the story was on point for me–I love me some angsty attraction mixed with angry flirting–I did feel like the fake dating plot could have been more fleshed out. I still don’t quite understand the logic behind going from you’re not allowed to date during high school to we are forcing you to date but it’s going to be fake. Given that Winnie wasn’t allowed to touch her dates nor develop any real feelings for them, I kept wondering what exactly was she supposed to be practicing?

As far as the characters go, I was never able to grasp what was going on with Mat and Taran in terms of their decisions and personalities. I had so many mixed feelings about those two that I still don’t know how I feel about them now that I’ve finished the book. Winnie, on the other hand, was possibly the most relatable character of all time for me. I cried a LOT towards the end of the book because I remembered what I was like in high school and Winnie’s struggles were so on-point with my experiences that it physically hurt. The relationship that Winnie had with her sisters was by far the best part of the book. The three of them were so supporting and loving toward each other that I couldn’t help but love them as well.

Dating Makes Perfect is an easy and enjoyable read filled with fun dialogue and lovable moments. On the surface this is a story of first love, but at its core it’s really a story about a young woman learning what it means to love herself. I wish I could go back in time and give this book to my 13-17 year old self. It has a message that she so often needed to hear.

Book Review: The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Predictable, but not in a bad way

Thank you Taryn Leigh for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (From Goodreads)

RACHEL, saved from an attack twelve years before by a faceless stranger, never got to thank him, never knew his name.

Despite the devastation she chose to rise above it to help others from their pain by becoming a psychologist…. Her only issue now is that she’s an expert at fixing everyone else’s problems, and blind to her own.

After a long relationship with her boyfriend WILL starts to go south, she turns to her best friend AMELIA for guidance.

Suddenly her world is turned upside down when tragedy strikes and she’s left with no one to comfort her but Will’s rude older brother RUARI.

Paralyzed by fear, she struggles to take grip of her life, until the day when anonymous letters begin to appear from the stranger who saved her twelve years before.

Review (No Spoilers)

Reading The Secret Letters was a really strange experience for me because I was really enjoying it, and then I wasn’t, and then I was again.

If you are an avid reader of adult romance novels (like I am), then this book is incredibly predictable. That being said, I wasn’t at all mad about it because it wasn’t the first time that I’ve read a predictable book. In fact I think that sometimes authors can get caught up in trying so hard to make a book unpredictable that they get lost in their own twists and turns. I would much rather read a predictable book than a confusing one.

In the end, what ultimately made me rate this book 3 stars was the fact that I was really annoyed with the main character during the middle of the book (around the 40% mark to the 60% mark). Rachel was so oblivious to what was happening around her that I was basically reading page after page of her refusing to acknowledge/confront the problems in her life. As a result a particularly triggering-for-me plot arc was stretched out for over half the book and I ended up having to put it down for a few days before I could pick it back up again.

That being said, if you’re not triggered by this particular thing (you can DM me about it so that I don’t spoil anything), then I’d say that this book is a quick and enjoyable read. It is a romantic suspense novel and to tell you the truth, I had a hard time putting it down even after I was triggered and turned into an emotional mess. It took several people telling me to take a break before I finally did because of how tempting it was to keep reading. I’m actually looking into reading more romantic suspense specifically because of how much I enjoyed that aspect of the book.

If you’re interested in getting your own copy of The Secret Letters, it’s out today!!