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Crushing It

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"Relatable, funny, and charming."
--Elly Blake, New York Times bestselling author of Frostblood

In life, as in gaming, there's a way around every obstacle . . .

To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar's diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer?

Until the moderator says, "Next up, Tristan Spencer . . ."

Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it's not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she's been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player's motivations.

Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .


"Relatable, funny, and charming, this gamingesque book delivers laughs and romance in a warm, satisfying bundle."
--Elly Blake, New York Times bestselling author of Frostblood


"Sexy and delicious."
--Kristin Wright, author of Lying Beneath the Oaks

336 pages, Paperback

First published June 30, 2020

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Lorelei Parker

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5 stars
153 (16%)
4 stars
331 (35%)
3 stars
319 (33%)
2 stars
106 (11%)
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30 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 344 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,069 reviews38.2k followers
July 31, 2020
Welcome to the gamers’ world: with well-developed, unique, sweet, extraordinarily quirky, dorky, geek characters! This is so different but fresh, completely smart and entertaining, humorous story!

Firstly I read a couple of romcoms about game developers but because of unlikable characterization and aimless story telling disappointed me. But not this one: This book is so much better than I expected.

Even though at some parts it was hard to connect with Sierra who has differentiated weirdest antics and suffering from insecurities, you get used to her abrupt comments, inappropriate manners and worst taste of men. But I had hard times to understand her: why the hell she was obsessed with her high school crush/ nemesis Tristan who treated her like shit and still cannot say her full name. ( If this book would be adapted into the movie: I may easily visualize Tristan as Nicholas Hoult after watching his performance at Hulu’s “Great”: you may understand what I meant when you read this book and see some similarities with his performance as Peter. Okay, huzzah !)

The story starts Sierra’s hyperventilation and some kind gas leakage after her unsuccessful game pitching in front of her superiors which pour down more humiliation on her insecurities. She wants to present her newest game she’s developed at a European conference but when she’s having panic attacks as soon as she opens her mouth, how could she convince her bosses she may be the best candidate to do this opportunity!

Thankfully her bestie pushes her to join a bar game to practice how to leave her comfort zone and how to connect with the public without fainting in front of them. She has to overcome her fear to achieve her dreams. But at the bar game she bumps into her nemesis/crush from high school ( yes: Nicholas Hoult’s evil twin) and other sweet, charming friend who is also bar owner, supporting her to perform at the stage from the beginning: Alfie: our favorite kind of hero with so much better qualities.

But Sierra realizes that taking her place at the stage and talking about the things about the pace will push her face the events hold her back to move on and have a happy life. She also realizes she fell for the wrong guy from the beginning. ( Yes, finally! Atta girl!)
Even though she was one of the quirkiest characters I’ve ever read, I learned to love Sierra. Especially talking in front of people and finding the exact right words could be so challenging experience I also need to deal with in my personal life.

I enjoyed writing, competitive women gamer idea and smart characterization and I’m so happy to read different rom-com without so much predictable clichés.

So much thanks to NetGalley and Kensington to share this ARC and help me to have a unique reading experience in exchange my honest review.
Profile Image for Allison Faught.
279 reviews124 followers
December 8, 2021
Chick lit-✅
Romance-✅
Too many period jokes-✅🙄
This book was perfect for a quick, entertaining and cringe-worthy love story that was relatable here and there. The d-bag guys you like in college who turn out to be totally lame in real life was so painfully spot on that I chuckled.
However, I didn’t connect well with the main character, Sierra. I did really love other characters in the book, I just didn’t think she was mature at all as a 28 year old woman and I couldn’t relate to her decisions and thoughts. Plus the period jokes are only kind of funny when they aren’t over-used and aren’t too graphic. 😝
Don’t let that cover deceive you! I did a quick skim of the premise and thought it would be a really fun read (which I guess it was), but the video game references and lore were so out of my element that I found myself lost at times and had to check with my husband to understand what the video game references were referring to. Mario Kart and Donkey Kong I have in the bag. Final Fantasy ( I always thought that was the same as Fantasy Football? 🤷‍♀️) and World of Warcraft….not so much.
It was okay, but I’ll probably never read it ever again.
3⭐️
January 26, 2021

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Ever since I heard about CRUSHING IT, I was dying to read it. I love reading romance novels about heroines in STEM fields and this one-- about a female game dev struggling with anxiety-- really spoke to me, as someone who also has anxiety and loves to play games. Late night Mario Kart tourneys? OH YES.



Sierra is the co-founder of a video game company and desperately wants to go to a German convention to promote the game that she helped build. But she has a terrible anxiety about public speaking due to a traumatic past incident that she needs to get over. The trick? She decides to participate in a contest at a local bar where people get up and read their cringiest stories to get a free drink and a chance to move forward for the $1000 cash prize.



While at the bar, she meets all these people from high school and college, including a past flame and an ex-geek who had a major glow-up. Sierra has terrible self-esteem issues and is used to settling for less, so it's difficult for her to tell whether or not she's really interested in someone or if it's just a physical thing. Which guy will make her feel good about herself for real? And is it really love?



I liked this book a lot. Actually, 2021 has been a slew of disappointments for me so far so it's honestly really exciting for me to find something that exceeds the three-star mark. But I just couldn't help it! All the geeky references and late-night Mario Kart races had me feeling so nostalgic in the best way. It's so hard to find geeky romances that REALLY get the tone right but this one checked all the boxes. I also loved the bits about Sierra at work, and how much sweat and hours she needed to put in to succeed, despite being passionate about what she did. It really added a lot to the story. I couldn't refrain from posting a ton of updates about my feelings on the characters and everything they did.



The only things I didn't like about this book were the sex scenes and the big misunderstanding. And honestly? The big misunderstanding had a purpose and was handled pretty maturely. But the phrase "pulled me to him like a tractor beam" and a bunch of other weird lines just didn't really do it for me. I think it was because the book was trying to strike a funny tone and I just don't usually like humor blended with the sex. But those were the only peeves I had with this book, which ended up being a stand-out in the nerdy romance genre. If you love games, or work in tech, you'll love this.



3.5 to 4 stars
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
817 reviews322 followers
June 12, 2020
2.5 crushed STARS ★★✬✩✩
This book is for you if… nerdy gamer content and stubbornly gullible characters are more your vibe than a well developed arch of suspense.

Preface.
Y'all. I've had this gut feeling for a while but now embraced it fully. I've abandoned my old rating system because I found it increasingly difficult to make the digits coming out of it fit my heart's impression of the books I'm reading.

Overall.
Let's not tiptoe around it. I considered dnfing Crushing It multiple times, yet some small pleasant details kept me from doing so. Undeniably, Lorelei has the soul of a poet as I've found myself marvelling at her rich writing on multiple occasions:
‘We twined together in the deceptive belief that forever was granted to mere mortals and drifted into a quiet place between the real world and some alternate reality of our own creation.’

Together with the numerous absolutely delicious opportunities to cringe yourself into another dimension, there was only one thing missing to make this contemporary romance a hit. That's right, a soft boi. I love 'em to death, you guys. Can't resist them. It's like physical law or something. Thankfully, Lorelei delivered.

(In case you're wondering, yes I know my choice of gifs is not always appropriate. #hatersgonnahate)

Think this book is for you? Well, I'm not done yet. Sierra's naivité was downright implausible and infuriating. There's only so much a reader can take before feeling betrayed. There was nothing genuine about her gullible character and the same is true for her lack of character growth. She never truly seems to shed her nice girl attitude and I'm just not down for it in this case. There was nothing graceful or otherworldly about it, except if you mean otherwordly idiotic. Tristan is the picture-perfect douchebag and her not seeing that after multiple actions that proofed his foul character made it not only hard to stick to the book but also created a terribly flat arc of suspense.

What’s happening.
‘Tristan had a way of turning me into a personification of Murphy’s Law.’

Sensible people make a run for the hills after meeting a person like that and letting themselves get run over by a said toxic person repeatedly. Not so Sierra. Even after multiple red flags and against the better judgement of her closest friends she somehow channels her inner Betty and puts up with the drama of the f***boy. Thereby she misses out on multiple hawt make-out sessions with soft-boi Alfie, and if you don't think that doesn't qualify her as legally unaccountable you should definitely give this a try.
_____________________
3 STARS. Decent read that I have neither strongly positive nor negative feelings about. Some thinks irked me and thus it does not qualify as exceptional.

2 STARS. Definitely a disappointment. It might not even have been worth to finish for a variety of reasons.
_____________________
Many thanks to the author Lorelei Parker, Kensington Publishing and Negalley for providing me with this eArc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Isis.
126 reviews30 followers
May 14, 2020
“A gaggle of geeks....

A herd of nerds....

A drove of dorks....”

Yes, please, sign me up! Those are my people.

I don't often read anything tagged as romance, but every now and then I need a fun, light read and that’s when I turn to a romantic comedy with a blurb that catches my attention. And WoW did Crushing It catch my attention (see what I did there 😛).

Look, I'm just gonna get this right out there. I'm gonna gush about this book. It was just so relatable to me that it felt as though Ms. Parker was a lifelong friend writing a book just for me. There are several reasons Crushing It was an easy 5 stars for me....

But first, coffee. I kid, first a super quick synopsis:

Girl gamer/game developer, Sierra, has severe anxiety when it comes to public speaking due to an awful experience in her past. She really needs to get over it so she can present a new game at a convention in Germany. Enter fun contest at a bar owned by quietly handsome Alfie. There's a love triangle that's, thankfully, not overly done and Tristan is a serious jerk. So why does she even like him to begin with? I get it. I have lots of anxieties and insecurities, so it took me a lonnnng time to feel like I deserved to be with a genuine good guy and not a douche bag. So honestly, it just made it feel that more realistic to me.

The story is told in first person and has amazing character development. They were engaging and all had very distinct personalities. I was pulled in by Parker’s writing and storytelling abilities. A believable and relatable storyline with a protagonist I wanted to root for, what more can I ask for?

“It might be worth the discomfort. Or it might be like rushing into battle without a plan while shouting “LEEROY JENKINS!” I’d probably get annihilated.”

There were many quotes throughout this book that I loved, but this was by far one of my favorites as it’s a quote that references WoW (World of Warcraft). My son and I used to play together all the time, I met my husband playing WoW, and our newest little puppy (5 months old) is named Leeroy (for Leeroy Jenkins).

Crushing It is An incredibly fun read! I wanted to shirk all responsibilities so I could sit and read this in one sitting and I have no doubts this will be one of my top reads of 2020. It’s like this book was written for me. I love all things video games and con related and I can relate all too well with the public speaking anxieties. I will absolutely read everything else Ms. Lorelei Parker writes.

Crushing It is scheduled to hit the shelves June 30. I've already pre-ordered a few copies as gifts, annnnnd one for myself since I know I'll be re-reading this witty book. I recommend this for anyone who likes *video games, rom coms, and just a fun book to lose themselves in while sitting outside enjoying the sun, soaking in a hot bath, or, dare I even say ... while relaxing at the beach? Hopefully by then that'll be an option 😎. I think this would make a perfect summer book club pick as well.

*if you aren't into video games, please don't let that steer you away from it, it's still an uber fun read

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington Books for the ARC and the opportunity to provide my thoughts.

Blog review with photo of puppy Leeroy Jenkins
https://www.bookishdawnsbookreviews.c...
Profile Image for Laura ☾.
812 reviews268 followers
April 17, 2020
*Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review *

Sierra, who works in developing video games, enters an embarassing contest to get over her fear of public speaking, and runs into her university crush there.

Crushing it is a sweet, down-to earth witty rom-com with relatable, dorky characters.

Initially, I had issues relating to Sierra at points. Tristan treated her like crap- why would she subject herself to that? He can’t even get her name right! But the character growth over the course of the book more than made up for it!

As a side note- this is nitpicking, but if you’re practicing or teaching yoga you should not be checking your phone, that's so unprofessional and would completely disrupt the flow of the class. Any class I’ve been to or taught had a no phones rule - and for a reason! And it shouldn't be about 'hitting poses' or 'being good at it' it should be about the mental and physical benefit you get out of it!
Profile Image for Yoda.
569 reviews110 followers
April 13, 2020
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Crushing It was different than I expected, I can´t really remember reading a book where characters are supposed to be embarrassing on purpose which was actually refreshing. This book has plenty of cringeworthy moments and I applaud Lorelei Parker for that! I did enjoy most of the characters and their development. There was a lot of drama, which again was the point so I´m not holding this against the author. The only thing I´m not a fan of was the "instant love" trope. It´s just not something I find realistic.
I really liked that the "bad guy" had a different ending than I was expecting.
Overall I really did enjoy this one.
Profile Image for Em.
658 reviews4 followers
July 5, 2020
I gave Crushing It a D+ at All About Romance.

Lorelei Parker is a new-to-me author, and the blurb for Crushing It sounded interesting. I’m not into gaming, but I liked the premise and thought I might enjoy it. Friends, I still think this idea – if well executed, could make for a great rom com. Unfortunately, beyond the set-up, nothing about this book is fresh or original, and as the novel progresses, it’s a straight downhill trajectory; by the last page I just wanted it to be Game Over.

Smart, confident and talented. Sierra Reid is a game developer, and part owner of Extinction Level Event Game Designs (ELEGD), a video game development company. She loves her work, and spends her days at the office alongside co-owner/best friend Aida Vargas, and evenings at home with Aida and Aida’s husband Marco (another co-worker) in the town house they co-own in a hip, desirable Atlanta suburb. Instead of moving out when Marco moved in, Sierra relocated to the basement, but she suspects that with the imminent arrival of baby Vargas, they’ll have to revisit the arrangement again. Sierra hasn’t had much luck finding her own happily ever after, and prefers one night stands to relationships or actual emotional intimacy.

When Crushing It begins, Sierra has just failed to pitch their latest MMORPG (massively multiplayer online video game), Castle Capture, to her test audience of Aida, Marco, and Reynold, their hands-on private investor. Reynold manages the money and the business strategy, and he’s eager for the company to turn a bigger profit. Sierra thinks Castle Capture could be a major hit, but ELEGD’s plan to introduce it to gamers and investors at Gamescon, a large European convention, has hit a snag. Aida, their usual pitch-person, is due to deliver any day. Sierra is seemingly the next best choice, except she’s terrified of speaking in public. After a horrifying public speaking experience in college, she’s managed to bungle or mortify herself at every opportunity since then, and after this failed trial run, all signs point to another disaster.

Aida is sympathetic, and she wants to help. She encourages Sierra to enter the Chagrin Challenge, a contest at a new local bar that pits contestants against one another as they reveal their most embarrassing experiences. She’ll get practice speaking in public, share embarrassing stories with a bunch of other people sharing their own mortifying history, and possibly win $1,000. Aida convinces Sierra to go to the bar, but she nearly flees the scene before her name can be called. Alfie, the owner of the bar and a former college acquaintance she can’t remember, encourages her to get on the stage and give it a try. His quiet support gives her the confidence to go for it. Reading a page from a college journal she kept for one of her classes, she reveals the unrequited, cringe-inducing crush she had on fellow student Tristan Spencer. He barely registered her existence, but it didn’t keep her from crushing on him hard or writing about it in flowery prose never meant to be seen by anyone but herself. Caught up in the moment, Sierra barely registers the audience laughing along, and she’s exhilarated as she exits the stage…until she hears the announcer name the next contestant. Tristan Spencer. Cue the cringe.

Friends, I loved this set-up. Plausible, funny, mortifying… and even though the journal entry wasn’t that funny or even really that embarrassing, I looked forward to what came next. Unfortunately, what came next was terrible. The clunky exposition, unlikeable secondary characters, and awkward, unfunny dialogue I was willing to overlook as the story got underway, eventually sabotages it.

Tristan, to no one’s surprise, is thrilled to learn about Sierra’s crush; Sierra is thrilled he’s finally noticing her. She ignores the fact that he calls her Sara, and dismisses the fact that he’s the reason she’s terrified of speaking in public (the author vaguely alludes to something terrible he did to her in college). He asks Sara out, and spends their date talking about his talent as a graphic designer (uh oh) and his rejection at ELEDG; he gives her a ride on his moped (because his car is in the shop), and is vague about what he does for a living. Reader, it’s obvious to EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON EARTH EXCEPT SUPER SMART AND BRIGHT AND CONFIDENT Sierra, that he’s a user and a loser, but we’re supposed to pretend we don’t see it. Sierra/Sara probably misses it because she’s preoccupied by the arrival of her period, and we are too, because the author spends nearly a full chapter detailing her search for a sanitary napkin and then describing the one she finally uses. Um, the whole thing was gross. And WHY GOD WHY did I need to read about this??!!

Sierra slowly but surely realizes Tristan is a dud, just as she (conveniently) begins to notice how sweet and kind Alfie is – and to wonder why she never paid attention to him in school. Pot, meet kettle. Alfie is supportive, kind and awesome and SUPER OBVIOUSLY INTO SIERRA WHO DOESN’T REMEMBER HIM AT ALL EVEN THOUGH THEY MET SEVERAL TIMES. Look, I liked the idea of Sierra at the start of this story, but her obliviousness grows old fast. Sierra makes a blink and you’ll miss it, transfer of affection from Tristan (The Jerk) to Alfie (The Soulmate), and we’re all supposed to pretend that’s totally normal. She obsessively compares her new feelings for Alfie with the ones she had for Tristan, constantly questioning whether it’s Eros, Philia, or Agape she’s feeling. Huh? Her mother once told her these are the three types of love, and… READER, NO ONE CARES. I have no idea why the author kept bringing this up every five pages or so.

The Chagrin Challenge, with its cookie-cutter contestants and alternately painful, cringe inducing, and unfunny anecdotes, could and should have been hilarious. Instead, Parker uses it as a prop to advance the narrative and her agenda with these three characters, and it’s such a wasted opportunity! Even the potential love triangle had promise, but unfortunately, there’s nothing nuanced about Parker’s characterization of either man vying for Sierra’s attention – Tristan is a villain, and Alfie is a saint. I hated the misogynistic venture capitalist; I struggled to buy into the bar owner who can take nights off and escape to his upstairs lair whenever he feels like it, and even the big revelation about Sierra’s public speaking nightmare is totally underwhelming. And the sex scenes. Oh dear. We’ve got waterfalls, rainbows, galaxies and solar systems, and major orgasms. Um. What? Friends, it’s all too much. Parker takes her oh-so promising premise and crushes it with poor dialogue, underdeveloped characters and stock secondary archetypes, unfunny anecdotes and scenes, and a heroine who can’t recognize a hero – even when he’s right in front of her – in her own game of life.

Crushing It crushed me. It had such great promise, but the execution is poor. And one last nitpick: after all the colorful descriptions of Sierra’s quirky gaming t-shirts and video game themed skirts and dresses, the cover is a total fail.
Profile Image for Maria.
122 reviews19 followers
July 10, 2020
Since a disastrous presentation in college, Sierra is afraid of speaking in public. But as a video-game developer, she has to (and really wants to) go to a convention to present her latest creation. To overcome nerves and practice, she enters a monologue competition in a bar on who shares their most embarrasing moment, sharing a journal entry from ten years before about her crush at the moment... only to discover said crush is also in the bar.

I really liked Sierra's personality, and how she wants to overcome her fears and fight for what she wants. Apart from her fear of speaking in public, I felt she is strong and has things very clear in her head. I also loved some of the stories of the contest and laughed with them.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion **
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,653 reviews617 followers
March 19, 2021
First of all, I have to say this cover does the book a huge disservice. It's so generic and it doesn't fit the content matter or the main character's personality at all.

Because of that, I put off reading this book for a while, but I was pleasantly surprised when I actually started reading it. It was such a nerdy book, and I related to it a lot more than I would have expected. I especially really liked the love interest.

That said, I did feel like the main conflict was very childish and got too much attention. I liked the concept of the competition but I didn't like the way it turned into a childish battle with a sexist asshole, who got entirely too much attention in the book.

I'm also very worried for the main character's memory, because she supposedly doesn't have amnesia. She somehow can't remember a guy from college she apparently had several conversations with and was acquaintances with? Like, to the point she doesn't recognize him when she meets him again and doesn't recover her memories later on either, when she finds out more about him? She also completely forgot about kissing her crush at the time, and you could say it's because she was drunk but... she did write about it in her diary? So she only forgot about it after that. It was all very strange to me.
Profile Image for Lisa (Remarkablylisa).
2,210 reviews1,803 followers
October 5, 2020
character motivations for this one was weak and messy. Our hero was disappointing and weak and finally grew some courage only to be hated in the end because of his betrayal.
Profile Image for Janae.
373 reviews23 followers
June 30, 2020
As a displaced Georgia girl I loved reading this book. It takes place in the Atlanta area where we find our main character Sierra. Sierra is a game developer. She has always dreamt of going to the gamers convention in Cologne Germany (another place I love). In order to get her coworkers to send her there she will need to present the newest game she is developing. The issue is, she is terrified of public speaking after an incident in college.

Her best friend Aida (a wonderful supporting character in this book) encourages her to sign up for an open mic night, of sorts, contest with the hope that it will help her overcome her fear. During the contest she meets a few more characters that I came to enjoy and a particular one that I did not.

I really loved getting to know the inner working of Sierra in this first person POV. I think Parker did a wonderful job with details and development. You can tell this is either first hand knowledge about gaming, or very well done research. Dont let the gaming aspect veer you away from this story. It is so much more than that. Thank you Kensington Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this one advanced. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Sarah {The Clever Reader}.
492 reviews76 followers
July 13, 2020
Ahh! This book was so adorable! I love how you start falling for one love interest just to switch to another. It started out as an enemies to lovers and then totally takes a 180 and she realizes that her enemy wasn't her enemy 10 years ago but definitely is now.

I liked getting to see the world of gaming behind the scenes and thought that her idea of overcoming her fear of public speaking included reading diary entries in front of strangers. The competition between her and Tristen showed what "playing dirty" means.

I loved Sierra's friends. They were such a fun bunch and really encouraged her to take part in the competition. Without their support she wouldn't have participated, even when it caused her great embarrassment, and she wouldn't have found love.

I'd definitely recommend this one to anyone looking for a great adult romance!
Profile Image for Sofie |.
243 reviews148 followers
March 11, 2021
What to say about this book. Hm.

Well. I hated it. Lol.

The timing didn't land for me. Halfway through the book, our romantic leads get together, and for the next 100+ pages, it's literally all about this anecdote competition that I did not give a flying f*ck about. Also, Sierra had the personality of a moist toilette.

I could tell the author wanted to be all yes feminism and girls can be gamers too and she's so quirky and shy, with her space buns and her Mario Cart T-Shirt and she's so pretty and she doesn't even know it and it was all a massive eye-roll. Like, I appreciated that these two women founded this gaming company, but then the author didn't even give them any say in who is gonna do this presentation? Didn't give them any say on who gets hired? And Sierra didn't defend herself against anyone's sexist remarks until the very end. Some might say this is because of ~character growth~ but honestly, I don't see how growing out of your stage fright has anything to do with standing up for your own position at a company YOU STARTED.

The drama was eye-roll worthy. Tristan was obviously

For instance,

Everything was so contrived. There was no nuance. It was ALL tell, no show.

She held my shoulder and gave me a significant look. “Grab hold of that boy and never let go. It’s not just that there are so few gems like him, but I can see how he makes you feel. And it’s clearly mutual.”
I looked over at Alfie, laughing as he chatted with Zane and Bryce, happy and in his element. “How I didn’t notice him sooner will be the great mystery of my life. Maybe it’s because he’s so easy. He fits me so perfectly, it’s like slipping into warm water."


NO-ONE TALKS LIKE THIS.

I'M MAD OKAY. I just finished a SPECTACULAR novel this afternoon and THIS is what I followed it up with.
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 18 books405 followers
April 11, 2020
This book is absolutely fantastic. Parker's voice is like chatting with an old friend. My own crippling fear of public speaking (although thankfully not based on a traumatizing event) and love of games made it easy to relate to Sierra. It was interesting to see her falling back into old patterns—because that's what we do. Sierra was intensely human, and I love that about her.

The rivalry between Alfie and Tristan was very well-executed. And the end absoutely perfect.

Also, I want a dress with smiley-faced planets on it.

Review based on ARC.
Profile Image for thebookconfessions.
405 reviews29 followers
April 20, 2020
I liked the concept of the book and it definitely was an enjoyable read.
However I felt bored at some point and even though there were cute and funny moments at the end I wasn't swept of my feet.
Overall, it was an entertaining read but not a book I'd remember.
Profile Image for Elena Granger.
315 reviews5 followers
December 13, 2022
One more cute romance with a game developer MC. Loved it! That book was so close to what my struggles are. I could feel how hard it is for Sierra to deal with her stage fear. Being also a software developer and a very shy one, it was always a huge deal for me to make a presentation.
I’m not sure I like the whole slam idea, but I loved the characters, even that arrogant Tristan.
The love line in this book feels pretty real and gives you some craving for a happy resolution. Yet another reminder that people are not perfect and sometimes we just have to forgive.
Profile Image for Jessica Sanders.
70 reviews7 followers
March 25, 2020
I recieved this as an ARC & just WOW. I totally stepped out of my element with this one as it's not my typical read. I loved the game aspect, love triangle & above all the level up in the end. Phenomenal.

This is just a short review for goodreads to collect my thoughts after finishing this book; if interested I will post a complete review on my bookstagram: JSanders_bookreview
Profile Image for Lisa (Two Bookish Brits).
748 reviews154 followers
September 10, 2021
Oh my gosh how embarrassing was this book?

I’m going to answer that questing with one word…extremely.

Sierra is still experiencing trauma after a horrible talk went wrong and she was humiliated in front of her entire class. Now she harbours hatred to the man she blames for the embarrassment and even after 10 years of the said incident she still can’t speak in front of people and it’s beginning to impact her job. Determined to make things right, she ends up at a pub and reading out her old journal unbeknownst to her, the man in her journal is there for the exact same reason, major cringe.

Alfie has had a crush on a girl for as long as he can remember. Being too shy to do anything about it. So when she randomly ends up in his pub he can’t help but feel something at the sight of her. Alfie is determined to help this woman, to help her try to put herself out there but the past comes tumbling back and with those memories come past hurts.

Experiencing their story has been a whirlwind. The amount of dislike I had for Tristan was insane. That man just screamed slimy from the get go. Everything that happens in this books is necessary for the ending we get. There’s hard times, there’s happy times and it all mixes up into one adorable yet sad at the same time book.

I absolutely adore Alfie and Sierra and urge you to pick this book up if you’re looking for a cute read with a little steam.
Profile Image for Cassandra.
881 reviews80 followers
May 28, 2020
I..... hmm.

I started off really liking this. It was cute and creative and overall enjoyable. At the 50% mark.... my enjoyment had a few cringes that turned into QUITE a few more. I'd learned that my desire to shake Sierra was unhealthy but she was infuriating. This became very repetitive and there were few types of love that could help me change my mind.

By the end of it, I just wanted to finish to be done, unfortunately. Sierra was an immature narrator and one that did nothing but bother me. She and Tristan were annoying, Alfie was sweet but like... grow up a little? I feel like this story was trying to say a lot but didn't have enough words to do it.

I also never, EVER want to read someone refer to their lady parts as the "pleasure zone". That was.... I did not like that. Please no one do this again. It literally made me so uncomfortable.

I'm sorry, I really did want to like this. I thought it sounded cute and loved a lady in the gaming world.... but it really fell short for me and therefore the rating reflects just as much.

Thank you NetGalley and Kensington for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lili  Marcus.
714 reviews404 followers
July 9, 2020
2.5 stars

Even though I listed this book on Goodreads just yesterday, I've been reading it for weeks. But now, I'm done reading, I wished I updated my reading progress so then you'll know by now, how I didn't enjoy reading it...But I am on hiatus and too lazy to log in here. I requested Crushing it from Netgalley because I was expecting it to be fun, lighthearted, and most of all, relatable. It's NOT, not even one of those three, and it's all because of the main character Sierra.

But first, the good things. First, I love the writing style of the author. Even though I don't like this book at all, I can say with confidence that the author has an amazing writing style, almost poetic, and it shows in the journal entries that characters read in the diary slam. Speaking of the Diary Slam, that's the second thing I like in this book. I love the idea of it as a form of forced therapy for Sierra. Everyone in the slam is expecting humiliation via their past humiliating experiences and so to quote Sierra's best friend, Aida, Sierra's fear becomes her secret weapon. That said, I love Aida. Everyone needs a friend like Aida. The last thing I like is Alfie, the main love interest. He's such a nice guy and just gives out positive energy.

Before everything else, I want to tell a story of my own, which made me think I'll find this book relatable in the first place. I was so wrong. I, too, find it hard to speak in front of people. In my high school graduation, I was a salutatorian and of course, I had to deliver a speech. And during my speech, most of my classmates made fun of me, most of them stood and made some gestures, yells at me, name-called me while I was delivering my speech. It was outright disrespectful for them to do and a horrible thing for me to experience. There were hundreds of people there, including my parents and relatives. Their action rooted in the fact that they didn't want me to be the Salutatorian because for them, someone else deserves it better and I somehow agree because I'm not really studious. My average grade just happened to be the second-highest in my batch. Despite their reasoning, still, it was wrong for them to humiliate me.

Why am I telling you this story? It's because I want you to understand why my rating of this book is too low - It's because I know what's convincing and what's not in this story. Sierra experienced something similar to my experience and just like me, it made public speaking difficult for her. I even understand her when she said, she's not shy, she's anxious as to what will happen if she speaks in front. That's true to me, as well.

Anyway, as I already hinted, my low rating is because of Sierra herself. I expected to relate to her. She's no like me, and I'm not being proud, it's just a matter-of-factly statement. I wouldn't just call Sierra naive, no, she's downright stupid and it's so frustrating. So the blurb said, she joined this diary slam and the first entry she shared is about her college crush, Tristan, without knowing that the next contestant is Tristan himself. Humiliation ensues.

That itself could've been a great plot element but alas!!! Sierra started showing her stupidity. When Tristan shows interest to her, she grabbed it, of course. He's her ultimate crush from college anyway. There's nothing wrong with that, the problem lies with Tristan being the reason why she doesn't do well in public speaking. Tristan did something that ruins Sierra's confidence in the worst way. He's the reason why her life is miserable and yet, the first time they talked after ten years, after delivering their entry for the diary slam, Sierra was all giddy toward him. Like, what on earth?

That's the first unconvincing element in the plot and an example of how idiotic Sierra can be. Sure, it's been a decade since it happened, Tristan can be a changed person now and what happened was just him being immature ten years ago, it's okay to forgive him now. I, myself, have forgiven my classmates already. My issue about Sierra is she didn't just forgive him easily, even before he apologizes, she also is ready to pounce him because he's just so pretty. Ugh!!! She sounds desperate for a relationship. I can understand her forgiving him, but it's another thing to be interested in someone who is the reason for your miserable life. The impact of what Tristan did to her life was huge, it's just so unrealistic that Sierra is too eager to have a relationship with him.

Another thing is, Tristan is a perfect example of a douchebag and Sierra doesn't even see him that way. She keeps making reasons for his actions even after multiple times that Tristan showed his bad personality. He's just using her and this is not even a spoiler because it's very obvious since their first conversation. I think the author didn't really hide Tristan's real motives because he's not the main love interest. Gosh, seriously, how stupid can she be?

That's another unconvincing element here. When you experienced what Sierra and I experienced and you've been spending your life with it as baggage, it would be hard to reconnect, much more be involved, with those people who are at fault. Forgive, sure, but get involved? Impossible. Very unconvincing. And another thing, you'll have trust issues. Sierra doesn't have trust issues when it comes to Tristan. How come she has trust issues with other guys but not with Tristan? She looks and acts like she's going to give him everything, completely ignoring her friend's advice and Mr. Right who's been there all along.

Speaking of Mr. Right, the development of the romance is also not very convincing. It's so sudden. One minute, Sierra is still kissing Tristan and lusting after him, the next, she's ignoring him and already invested in Alfie. Then, she gets annoyed when Tristan keeps texting her. Girl, it's because just a few days ago, you were kissing him. And Sierra comparing Alfie's mustang to Tristan's Vespa shows how shallow Sierra can be, considering that just few days ago, she was enjoying riding with Tristan in his Vespa, because of course, she could feel his hard body against hers.

Sure, Tristan was bad but still...

And making Tristan the ultimate bad guy is just so cliche. I was really expecting a mature, healthy love triangle/competition between three mature people. Sierra being a nerd game developer, Alfie being the nice guy, a bartender in his own bar, and Tristan as a struggling comic artist - that's the reason why he hasn't a car. He could also be a nice guy, a changed person from who he was in college. It seemed to me that the plot forced Tristan to be bad just so the readers can root for the main character. Not necessary, if you ask me.

There are more elements in the plot that are really unconvincing. Like when Sierra asked Alfie if they were even friends in college. Sure, it's been ten years but if they were really friends, she wouldn't have forgotten him, in the first place. So asking that question is unnecessary. It was a stupid question. And seriously, even I can still remember my classmates from elementary. She should've remembered if they were friends in college, COLLEGE!!! She must have been 20 to 24 years old. That's not the only thing she, or the others, forget from college throughout the story. The whole forgetting things from college is just so unrealistic.

There are also some predictable elements. Like I already said, it's too obvious that Tristan is just using her. There are some things about Alfie's character that is also predictable, like the girl he talks about in his own journal.

I also didn't find any part of the book funny. Not even the humiliating stories. They're not funny at all, in fact, strangely, I felt like I was being laughed at. And some of the jokes are old, they're not funny anymore. I also didn't appreciate Sierra being a nerd. Sure, she plays games once in a while in the story but there's not that feeling of recognizing my own fellow nerd. I'm a nerd myself, not of games, but still, I always feel a sense of closeness to nerd characters. I didn't feel anything toward Sierra except dislike.

So overall, obviously, I didn't enjoy this book. I wanted to DNF it so many times, but I persevered. I still will read the works of this author because like I said, her writing style is amazing. She's a poet, this author.

I received an e-ARC from the publisher/author via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book in any way.
Profile Image for Aubree | Literately Speaking.
43 reviews10 followers
July 28, 2020
In Crushing It by Lorelei Parker, a female game developer named Sierra struggles to overcome her fear of public speaking in order to pitch her new game at a Video Game Developer Conference. Following her attempt to practice this skill at an open-mic, this event sends her off on a wild love-story, complete with gaming references and a love triangle between two men she had known in college.

After reading the description to this book, I was immediately drawn in by the idea of a fun yet nerdy romance novel! Indeed, I was pleased to find a number of relatable references throughout the novel, however as I feared, some very too on the nose or cliche. Additionally, it was a struggle to read some of the love scenes as they were written in a very fantastical manner.

Regardless of these qualms, I found the novel to be very fun to read, with a spectrum of different characters. Overall, it was a lighthearted and a neat nerdy girl read!
Profile Image for Wulan.
147 reviews70 followers
June 2, 2020
At first, this book was so amazing! It was funny and Sierra is such a relatable character. But, during the second half of the book, everything started to go south and by the end i didn’t think i enjoyed it much.
Profile Image for Anne - ReadingfortheWeekend.
604 reviews12 followers
June 1, 2020
This book was fantastic!! The writing was so colorful, the characters felt realistic and the pacing was on point.

The author was able to create situations and characters that felt relatable. It was refreshing to read a rom com/contemporary romance that had multiple strong female leads who were working in their chosen career fields.

I appreciated how the main character’s love of video games (she is a developer after all!) was woven into the storyline, yet it was done in a universal way. I am not a gamer by any means - unless you count guitar hero and emoji blitz - but I was still able to understand the terms she used. A few of the references made for truly laugh out loud scenes (there is one reference that I had to stop to text my friends about because it was so funny- but I won’t give it away!).

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romcom/contemporary romance, who likes relatable characters and who wants to take a trip down memory lane about college.

4 stars!

Thank you to the author for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shuhada Ramli.
353 reviews19 followers
June 14, 2020
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you are a gamer, or game developer, the book is suitable for you. The book is not my cup of tea. I enjoyed reading it for the first 40%, the remaining was just struggling to finishing it.
Profile Image for Lauren.
158 reviews17 followers
June 27, 2020
As the lead software developer at a gaming start-up, Sierra Reid is in a prime position to go to Gamescon in Europe to demo their newest game, but only if she can get over her fear of public speaking. After some convincing arguments from Aida, her best friend, she joins a Chagrin Challenge, a contest much like American Idol, but with embarrassing anecdotes instead of vocals. Thinking that it will be easy to read from a journal written for a college course, she shares a story about her crush on a fellow classmate without realizing that he is a contestant as well. It's revealed early on that the bar's owner, Alfie, was also in their creative writing class, and thus begins Sierra's journey to finding her confidence and a second chance at love.

This book was so much fun. Not only were several of the anecdotes hilarious and completely relatable, there were also a lot of gaming references that brought me back to my Nintendo 64 and PS1 days. Parker did an amazing job providing an element of feminism to the story, and she brought light to how challenging it is for women to be part of the gaming community and/or being a developer. One of my favorite scenes was when Aida argued that there "should be an option to play Link in female form" (Zelda, anyone?), and Sierra replied by saying that both of them grew up playing the game, and "neither took the helpless princess route". As with any male-dominated field, women often have to work that much harder to prove themselves.

I didn't love how far some of the characters took the challenge near the end of the book, especially Sierra, as I was hoping that she would "rise above". That being said, I felt that the story redeemed itself, and the ending was incredibly satisfying without being unrealistic. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
302 reviews
April 16, 2020
Sierra is a video game developer who lacks confidence. Alfie is a bar owner and former college classmate who gives her the confidence boost she needs. Tristan is her college crush ready to prove he will do anything it takes to get what he wants. A spin on the classic love triangle trope, Crushing It is full of drama and twists every step of the way. While somewhat predictable, I found myself rooting for Sierra in the boardroom, on stage, and in her love life. You'll find the characters in this romance relatable and charmingly awkward.

#NetGalley and Kensington Publishing provided an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kelly.
197 reviews40 followers
April 19, 2020
This book is about a woman who due to a bad experience in college is terrified of public speaking. She enters a contest to help her get over her fear where she comes face to face with 2 people from her past. You get to see how she deals with it and moves past it. There is also a romance involved. I liked this book and would read more from this author.
Profile Image for Christine (Queen of Books).
886 reviews138 followers
August 6, 2020
Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a free e-arc of this title for review.

Crushing It is a cute contemporary romance. Sierra has found herself a) with a habit of casually sleeping with men but not actually dating anyone, and b) with bad anxiety regarding public speaking. In these pages, she seeks to change both these.

Though Sierra's around 30 years old, this one struck me as pretty solidly "new adult." While her roommate's in a long-term romantic relationship, it seems Sierra and her two love interests don't have much dating/relationship history, so that might be why.

I considered DNFing this one a few times - I'm just not here for comments implying that having casual sex is a problem (as long as both partners are consenting adults and being safe with each other).

Later in the book, a man is waiting outside Sierra's home when he knows she'll be leaving. She's not pleased, but she also lets him walk them to their destination while I'm over here like... NOT OK! Tell him this is not OK!

Overall, I did enjoy reading about Sierra trying to develop a new skill set for work, as well as the relationship she ultimately settles into. (It's pretty insta-love, but I liked the person she ends up with enough to be excited for them.)
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