I Paid Someone to Recommend Me Books...but Do I Regret it?
WHAT IS TBR.co (TAILORED BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS)?/HOW I FOUND IT
I was introduced to this service by one of my favorite Youtubers, Kayla from BooksandLala. Essentially, you fill out a survey about your favorite books and what you like/look for in books, etc. They then match you with a bibliologist who recommends you three or four books to read. I want to stress that I am a paying customer just like everyone else, so you can be assured that my reviews of the books I was recommended are not at all biased.
1. Always Only You by Chloe Liese (Adult Romance)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Ren is a hockey player and Frankie works for his team’s social media. The two have romantic feelings for one another but cannot act on them without getting fired.
The representation in here is wonderful to see. Frankie’s struggles and exhaustion dealing with her autism and physical disability are discussed and I appreciate these not being glossed over. Yet I’m also happy that it showed how Frankie is a capable, independent, resilient, and caring individual who isn’t defined by her disabilities. The scene where she and Ren’s sister Ziggy are discussing coping mechanisms was also great to see. I would have loved to see more scenes of Frankie and Ziggy interacting with Frankie acting as an older sister/mentor figure to Ziggy. Ren, meanwhile, is a thoughtful, dedicated, and patient sweetheart. He’s the kind of guy women dream of. He’s a perfect match for Frankie and indeed their romance was sugary sweet. They’re an easy couple to root for.
There is a brief misunderstanding towards the end which is typical for this genre. It didn’t last long, though, and generally this couple had better communication skills than those of a typical romance book couple. The main reason I didn’t rate this higher is because of how sexually charged the writing is. Now, I’m no prude. If I love a couple in a romance book then I can enjoy a couple of sex scenes because they are what the story has been building towards; the main characters giving into their desires for one another. Yet this novel read like it was written by a horny teenage boy. It seemed like all Frankie and Ren were thinking about was being turned on by each other or having sex.
This is a personal preference, but I wish we’d gotten to see the beginnings of the characters’ feelings for one another. The thing I most enjoy about reading a romance book is getting to be there for the development of the relationship. In this book, Frankie and Ren already have feelings for each other from the jump even if they aren’t yet dating.
FINAL RATING: 3.5
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (YA Mystery)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
The descendants of Sherlock Holmes (Charlotte) and John Watson (Jamie) find themselves at the same boarding school. When their mutual bully winds up dead they are the prime suspects and must work together to find the real killer.
Charlotte and Jamie complimented each other well as a team. I do have some complaints about them together, though. Primarily, I hope that in future books in the series the two learn to trust and be more open with each other. Also, I worry that Jamie views Charlotte a little bit more as a character he created in his mind than as a real person. I did like the plot of this book (the duo having to exonerated themselves) and there were plenty of exciting scenes like chasing bad guys through tunnels, car chases, and exploring crime scenes.
This book reminded me of The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss in that it features the descendants of prominent classic novel characters. This book references Sherlock Holmes stories so that it will give fans of those original stories some serious nostalgia. If you’re like me, though, and haven’t read them then you’re not going to be lost, either. The book also reminded me of Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (my bibliologist actually recommended this to me because of that book) in that it’s a boarding school mystery. If you like either of those books then you’ll probably like this one.
I plan to pick up the next book in the series at some point (I’m a big mood reader so I’m not sure when I will get to it). Trigger warnings include; drug use and addiction, rape and mentions of suicide.
FINAL RATING: 3.75
3. I'm So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (Adult Romance)
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Kian has never moved on after his split from his ex-boyfriend Hudson. When said ex comes to him with a proposition; be his fake date to his cousin's wedding and he'll introduce him to someone who can elevate his career; he agrees.
I didn't really connect with either Kian or Hudson. There was nothing wrong with them individually necessarily though their story had flaws. Supposedly Hudson wanted to fake date Kian because his parents liked him but it really seemed like Hudson's family was not Kian's biggest fans. Also, they never address why they broke up in the first place when they get back together which is a recipe to repeat those same mistakes. Also, when the conflict comes around it's not even to do with the main couple and Hudson's reaction is so upsetting. He never even gives the man he supposedly loves a chance to explain, just assumes the worst about him.
The positives for me were that Hudson, outside of a poor little rich boy moment, is very charming and humble despite his wealth. The minor characters were great as well and I'm always a fan of a good support system for the main character outside of the love interest. The spicy scenes (outside of one moment that made me cringe) were also quite good. Finally, the pining was well written. I really felt Kian's lingering feelings for Hudson.
I love second chance romances, but this one just wasn't for me. If I'm going to root for a romance I need to care about the characters and as I said I just didn't here. It's great to see more and more LGBT+ romance books, but I won't be checking out anything else by this particular author.
FINAL RATING: 2.75
FINAL THOUGHTS/WAS THIS SET WORTH IT?
Unfortunately, this is the first time since I started using this service that I don't feel it was worth it. I really only strongly enjoyed one of the three books. The two romances were duds for me for different reasons but neither are authors I'll pick up books from again. The bibliologist did listen to me in my requesting romances and mysteries this round, but sadly this set was just not successful for me. I will continue to use the service (next time around I'm specifically requesting two adult mysteries and one YA fantasy) because I still see value in the service and it's relatively inexpensive. Here's to hoping my next set is a step up from this one!