Top Ten: Contemporary Romances

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme was books from my favorite genre.

I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary romances lately, and it’s been absolutely lovely. (I can’t wait to prioritize more of them going forward!) Below are some of my favorites.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
Lip Lock by Susanna Carr
Miss You by Kate Eberlen
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
♥ Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke
Still Thinking of You by Adele Parks
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Rating: ★★★★★
Summary: When her sister gets married, Olive braces for a crazy 24 hours before she can return to her comfortable, uneventful life. But when the entire party gets food poisoning, the only two who aren’t affected are Olive and prickly, irritating Ethan—and there’s an all-expenses-paid nonrefundable honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting aside their mutual loathing for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs… until she tells a small lie and they have to pretend to be loving newlyweds. But the weird thing is that Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she kind of likes it.


Note: an eARC of this title was acquired via NetGalley.

The Unhoneymooners was a delightful throwback to both Christina Lauren’s stint writing fanfiction and the summer after my junior year of college when I read basically nothing but fanfic, staying up until the wee hours of the morning because I needed to know what happened in whatever story I was reading. Was I exhausted? Yes. Was the story going to be there in the morning? Also yes. Should I have made better life choices? Absolutely! But there was just something so cozy about reading a chapter and then trying to articulate a response that adequately expressed how much I loved something I’d just read—and The Unhoneymooners brought me right back to that place.

Even though Christina Lauren do a lot to make it seem like the events of the book could happen, the story still relies on its tropes: enemies to lovers! forced cohabitation! fake relationship! Our main characters dislike one another but still end up going to Maui on an all-expenses-paid honeymoon vacation? Where they must share a room? And fake a relationship for her new boss and his ex-girlfriend? GIMMIE.

I read The Unhoneymooners in two sittings, gleefully turning the pages because I was so engrossed in the story. Ethan and Olive had such chemistry that I needed to know if their faux relationship would ever turn into a real one—or if the tension that fuels any romance would come off as trite or eye-rolling. (Reader, it did not.) I literally laughed out loud at some parts and then giggled from others. Could this story ever really happen in real life? Probably not—but did it matter? The unbelievability of such circumstances never felt forced or overwrought, and I was so into the story that I don’t know if I would have cared, either.

Unlike in My Favorite Half-Night Stand, the romantic drama of our two protagonists was relatively lighthearted in comparison to the relationship between Olive’s sister and Ethan’s brother (which definitely impacted both the story and their own relationship, but not in an oh my god come ON kind of way.) We got to experience their blossoming relationship in real time as Christina Lauren gleefully threw what ifs? at the wall to see what stuck. What if Olive and Ethan were forced to spend time with one another? What if they had to pretend to be in a relationship? And what if they didn’t want to pretend anymore—what happens then?

I know that Christina Lauren books are often hit-or-miss, but The Unhoneymooners deserves a try. It’s a romantic comedy with laugh-out-loud humor and authentic dramatic tension. It focuses on the relationship between two sisters and their huge extended family. And, if nothing else, it leaves you yelling at its main characters to just hurry up and bone already. (Which isn’t always the point, but, you know… 😉)

Note: Ethan and Olive are less enemies and more do-I-really-have-to-spend-time-with-you irritation, and the sex scenes were 100% fade-to-black, but otherwise I really loved this!

Top Ten: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme was things that make me pick up a book.

Let me just say that I am in LOVE with this topic! I chose to list reasons why I might physically pick up a book or why I might then add a book to my TBR, with real-world examples because why the heck not.

It comes personally recommended: an acquaintance texted me out of the blue with “Umm have you read Big Little Lies? I’m watching the HBO miniseries and holy shit I’m hooked” and her thinking of me made me wonder if the book might be my kind of thing after all.
It has cute illustrations: A story may sound interesting, but if I can’t stand the illustration style, there is no way it’s going on my TBR. I am so in enamored with Cannonball‘s illustrations, though, as well as its coloring.
It comes highly recommended across my corner of the bookternet: I have literally seen nothing but good reviews for The Kiss Quotient and having it consistently get four- and five-star reviews made me want to read it.
It includes time travel: I will almost always pick up a book that includes a reference to time travel, but not all of them get added to my TBR. An Ocean on Minutes made the cut.
It’s a retelling of an old favorite: I went through a good half-year when I basically only read books that were either Pride and Prejudice re-tellings or included the book as a plot point. I fell out of the habit, but then Pride came out and it just sounded so freaking good.

I love the cover: whenever people say “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover” I think well why the hell not? I do this constantly, and Queenie catches my eye literally every time I come across it.
It flips a trope: I love a good Chosen One Story, but I also love when our Chosen One is off… over there… doing their own thing, and I get to read about everyone else, like in The Rest of Us Just Live Here.
It covers one of my interests: I’m a big fan of 1960s-era NASA, and so I will at least peak at anything that covers it. After watching First Man recently, the topic was on the brain when I saw Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 come into my library.
I loved the movie: Arrival hit me real hard when I saw it, so much so that I want to read its source material, a short story in Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others.
It tackles a trope I love: I have a serious ~thing for fake dating and the fact that The Unhoneymooners includes fake fating on a fake honeymoon (stranded in a hotel! sharing one bed! pretending to be newlyweds!) made my alarm bells BLARE.

Top Fourteen: Books on My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme was books on my spring TBR.

Whittling down my TBR is so hard. Like, on one hand, it helps me keep organized and know (roughly) which reviews I’ll be posting… but on the other, new books inevitably come out that aren’t on my list but which I really want to read!

† = ARC
* = Year of Asian Reading

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir* by Nicole Chung
Bloom by Kevin Panetta
The Clockwork Ghost by Laura Ruby
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich
The Graybar Hotel: Stories by Curtis Dawkins

Internment* by Samira Ahmed
The Library of Ever† by Zeno Alexander
Origin by Dan Brown
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Star-Crossed † by Minnie Drake

Technically, You Started It † by Lana Wood Johnson
This Is Not a Love Scene † by S.C. Megale
The Unhoneymooners † by Christina Lauren
Woman World * by Aminder Dhaliwal

Month in Review: January 2019

Favorite Media

I have been on a superb Aaron Tveit kick lately, which has basically come and gone since Grease Live! but is right now like JSKLDJ:KLS. I went down a rabbit hole one afternoon and came across a cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me”/”All I Ask” which is just all kinds of devastating. Like, he looks absolutely WRECKED while singing, but it somehow makes the songs that much better. (UGH my heart.)

Stuff I Added to My Queue

I stumbled onto The Bookish Life of Nina Hill through NetGalley and then promptly fell in love with the cover and summary. An Introverted bookworm falling in love with her trivia partner? Yes, please!

The Flatshare sounds like it could be, I don’t know, weird? But I’m hoping it’s the cute romantic read the summary promises.

Everyone (and their mother) has Internment on their TBRs, and I have also succumbed to peer pressure. 🤷‍♀️

Do I really need to explain why I added Meet Cute? It sounds like every fanfic I ever read and loved while in college and I am so here for that.

Is Opposite of Always another YA meet-cute that also kind of features time travel? Or maybe it’s just About Time in book form?? I don’t care, though, because both sound adorable!

The cover for Queenie is gorgeous, it sounds like a character study more than a plot-driven novel, and I am 100% super okay it.

Technically, You Started It gives me the same ~vibe I got out of Emergency Contact with a dash of Sierra Burgess Is a Loser through in, and I’m hoping it doesn’t disappoint. 🤞

I literally read The Unhoneymooners‘ summary line-by-line expecting something to jump out as “meh” but then nothing did??? And then I saw that it was by Christina Lauren and I was like “oh duh no wonder.”

A new Lindy West? ‘Nuff said.

On My Radar

  • I’m going to BEA this year (!!!), but I don’t live in NYC, so now I have to book a hotel and decide on a mode of travel. (Yes, this might take me a whole month to accomplish!)
  • I’m ahead with my reading which means I might get to my ARC of If I’m Being Honest in time to nominate it for LibraryReads! (Like, who am I right now???)
  • I’m skating by with my blog and video schedule, but I want to make it a priority to sit down once a week and actually do things in advance (as opposed to the night before). Why is time management so freaking hard?

What were YOU up to in January? Let me know!