Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood

Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 6. Household object on the cover, 12. Set on at least two continents, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

Alright, Below Zero is officially my favorite of the STEMinist novellas! I loved Hannah’s story the best, even if I’m still leaning towards Mara being my favorite character overall.

Hannah meets Ian in grad school, when her new friend Mara connects the two for a informational interview about his job at NASA. After several hours bonding over code and Mars, Hannah decides to make a move, and the two share a hot few minutes before she has to break the news to Ian that she “does not date”. The two go their separate ways, until five years later, Hannah finds herself working at NASA as well.

Now, Hannah finds herself stuck at the bottom of a crevasse in Norway with no hope of rescue. The very project she’s testing was vetoed by none other than Ian, and he’s the last person she’d like to see right now, but he’s the only one coming to her rescue…and it might be time to ask herself why that is.

It will never cease to amaze me that Hazelwood can create such round and developed characters in what, essentially, amounts to a short story. In a mere one hundred pages, I know enough about Hannah and Ian to see why they fit together perfectly, and everything that’s keeping them apart. It’s true talent, and every one of the novellas in this series is a great example of that talent.

I like that all three of the novellas started in the present, and rewound to how we got there. It was unique in its storytelling and not even hard to follow, which is what I would’ve expected. In other such works I think it certainly could’ve been, but the back and forth is clear and helps shed light on the characters and the current story. Not to mention, all three of them hooked me from the very beginning by using this technique.

Hannah and Ian were my favorite pairing for a couple in the series, with Mara and Liam a close second. I just love the “desperately pining” trope on Ian, and Hannah’s more detached personality in combination with that – her reluctance to give in to him makes it all the more meaningful when she can’t shake their connection.

This story is definitely the “sexiest” of the three – even with this slow burn – in my opinion. I think Mara’s story is awkward and cute, Sadie’s more cut and dry, but Hannah’s is a hot rush to the finish line. They all have a different tone to match the different characters’ personalities and relationship styles, and all of them are a great match. I loved this one the most for that, personally!

Yeah, so, what did we learn this week? Ali Hazelwood is an icon. Die-hard reader here, friends. Have an awesome weekend. 🙂

Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood

Stuck With You by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

On to the second novella in the STEMinist series! I didn’t enjoy Sadie and Erik’s story as much. It lacked some of the charm I typically enjoy, but there are still scenes that made me smile and laugh right along with the characters.

Nearly a month ago, superstitious Sadie walked into the local cafe for her pre-pitch croissant – only to discover the last one had just been sold. After a significant meltdown over her engineering job’s impending doom, Erik hands over the croissant, and sparks a conversation, that sparks a date, that sparks an incredible night together. The following day, Sadie discovers she lost that pitch…to Erik’s company. For an identical pitch to hers at a lower price, after she had explained her ideas over dinner.

Now, Sadie and Erik are stuck in an elevator in a power outage at their shared office building. It seems the time has finally come to talk out what transpired after their incredible first date.

I don’t think the descriptions of Sadie and Erik really match the illustrations on the front, so that was a bit disorienting while I was reading. The kind of guy I was picturing Erik to be is not the kind of guy on this cover art – he looks very sharp-angled on the cover, and I didn’t think of him that way. Same with Sadie; this cover makes her look edgy with borderline RBF, but she’s really a big softie with a lot of structure and rules. So these definitely weren’t the characters I was expecting.

The classic trapped-in-an-elevator trope could have been used more. We go in and out of the present story and the past that informs their current relationship, and their present predicament could’ve been more…fun, I guess? Obviously, she’s mad at him during this time in the elevator, but Hazelwood doesn’t play it up to its full potential. I’m thinking like, The Hating Game elevator scene. Unusual move for Hazelwood to not play into it.

I just wasn’t terribly attached or connected to Erik or Sadie. I actually really liked Mara from Under One Roof, even within the fewer pages of the novella versus a full novel…I felt no such way about these two. I admire Hazelwood’s ability to write different kinds of characters, but clearly I feel most connected to the nerdy, introverted, messy types she’s been writing. Erik, similarly, I found to be cold and annoying with little to redeem himself. I prefer her other male characters: cold and broody, no social skills, but somehow squishy on the inside?

Not my favorite, but I’m not discouraged. Below Zero is up next for me, and it sounds like I’ll enjoy that one more. Hazelwood is still a glowing writing talent, even if this story didn’t speak to me personally. It’s definitely not bad, just didn’t stand out to me!

One more of these novellas for you – coming Friday! Enjoy the week!

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 31. Technology themed

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings (for now, anyways!), 23. Author with an x, y, or z in their name, 41. Involves a second chance, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 52. Published in 2022

Ali Hazelwood does it again! And by it, I definitely mean writing a book so good I’m willing to lose my valuable sleep schedule just to finish it. I’ve quickly become an adoring fan of Hazelwood’s and I’m feeling BLESSED that I was given this advance readers copy. BLESSED.

Bee, a neuroscientist, is absolutely floored to be accepted as the lead on a NASA project designed to help astronauts absorb more information when in space. For Bee, this is the ticket out of her crappy, post-grad life under a misogynistic boss… but she soon discovers her co-lead is her arch nemesis, engineer Levi Ward, and things become a whole lot more complicated.

In the years since she met him in grad school, it doesn’t appear Levi has gotten any better or grown to hate her any less. But under the circumstances, they create a shaky truce for all that extra time they’re spending together, and Bee soon discovers she may like Levi a little more than she originally thought.

This book has so, so many of my favorite romance tropes: workplace romance. Enemies to lovers. The mean one falls for the sunshine one. UGH. I’m so obsessed with this whole book and also now Ali Hazelwood, not me most definitely following her every career move…

This book is The Hating Game but STEM and on speed. I cannot convey my love for it enough. You know when you read The Hating Game and then you started reading contemporary romance in droves, forever chasing the high of reading Sally Thorne’s stunning debut in a single night? No?? Well if not, please know this has been my life for like, five years (I honestly thought it was three years, but didn’t want to misquote, so I checked my Goodreads history and yeah…five years. Five years chasing the high of Lucy and Josh. Also have you seen the movie?? LOVED it). I finally found its equal in Love on the Brain, and I am a forever fan of Hazelwood’s now.

I LOVED Bee. Much like my Lucy, Bee was just an introverted, intelligent, but wonderfully quirky gal who absolutely made the story for me. I connected with Bee and her struggles, even not being a science person myself. You don’t have to understand neuroscience to connect with Bee’s passion for her work. Also, her research assistant, Rocío, reminds me completely of my best friend. Their friendship felt so similar to my own that I found myself dying laughing at their bits. Every character in this story is so well fleshed out and felt like someone I know in my own life, which made it so much more fun.

I didn’t immediately love Levi, but you grow to understand him and it puts him in a new light. Honestly, from the start, he does come off like kind of an ass. But he’s supposed to, and Hazelwood’s way of shifting his character into a new space in the story totally works, and I come to love him, too.

There’s also this added element and depth from these two Twitter accounts in the story. Bee runs an account called @WhatWouldMarieDo, referring to Marie Curie, where she commiserates with other women in STEM fields on the sucky parts of being a woman in STEM. Together with an another account named @shmacademics, the two use their thousands of followers to start a movement in the academic world. I loved this part of the storyline, and once you read it, I think you’ll quickly get a feel as to why.

The drama and climax of this story kind of took me by surprise by I TOTALLY loved it! You will not expect the outcome, and maybe you won’t even suspect the problem…but it’s just so juicy.

So, yeah, I’m kind of recommending this all around. Like pick this up immediately. Pre-order this puppy. Cannot tell you enough; currently screaming my love for it from the roof. Like I said, I was *blessed* with this advance readers copy from the publisher through NetGalley, and Love on the Brain will release August 23, 2022…but if you have any chance of getting your hands on it before then, highly recommend doing so. 😉

Have an AWESOME week friends!

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a five-star-worthy romance!! I picked The Love Hypothesis up at the Innisfree Bookshop the other day (last month, by the time you read this…) and the very next night I started it, and then accidentally finished it at 3am. Needless to say, I was home alone that weekend, because you can spit on one end of my apartment and hit the other wall – so leaving that many lights on until the witching hour is super unusual in this house. Because, you know…sleep.

To convince her best friend that she’s over a guy she dated for .2 seconds, Olive kisses the very first man she sees…who just happens to be biology professor Adam Carlsen. Professional ahole. Surprisingly cute.

When things spiral out of control, Olive and Adam must embark on a fake relationship: for Olive to preserve her best friend’s delicate new relationship with the guy Olive is over, and for Adam to convince Stanford he’s not at risk of leaving the university to unfreeze his grant funds. And so, the most comical laundry list of uncomfortable fake dating things ensues: in public.

This book actually had me laughing out loud right beside my cringing. This one is just an absolute zinger. I wish I had picked it up sooner. As I read I couldn’t help but chuckle at just how many tropes and stereotypical moments Hazelwood covered. Literally every cringey, hilarious fake relationship thing you can think of, just written out in every chapter. Hysterical.

The cover of my copy reads “Contemporary romance’s unicorn: the elusive marriage of deeply brainy and delightfully escapist.” (Christina Lauren’s sweet words of recommendation). This could not be more true, and this is the romance novel I totally gravitate towards. The humor and wit written on another level altogether really reminded me of You Deserve Each Other or Get a Life, Chloe Brown. Both of which I also gave five stars. All three now come highly recommended by me.

Olive is the epitome of the strong female heroine. In a graduate program? In a STEM field?? Taking care of her friends, beloved by all??? I love that Olive not only feels genuine but that she’s a gals’ gal, a badass with a mission. Her mission is most certainly not compromised by a man. He’s merely an added addition. That’s what I love about that smart, feminist contemporary romance: there’s far more happening than a woman’s love life, and we not only acknowledge that, but cheer them on when they succeed in the other aspects of their lives.

I feel like this is a great opportunity to plug the very thought provoking article I read a couple months ago about contemporary romance books getting really YA-looking covers as of late. It’s been going on for a while now, but I think part of what kept me from picking this amazing book up in the first place is just how young this cover looks! Don’t get me wrong, the art is very cute. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, except that this book is not for teenagers. The recent trend in illustrated, more juvenile looking covers in romance books is drawing additional readership, but also points to some major issues with sexism and what’s considered valuable reading, according to the article. I really encourage you to read that article and ponder it! I’m curious to hear your thoughts, and whether you’re one of the readers who helped increase romance sales by over 31% this last year as a result.

Please, please read The Love Hypothesis!! I’m obsessed. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

Have an absolutely wonderful week, friends. Pray for me and the sleep I lost bringing you this review. Send coffee. ❤