My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

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ARC provided by the publisher via Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.

“I wonder whether I’m single not because I haven’t met the right person yet, but because I’m not the right person yet.”

Okay, at this point I know I sound like a broken record, but Christina Lauren is such a hit or miss author for me. And I honestly feel like their releases alternate between me loving and me feeling “meh” about. Sadly, My Favorite Half-Night Stand ended up being a story that was very “meh” to me. It wasn’t believable, I was never really invested, and never in a million years would I want to date the main character.

So, the basic premise of this book is that there is a close-knit group of friends who all work sort of together. But they constantly hang out outside of the workplace, and they really are their own little found family. Oh, and they are all supposed to be super smart and super unlucky with dating. Yeah, it gave me Big Bang Theory vibes which is never a good sign. But anyways, they all need dates to this big event (which doesn’t even happen in the book, by the way) so they all download a dating app.

And this book does have a lot of multimedia, because we get to see these friends text and be in group chats with one another. But I will say, these people aren’t that much older than me, and really have a hard time understand basic internet lingo when they talk to each other. Real talk, my grandma memes better than these thirty-year-olds. But anyway, I should tell you all about the group of friends.

“…no matter how objectively pretty she is, Millie Morris has always been off-limits. But mostly I think she’s been off-limits because she’s never shown any particular interest in any of us.”

Basically, Millie helps all four dudes with their dating profiles. Including Reid, the guy who she considers her best friend, but who she slept with at the very beginning of this book. And basically, the guys don’t think that Millie’s profile is up to snuff, even though she literally wrote theirs for them. So, she makes another one, that’s more edgy and sexy or whatever, and she gets matched with Reid. And sends him something that she feels like will make it obvious that it is her, you know, instead of just telling him, and she basically catfishes him for the entirety of the book. And yikes, it was not enjoyable to read.

Millie’s actions are read apologetically because she has had a hard home-life growing up, and has essentially run away from it. She doesn’t talk to the guys about her past, or what is going on back home, but she feels like she can be open and honest with Reid while pretending to be this other woman. Which in and of itself is gross, but then later in the book, she actually reads what he has written to her aloud to other people. It is so gross, and I honestly disliked Millie throughout this entire book. Therefore, it was really hard for me to root for this relationship, because Reid deserved a hell of a lot better.

Overall, this just wasn’t for me. Which is actually funny, because Reid and I have similar jobs, which I was so damn hyped about when I first started this one. Sadly, that was the only thing I ended up being hyped about. And I’m so bitter that we didn’t get to see Obama in this, after this party announcement that was the reason the entire book premise started! Also, catfishing is never cool, but especially to your best friend and someone you’re having sex with. I will say that most of my friends who have also received ARCs of this one, have really loved it. So, maybe take this review with a grain of salt, but I just really didn’t like it. But I hope if you pick it up that you will enjoy it more than me! Happy reading!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for catfishing, loss of a loved one in the past, talk of cancer, diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and some questionable comments about people’s physical appearance.

 

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

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ARC provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

“The world seems full of men who are initially infatuated by our eccentricities, but who ultimately expect them to be temporary.”

Most of you know that I’m a pretty big fan of Christina Lauren! Autoboyography is now one of my favorite books of all-time. And friends, I really enjoyed this book and it made me so unreasonably happy! Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is set in Oregon and is honestly one of the cutest friends to lovers stories I’ve read in such a long while. I honestly never wanted this book to be over.

Hazel – Teacher, the quirkiest character I’ve ever read, but I mean that in a good way, and has finally reunited with a guy who she has embarrassed herself around for the past almost decade.

Josh/Jimin – Doctor, Korean (Yeah, named Jimin, smart marketing because BTS Armies are going to love him with their whole heart), and currently in a long distance relationship that isn’t working.

And these two’s paths have constantly crossed since college, but fate has truly brought them together when Hazel attends her best friend’s BBQ, only to realize that Josh is the guy who she has embarrassed herself around since college. But after that BBQ, they decided to be friends and it leads to them going on a lot of double dates, which are all mostly bad.

There is a constant theme of family in this book, both from Hazel and Josh’s side, and I loved it so much. Hazel’s relationship with her mother was so inspiring, and I loved how they loved each other unconditionally. Josh is from a much more traditional background, but the love is so there and so very abundant. Seriously, both of these families warmed my damn heart and it was easily one of my favorite parts of this book.

I also really loved how Hazel wouldn’t change herself for anyone. And I think this book does a really good job at showing you how most people are pretty negative about anyone being too loud, too weird, and too different than the standards society puts on us. This isn’t like the typical “oh, the girl is quirky and cute” but this is the more realistic and sad treatment of people who live their life to the beat of their own drum. And seeing Hazel (and Josh) always speak up if anyone was negative or judgmental, was really beautiful. Because, like, who the hell wants to be normal anyways?

“I have chaos around me, but it’s like he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t need me to change or pretend to be someone else. He’s my person. He’s my best friend.”

This book was actually funny, too! Like, I was giggling alone in bed while reading at least a third of this book. Hazel is one of the most fun protagonists I’ve read about, and she and her animals had me laughing constantly. And all the dates? So freakin’ funny! I honestly could perfectly picture this book, and I actually think it would make for a fantastic romcom movie adaptation.

But this book does have a lot of steamy scenes, so trigger and content warnings for sexual content, talk of past death of a loved one, cheating (off-screen and not main characters), and a homophobic slur.

And out of all these trigger warnings, I want to talk more about the homophobic slur, because it was so damn pointless. I mean, it was said in a negative light, but it wasn’t necessarily challenged. Like, it felt so bad to read and took me completely out of the story. These authors could have just as easily said “he said a rude thing” or hell, even “he said a homophobic slur” without actually using the word. Like, I hated it so much and it was easily the worst part of this book.

The only other negative thing I’ll say is that the ending felt rushed. Like, we spend so much time watching these two people become friends, and the romance and love has to come rather quickly. Which I get, and I don’t mind that much, but I was still shocked with how the last few chapters went and then I got hit with the word “epilogue” and it felt so abrupt. Also, this book is 95% light, cute, and heartwarming, and then it just takes a really dark turn during the last tiny bit, and it just felt very disjointed.

“You’re second only to a unicorn as far as best friends go, Josh Im.”

But overall, I really did enjoy this sweet friends to lovers story. I think this is for sure a perfect summertime read. Oh, and even though it has a cover that looks very much like Roomies, these worlds and stories are not connected what so ever. So, don’t be scared or think you have to read Roomies first! But I totally recommend this one, and I hope if you pick this one up, that you’ll enjoy it so very much, too! Happy reading!


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

I’m reading this for #smutathon, which is being hosted by Lainey and Riley! ❤

And this is a buddy read with Lilly at Lair of books!

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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“A God worthy of your eternal love wouldn’t judge you for who you love while you’re here.”

Friends, I only picked this book up because it was on sale this month on Audible, even though I can never focus on audiobooks. I only started listening, because I decided to spend last night playing video games with my best friend. I only clicked play because he was telling me about his latest audiobook. I honestly believe with whole heart that the stars aligned to make me read this book, and I will be forever thankful because this is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my entire life.

This is a story about a boy named Tanner, who is bisexual, but not fully out because his parents moved to Utah and are living in a place where almost everyone is Mormon. And Tanner’s best friend, Autumn, convinces (or begs) him to join this writing class, where they have to write, edit, and turn in a book, before the end of the semester. A boy from the previous year, named Sebastian, actually got the book that he turned in published! So, he is back, working as a TA, helping other kids write their books.

“It opens with a boy and a girl, a dare, and crumbs on a bed. But where it really begins is with a double take and the words “His smile ruins me.”

Trigger and content warnings for homophobic slur(s), talk of conversion therapy, and shitty parents that aren’t accepting of their children.

Also, full disclosure and all that, I connected very easily to Tanner. I knew, early in high school, that I wasn’t straight. And my parents aren’t as amazing as Tanners, but they were always supportive and accepting and let me know that they will love me regardless of who I chose to love. Yet, I can connect a tiny bit with Sebastian because God, and the Catholic church, have always been a big part of my life. I have never known a life like Sebastian’s, but I remember how scared I was to come out to certain members of my childhood church. More like, “hey, this is my girlfriend” while letting them deal with the information whatever way pleased them. But I’ve never had anyone from church tell me that my feelings, or wants, or the integral parts of who I am, were wrong. And to this day I still consider myself Catholic, and I still believe that God loves me regardless of who I love. Also, here is your friendly reminder in case you need it: Whatever higher power you believe in loves you regardless of who you choose to love. And you are valid and worthy of love, no matter who you choose to give your heart to.

So, reading Sebastian’s life just broke my heart over and over and over. I’ll also be honest, I don’t have any Mormon/LDS friends. I know all the terrible stereotypes, but this book is the only book I’ve even read that stars a Mormon character. So, even though I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the Mormon church going into this book, I actually feel like this book actually taught me a bit about their beliefs and values. And I actually really appreciated and liked seeing the glimpses, even if it was hard at times. And I also think the authors wrote this book in a very respectful way towards the religion.

“You have so much space in your heart for your church, but does it have space for you?”

Tanner’s parents are my favorite parents of all literature. Goals, completely goals, in every sense of the word. And just seeing the juxtaposition between Tanner and Sebastian’s parents, it’s heartbreaking. To see how a child can thrive when they are accepted to embrace who they are. Then to see a child feel worthless, and wrong, and to actually pray to be different. You all, I don’t have words. And as much as I want to give a copy of this to every kid that is questioning their feelings, I wish I could put this in the hands of every single person who is even thinking of becoming a parent. But I will say that the only negative thing I can think about in this book is that Tanner’s parents are so amazing and supportive, but they still moved him to a place where he had to go back into the closet. Even if it was just for a few years, it still doesn’t feel too great when you think about that without the other amazing aspects of this story coming in to play.

When people have recommended this book to me they would always use words like “cute” and “sweet”, but I honestly cried while listening to at least half of this book. This book tore me a part, ripped me open, completely broke me, and then somehow put me back together, stitched me up, and completely healed me. Reading this book was a cathartic experience, without question.

But the romance is so good. And you will become so easily invested with these two boys who want nothing more than to love each other unapologetically. And even though I cried through most of this book, some of these tears were from pure happiness. These authors are romances writers, and it really shines throughout the novel and makes you ship these two so damn hard.

I also really loved that Tanner is bisexual (even though I think he could be pansexual, if he wanted that label), and it is constantly talked about how he has had relationships with different genders and emphasized that just because this book is a romance between two boys, Tanner is not gay. I really appreciated it. I also loved how thoughtful Tanner was with not outing Sebastian, and the important spotlight that these authors shined on how you shouldn’t out or discuss anyone’s sexuality, regardless of the relationship you have with them.

“Kissing boys feels good. Kissing girls feels good. But something tells me kissing Sebastian would be like a sparkler falling in the middle of a field of dry grass.”

This book also puts friendship, and how important it is to be open, communicative, and accepting in those friendships, in the spotlight. I loved Autumn so much, and her relationship with Tanner was a joy to read about. Friendships can be so confusing, and even messy at times, but unconditional love will forever and always be the most powerful force on the planet.

Overall, I read this in one day. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t put it down. I still can’t stop thinking about it. This book is honestly perfection in my eyes. And I wish I could put it in the hands of every single kid who is questioning who they are and who they love. I will cherish this book forever. And I’m sorry if this review is a little all over the place, but this book truly means more to me than I have words for. This is seriously a masterpiece.

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Roomies by Christina Lauren

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ARC provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

This was maybe the sweetest book I’ve read all year. It was heartwarming, adorable, and just a joy to read. I loved this and I hope if you guys are looking for a romantic contemporary this holiday season, you’ll pick up Roomies upon release on December 5th!

This is a story that surrounds a girl named Holland, who has been around music all her life. Her uncle and his husband practically have raised her, and one of them is a big name in Broadway! They obviously live in New York, and her uncle is under a great deal of pressure trying to find a musical performer who will help his latest hit production be even better.

Holland’s first love is writing, and she is actually an aspiring author, but she still has an amazing ear for musical talent because of her upbringing. She can’t stay away from a subway musician who she has developed a bit of a crush on. One day, Holland works up the courage to actually speak to the mystery man, and they exchange names.

Calvin McLoughlin is an immigrant from Ireland. He went to school at Juilliard and has been waiting for his big musical break ever since. Holland quickly puts two and two together and decides to introduce Calvin to her uncle, believing he will be the perfect fit for his show. And low and behold, Calvin truly amazes them all. Unfortunately, Calvin’s lack of authentic visa makes him unable to join the cast.

Obviously, the only rational choice is for Holland and Calvin to get married so that Holland’s uncle has the perfect addition to his show, and so that Calvin gets to live his dream of performing. And they don’t only fool the US government into believing their married, but they start to fool everyone around them, including themselves.

I love the “marriage of convenience” story trope and this one was so perfect. There are a few sort of steamy scenes, but nothing too explicit. But this book is oh so romantic and it was honestly un-put-downable for me, too. I became so addicted and so immersed that I let all the other books I was reading fall to the wayside. I loved this, and I completely recommend it with my whole heart. I can’t wait to read more by Christina Lauren (AKA: the amazing writing duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) in the future.

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