4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, romance

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Rating: 4 stars

Two years after losing her fiance in a motorcycle accident, Sloan finds a dog running around in the street.  She ends up bringing him home and calling the number on his id tag to locate his owner, who does not respond.  After several days, she is in love with the dog and finally the owner, Jason, calls and explains his situation.  He and Sloan end up texting and talking and when he gets back into town, she agrees to go on a date with him.

This was a really cute, light, happy story.  Jason is a semi-famous musician and I usually avoid books about the rich and famous, it’s just not my thing.  But I loved @authorabbyjimenez’s first book, The Friend Zone, and so many of my friends loved this one, so I gave it a shot.  With a semi-famous musician as a lead, I expected a story of excess and extravagance, two things I am not interested in reading about, but this story could not have been further away from that.  Jason was a very down-to-earth, family oriented guy. I loved how Abby Jimenez explored the demands of a record label, the demands of a music career and touring with a band. I thought it was really well done and added a lot of depth and dimension to this unique rom com.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes romance and rom coms.  

5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker

The Simple Wild was the first romance book I read.  I was blown away by the chemistry between Calla and Jonah.  After I finished the book, I walked around for three days feeling as though I had just fallen in love. Over the last year, I have been making my way through K.A. Tucker’s backlist.⁣⁣

⁣⁣

I was so excited for Wild at Heart.  Instantly upon starting this book, I was swept up in the chemistry between Calla and Jonah – there is just something about these two characters!  Wild at Heart picks up where The Simple Wild left off (you really do need to read that one first), Calla and Jonah move in together, in Alaska and they start a business together that keeps Jonah away from home a lot and challenges Calla in ways that make her grow and make me like her more and more and more (I almost put The Simple Wild down because Calla annoyed me so much, but she continues to grow as a character and I now want to be her friend!).  ⁣⁣

⁣⁣

Wild at Heart is the story of what happens AFTER Happily Ever After… Wild at Heart is the real heat and raw energy of a relationship.  It’s the frustrations of working together and giving so much of yourself and trying to make something work with someone else.  It’s about compromise and real life.  It’s about facing challenges with your partner and sacrificing for your partner’s happiness and drawing the line at where you sacrifice and where you tell your partner what you need.  Relationships are SO MUCH MORE than physical attraction and snarky banter, Wild at Heart tells the story of Calla and Jonah’s relationship beyond getting together and giving in to the heat.  Wild at Heart tells the story of a real couple facing life and challenges together, making sacrifices for each other and learning to ask for what they need.⁣⁣

⁣⁣

There is something really special about the chemistry between Calla and Jonah and I felt like I was leaving two friends when I finished the book.  I hope K.A. Tucker more books and tells more and more of their story. ⁣⁣

Thank you to Social Butterfly PR, K.A. Tucker and Atria books for my copy.

Book reviews, romance, Women's Fiction

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Would you forgive someone for doing the wrong thing for the right reasons?  Is it ok to do something bad if your reasons are good?

That is what Tate and Sam must confront in Twice in a Blue Moon.  They had met as teens in London when they were both on vacation with their grandparents.  Tate had confided in Sam and he had betrayed her confidence and her life was irrevocably changed.  Years later they meet again and the chemistry is still there, just as strong and Sam explains to Tate why he did what he did.  He hurt her badly, but he did it for a noble reason.  

Rating: 3.5 stars

I liked the moral dilemma and the second chance romance.  I felt the chemistry between Sam and Tate. But, I will be honest that I didn’t like either one of them very much and for me, that is a big thing.  I need to like them and/or at least be able to relate to them and I did not with these characters, they felt a bit one dimensional to me.  

A big thank you to Libro.fm for my copy of this title. Have you heard about librofm?  Librofm allows you to support independent bookstores when you buy audiobooks.  They have several different plans.

5 star reviews, Book reviews, romance

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Fix Her Up was my first book by @tessabaileyisanauthor and I have since read quite a few of her books on my Kindle!  I was elated when she gave me a copy of Love Her or Lose Her.

And y’all.  The hype is real.  This is a great book!

Rosie and Dominic were high school sweethearts who got married before he went to serve our country in Afghanistan.  He came home different and Rosie has not been happy in their marriage, she doesn’t feel seen and heard, their relationship is just physical and not emotional.  Dominic is a blue collar guy from a working class family and his dad showed love by providing for his family and that is all Dominic knows, he is taken aback when Rosie leaves.  Dominic is loves Rosie deeply and agrees to couples therapy with a very untraditional therapist.

Rating: 5 stars!!

Why I Loved This Book: My husband is a lot like Dominic.  He loves me, but he doesn’t always know how to show it. Tessa Bailey did an amazing job writing Dominic’s character, she really got inside the head of a guy who was raised to believe that you show your love by providing and that is all you need to do.  There is one part where Rosie realizes that it takes two to tango and that she had a part in how their marriage fell apart; I FELT what Rosie was feeling, nerves and anxiety and I realized that sometimes I am full of complaints for my husband, but I too, have some flaws.  That night my girls were out and I asked my husband what I do that I annoys him and he told me – I am organized with my time, but I don’t always organize things like our china cabinet or storage closets the way he would like. I didn’t take it personally, I took it constructively and if he’d like to reorganize the china cabinet and storage closets, he can have at it!

This book comes out next Tuesday, January 14. I recommend this book to anyone who likes romance and to ALL MARRIED COUPLES.  We could all use the reminders in this book!!

What is your love language?  How do you show love? What do you like someone to do to show you that they love you?

4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

4.5/5 stars

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I heard so many good things about this book from book bloggers and on Bookstagram, that I decided to give it a shot and I am so glad I did because I LOVED it!!

Stella has high-functioning autism. She is super smart, from a wealthy family and makes a lot of money, but she doesn’t like people touching her and her mom would like her to get married and have babies. She realizes that she has to get over her aversion to being touched, so she hires a male escort.

Stella hires Michael Phan. Michael is an escort, he’s half Vietnamese and half Swedish, he works out a lot and has a dragon tattoo wrapped around his body. He’s hot and he knows what he is doing in the bedroom. He is also very kind and patient with Stella and he takes time to figure her out and really help her.

Michael’s dad abandoned their large Vietnamese family and Michael has a lot of issues because of it and a lot to work through. But he is such a great hero!

Here is why I LOVED this book:

Excellent, well developed characters

A great story

I learned A LOT about high-functioning autism. I have several friends that have autistic children and I have heard that when you know one autistic person, you know one autistic person; everyone is different, there is no way of saying that all autistic people are the same or have similar traits and characteristics. I loved learning about Stella and at times, I saw myself in her. I think we are all on the spectrum, some just more on the autism side than others.

Also, I LOVED The Author’s Note. I loved learning the story behind the book and why Helen Hoang wrote it. I loved learning more about Helen Hoang and how she she made herself vulnerable and got personal with her readers.

I can’t wait for The Bride Test, Helen Hoang’s new book out in May 2019!

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

My Favorite Half-Night Night Stand by Christina Lauren

4/5 stars

After reading Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth, I wanted to read something light and fun and easy. This book was just the ticket!

Millie is a college professor and she has a group of male college professor friends, one of whom, Reid, she find attractive, but she won’t admit that even to herself. When a college event is announced, the group of friends decides they all need a “plus one” and they all join a dating website. At first, Millie gets all the creepy weirdos, then she makes another profile using her middle name and is matched with the friend she is attracted to, she tries to give him hints that it is her using her typical joking fashion, but as smart as these PhDs are, they are socially inept and it’s a funny, cute story.

There is quite a bit of sexual situations in this book, so it’s not for people who don’t like that kind of thing in their books. But if you are looking for a light, fun read…this is a great pick!

4 star reviews, 4.5 star reviews, 5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, thriller, Women's Fiction

My Top Ten Books of 2019 + Honorable Mentions

I saw a lot of book bloggers and bookstagrammers doing this and I thought it would be fun. I learned a lot about what I like to read during the process. I like books that stretch me and challenge my views and make me think.

My favorite books this year:
🥂
The Wife by Alafair Burke– This was my first book by Alafair Burke and I look forward to reading more. This book kept me guessing and I never could have predicted that ending!
🥂
Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering – reminded me of what it was like to be in college and willing to do anything to be liked. I also had an eating disorder and was prone to self-destructive behavior at that time in my life.
🥂
Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia – I fell in love with the outside-the-box thinkers and the rebel heroine and the Boundary Waters. I loved this story that kept me literally on the edge of me seat.
🥂
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter – This book was like Erin Brockovich meets Mean Girls – the factory in town is poisoning people, the main character is assigned to check it out and encounters all the popular people from high school who are still acting like its high school. There is also a sweet romance.
🥂
Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala – this book blew my mind and made me rage and cry and understand life for a smart, successful African immigrant who is gay and from a conservative family. This book challenged me in all the best ways.
🥂
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin – the aftermath of a school shooting and how it effects one family. This felt real to me because we are not perfect in our life or our grief.
🥂
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy– this book reminded me of what it was like to be a new mother; it reminded me of the solid group of mom friends that I had when my girls were little. The ending was a surprise.
🥂
Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by Jenny Worth – I LOVE this show and the book gets into more details about the people and what the East End of London was like in the 1950s. 🥂
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – this book showed me what racial profiling FEELS like.
🥂
How to Walk Away by Katharine Center– all the feels and inspiration. There is so much about the human experience in this book. She is left by her fiance when she is in the hospital after becoming paralyzed in an accident that was her fiance’s fault, her fiance’s mother-in-law needs some throat-punching, there is a whole thing with her sister and a lot of sexual tension with her physical therapist.

I had a REALLY hard time narrowing it down to just TEN BOOKS, here are a few more that I REALLY enjoyed:

Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult – this book made me think, it made me see things from perspectives other than my own (as most of Jodi Picoult’s books do) and I love to understand different points of view and challenge my own.
🥂
One Day in December  by Jodi Silver – Love is all around us. I loved this book. It felt real to me. Just seeing someone on the bus and falling in love and having it be easy wouldn’t seem real, but the way this story unfolded felt real and beautiful and at times it ripped my heart out.
🥂
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hildebrand- after four glorious Christmases with the Quinn family, I didn’t think I could get as into a new family, but Irene is my mom-if-adult-kids role model, I love Huck and Ayres and I am Team Cash all the way. This book had me feeling all the feels and immersing myself in another family’s woes.
🥂
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – As a child of the 70s who grew up watching Mountain Family Robinson and Grizzly Adams, I’ve always had a part of me that wanted to live off-the-grid and this book gave me a taste of what that might be like. Along with a beautiful love story.
🥂
Watching You by Lisa Jewell – I know this has not been popular, but I loved it. I loved the characters and I found the ending unpredictable. 🥂
Did you read any of these? What did you think?

5 star reviews, activism, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, romance

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

5+/5 stars

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

This book gets ALL THE STARS. I texted several friends and my mom while reading it to tell them that they all HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. Then, as soon as I was finished, I went to my husband, tears literally streaming down my face and told him he had to read it. It’s that good!!

Kya is a little girl, abandoned by her family on the marshy coastline of North Carolina in the early 1950s. She eludes child protective services and truant officers and she survives by digging mussels and selling them to a Black man who sells gas for boats on the water (not really a marina gas station in 1952). The white people in town don’t accept the little girl, they won’t let their children near her when she comes into town to buy groceries – grits, all she can afford. But the colored community accepts her as one of their own, although she chooses to live a rather solitary life in her grandfather’s fishing shack on the marsh. The one exception is a young boy who is often fishing on the marsh and befriends her.

This is an absolutely beautiful story. There is so much in it. A deep reverence for nature and I hope that the popularity of this book means that people appreciate and understand that. True learning – as a homeschool mom, I believe that you don’t need to be in a classroom to learn; Kya never stepped foot in a classroom and yet the author shows and tells how she is smarter than many of the smartest people in town and she ends up being accepted as a renown naturalist. A beautiful love story between the young fishing boy and Kya.

But this book is not just about beautiful things. The star quarterback, the alpha male in town is found murdered and after an investigation, the police accuse Kya of the murder and she has to stand trial. This girl who has lived in the marsh, not been accepted by the townspeople and is so uncomfortable in the world where there are people and buildings and rules so different than that of nature.

This is such a beautiful, powerful and moving novel. I recommend it to everyone.

5 star reviews, Christmas, contemporary fiction, romance, Women's Fiction

One Day in December by Josie Silver

5/5 stars

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

I do not normally give romances or women’s fiction 5 stars, but this book deserves 5 stars. This book is EVERYTHING I have ever wanted a romance to be.

One Day in December 2008, Laurie is on the bus on her way home from a grueling day at a job that is not in the field she wants to be in, when she spots Jack through the bus window. He is sitting in a bus stop and he sees her as well. Their eyes meet and although neither believes in love at first sight, they feel something. Jack goes to get on the bus but he is too late and the bus takes off.

Laurie and her best friend and roommate spend the next year looking in bars and clubs for the man she saw through the bus window, but to no avail.

Sarah begins dating someone new and tells Laurie that he may be “the one”. She goes on and on about how wonderful he is and how she wants he and Laurie to be best friends.

When Laurie meets him…she knows instantly… it is the man she saw from the bus window.

Over the next ten years, Sarah, Jack and Laurie are caught in a love triangle that ripped my heart out at times. I was expecting a sweet little romance and this was not that…this was powerful and gripping and beautiful and it felt real. I felt like this could happen and if it did, it would happen like this because nothing is perfect.

This book had every aspect of my favorite romances: undeniable chemistry, loyalty to friends and family, reunion. This book was everything I have ever wanted a romance to be!

This book is recommended to anyone who loves the movie “Love Actually” which may well be my favorite Christmas movie, so it is not surprising that I adored this book and didn’t want it to end!!

Book reviews, Christmas, fiction, romance

Three Little Words by Jenny Holiday

3/5 stars

Three Little Words is part of the Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series.  I read Merrily All the Way by the same author and I enjoyed it enough that when I was gifted the latest novel in the series, I quickly read it.

From the Publisher: 

Gia Gallo is officially in bridesmaid hell. Stranded in New York with her best friend’s wedding dress, Gia has six days to make it to Florida in time for the ceremony. And oh-so-charming best man Bennett Buchanan has taken the last available rental car. Looks like she’s in for one long road trip with the sexiest – and most irritating – Southern gentleman she’s ever met…
Bennett’s pretty sure that if there was ever a woman to break his “no flings” rule, Gia would be it. Sure, she’s stubborn. She’s also funny, smart, and the attraction between them is getting hotter with every state line they cross. While Bennett doesn’t do casual, Gia doesn’t do “relationships.” But if they break the rules, this unlikely pair might discover that their impromptu road trip could turn out to be the best ride of their lives.

My Review:

This book series is very sexually explicit, which I know is not for everyone and I had not read anything like this before.  

I liked both Gia and Bennett’s characters, I liked how they made each other better and how they had dreams together.  I liked how they resolved issues with their parents.  I really liked Bennett’s character and I enjoyed a man who didn’t do casual relationships and a woman who does for a change.  I loved all of the references to contemporary things – like Bon Jovi’s pay-what-you-can or work for dinner restaurant JBJ Soul Kitchen.  I feel like those references make the story seem more real.  

I would recommend this to anyone who has read and enjoyed this series or anyone who likes romance and doesn’t mind sexually explicit scenes.