So fun fact about me, when I am ~emotional~ I sometimes end up on NetGalley and end up requesting a bunch of books. Then I get approved for some of them and my TBR cries. Anyways, when Bree mentioned she was going to participate in ARC August I was like wait I want to join too! So even though I am notoriously bad at keeping up with any form of TBRs I set one this month!
Read Bree’s wrap up here.
Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (debut!!)
Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo
You have a Match by Emma Lord
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (half)
Shipped by Angie Hockman
I am pretty happy how I did overall and pleasantly surprised I read 4/6 on my TBR. Mood reader who??
Here are my thoughts. I will say as a warning I didn’t *LOVE* any of these books and they all are rated 2-3.5 stars and low-key this experience may have put me in a slump! But I am happy I finally read these & can cross them off my NG TBR!
*Thanks to all the publishers & Netgalley for eARCs in exchange for an honest review*
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefluer
I really enjoyed this f/f romance with Pride and Prejudice vibes! Elle (Elizabeth) and Darcy are polar opposites and end up fake dating so people will stop trying to meddle in their lives. The dialogue is witty and fun and the characters are loveable. My only issue is it took me a little while to get into the story, my fault because I kept having to put it down to finish book club books or school work, but this would be a great book to binge in one sitting. It also was my third book that took place in Seattle and I just miss Washington so much so. I will definitely read more from this author and I enjoyed this book, it just did not stand out. Plus how soft it this cover?? 3.5/5 stars
Shipped by Angie Hockman
This novel is billed as The Hating Game meets the Unhoneymooners which are two of my favorite romances. Read Bree’s review of THG here & my review of TU here. That billing is technically correct, just the two other books are way better. I did not hate my time reading this, but the plot and characters were not developed well enough for me.
I did not like either of the characters. Henley was fine? I got that she was ambitious, but she was annoying too. (I hate calling female characters annoying and I tried so hard to get where she was coming from, but I just couldn’t). In the end it all comes “full circle” and all that jazz, but I just did not like how she was written. Graeme was just fine? He did some cute things, but aside from being SO HOT and having a tragic backstory dude was just a mediocre love interest. Plus, in hate to love stories I need some GOOD BANTER and this was just not it. Overall, I would suggest reading something else unless you really want a cruise ship romance. 2.5/5 stars (but, tbh after sitting with this review probably more like 2 stars)
TW: brief mentions of abusive relationship to side character
How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole
I adore Alyssa Cole’s books. Her romances are diverse, witty, and feminist af.
This one took me awhile to get into and was not my favorite compared to her other books. It starts super slow and a plot point shared in the synopsis doesn’t happen until like 30%, but once that happens it gets better. However, I just did not like the flow of this novel. I liked the last third, but it felt too jampacked while the beginning was so slow.
Shanti was great and I loved her ambitions and seeing her and Sanyu discuss politics. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sanyu and felt that his character was not explained well until the end and by then it was a little late. I also did not think the two of them had great chemistry. I like relationships with more banter and flirting and this went kind of 0 – 100 and then was angsty. I am not an angst person.
I did love the cameos from the characters in her Reluctant Royals’ series, especially the group chats. I am interested to see where this series goes and with many romance “series” I tend to like the later ones more so I am hopeful. 3/5 stars
Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
First of all I hated that the guy’s name is Lucky. Like so much. Now that we got that out of the way, the review.
Like all of Jenn Bennett’s books this contemporary was full of emotion and a quick read. I enjoyed it, but it did not stand out to me. I do think if I was in the height of my YA contemporary love, I would have enjoyed it more. But, I am not a big fan of “we want to be together, but we are standing in the way of that, plus there is a curse”. It just was a lot in a way that I wasn’t not the biggest fan of.
I liked Josie and Lucky and the family plots were great, and I honestly wish they had been explored more. I think seeing another POV from Josie’s cousin would have made this book better since we could have explored the curse more. As always, Bennett’s writing is strong and makes this novel stand out from many more generic YA contemporary romances, but I needed something more.
I enjoyed my time reading this one and would recommend it if you love YA contemporary and Jenn’s other’s books, it just did not stand out to me. 3.5/5 stars
Well Played by Jen DeLuca
I adored Well Met (DeLuca’s debut and the first book in this series; read my review here), but sadly this one just wasn’t for me. Nothing stood out and made me love it. I like Stacey, but all the focus on Emily and Simon still makes it seem like she is a still just a side character. She has a decent story arc, but I did not care for her love interest at all and felt that they had no chemistry. For a novel that is supposed to be all about a character who loves the Ren Faire sooo much, we really do not spend much time at the faire itself. Which let’s be honest, the faire was the best part of Well Met. The catfishing element that everyone is talking about was more annoying to me than anything else. It is not explored well and Daniel gets too many second chances. Overall, this is a fine romance novel and I will 100% read Well Matched, but this. one lacked something that prevented me from loving it. 3/5 stars
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
So I technically finished this in September, but am going to include a mini review here, because I am not going to talk about it elsewhere & I did read a lot of it in August. The publisher actually reached out to me and asked if I wanted a copy of this one and since the premise sounded interesting I said sure. I then did not enjoy it. Despite wanting to DNF if, I powered through. My main issues with this novel are the main character and the timeline of the novel. I have no idea what drives our main character. Does she want to be a villain? Or take them down? Or just do her job? Any are fine with me but give me some motivation and character depth! Show me emotions! I like character driven novels more than plot driven, so this was the real issue for me. Also, the chapters are so long. There are only 8 chapters in an almost 400 page book. But, at the same we also have gone through an entire year of our main character’s life. It just slows me down.
I get what the author is trying to do (show the Hench men) and maybe have a conversation about the gray area between good and evil, but wow does this fall short. I love stories that explore the idea that people are not only GOOD or EVIL, but need more nuance. Which maybe this novel does? But, the lack of the emotion and the slowness of the novel (while time files by) does not do it for me. Also, it does not help that the only superhero book I’ve read is Vicious by VE Schwab and that book is one of my all-time faves so….
I will say, there are some truly LOL moments and I did love all the data behind the novel bc I am a data nerd myself, but this novel was just ehhhh for me. 2/5 stars
TW: gore, violence, death, torture (none of these are described super in depth)
Have you read any ARCs lately? What new releases need to be on my radar?
Thanks for reading!