I Hate Everyone: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

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When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs. So she convinces her best friend, Harvey, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge as it is about hope.

But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done.

Source: GoodReads

I DNF’d this one at about 146 pages.  I know a lot of people really like Julie Murphy and I did sort of enjoy the Netflix version of Dumplin BUT I have to say I haven’t been that impressed with the books I read. Dumplin was middle of the road for me and I really didn’t care for Ramona Blue, still the premises of this book interested me enough where I wanted to give it a try.

Why did I DNF.

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It’s simple I hated the MC.  To be fair, I don’t think Murphy wanted you to like Alice.  She is suppose to be this bitter character.  And she does do a fairly good job depicting her, it’s just that there’s nothing redeemable about Alice and I couldn’t really feel sympathy for her despite the fact she’s dealing with a lot of shit.

Harvey (the male MC) is just if not more unrelatable  than Alice.  Honestly, I thought he was even more so.  With the Alice character I got her motive for her being the way she is.  With Harvey, I don’t know why he was such a doormat.  I get that he liked Alice, but come on…this girl was just mean.  Sick or not.  And the fact that she would randomly drop him like a hot potato…

Ugh.

I just couldn’t.  I mean, I’m sure there were some interesting things there but after 140 the book was going  no where except that I hated everyone.  So DNF….

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2019 Preview: Yes, I Already Have Preorders

It’s almost 2019 and one thing I like to do on this blog is do a feature regarding some of next year’s releases.  There’s no guarantee that any of these books will be reviewed here at some point, but probably some of them will.  Regardless, here are some books that are being released next year that have piqued my interest:

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Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider

·       Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

·       And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Source: GoodReads

Pride and Prejudice, royalty, possible cooking, and India.  Check, check, check.  I know it’s not YA but I really do like Dev’s books.

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After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

Source: GoodReads

Mysteries, hotels,  and bookish driven adventures.  Plus, it’s written by Jenn Bennett so I know it’s going to be ship-tastic.

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Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Source: GoodReads

This seems to have shreds of both fantasy and contemporary in it and lots of shades of Beauty and the Beast which means I’m pretty much sold.

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A romantic comedy that sweeps you up with breezy writing and canny social commentary, set behind the scenes of the classical music world during one hot, anything-can-happen, New York City summer

Ruby has always been Ruby Chertok future classical pianist, heir to the Chertok family legacy, daughter of renowned composer Martin Chertok. But after bungling her audition for the prestigious Amberley School of Music–where her father is on faculty–Ruby is suddenly just . . . Ruby. And who is that again? All she knows is that she wants out of the orbit of her relentlessly impressive family, and away from the world of classical music for good. Yes? Yes. 

Oscar is a wunderkind, a musical genius. Just ask any of the 1.8 million people who’ve watched him conduct his own compositions on YouTube–or hey, just ask Oscar. But while he might be the type who’d name himself when asked about his favorite composer and somehow make you love him more for it, Oscar is not the type to jeopardize his chance to study under the great Martin Chertok–not for a crush. He’s all too aware of how the ultra-privileged, ultra-white world of classical music might interpret a black guy like him falling for his benefactor’s white daughter. Right? Right.

But as the New York City summer heats up, so does the spark between Ruby and Oscar. Soon their connection crackles with the same alive, uncontainable energy as the city itself. But can two people still figuring themselves out figure out how to be together? Or will the world make the choice for them?

Source: GoodReads

I really loved Throne’s debut, was a little lukewarm towards her sophomore effort but this new book from her seems to have all things I like reading about.  Also, will be interesting to read about this since I sort of come from the world of classical music.

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Miriam’s family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that’s what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn’t have enough to worry about, Miriam’s life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam’s grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

In her endearing debut novel, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks pens a sensitive and funny Romeo and Juliet tale about modern romance, geek royalty, and what it takes to heal the long-festering scars of the past (Spoiler Alert: love).

Source: GoodReads

This book seems to perhaps take inspiration from the messy Superman ownership saga.  Regardless, I find it interesting and even though I have had a mix reaction with the geek lit trope I will definitely give it a try.

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Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.

After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.

The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…

Source: GoodReads

This seems very shippy and tropey and I’m game.

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10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

Source: GoodReads

Roman Holiday meets K-Pop.  Sold.

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Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement. She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel brave, fabulous, and like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother sees this as a distraction from working on her portfolio paintings for the prestigious fine art academy where she’s been accepted for college. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she loses herself in Kyoto’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival–and meets Akira, a cute med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. What begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

Source: GoodReads

I love Mochi and I love reading about books that take place in countries other than the US.  So win.

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There’s no blurb connected to this.  But it’s by Meg Freaking Cabot so I’m reading it.  Oddly enough, GoodReads and Amazon have it listed as being over 400+ which is definitely not novella level of pages.  So maybe there’s a full length adult installment coming out this year…At least I hope so.  No offense to Meg’s middle grade series, but there is definitely not enough romance to keep me interested in them.

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Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare.

As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.

Source: GoodReads

My luck with Kasie West books have been mixed as of late, but this one looks incredibly cute.  So I am crossing my fingers it will be panning out.

Okay, stopping here.  I have a lot more books on my list.  If you have a particular shout out to a 2019 release let me know.  And have a happy new year.

2018 Year In Review: WTF

I feel like this is way too early to be doing this.  Didn’t 2017 end not that long ago?  Apparently, not.  Since I am going to visit my parents for Christmas, I am drafting this up now when roughly about half of December is left.  I might be able to read a couple of books between now and then, but I doubt it’s really going to change this outcome.

Total Books Read: Eighty-five.  Not too shabby.  I set a modest goal of 60 but had hoped to get around 100.  To be fair, I did procure a lot of cookbooks that I didn’t add to this list since I don’t exactly read those cover to cover.

Most Read Genre: Really, this years reading choices were a hodgepodge of different genres.  I probably read a fair amount of contemporary, a lot of romances, some cookbooks, and other stuff as well.

Reading Report: So so.  I have been pickier this year, but I was disappointed in a lot of books that I had high on my list.  Which I hate.  One of my favorite new authors of last year sophomore book was a complete wash and there was a retelling of one of my favorite fairytales that was an utter flop.

Biggest Surprise

 

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Stephanie Kate Strohm in general was a break out author for me this year.  Both Prince in Disguise and Love a la Mode were big hits for me.  I liked Prince in Disguise more.  Mainly because I’m addicted to the princess trope (thanks, Meg Cabot).  This is a cozy read and has all the appropriate feels.  It could totally be a good Hallmark movie.

Biggest Disappointment

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There were actually a lot of disappointments (whomp, whomp) this one stood out though because of my love for prior mentioned trope.  All I remember about this one was that prince needed a swift kick in the pants and the MC had Princess Ariel hair.  Oh, and I gave the book away.  That says everything.  At least I read it around the same time as the royal wedding, so I could just watch Meghan and Harry to make up for this dunce of a book.

Most Relevant Book:

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This was more of a personal reading experience for me.  I am extremely introverted (INTJ and proud of it) so it was nice reading a book that dove into deeper aspects of introvertisum (is that even a word, well it is now on this blog).

The Trend That Can Die:

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Body positivity go wrong.  We need books featuring protagonists of all shapes and sizes HOWEVER what we don’t need is the various protagonists shaming other characters based on their body.  Seriously, I read one book where the MC makes comments based on any woman’s dress size and another where the MC is told constantly to eat a cheese burger.  No.  Just no.

Forever Ship

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Zorie and Lennon.  I swear Bennett writes some of my favorite YA books in YA.  I’m actually going to start reading her adult back list one of these days since it seems to involve paranormal elements that I am sort of crazy about.

Kill This Ship With Fire

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I read the movie and saw the book.  The ship sucked both times.  Enough for it to make worst ship of the year which is a shame because I really do love a good Cinderella story.

Best Overall Book

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I really didn’t have one stand out.  I’m featuring American Panda though because it was one of my favorites.  I mean, it featured a neurotic germaphobe protagonist coming from a diverse background.  Bonus cute boy and an awesome brother.  Here are a few honorable mentions though:

  • Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Srohm: This book is a cute cozy winter read.  It gets points for being in a foreign county and having a Harry Potter-ish cute meet.  Read it.
  • Quiet by Susan Cain: Again already featured but if you’re an introvert I highly recommend.
  • Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran: I went on a bit of a Duran binge earlier this year and this book is partially responsible.  While some of her books are meh, this one definitely is not.
  • Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennet: Ship, ship, ship.  Also this book actually made camping interesting which is sort of weird.

Worst Overall Book:

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This was the first book of 2018 and it was bad.  Oh, so bad.  It’s trigger inducing on so many levels.  Everything is abruptly and unrealistically resolved and it has just about made me be an auto no to de la Cruz.  It’s kind of funny when I started this blog de la Cruz was one of my favorite authors.  Now though…shudders.

Honorable mentions go the following.  Really, it should be dishonorable mentions:

  • Say You’ll Remember Me by Katy McGarry: Puppy killing.  Enough said.
  • Rommies by Christina Lauren: Everyone loved this book.  I didn’t.  It had creepy stalker vibe all over it.
  • Form Twinkle With Love by Sanhya Mennon: I loved Mennon’s debut but this one was just bad all around.  It sucked.
  • One Small Thing by Erin Watt: Because falling in love with your sister’s killer is so romantic.  Seriously, you’d think Watt would’ve learnt from All My Children that this was a bad idea.  See Brooke and the hot  pastor storyline.  Spoiler alert, hot pastor killed Brooke’s daughter and she ended up turning her interest towards Edmund Grey who hadn’t discovered his not dead wife was still alive.

Privilege Brat Has a Meltdown: Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

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She had a plan. It went south.

Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.

Source: GoodReads

I love Antartica.  This might be in part because my favorite animal is a penguin (okay, puffin sort of falls in there too) or the fact that there’s hardly any people there, but it’s on my bucket list.  And I will read a book if it takes place there.  However, after reading Up to this Pointe, I really don’t know if I’ll read any book that features Antartica if it involves privilege brats.  I mean, that’s sort of a fail.

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And God, is Harper one of the most privileged brats I’ve had the distaste of reading about in recent years.   Said brat, takes someone’s rightful spot to go to Antartica based on her family heritage.

I have no words.

Also, said privilege brat was such a genius she only had one plan in her life.  Her useless parents didn’t do their job of telling her that hey sometimes life doesn’t work out.  Especially ballet dancing.  The fact that they were just able to go with the whole I’ll audition around after I graduate with no alternative plans says a whole lot.

And her feet…yeah, I know some ballerinas and that they have messed up feet, but I thought there would’ve been more parental interference than there was on that.

One thing that got brought up a lot and annoyed the hell out of me was the character’s weight.  I am well aware that the world of dance is messed up when it comes to bodies, HOWEVER it doesn’t appear that the MC had an eating disorder yet it’s constantly shoved in the reader’s face that she needs to eat a cheeseburger.

Telling someone to eat a cheeseburger is about as offensive as telling someone they should lose a few.  In a world where body positivity is becoming more and more of a factor in YA, I don’t understand the skinny shaming.

Even if the character was anorexic (which she wasn’t) the whole situation wasn’t handled delicately and it sucked.  And what’s wrong with eating salad?  Seriously.  The fact that she’s not guzzling down cinnamon rolls is looked like some big sin.  Well, considering I can’t eat wheat I guess I would be sinning here…

Seriously, it annoyed the hell out of me.  Especially when they went on how having a muffin top is healthy for Antartica.  I was like seriously…can we stop with the weight talk?  Can we just agree to accept someone for the size they are and not devote thirty or so pages telling them how imperfect they are because Jesus….

It really made the book lose at least a letter grade.  The other reason the book was rated so low as I said before was the selfish privilege of the narrator.

Again, the privilege and lack of caring the MC showed everything else really soured me to the book.  I couldn’t even connect with any of the side characters save for the MC’s best friend who she hated because she was talented and the MC was not.

A part of me wanted to like this book.  I wanted to enjoy the Antartica setting and learn a couple of things, but at the end of the day it was a mope fest for a spoiled brat.  Hell, I would even be more concerned about the mope fest if the main character wasn’t such a self entitled shit.  That and the constant skinny shaming annoyed the hell out of me.

Overall Rating: A C.  Good premises but sort of a fail.

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Henry is a Jerk: Love a la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

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Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . .

Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

Source: GoodReads

I really didn’t care for the love interest in this rom com.  That being said it’s not a bad book.  It’s actually quite enjoyable.  It’s warm and fluffy and reminded me of a lot like Anna and the French Kiss if it had some weird baby with Chopped or some other cooking related show.

Stephanie Kate Strohm has wrote some of my favorite books this year.  That being said while I found this book to be incredibly cute and sweet, at the same time the book was flawed in parts.

I like cooking stuff.  I have a ridiculous collection of cookbooks.  Watch a shit load of cooking shows.  And even attempt to cook when I don’t make a fool of myself by cutting myself  when chopping fennel (for this stupid sheet pan) and needing three stitches of a result (aka this is why I haven’t been blogging as of late, because typing with nine fingers is a bitch)

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So, I sort of like reading stuff about it.  And I even like reading stuff about baking even though I don’t eat a lot of bake goods because of the gluten thing.  I have even thought about doing a cooking feature on this blog before where I review cook books, but given my lack of finesse presentation wise and my tendency for getting in cooking related accidents. That being said, I found the cooking portion of this book to be very artificial in some regards.

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See I can post pictures of food.  My first attempt at fudge, don’t judge.

One of the reasons I have quit watching a lot of competitive reality cooking shows is the whole lack of heart in dishes crap that is usually used to make a chef peg themselves to a particular type of cuisine-usually this is where the chef’s from or their family’s from (i.e. your Italian you must cook Italian, you’re Southern you must cook Southern food) and that’s sort of thrown in here with Henry’s background and is a part of the story.  Never mind that his French food is just as damn good as his Chicago and Korean fusion food (which does sound pretty good now that I think about it) we’re told it doesn’t have heart.

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Okay?

Do you taste heart?  No.

In a cookbook or on a food show, I can get the argument.  Those things have narratives.  We’re just talking about the taste of the food though.  It just annoyed me…especially since Ms. Annoying (aka Rosie who I’ll get to in a minute) didn’t have any story to how she rips off Christina Tosi’s (who by the way has one of the most obnoxious wardrobe on food TV) cakes or why she’s so obsessed with lamination.  But whatever.

It’s just a pet peeve.  Besides, constant name dropping (seriously, every Food Network celeb gets a name drop).  The food stuff was interesting.  I did think though the stuff about Henry’s heritage was just pigeon toed in there at the end and was annoying.  Henry though in general was annoying and creepy.

While this was a cute book, I did not really root for this couple.  Henry is just so damn insecure and ridiculously possessive.

He and Ms. Annoying aren’t even dating yet and another guy flirts with her and he freaks out and gets all sulky.  God, what a moody character.

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Seriously, he sulks a lot.

It’s not attractive.

His moodiness also makes me realize I’m not in the targeted demographic but I digress…

I just didn’t like the way Henry acted and as much as Rosie annoyed me, she deserved better.  Guys like Henry are guys that usually become MRA fuckers.

As for Ms. Annoying…gah.  My problem with Rosie is she’s just such a stereotypical YA protagonist and her supposed improvement in cooking seemed almost miraculous.  Really, she shouldn’t have been at an elite culinary school.

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Surprisingly, I didn’t have a problem with the secondary love interest.  Yes, his backstory was a little outlandish, but Strohm didn’t result to the jerk in disguise trope and I have to give her a plus on that.

Surprisingly, while I did have a lot of nitpicking with the characters I did like this book.  It was a fun little escape.  I’m always down for a book with traveling and cooking, also I like rom coms.  So while I didn’t feel the ship it was sort of written to be an MJ book.

Overall I do recommend Love a la Mode.  There are better books out there, but it is a cute little escape from the dumpster fire that is the world.

Overall Rating: I’ll be generous and give it a B.  And now I’m going to rest my finger.