Tuesday, April 5, 2016

NEW BLOG DOMAIN

Hey everyone!! Thanks SO much for taking the time to follow and comment on my blog here.

I have decided to change domains, though! All of the same posts have been moved over and I still have the same name :) Please come follow me over at the new site so you don't miss anymore posts!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys | Book Review

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Released on February 2, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, War
Pages: 391

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Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.
 


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I honestly don't know how I'm going to talk about this book. It completely tore my heart into pieces and I'm not sure if I'll ever recover.

Ok, so I'm exaggerating just a little but seriously. This book was phenomenal. 

Salt to the Sea is a historical fiction novel set during World War 2. The novel follows 4 very different teenagers who are trying to survive on their journey to a ship named the Wilhem Gustloff, and also while aboard the ship. The book was told in different perspectives of the 4 main characters. Sepetys had this amazing way of connecting each person's story-line so you fully get the whole story of each character. 

I ended up becoming extremely attached to the characters -- or well, 3 of the 4. There was one character who got on my last nerve. I don't think I've ever hated a character more than this one. However, this character was extremely necessary for this novel and their bastardness was amazingly written. You know it's a good author if she can make you hate this person ALMOST more than Umbridge. Almost. 

What broke my heart about this book was how realistic the settings were. I personally could never imagine having to go through what people had to go through during this war and it makes me extremely grateful for the life that I was born into. You could tell that Sepetys really researched this topic thoroughly and it shows tremendously in this novel. 

 I literally could not put this book down because it just had me so entranced with the story and the setting and the characters. Also, since it's told in different perspectives, each chapter is quite short -- no more than 5 pages each, so this is a relatively quick read. 

This book was pretty much an amazing, hauntingly beautiful masterpiece. 

5/5 stars.
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I'm sorry this review was quite short, choppy and unhelpful, but I honestly have no clue how to describe my love for this book. I just can't quite get the right words. I highly, highly recommend everyone to pick this up.

<3

March Wrap-Up

Hey everyone! March was a bit of a slumpy reading month for me, but I did still manage to get 7 books in. One of them ended up becoming one of my favorite books!

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I really don't know what to say about this book other than it's incredible, gorgeous, heart-wrenching, etc. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin follows the title character who owns a bookshop and is a recent widower. He's depressed and lonely and his business is slowly losing all of it's money and customers. One day, he receives a life-changing package on his front door and from there you witness A.J. develop into a better version of himself. I got really attached with these characters. Not gonna lie, I totally shed a few tears towards the end. I absolutely love Zevin's writing and can't wait to read more from her. 5/5 stars.




I have had Turning Tables by Heather & Rose MacDowell on my shelf for at least 5 years and never picked it up until this month. I posted a full review for this which I'll link here. It was a fun read and I'm really happy that I finally got around to reading it. Better late than never, huh? 3/5 stars.









I have mixed feelings on this book. Landline by Rainbow Rowell was my 2nd Rowell book. While it was definitely not my favorite, it could've been worse. I just got extremely annoyed with the characters and the pacing of the story. I have a full review here if you'd like to check it out. 3/5 stars









Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell was one of my most anticipated reads for 2016. I love Peter Pan and have been extremely interested in re-tellings of it recently. While I did enjoy most of the book, I think it just fell a bit flat for me towards the end. I really did enjoy the writing style and the world-building in the story. I did have some issues with the characters, though, and you can check out my thoughts on them on my review here. 3/5 stars






This book was so damn cute. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West was my 2nd read by her and definitely my favorite so far. I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did, and I even read it in one sitting. If you're looking for a cute, fun contemporary, please check out this book or any West's books! You can find my review for this book here. Warning: I gush a lot about Hayden.






 I finally finished this damn book. It only took me over a month -- literally. I don't know what it was about it, but it just didn't captivate me like Legend did. Maybe it was the pacing of the book? I'm not sure. It took until the last 50 pages for me to really be interested in what's going on in the world and actually caring about the characters. Harsh, I know. I'm hoping to pick up Champion sometime in April. Hopefully that one will be a little better than Prodigy by Marie Lu. 3/5 stars. 






I honestly wasn't expecting to finish Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys this month, but I was hooked on it immediately and read it in 2 days. It was really interesting to learn about a WW2 tragedy that I have never heard of before. I really loved the characters. Albeit, one character did drive me completely up the wall, though he was definitely a necessity for the story. I grown to become really attached to the them. I'll be having a review for this soon. 5/5 stars





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Though this has been my slowest reading month, I'm still pretty much happy with reading 7 books! I had my GoodReads goal originally at reading 30 books this year, but it seems like I'll be surpassing that goal in April. I upped it to 50 books, but I'm definitely going to try and see if I can reach at least 75... I think I can do it. I might be able to fly through my TBR if I can keep this up.

Have you read any of the books that I mentioned? If so, let me know what you thought about them! I'd love to know your opinions. Link down your March wrap-ups below if you'd like for me to give them a look.

As always, till next time.

<3



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday | 5 Star Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Be sure to the click the link and check out her blog.

This week's theme is recent books you have given a 5 star rating to. I unfortunately don't have 10 books that I've given 5 star ratings to this year, so I'll include two of my favorite 4 star ratings at the end to round it out.  

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This was such a quick & cute read! I loved the character development and some of the serious topics that West through in there, as well! 
Review here



This book hurt my heart. It gave me all of the feels. I definitely recommend this one ASAP. 



I love the hell out of this book. It's most definitely my favorite of the series so far. If you're feeling iffy about continuing on with the series after reading Scarlet like I was, just do yourself a favor and continue on. CAPTAIN THORNE. *droooool*


Again, another cute & quick read. I loved the writing style and am most definitely going to be picking up more from this author soon.


This book quickly became one of my top favorites of all time. It definitely deserves all of the awards that it has received. You will get extremely attached to the characters, your heart will be broken and put back together again multiple times. I can't wait to hear more about the sequel!


This book was freaking intense! It was extremely action packed and Lu kept me on the edge of my seat with all of her insane plot twists. I just finished the second book in the series, Prodigy, and wasn't too thrilled with it. Hopefully Champion will be amazing!

Another one of those books that will rip your heart out and make you cry ugly tears. Loved this book and loved the movie, too!


This book was so interesting! I loved the world building and the characters. The Darkling though.... <3 

The next two books are my favorite 4 star books so far this year..


This book was so much fun to read! Granted, yes the characters got a little annoying and the writing wasn't you know, the best, but it was still so much fun and I loved the crap out of it. So many plot twists, too! I really am looking forward to finishing out this series. 


This book was cute and quirky in it's own way. Again, the characters got a little annoying for me, but it was still an enjoyable read. 

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Hope you enjoyed this and that you maybe have found some books that peak your interest. Please leave me links down below to your TTT so I can take a look! :) Till next time.

<3











Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Deserted Island Book Tag


I wasn't tagged to do this, but I saw it over on Larkin's blog and figured...why the hell not? I will hopefully have some reviews coming up in the next week! 
Let's do it.

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Water: A book that you simply cannot live without.
Do I need to say anymore?

FoodA book that is a close second on your favourites list.
This book spoke to me in so many ways. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz is amazing. If you haven't read this yet, please do! It's so powerful and beautiful. 

ShelterA book that makes you feel at home and safe.

This might seem like a weird answer, but I just love the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. She never fails when it comes to writing Becky Bloomwood. It makes me laugh over and over again, and it just is always a great book to go to when you're feeling down.

Flare Gun

A book that you would recommend to someone who doesn’t read.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is freaking amazing. If you love 80's pop culture, video games and virtual reality...this book is for you. 


Matchsticks

A book that warms your heart.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I would just like to be a part of the March family and marry Laurie, please and thank you.


CompassA book that directed your love of reading.
Although I've been reading since I was little, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord is the book that got me out of my latest severe reading slump. I only read maybe.. 15-ish books in 2015 and was really sporadic about them. But according to Good Reads, I have been a reading machine since this one. It's a super cute read. 

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I tag:


& anyone else who wants to take a crack at it. :) 

<3


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Books You DNF'd | Top 5 Wednesday



Top 5 Wednesday is a book meme started by Lainey over at Ginger Reads Lainey. You can keep up with other T5W posts on the GoodReads page

My first Top 5 Wednesday and I'm starting on a sour note! Oops. I tend to not go with the hype on a lot of popular books, so please don't be offended if one of your favorite books made it on to my list! I know I'm going to be shunned for the last two. 


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I'm not going to go into much detail for why I didn't enjoy these books because it'll just be repetitive.  I can definitely understand why people love these and why a few of them have a huge following, they just weren't for me. Don't shun me for the last two! Till next time.


<3





Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell | Book Review

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Published on February 2, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy
Pages: 342

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For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

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I had this book extremely hyped up in my mind. I really enjoyed the story, but there were  a few parts that irked me.  I'm a huge Peter Pan fan girl and this one just seemed completely up my alley. Unhooked was my first read by the author, and boy did she deliver. I tend to get confused a lot in fantasy novels as to what's going on, but Maxwell did such an amazing job at accurately describing the scene we're in, but also staying in the story and keeping it alive. She turned Neverland, that is normally seen as fun, light and inviting into a dark, mysterious and sometimes scary place. 

The story starts off with Gwen and her mom moving for what seems like the millionth time to a sketchy flat in London. Gwen's best friend, Olivia, accompanies them on the move to stay for a few weeks to help them get settled in. That first night they are there, Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by strange, dark monsters. We spend the beginning of the book with Gwen, who ends up on the ship of a sexy pirate and his crew. She's trying to figure out where she is, who to trust and where Olivia disappeared off to. 

I enjoyed Gwen as a main character at first, but she started to annoy the crap out of me towards the end of the novel. I felt like she was a bit dense and not fully understanding everything that was happening. In this story, Maxwell addressed that the characters know about the Peter Pan fairytale, and used it as a disadvantage against them. I understand that that played a part in Gwen being undeceive, but it still annoyed me all the same. It shouldn't have taken Gwen as long as it did for her to comprehend who was the villain in this story. I also felt like Olivia was a complete waste. She was under Pan's spell 95% of the book, which made her completely unrelatable, but also a character I didn't enjoy in the least. Gwen was so focused on saving her friend, which is great, don't get me wrong, but it was clouding her judgement on what will keep her safe and get her out of Neverland. 

Captain Hook, who goes by Rowan in this novel, was undeniably swoon-worthy. You're unsure throughout the book whether he could be trusted, but you never doubted how insanely hot he was, regardless. One thing that did bother me was his power over Gwen. It felt like she couldn't make any decisions on her own without his permission first. Granted, this also could just be a flaw in Gwen's character entirely.  

"In this world, though, desire is a bit more dangerous. In this world, lass, more often that not - it consumes." 

As with Rowan, you spend a good bit of the novel trying to decide if Pan is the good guy. He was such a charming character when you first meet him that it took a little over half way through the story to realize how much of a complete douche Pan is. I had no connections with him at all as a character, besides the fact that I just wanted him to die already. He had little logic to his motives at all, besides just wanting to rule Neverland out of greed. Pan's only logical advantage was he used his good guy persona in the fairytale to help him gain trust with the people who find their way to Neverland. 

One thing I really enjoyed was the mini-story that appeared at the top of beginning of each chapter. You find out towards the end of the book who the story is about, but it's such a dark story about war and loss. It really helped one of the characters in the story have more depth and development, which really helped me enjoy the character in the end. 

Overall, I did enjoy this story. This was my first Peter Pan retelling and it has me wanting to pick up more in the future. I really enjoyed Maxwell's writing and story-telling and amm looking forward to reading more of her books in the future. 

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3.5/5 stars

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West | Book Review

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published on May 5, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 344
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When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.


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To be honest, I wasn't expecting a lot from this book based on the premise. It didn't really sound like a book I would fall head over heels in love with. 

But I did.

The Fill-In Boyfriend was such a cute, quick love story about two opposites who spontaneously come together after Gia gets dumped in the parking lot on her way to her senior prom. Gia and her group of friends are the text-book popular kids you hated in high school. They were bitches, snobby and clueless to the world around them, if they weren't the center of it.  Gia had amazing character development through out the book. She started off as extremely self-absorbed and immature, but after problems she faced, she realized she  wanted to make her life better and realize who she truly was as a person away from her sour group of friends. I really enjoyed how Gia ended up content with herself and genuinely happy. 

Hayden and Bec were my favorite part of the book. Their sibling relationship was amazing and refreshing on how real they were. They kind of reminded me of me and my brother's relationship, in a way. I loved Hayden's geeky, yet swoony side and Bec's stubborn, opinionated personality. They really made this story for me. 

Jules was my main issue with this book, though I know her character was necessary in order for Gia to evolve as a person. Gia only lied about Hayden because she was scared she was going to lose her friends if she showed up dateless, all because of  a rumor Jules spread around. Now I know that they really wouldn't be her true friends if they left because of that, but you also need to this situation through the eyes of a seventeen year old. People's opinions of you are all that matters. Jules was the bitchy "frenemy" who was trying to steal Gia's best friends away from. Sounds like a pretty dumb subject, but unfortunately that really is how some teenage girls act nowadays. They fight and lie to get what they want-- in this case, it's friends. I felt kind of bad for Claire and Laney at the end. If only Gia would have realized that they really were her "true" friends, and not let Jules' get her so caught up in the fact that they weren't. 

One of the subjects that West touched base on in her story is about how dependent people now are on technology. About how likes or views on Instagram or Twitter determines what kind of person you are: popular, important, loner. I know this is a subject that has been brought up a lot over the past few years, but I still feel like it's completely relevant. How many of you have almost wanted to quit your blog, Twitter or Instagram because it hasn't gotten as popular as you'd like in the time you wanted it to? I've honestly quit blogging and Twitter before a year ago, because I didn't feel like I was noticed or that my opinions didn't matter because no one ever responded to them. I know now, before reading this book, that that isn't what should matter when you're doing or talking about something that you enjoy. I think I'm going to do a discussion post on this later on to get more opinions and speak more in depth about that. Let me know your opinions on that.

The ONLY fault I have with this book is the ending. It was cute, yeah, but I didn't feel like I had enough closure with the characters. I wanted to see more of a make-up between Claire, Laney and Gia. Maybe even a small scene with Gia and Jules where they call a truce and try to be friends. And let's be honest, I just want more Hayden. Can I get a story that's just all him? Or a real life one Hayden? That'll suffice. 

I really, really enjoyed this book. It made West an auto-buy author for me when it comes to cute contemporaries. I highly recommend if you have an afternoon to fly through a book and just be happy. I read this one sitting and it took me about 4 hours in total to read -- super quick. 


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5/5 of stars. 


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Top 10 Spring TBR

I don't know about ya'll, but I have this horrible tendency to buy books based on the covers. I'm pretty sure that half of my TBR on my bookshelves are strictly cover buys. So, this spring, I'm going to challenge myself and choose at least 10 books to read that I've bought just because I love the covers. Let's do this.

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I actually picked this book up around this time last year and got maybe 50 pages into it. I got distracted by other books and put it down and haven't picked it up since. I do remember enjoying what I read so far. 


I just love this cover. It's simple, yet peaceful and beautiful.


I mean, spring is in the title of this book. I have to.


The colors are just gorgeous on here, gah. 


Again, simple, yet pretty. 


I honestly don't know what drew me in on this book, but it sounds interesting at least.


I've come to the conclusion that all of Daisy Goodwin's books are auto cover buys from me. I just recently picked up The Fortune Hunter from her last week. Hopefully this will make up for my Downton Abbey withdrawals!


This book looked like it'll be a cute, fluffy one set in South. We'll see if I'm right.

Okay. Now tell me that this cover ain't gorgeous.


I'm going to be completely honest and say I only bought this because it's written by Lorelai Gilmore. 'nuff said. 

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Now that I'm sure I've bored ya'll with a list of chick-lit, only set in Nantucket like books, leave me links below of your spring TBR list. I'd love to check them out!  Till next time.

<3


Friday, March 18, 2016

Standalones | Monthly Recommendations

This monthly tag was made by Trina @ Between Chapters and Kayla @ Kayla Rayne on YouTube. 

While browsing through my GoodReads shelf, I've realized that I tend to gravitate more towards standalone novels. I just really love getting invested into one book and knowing exactly what is going to happen at the end, rather than having to spend time reading multiple books and not really getting anywhere. Don't get me wrong -- I love my series and trilogies. Standalones are just perfect for when you're in a slump or just want to get in a quick, fun read. 

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I just recently read this book at the beginning of this month and I fell in so much love. This is a book that I've heard so much hype about for years and so happy that the hype held up. It's a beautiful story about love and loss, family and friends, and books. Another great standalone by this author is Elsewhere. Zevin's writing is just stunning. 
Recommend for: If you just want to read a beautiful story with even more beautiful writing.


It's very rare to find standalone fantasy novels where you feel satisfied as a reader at the end of the novel. This is another great example of beautiful storytelling and world building. I fell in love with Black as an author with this book and I can't wait to pick up more novels from her. 
Recommend for: If you're in the mood for fantasy but don't want to take the time to get into a series.


This book had me ugly crying hard, laughing my ass off, and worried out of my mind. If you're to add any of these books to your TBR, please at least include this one. You won't regret it. Recommend for: If you want a love story about high school sweethearts, but with serious content. 


This book doesn't nearly get as much hype as it deserves. I'd describe this as Mean Girls meets If I Stay type of book. It really makes you think about your life choices and how you treat people in every day life.
Recommend for: If you want to watch someone become a better person.


Audrey turns into a celebrity overnight when her ex-boyfriend's song about their break up becomes a hit. Recommend for: If you want to laugh your ass off and have a fun time. 

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There you go! I only stuck with 5 because I wanted to give some love to books that I don't see around blogs or BookTube very often that definitely needs to be more well known! Let me know if you've read any of these books before or if you're picking it up based on my opinions! Till next time.

<3















Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Turning Tables by Heather & Rose MacDowell | Book Review

Turning Tables by Heather & Rose MacDowell
Published on March 25, 2008
Genre: Chick Lit, Adult Fiction, Romance
Pages: 336

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Downsized from her boutique firm, Erin panics as she watches her career ambitions plunge into free fall. Why else would the savvy twenty-eight-year-old take a job as…a waitress? A favorable word from a family friend gets Erin in the door at Roulette, Madison Avenue’s newest exclusive haunt and home to a celebrity chef with a talent for cutting-edge cuisine and spotting the weakest link.


Life behind the apron is even worse than she imagined–from mangling orders to overimbibing at a wine seminar, Erin finds herself in hot water with the egomaniacal chef and the owner’s outrageous wife. And then there’s the dismissive, surly clientele, all but Daniel Fratelli, a flirtatious TV news producer. Is Daniel really as down-to-earth as he seems? Or will he eventually succumb to one of the many glamorous uptown girls in his own social circle?

Determined to prove that she won’t crack under pressure, Erin begins to master the art of waitressing–becoming part shrink, part slave, and part foie gras hustler. But her continuing series of disastrous missteps quickly sends her right back to the bottom of the food chain. Forced to prove her commitment by organizing the storage area and alphabetizing produce after hours, Erin wonders if she’ll ever make it back to the real world. But with a little help from her quirky best friend, she comes up with an idea that might take her life in a whole new direction–and that’s just the first course….


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Turning Tables is one of those books that I've had on my bookshelf for literally 5 years. It's one that I randomly found at the thrift store, saw it was about working in a restaurant, bought it and never picked it up again until a few days ago. I'm glad that I actually gave this book a chance because it was quite enjoyable. I've been working in the restaurant industry as a server for 8 years now and I can tell you that this book is spot on with it's accuracy of what it's like working at one. It's tedious, exhausting and overwhelming. You have to deal with psychotic managers, angry chefs and irritable and nasty customers on a regular basis, yet keep a smile and a positive attitude on constantly. 

 In this novel, we meet employees of a high end restaurant, Roulette, in Manhattan.  We follow our main character, Erin, through her journey of learning the ropes of serving, but also trying to get her life back together after losing her job at a big firm and the possibility of falling in love. 

Though the dialogue was a little dry, I enjoyed just being in the environment of the high-end restaurant world. We were introduced to a variety of different characters, being employees, managers, family members and customers. My favorite character was definitely Cato, who worked and trained Erin at Cato. He absolutely made this book for me with his charm and humor. The head chef of Roulette, Carl Corbett, was without a doubt my least favorite character, but he was written to be that way. He has little redeeming qualities towards the end of the novel, but overall, he's just a nasty guy with a horrible, egotistical personality.

How the relationships were played out in the novel didn't work with me at all. I didn't feel any connection towards Daniel, and even less so with Phil. I didn't mind them as characters, though Phil was kind of a dick, but I didn't like them as love interests. That part of the story line was a dud for me, which is okay. 

 I really enjoyed the accuracy and the atmosphere surrounding the novel. Erin was a decent main character to follow, and enjoyable side characters as well. It was a very fast paced book with constantly different scenarios going on. If you're looking for a nice romance instead, I wouldn't recommend this. However, I would definitely recommend this book for someone who has worked or is working in the service industry. Or honestly, just someone who enjoys reading about someone who is trying to build their life back up again.
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3/5 stars