The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Take the stars. All of them. Load them up in a wheelbarrow or cargo plane or semi-truck. Take them all! I got to the bottom of page 4 and fell so hard – I was like that skydiver with no parachute.

Honestly, I’m going to revisit this review in a month. I have to know if these feelings subside. I love this book like you’d love a person. A tiny fireball person. Or a big hulking psycho in a robin’s egg blue shirt.

I think this is the best romance I’ve ever read. I’m not sure how to get over it. It’s like someone broke up with me. I want to sip tea in the window seat while rain streams down and Radiohead plays in the background.

I want to travel back in time to a moment I haven’t read this so I can read it for the first time. Better yet – I want to curl up into a tiny ball and drop into these pages – never to be seen again.

Clever. Well-written. Light with a surprising depth. These little sentences that made me stop and grin. Vivid colors and bright funny images. A sweet funny woman and a very bottled-up man in an engaging private war with immense repercussions.

The Broken Prince by Erin Watt

The first book was 4 stars – verging on 5. This book was 4 stars – verging on 3.

The good – it was fabulous to see all my buddies. We resolved some issues (of course HUGE new ones popped up). And I loved the grovel and chase. Plus Reed was on-point. All of the Royals are more nuanced now. They were more enjoyable.

The bad – I think the author(s) felt the need to one-up the last book. The issues were borderline ridiculous. And nothing was nearly as satisfying. This felt like a middle book. Lots of build-up for the future. Not a lot in the here and now.

I’m not sure that I’ll read the next book. The drama is so intense – it’s become less realistic and less fun. But maybe I’ll feel different in 6 or 7 weeks.

(No lie – the end of this book was straight out of a Spanish soap opera. I cracked up when I read it – and I’m not sure that was the intent.)

Paper Princess by Erin Watt

This afternoon I texted a reading buddy. It’s rare for me to enjoy an angsty, drama-filled read. But once in a while I need one. I’ve tried 15 books in the last 2 days – all failed. When I moaned about my problems this book was offered as the solution.

And here’s what I’ll say. I’m a responsible adult. A mom. A lawyer. But sometimes – every once in a teensy while – I need to put on my party dress and a ton of mascara and dance my ass off. The club. Bass-heavy beats. And just letting it all go in the dark and the sweat – surrounded by strangers. Reading this book – in one sitting – completely unable to set it down – was a night out except I got to stay in my jammies. Decadent. Silly. Unproductive. And everything I needed to just let go.

The plot sounds dumb – I was completely prepared to loathe this thing and dismiss it quickly. You’ve heard it a thousand times. Struggling chick. Rich dude. Misunderstandings. Anger. He hates her. He wants her. Another dude. Drama drama drama. Except this shit was fun. As. Hell. Never oppressive. Never stupid. Shots of Patron – not Jose Cuervo.

I loved every minute. I grinned non-stop. Without leaving my house i shed the worries of laundry, lunches, and the impending Monday rush. Was this book literary genius? Hell no. Am I improved for having read it? Doubtful. Am I a happier, more relaxed mom and lawyer going into her work week? Abso-fucking-lutely. And that, my friends, is why I read.

Anything But Minor by Kate Stewart

I’m chasing that high I got from HardBall and epically failing. I went through 12 books last night before settling on this one.

It made me laugh out loud a couple of times. Made me shake my head a few others. Parts of it were silly – and aggravating decisions were made. But the characters were likable enough – not a ton of depth. No angst. I wasn’t crazy over the writing.

Basically I need some hair-of-the-dog to get through my book hangover. So any port in a storm or what have you.

HardBall by CD Reiss

It’s rare for me to give 5 stars to a contemporary romance these days. In the beginning when they were new and shiny I adored a lot of them. But now something has to stand out – to speak to me. This book did that. Dashiell Wallace did that.

It’s a sports romance. And the baseball aspect is well done. I’m a big sports fan, and I appreciate when an author gets the nuance. Baseball’s details (and kinks) were smoothly done.

What made this book shine for me was Dash’s ADD. His rituals. The chapters from his POV. His thought-pattern was familiar and fascinating. He felt weird, real and imperfect. I am completely in love with him.

Vivian wasn’t a slouch. Smart and focused. Not a bitch but far from a doormat. She stood up for herself. She made good decisions. She felt like someone I’d like to know.

The story was great – moved at the right speed with some fun little hitches. And I adored the writing. All those Shakespeare quotes. The literary flirting. Smarter than your average sports romance.

I am so excited and so nervous to read another book by Reiss. I want more of her fantastic writing, but I’m worried I won’t feel the same without Dash. Either way this is going down as my favorite romance this summer.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

*****Edited Review*****
(My original ranty review remains at the bottom, but let’s see if I can’t pull something more coherent together.)

I will start by saying I can see why others enjoyed this book. It’s intelligent with an interesting premise. The characters are unusual. The writing is not bad.

For me, however, this book pushed one button after another. I have a strong sense of what I think is “right” or “fair.” And I have a limited ability to move outside of those boundaries. There was a moment in this book when one of my personal triggers was pushed, and I actually thought about lighting the thing on fire.

However, in anything I read I look for a) a strong story, b) likable characters or c) great writing. Preferably all 3 of course. This book had none. The story was average. White bread. It lacked movement and growth. (I read one of the sleek NY City passages aloud to a New Yorker. She was unimpressed at the author’s absolutely Herculean efforts to show how metropolitan and urban she is.)

I can respect a story with bite. I can enjoy some awful characters. But to be slowly bludgeoned to death by the plight of a gaggle of narcissistic, destructive human-locusts was too much.
******Original Review******

I hated this over-hyped glob of First World Problems! Jesus Christ it was bad.

Premise – 4 rich shitheads depend on a future inheritance to fuel their horrible decision-making and selfish rampages. AND THEN THEY WHINE ABOUT!

I cannot abide the myopic, self-obsessed, poor-me blatherings of a bunch of rich white people who are sad they aren’t richer. Dude. People suffer. Starve. Beat each other to death. Don’t have a safe place to sleep with their children. And every trite, boring, WASPish complaint shoved down my throat in this too-long, crowded (I’m fairly certain GoT has less characters), meandering, self-important tome made me sadder for people who didn’t choose the awful fate they’ve been dealt.

I can understand why people like this book. There’s a very hip New York vibe totally crammed down your throat. And I think someone more mature or from a different walk of life may connect with these characters. But it got to a point where reading this was like sandpaper on a sunburn. Excruciating.

The Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan

This is, I believe, my 3rd Tijan book. I am wholeheartedly a fan.

Synopsis – goofy Summer goes to college with dreams of a relationship with her dickhead stepbrother. She meets Caden as stepbrother’s true colors are emerging.

The story was convoluted and scattered. Low steam. Lots of slow build. But there’s something so earnest about the writing. Summer is freaking adorable. And Tijan just kinda puts it out there – this steady likable sweet story. Nothing about this book feels shiny, hard or fake. No insta-love. No perfect characters.

Caden is a nice guy, but this is truly Summer’s story. She has issues to deal with and problems to solve. Girl needed to grow before she got her man, and I spent the book rooting her on. It was an engrossing, but low-emotion read. The supporting cast was mostly forgettable. The story line had grand ideas, but nothing unrealistic. This was a lovely break from the serious bummer grown-up book I’m also reading. I look forward to more Tijan.