Book Review

Book Review: Fame, Fate and the First Kiss (Love, Life, and the List #2) by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Fan favorite author Kasie West delivers an effervescent story about chasing your dreams and following your heart, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Huntley Fitzpatrick.

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

CUTE, BUT EH.

This was my first Kasie West book y’all. I feel I could have chosen better. This was a case of an audio book being available and I now realize my mistake. NOT enough to turn me off of picking up another West book, but to be more picky about it.

Audio notes: The narrator was fine, the only thing I didn’t love was that I felt she really played on the younger voice for the MC. Which in turn made me not love her as much. It made Lacy seem really young, rather than almost 18.

This was a cute young adult rom-com. Nothing flashy, nothing crazy, just a simple read. I did enjoy it. I was looking for more though. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something was missing.

I didn’t love Lacy as an MC. She did get better over time, it took a long time to get there though. Lacy was naive and purposely difficult while also trying to be everyone’s friend. It was an odd combo. I think Donovan in the picture helped her out. I did really love him (as I do usually prefer the book boyfriend). He was sweet, charming, and way more down to earth. I did love that this was a clean and young audience friendly romance. Some tender kisses was all this book needed to be pleasant.

Between each chapter were scenes from the movie Lacy was recording and I thought by the end I would understand why there were there…nope. Purely to add pages in my mind. I didn’t think they added anything other than us knowing what the movie was about, but it never pertained to the story. It would take me out of the real story every time it went to those scenes.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Trigger warnings: I felt like Lacy had an unhealthy relationship with food, a few sentences in there made me cringe about how she viewed food, this didn’t over take the book in anyway, just something I noticed

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Book Review

Book Review: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen’s well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.

Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.

TIME FOR MY OWN HIKING ADVENTURE.

Picked this audio book up on a whim because bookstagram made me do it. I feel when this happens it has really helped me get to read books I normally wouldn’t have scene or had a chance to read. Yay for a backlist winner!

Audio notes: I enjoyed the audio! I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite narrator, but I didn’t mine the way the book was read and was able to listen at an increased speed with no issues.

Back to the book, oh this one hits all the feels. Not only is this a romance, but it’s also about facing trials. Having to conquer some crappy situations, grow from them and letting them go. I liked seeing the inner struggles and the true human sentiments of these difficulties. I felt connected to the main characters, Helen and Jack, and really understood their turmoil. Neither were perfect protagonists and that made this all the better of a book.

The romance was a bit different than usual couples I read about, but the way this was written had me shouting in my head to get together. Why is it different? There’s a 10 year age difference. I don’t have an issue with that, it’s just new to me in books I’ve read! The approach and slow-burn between them was dynamite. This isn’t a super steamy read because the focus is on other matters. Jack and Helen both helped each other through their issues and I was ecstatic to get my happyily ever after.

This definitely reminded me of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was a fictional version of that type of adventure novel. How the outdoors awakens an inner part of us. This type of book always makes me want to go on my own kind of wilderness trip to see what things I’d learn.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses and make-outs
  • Violence: falling on a broken log
  • Trigger warnings: a few mentions of a past miscarriage (and a small description of the day she lost the baby), loss of a sibling, attempted suicide

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 10th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assist Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even while she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

I JUST LOVED THIS.

Okay. It’s official. I loved this more than The Bromance Book Club. While I appreciated and adored that it was about a married couple, Undercover Bromance brought in my favorite trope, enemies to lovers, to make this a stellar read.

I am TOTALLY SMITTEN WITH BRADEN MACK. Oh my goodness. I fell in love with him over this book in more ways than one. I couldn’t get enough of his tougher exterior, but softest soul. And can we all applaud the fact that men express real feelings in this series? Because I am here for it. I love how Mack conquered his past and fought for his love. He was incredibly sweet and his perseverance with Liv is admirable. I’m so glad we got a sequel with him because I will be gushing for days.

The way the book club helps Mack throughout this story made me smile and want to group hug all of them too [who doesn’t?]. I love their friendship with each other and feel like the romance books have helped them all explore their own softer sides and be able to talk to one another. I love a good gal pal friendship, but seeing all of these guys together is one of my favorite aspects of this series.

Undercover Bromance covers a really relevant and serious topic [sexual assault, specifically in the work place]. This was a hard subject to read about. I thought it was well put together in the story and while broaching a tough theme it didn’t overshadow the romance. It was great to see so many men in this story stand up for women and have constructive discussions.

I absolutely was all over the chemistry between Liv and Mack. It was a lightening storm out there whenever they were near each other. The banter, flirtations, steam, honest moments, tender moments. Oh my, this book had it all. Every single thing I could ask for when looking for a memorable romance. My only 1/2 star deduction was from Liv. Occasionally I didn’t love her character. She did have a solid arc over the course of the story and once she started apologizing I was way more on her side.

There was only one added scene from a romance novel. Unlike The Bromance Book Club, where a few chapters were dedicated to a romance novel within the book, Undercover Bromance only had a few paragraphs one time. I looooove this change and thought it kept the pace and the story smooth. Nothing felt broken up as the POV switched back and forth between Liv and Braden. And can we talk about that epilogue? Because it was adorable and I live for happy ever afters.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a lot of strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, passionate make-outs, a few detailed love scenes
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault [MC walks in on it happening; discussed throughout as one of the main themes of the story; hearing survivor stories]; domestic abuse [MC recounts past of abusive father]

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Book Review

Book Review: Christmas Like This (A Love Like This #2) by Carina Taylor

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance novella
Length: 148 pages
Author: Carina Taylor
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I know exactly what I’d like to put in Trey’s stocking: the biggest lump of coal I can carry.
Unfortunately, I won’t get the chance, because our boss has delivered an ultimatum: plan the company Christmas party with Trey and learn to get along, or else.
After only one day of trying to plan the Christmas party, I’m ready to pick the “or else.” Is it possible to learn to get along with the most aggravating, overprotective, handsome guy I’ve ever known?
We’re about to find out if we can get our names off the naughty list or not.

IT WAS CHRISTMASY AT LEAST.

This is a novella, so my review will be shorter than usual. I am on a quest for some great Christmas reads, this could have been better.

I think this actually would have been more enchanting if it was longer. Things happened way too fast and background information was thrown out haphazardly and inconsistently. I know there was sadness and drama put in to add an emotional component, but I wasn’t feeling much towards anyone.

The banter between them did get better over the novella. At first, it honestly seemed flat out mean and made me cringe. The push to create the enemies to lovers trope flew off the handle and I was happy when it turned down and they were able to communicate civilly with each other.

Definitely great Christmas vibes and I loved the plot of them having to plan the Christmas party together. I did like the writing, just felt like everything needed a bit more.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance novella
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: car wreck

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Temporary Boyfriend (The Fake Romance Series #2) by Summer Dowell

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 157 pages
Author: Summer Dowell
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: March 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

How far would you go to get your dream job?Madison Hudson has spent the last six years working for the position that’s almost in her grasp. She’s got the qualifications, the schooling, the perfect resume; all she has left is to impress her future boss. Something a little white lie about an imaginary boyfriend can achieve. Eric Ward usually stays away from drama. As a matter fact, he generally prefers computers to humans. But when his sister begs him to play her roommate’s boyfriend for a night, he can’t find an excuse to say no. How hard can one evening be? Pity no one told him ahead of time what a knockout his fake girlfriend would be.How long before their little white lie turns into a whole lot more than these two planned for?

Thank you to the author for a digital copy. All opinions are my own!

SHORT AND SWEET.

Another cute installment in the Fake Love Series. At its length it’s easy to read in one evening if you’re needing a pick me up in-between bigger books (which is something I’m always looking for)!

There’s not a whole lot to this book, which is its strength and weakness. I was immediately tossed into the story with little time to bring me slowly in. Meeting Madison and her dilemma happen within the first few pages. Meeting Eric happens shortly after. I do like the quick pace, but I always wish these books were longer. More character background, some deeper drama, maybe a sub-plot or two. Doesn’t matter! Just something to make this more than 150 pages and for me to really have a chance to be sucked in. I feel by the time I get there I’m nearing the epilogue.

The chemistry between Madison and Eric was great. I looooved their banter and found myself snickering at their flirtations. They had plenty of interactions and time to talk that their relationship made sense and gave me plenty of warm fuzzies.

I liked the plot, but wish it had been more put together towards the end (there’s a name issue that never gets solved so I’m still wondering how that works out). I do enjoy these quick and light stories and definitely plan to read the last one!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction mystery + romance
Length: 453 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 10th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

BEST OF THE BUNCH.

Okay. I can officially say I’m glad I read this after being very frustrated with how book three went down. This was a solid ending that wrapped everything up liked it needed to be.

BUT FIRST. Let me just say, I do not appreciate why the marriage was postponed. I haaaaaaate stuff like that y’all. Hate. And that’s pretty much why it’s a four star. I think they should have gotten married and solved the murder together, married. There wasn’t angst adding the drama in.

Now, THOMAS CRESSWELL. Seriously one of my top bookish boyfriends. I can’t get over him. The sweet and precious moments between Thomas and Audrey Rose were written so beautifully. I swooned over and over at the writing. Lyrical and utterly romantic. Thomas is amazing. We won’t discuss Audrey Rose, though I will say this was the best version of her I’ve seen in the series. The least annoying.

I’ve seen some lower reviews for this because they wanted more of the mystery aspect. These books are romance books at their base. They really are. If you’re interested in them, definitely know that going in. My expectations went much better when I knew I was going to be getting a lot of romance (which we know I prefer anyways).

The plot line of this book kind of went: romance, romance, mystery, mystery, romance. It felt a little disjointed. There was a big focus on the romance, then it dove off into just about solving the murders, then the epilogue finished off the romance. It worked out okay, but I think they could have been combined better.

I’m satisfied and happy with this series and would still recommend it to those interested. I liked the historical fiction aspects and of course, THOMAS CRESSWELL. The writing is well done and even the frustrating moments don’t ruin the enchanting story it is.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction romance + mystery
  • Language: very little light
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a little detailed love scene, another fade to black scene
  • Violence: very detailed descriptions of multiple murders, physical attacks

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books I Read With Single-Word Titles

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

I thought this was going to be more difficult than it turned out to be. They’re actually quite a few single word title books out there.

I went with the last 10 I read and what opinions I have about them! Some were great, some were closer to duds, but all could be something you might want to try reading.

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

I was happily surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this! It was great as an audio book. I thought it started off a bit slow, but by then end I was invested in the story.


Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

Yes, yes. I finally read this! Oooh man. And now I know that this year will be spent reading all of these (new 2020 goal alert). I love Claire and Jamie!


East (East #1) by Edith Pattou

This was unique and fun. I love how quick the chapters were and the multi-POV that kept things moving. It was a light romance with lots of mythical creatures. I definitely plan on reading West!


Confess by Colleen Hoover

I love everything CoHo writes. This is no exception. A romance set in downtown Dallas with lots of drama. A good book to binge in one evening.


Ashlords (Ashlords #1) by Scott Reintgen

I read this as an ARC! I picked it out because it was supposed to be reminiscent of The Scorpio Races. It did have some things that reminded me of that book (namely, the magical horses). I really enjoyed this one.


Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

As my second Ernshaw book, I just don’t think the stories and I mix. I once again found myself a bit bored and waiting for something to happen. The romance needed more umph too.


Starsight (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I loooooove Brandon Sanderson. It’s aaaaamazing. This series is great and I can’t believe I have to wait so long to read the next one!


Rebel (Legend #4) by Marie Lu

Didn’t know how I would feel about this one, but y’all. It was actually a great conclusion. I got the ended I NEEDED to be satisfied with June and Day’s story.


Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

A suuuper short, quick book. An interesting concept. A bit odd and random too. I couldn’t connect with the story that well.


Imber (Thanatos Trilogy #1) by Tyffany Hackett

This was a Kindle Unlimited find! It was great. I enjoyed this YA fantasy. So much that I have the second book downloaded, I just need to get to it!

What’s the last single-word title book you read? Have you read any that are on my list? Lets talk in the comments!

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