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Friday, April 3, 2020

BLOG TOUR & Review: The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen @berkleypub @MaryTorjussen

The Closer You Get 
by Mary Torjussen

Thank you Berkley for this free copy and stop on the blog tour.

Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: April 21, 2020
368 Pages
Genre: Thriller

They promised to tell their spouses they were leaving and then meet to begin their new life together. But he never shows up.

A new twisting novel of psychological suspense from the acclaimed author of Gone Without a Trace.

Coworkers Ruby and Harry are in love--but they're married to other people. They decide to tell their spouses that their marriages are over and to start their new lives together. Ruby, who has wanted to leave her controlling husband for a while, tells him she's leaving him and waits at the hotel where she and Harry are to meet. But Harry never shows up.

Suddenly, Ruby's life has fallen apart, and she's lost everything. Harry won't answer her calls, and she's fired from her job. She finds a cheap apartment in a run-down part of town, all the while wondering what happened to Harry.

Just as Ruby thinks she's hit rock bottom, strange and menacing things start to happen--someone is sneaking into her apartment, and someone is following her home late at night--and she is going to have to fight for her survival.

My Review:

What a fun read - precisely what my mind needed to be occupied with today.  Btw, someone had to tell me that today was Friday because I was convinced it was Saturday.... When I first started this read, I instantly thought this to be a slow burn suspense.  Sometimes you just know right away, right? But the thing is, it is and it isn't.

This is a domestic drama, starts off at a prance and then trots to the finish.  While this isn't really something new in terms of plot, the pacing had me engaged for the entirety and the red herrings are plentiful! I enjoyed every single little piece as it was put together with the rest of the pieces that led us to a few reveals.  While these aren't 'slap you in the face' reveals, they do raise your eyebrow.  Welcome to the minds of Ruby and Emma, the wives involved and both of them surprised me, but definitely more one than the other.  Have no idea what I'm talking about? READ THIS BOOK. 😉


#ATBR2020 Review: Firestarter by Stephen King @jessmapreviews #BraveTheBacklist #ChronologicallyKing

by Stephen King

Andy McGee and Vicky Tomlinson were once college students looking to make some extra cash, volunteering as test subjects for an experiment orchestrated by the clandestine government organization known as The Shop. But the outcome unlocked exceptional latent psychic talents for the two of them—manifesting in even more terrifying ways when they fell in love and had a child. Their daughter, Charlie, has been gifted with the most extraordinary and uncontrollable power ever seen—pyrokinesis, the ability to create fire with her mind. Now the merciless agents of The Shop are in hot pursuit to apprehend this unexpected genetic anomaly for their own diabolical ends by any means necessary...including violent actions that may well ignite the entire world around them as Charlie retaliates with a fury of her own.....

My Review:

My first read of Firestarter and to be honest, I expected this one to be a slower read for some reason and I have NO idea why.  I do think King has a tendency to be over descriptive and wordy but in this read, things move at a pretty fiery pace (see what I did there? *groan*).  I remember watching the move EONS ago but don't remember much of it outside of a few key scenes so was happy to go into this relatively blind.

I wasn't expecting so much with Andy's power but really enjoyed learning his background and how detrimental this could be to him.  But, as a father, he will do anything to protect his daughter.  It was enraging and heart breaking to see how the government, as usual, are trying to cover their tracks and omg, these people were definitely NOT paid enough for this trial - I don't care what decade this book was written in! 

As we know, King writes in a variety of genres and this one is more into the thriller/science fiction category rather than horror fiction.  I feel these types of reads run that fine line into horror, which is just win win in my book so yay for readers like me! I'm actually surprised this book isn't more well known amongst readers - I even rarely see King fans discussing this one.  We all should be though. And for those new to King, I think this is could be a great one to begin with.


Jessica's Review:

This was one of the first few King books that I ever read, and this was definitely due for a reread. FIRESTARTER is one of those King books that doesn’t fall solely in the horror genre, but instead it has some great science fiction elements, with a thriller kind of pacing. I forgot what great characters there were in this book and how quickly this books moves.

Andy and his daughter Charlie are on the run from The Shop – a secret government agency. Why are they on the run? Well, they both have powers that The Shop agents are wanting to control. Andy has what he calls “the Push”, which is a mind domination ability, while his daughter is a powerful pyrokinetic. The big difference between the two is that Andy has limitations with his powers before he begins to feel dangerous side effects, but nothing seems to hinder Charlie’s abilities.

I loved getting to know Andy and Charlie again as I revisited this story. I forgot how persistent The Shop is, but when a secret government agency wants someone or something to stay hidden, they will do everything they can to keep it that way. I think this one is perfect for those new to Stephen King. It has a solid pacing, great characters, plenty of suspense, and those glimpses of horror in a few parts.

4 stars

Thursday, April 2, 2020

#ATBR2020 The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian @jessmapreviews

The Red Lotus 
by Chris Bohjalian

Thank you Doubleday Books for this copy!

Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publish Date: March 17, 2020
400 Pages
Genre: Thriller

The first time Alexis saw Austin, it was a Saturday night. Not in a bar, but in the emergency room where Alexis sutured a bullet wound in Austin's arm. Six months later, on the brink of falling in love, they travel to Vietnam on a bike tour so that Austin can show her his passion for cycling and he can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But as Alexis sips white wine and waits at the hotel for him to return from his solo ride, two men emerge from the tall grass and Austin vanishes into thin air. The only clue he leaves behind is a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road.

As Alexis grapples with this bewildering loss, and deals with the FBI, Austin's prickly family, and her colleagues at the hospital, Alexis uncovers a series of strange lies that force her to wonder: Where did Austin go? Why did he really bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in?

My Review:

A highly anticipated read that didn't *quite* reach the mark for me.  However, I think in the face of the current pandemic in the world that has increased at incredible speed (since the public has known about it), this unfortunately impacted my feelings on this read.  Fair or not, it just is.  

What I appreciate about this read is the fact that it doesn't surround itself completely in just the potential pandemic, but in the story of how this comes to be.  We get another story on top of that as it comes from one point of view of Alexis, who is innocent in all this but unfortunately associated because of her relationship with someone who isn't so innocent.  However, this does make the story a bit slow paced for my particular taste, as I needed this to move along just a little bit faster.  I fear the pacing made it actually less suspenseful … then again, maybe compared to what's happening now, it doesn't seem so OMG and more of a YEP, here it is …. again.  WOW with NYC and all the ways there are germs manifesting and ingrained into every part of this mad city - this makes me further look at just HOW busy this city is, the rats, the many things millions of people touch.  Eesh, Bohjalian, you even made me more paranoid and I wasn't sure that was possible! Haha.... but I realize the comparison of real life to this book isn't the fault of the author as clearly this was written before real world events and in that aspect - HOLY SHNIKEYS.

We can all agree this author is extremely talented and I always look forward to his releases.  It was more than likely just bad timing and poor mind set for this book to have the impact it may have otherwise for me.  


Jessica's Review:

Man, let's talk about timing here with this book. THE RED LOTUS is my second book by Bohjalian and I was reminded why I so enjoyed THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT as I read through this one. If you're a fan of his writing, then I think you'll really enjoy this one, however, do keep in mind that this isn't a thriller and has a slower pacing to it. I think that will help with the overall reading experience!

Alexis and Austin meet in the ER one night when she removes a bullet from him. A romance soon develops and they travel to Vietnam together to pay respects to where Austin's father and uncle fought in the war. After Austin disappears, Alexis wants to find him and along the way she discovers more than she ever imagined.
I will warn that there is a lot of information about rats and the transmission of a virus like this, so if that's not something you're wanting to dive into, then this might not be the best read for you. A pandemic spread by rodents is definitely not what we want to be thinking about right now with all that's going on in the world. I did like the overall writing and the way the author set up the story, however, it did take a long time for me to finally feel invested in the characters and for the book to really catch my attention.

If you're looking for a slower-burn type read, then I think this will be the one for you. If you're wanting all of the pandemic and outbreak books, then I would also recommend having this on your TBR. I will continue to pick up more from this author and see what he has to offer in the future!

3 stars

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Review: Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais #BuddyReadToDieFor @BiancaM_author @putnambooks

Hum If You Don't Know The Words 
by Bianca Marais

March's #BuddyReadToDieFor choice.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publish Date: July 11, 2017
Kindle Edition
432 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband's death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection. 

My Review:

What I love about Janelle and I partnering to do #BuddyReadToDieFor is the diversity in our reads for each month.  This book is probably not the type of book I would normally pick up... or at least not read any time soon as it's not particularly within my reading wheelhouse.  However, this was our March choice and I am SO glad that it was.  I am equally excited to discuss this book with the author herself in our group chat tomorrow evening. 

I'm going to try and keep this review short and sweet.  We get the POVs of Robin and Beauty, who inexplicably find themselves in each other's lives after both going through terrible losses and have harrowing pasts - Robin as a young girl and Beauty as an adult.  What stems from this relationship are many lessons learned, a look into racism, loss, suffering, unexpected friendships/families and a love that neither of them knew they could have.

This book did start a little slow for me and I was afraid that maybe I was right in thinking this might not be quite the read for me.  Then slowly, with each chapter, I began to really find myself involved in their stories and had gone through a gauntlet of emotions.  Rage against all the racism and homophobia, love and sympathy for what they were going through and then Chapter 51 came and knocked me sideways and put me in tears.  Geeeeeeez Bianca, why don't you just make a girl feel will ya?

Basically, you've seen the hype and the hype is real.  Marais has a gift with words and this story will absolutely pierce your heart.  Prepare yourself, it's worth the ride.


#ATBR2020 Review: Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone @LUAuthors @jessmapreviews

Problem Child
by Victoria Helen Stone

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for these copies.

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: March 24, 2020
Kindle Edition
262 Pages
Series: Jane Doe #2
Genre: Thriller

She’s cold, calculating, and can deceive with a smile. Jane Doe is back in the Amazon Charts bestselling series - and this time she's met her match.

After a brutal childhood, Jane Doe has been permanently wired to look after herself and only herself. Now, looking next to normal, Jane has a lover and a job. But she hasn't lost her edge. It sharpens when she hears from her estranged family.

Jane's deeply troubled sixteen-year-old niece, Kayla, has vanished, and no one seems to care. Neither does Jane. Until she sees a picture of Kayla and recognizes herself in the young girl's eyes. It's the empty stare of a sociopath.

Jane knows what vengeful and desperate things Kayla is capable of. Only Jane can help her - by being drawn into Kayla’s dark world. And no one's more aware than Jane just how dangerous that can be.

My Review:

I was absolutely OBSESSED after reading Jane Doe last year.  We have a main character who knows she's a sociopath and get to see how she navigates life using her inability to empathize or feel like a "normal" person to make her life work to her best advantage.  Her inner monologue was a pleasure to read and I absolutely LOVED all the snarky.  Jane is someone I would love to be friends with, as much as she can be friends with someone.  

Here comes Problem Child - the second in a series.  The thing about second in a series is that they unfortunately have the ability to not be as exciting as the first book, especially one like Jane Doe that just smacked my ass and yelled my name.  This one felt a little more like a filler as we get to revisit Jane's past, learn more about her and set things up for the next book in the series with the addition of the equally, if not darker, Kayla.  

Honestly, I did enjoy this entire ride.  Some of the inner monologue still tickled me pink and I felt myself smirking right along with her.  I did have some issue with the repetitiveness of Jane's constantly reminding the reader of why she was the way she was. It felt a tad bit overdone as her snarkiness sometimes crossed the line into unnecessary crudeness. Outside of that, I was happy to be back in Jane's world.  Now we get to see some the makings of her seemingly multi-faceted personality as the unexpected happened and she just put herself in a situation she *thought* she was prepared for.  How will she transverse her life now? I can't wait to find out - bring on book number three please!!


Jessica's Review:

This is book two in the Jane Doe series and book one was one hell of a ride! Jane is a sociopath and I loved the inner monologue as she was trying to live a normal life, well, as normal as it can be. The best part? Stone set us up for book three!

Jane is continuing to succeed at work and continuing her relationship, despite everyone still being oblivious to how she really is. One day she gets a call that will drag her back into her family she has avoided for years. When her niece Kayla goes missing, she really doesn't care but then she finds out from her family that Kayla is cold, unfeeling, and a lot like Jane. In order to get the answers she wants, she is determined to help find her. 
So when it comes to a series, some of the books tend to act as a filler to progress some of the back stories of the characters. Which makes sense, because it ends up setting things up for future installments, but it tends to make parts of those books drag. The first part of this book was great and kept the pacing like book one did. The ending was the same way, but the middle portion definitely slowed down.

Overall, Jane Doe is our favorite sociopathic narrator and I can't wait to see where this series continues.

3.5 stars

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Review: The Forever House by Tim Waggoner @flametreepress @smithpublicity @timwaggoner

The Forever House 
by Tim Waggoner

Huge thanks to Smith Publicity and Flame Tree Press for this review copy.

Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Publish Date: March 26, 2020
288 Pages
Genre: Horror

This is Horror In Rockridge, Ohio, a sinister family moves into a sleepy cul de sac. The Eldreds feed on the negative emotions of humans, creating nightmarish realms within their house to entrap their prey. Neighbors are lured into the Eldreds' home and faced with challenges designed to heighten their darkest emotions so their inhuman captors can feed and feed well. If the humans are to have any hope of survival, they'll have to learn to overcome their prejudices and resentments toward one another and work together. But which will prove more deadly in the end, the Eldred . . . or each other?

My Review:

This was the horror book that I needed right now.  I remember reading the synopsis a WHILE back and then promptly forgot about it - I just knew I wanted to read it so I dove into this one, nose first, completely blind, and only hurt myself a little. 😉 

Yes to the creepy family that moves into the house where previous murders have occurred.  Yes to the diverse families that live in this cul de sac and who are now curious to this new family and their unknown intentions.  (Honestly though, if a neighbor left an invite to a bbq on my trash can, I probably wouldn't be prone to go but hey, maybe I'd be compelled unknowingly like they were?)  

The opening chapter really piqued my interest but I was also a bit hesitant - is this gonna get a little *too weird* for me.  HAHAHA - oh who am I kidding?  Rarely is anything too weird for me.  Waggoner takes us on quite the interesting journey.. and I loved it.  Give me all the creepy feels,  creepy he gave me in spades.  Such vivid visuals from the insincere, toothy smiles, the white clovers, the face that just doesn't move and the pasts come to life again.  But then also give me feelings whether between the families themselves or new ones forged in the intimacy that comes from being in a life and death and death and death situation. Ahem.

I do think there were a couple instances of wanting to teach the reader a lesson that while I understood why was in there, wasn't necessary for the sake of the story and I found a bit annoying rather than helpful.  I feel the character(s) this was pointed at didn't need it for their personality to come through.  That would be my only critique.  The whole of this story is very satisfying.  Certain instances may be a bit much for some readers but I thoroughly enjoyed that the author WENT THERE.  I'll hitch my horse to anything Waggoner writes.


#ATBR2020 The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel @duttonbooks @aengelwrites @jessmapreviews

The Familiar Dark 
by Amy Engel 

Thank you Dutton Books for these free copies!

Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: March 31, 2020
256 Pages
Genre: Thriller

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother's cruel brand of strength if she's going to face the reality about her daughter's death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother's trailer for a final lesson.

My Review:

Apparently I am now a full fledged Amy Engel fan as this is my second book and my second 5 star review.  First The Roanoke Girls and now The Familiar Dark. Holy crap on a cracker, y'all. The book opens up with two twelve year old girls being found murdered in a small and very poor town.  This town holds the dark, the ugly, everyone knows everyone and sometimes it truly is better to just let things lie rather than dig for the truth. But when it's YOUR daughter that's been murdered, dig you will.

This is (appropriately) a funereal read.  There's no levity, just a gritty read into the mind of a grieving mother whose only bright side in her entire life has just been taken from her.  And while the reader is gripped into what did happen, we get lost in Eve's story.  Her childhood, her relationship with her brother and her absolute will to not be the mother her own mother was.  We are spiraled into the many secrets of Eve and as things get revealed, we don't jaw drop - we just feel more and more for her.  But the biggest part of this book is the relationship Eve has with her mother and you will fully understand what I mean by this when you read this.

It was until that ending and that just pure emotion of my heart going out to several of the characters that this became that five star read.  And I LOVE that while this was such a melancholy type read - I was glued to the emotions that came forth.  Put this on your tbr.  Get to know Eve.


Jessica's Review:

I became a fan of Amy Engel after I finished reading THE ROANOKE GIRLS, so I was anxious to see what was in store for us next. Once I saw glowing reviews from some fellow Bookstagrammers I knew I needed to dive in right away. If you're going into this expecting a thriller then you might be disappointed, but let me tell you, the gritty and dark nature of this book will keep you glued to those pages. 

What I loved the most was how atmospheric this was. The author sets the scene perfectly and you're transported into this small town - you can feel the despair, the grief, and heartbreak that the characters are experiencing as the story progresses. While we are trying to solve a murder of two young girls, I feel like that isn't the main focus of the book. This more character driven and you don't even realize you're starting to feel for our main character until the end. 

Harrowing, dark, full of tension, borderline claustrophobic, and emotional. A small poor town full of secrets that they want to keep hidden, but Eve is determined to find out what happened to her daughter. This one packs a punch and Engel has become an auto-buy author for me without a doubt. I highly recommend you add this one to your TBR, as well as her other book THE ROANOKE GIRLS. 

5 stars

Friday, March 27, 2020

SPOTLIGHT: The Treadstone Resurrection by Joshua Hood @HoZ_Books @midaspr

The Treadstone Resurrection 
by Joshua Hood

Working as a cabinet-maker in rural Oregon, Adam thinks he has left Treadstone – the CIA Black Ops programme – in the past, until he receives a mysterious email from a former colleague, and soon after is attacked by an unknown hit team at his job site.

Operation Treadstone has nearly ruined Adam Hayes. The top-secret CIA Black Ops programme trained him to be a nearly invincible assassin, but it also cost him his family and any chance at a normal life, which is why he was determined to get out. Everything changes when he receives a mysterious email from a former colleague, and soon after is attacked by an unknown hit team at his job site rural Oregon.

Adam must regain the skills that Treadstone taught him – lightning reflexes and a cold conscience – in order to discover who the would-be killers are, and why they have come after him now. Are his pursuers enemies from a long-ago mission? Rival intelligence agents? Or, perhaps, someone inside Treadstone? His search will unearth secrets in the highest levels of government and pull him back into the shadowy world he worked so hard to forget.

Coinciding with the much-anticipated return of the Treadstone series – released by Amazon in January 2020 in the UK – and with the 40th
anniversary of the first Bourne book, The Treadstone Resurrection is the latest instalment of the franchise. Picking up the baton from Robert Ludlum, Joshua Hood is an author and former Airborne Division fighter, whose real-world experience and combat training makes him the perfect writer for The Treadstone Resurrection.

Robert Ludlum (1927 – 2001) was the author of twenty-seven novels, each one a New York Times bestseller. There are more than 225 million of his books in print, and they have been translated into 32 languages in 50 countries. Among his best-sellers were The Scarlatti Inheritance (1971), The Osterman Weekend (1972), The Matarese Circle (1979). He is most famous for the Jason Bourne series – The Bourne Identity (1980), The Bourne Supremacy (1986) and The Bourne Ultimatum (1990). The series was adapted for TV in 1988, for a film featuring Matt Damon in the lead role in 2002, and for a brand-new TV production from the writer behind Heroes and Chicago Hope in January 2020.

Joshua Hood is the author of Warning Order and Clear by Fire. He graduated from the University of Memphis before joining the military and spending five years in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was a team leader in the 3-504 Parachute Infantry Regiment in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, conducting combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. From 2007 to 2008, Hood served as a squad leader with the 1-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan for which he was decorated for valour in Operation Furious Pursuit. On his return to civilian life he became a sniper team leader on a full time SWAT team in Memphis, where he was awarded the lifesaving medal. Currently he works as the Director of Veteran Outreach for the American Warrior Initiative.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Review: The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot @OverTheRiverPR #Montlake #KendraElliot

The Last Sister 
by Kendra Elliot

Thank you Over the River Public Relations for this copy!

Publisher: Montlake
Publish Date: January 14, 2020
336 Pages
Series: Columbia River #1

Twenty years ago Emily Mills’s father was murdered, and she found his body hanging in the backyard. Her younger sister, Madison, claims she was asleep in her room. Her older sister, Tara, claims she was out with friends. The tragedy drove their mother to suicide and Tara to leave town forever. The killer was caught. The case closed.

Ever since, Emily and Madison have tried to forget what happened that night—until an eerily similar murder brings it all back. It also brings FBI special agent Zander Wells to the Oregon logging town. As eager as he is to solve the brutal double slaying, he is just as intrigued with the mystery of Emily’s and her sisters’ past.

When more blood is shed, Zander suspects there’s a secret buried in this town no one wants unearthed. Is it something Emily and Madison don’t know? Or aren’t telling? And Tara? Maybe Emily can’t bear to find her. Because when Tara disappeared, she took a secret of her own with her.

My Review:

A moderately paced thriller centering around a second hanging in a small town occurring decades after the last one.  Enter FBI agents Zander and Amy to try and put the pieces together.  This is a first in a series and what I really enjoyed is that it didn't dawdle too much on trying to build the characters to override the actual plot like some first in series can tend to do.  Instead, we get hints as to their future build while still focusing on the main point - what the hell is happening in this town and especially with this broken family who clearly have secrets to unravel?

I want to go into some of the details of where the story goes but refuse to spoil anything for you guys. I will say that I enjoyed the entirety of the storyline, a subject that while done many times, still remains in the foray because it's unfortunately still happening in the real world day to day. What I love is finding out later that three of the characters actually come from another series the author writes.  As this is my first foray into her worlds, I love seeing this interconnection.... which just means now I'll need to read that series too (thanks a lot, Elliot!)

I would put this into a light thriller category but even as someone who prefers the darker, more gruesome reads, I still find myself connected to these characters and curious where their future leads.  I could've done without the romance part of this book but it's very minimal and while it induced a large eye roll from me at one part, it was ONLY one part so I'm happy to report it doesn't take over a bit part of the read. Let's see where this series heads. 


Sunday, March 22, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: The Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren @gallerybooks @jessmapreviews

The Honey-Don't List 
by Christina Lauren 

Thank you to Gallery for these free copies!

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: March 24, 2020
320 Pages
Genres: Contemporary, Romance

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.

My Review:

Let me start by saying how much I love how these authors write.  I think because of the other books I've read by them, expectations of a funnier, rom-com type feel was expected and instead we get something a little bit more serious, which I was totally fine with.  This was still an easy, binge read!

Oh boy.. the Tripps… ugh. Just ugh.  I did not like this couple at all, but you're not supposed to.  They epitomize that couple that grew quickly within their field and then became entitled pricks because of it.  I did like the characters of Carey and James but their relationship seemed very rushed.  Like with all contemporary romance type novels, we see instaloves a lot but these two worked together just for a couple of months and then when forced to be in the same vicinity for two weeks, it's a roller coaster of things turned into... well, that escalated quickly, let me tell you!  I wish there had just been a little bit more development here.  The same formula is at work here so we know what's going to happen. 

I do appreciate how the authors incorporated dystonia disorder and showcased how botox can be used for something other than repressing the emotions on your face.  ;)  But seriously, this is a disorder I didn't know about before and reading about it in the acknowledgments portion made me appreciate this within the book itself. Big props for this education.

While this may not have been my favorite by this duo, it's still a well done and entertaining read.  It's not quite as comical and doesn't give you the belly laughs some of their prior works have but it still holds that Christina Lauren touch that we do love...


Jessica's Review:

This is my fourth outing with the duo that is Christina Lauren and I know I'm always in for a binge read when I pick up one of their books! I would categorize THE HONEY-DON'T LIST as more of a women's fiction novel as opposed to a rom-com that we come to expect from this duo. It was still a really quick read!

Casey and James are the assistants to the hugely popular power couple Melissa and Rusty Tripps. The Tripps have their home remodeling and designing show and have a book set to release. The only problem? They aren't exactly the happiest married couple. So now Casey and James must keep everything together on their tour. 

The Tripps are just awful and entitled - I can pretty much guarantee no one liked them while reading this. But there's gotta be something to bring our budding couple together in this contemporary romance. I wish we got more of Casey and James as opposed to the seemingly never-ending drama of the Tripps.

If you're a fan of Christina Lauren then go into this knowing that it'll be a little different than what you're expecting. A different vibe and less of the snarky and witty banter like in their previous books. I will still pick up whatever they release and would recommend those to that enjoy women's fiction. 

 3 stars