Book Review

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: July 2020

REVIVAL.

I have come back from the depths of morning sickness + reading slump to read EIGHTEEN books for July! And I even had some five stars and some really great four stars and this sentence is running on because I’m so relieved to have some “normalcy” right now.

Below are my reads! I read lots of ARCs this month that will have reviews soon and I recommend all of them for your TBR!

Favorites: Clap When You Land, The Empire of Gold, and Far From Normal
Least Favorites: Once More Upon a Time, What I Like About You, and Unravel the Dusk

  • [ARC] Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1) by Janella Angeles – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Clap When You Land by Elizaveth Acevedo – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Happy Ever After Playlist (The Friend Zone #2) by Abby Jimenez – (☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi – (☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Not Like the Movies (Waiting for Tom Hanks #2) by Kerry Winfrey – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter – (☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] The Hunter and the Mage (The Raven and the Dove #2) by Kaitlyn Davis – (☆☆☆☆)
  • Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of the Stars #2) by Elizabeth Lim – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • [ARC] Far From Normal by Becky Wallace – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Party of Two (The Wedding Date #5) by Jasmine Guillory – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Distance Between Us by Kasie West – (☆☆☆☆)
  • The Match (It Happened in Charleston #1) by Sarah Adams – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1) by Roseanna A. Brown – (☆☆☆☆)

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Book Review

Book Review: Love is an Art by Summer Dowell

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 187 pages
Author: Summer Dowell
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: March 13th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Normally poised and confident Erin McCoy is having a rough day. Spilling paint all over a stranger’s car was not part of her plans that morning. Luckily, things begin looking up when her best friend drags her to an art class taught by the unmistakably gorgeous Travis Hunter.

Travis is your average, easygoing art teacher. His day is off to a bumpy start when he finds his parked car covered in grey paint. However, when a stunning brunette walks into his class later that afternoon, things don’t seem so bad.

A hilarious love/hate situation forms as Erin and Travis unknowingly battle over the paint accident while simultaneously pursuing their budding relationship.

SUPERFLUOUS.

This is unfortunately how I felt about most of this book. For a short story it had a lot of random details and tangents that I couldn’t possibly figure out why it was that important. The writing itself was my biggest issue with the book. While cute, it overall let me down.

There was a lot of telling rather than showing. For instance, there was a coworker the main character, Erin, didn’t like what so ever. And you know what? I still don’t know why. He never DID anything in the story to warrant this level of hatred other than Erin telling me I should hate him. These kind of moments kept me asking more questions and not getting any answers.

Erin and Travis were a cute couple. I liked the banter and flirting between them. They also had real issues and communication problems. Having POVs from both characters gave me greater insight into how they saw themselves and others. I appreciated seeing them work through their communication issues and realizing that being able to truly talk to one another can help create a lasting relationship.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, flirting
Book Review

Book Review: The Fine Art of Losing Control by Ashley Shepherd

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 366 pages
Author: Ashley Shepherd
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: October 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Willa Loveridge likes to be in control.

…of everything and everyone.

And when things start to spin out of her control, she only knows how to do one thing: panic.

So she failed her Foundations of Western Art class. Her ex-boyfriend sent her naked pictures to all of his friends. Her roommate hates her. Her mom and stepdad are having a baby. And her estranged father appeared after nineteen years of radio silence for the sole purpose of paying her college tuition.

Seriously? He couldn’t even introduce himself first?

But at least this one, she can handle. She can’t change her grades, wipe her pictures from the internet, force her roommate to love her, or stop her mom from replacing her. But the father she’s never met dropping serious cash on her floundering education? A girl can handle that.

Or so she thinks.

In an effort to regain some control of her rapidly spiralling life, Willa boards a plane to New Zealand to find the man who thinks he can just throw eighty-five grand at her and then disappear again. She’s done with the absent father act. She at least wants to meet him face-to-face before a panic attack sends her into an early grave.

But after an unexpected emergency landing and a brief encounter with a cult, Willa somehow finds herself in a caravan with a YouTuber, the star of a million Korean Dramas, and a Scottish kid with an unhealthy attachment to his guitar. Together, they navigate the backroads of New Zealand one wrong turn at a time.

Which is basically her worst nightmare.

Between some unnecessary hand-holding and a swift push out of her comfort zone, Willa soon finds herself learning the fine art of losing control.

A new adult slow burn romance!

I NEED TO TAKE A TRIP TO NEW ZEALAND.

One of my favorite parts of someone traveling in a contemporary book is getting a feel for the location. Shepherd’s writing had me convinced to buy a plain ticket for a trip ASAP [and I hate planes y’all].

Okay okay, back to the story. I enjoyed this! Not to the fanaticism level of Faking Under the Mistletoe (which is you’re reading this ADD TO YOUR TBR NOW), but still a solid read where I highly look forward to whatever book she writes next.

There was a lot of self-deprecating and darker humor (I should jump off this bridge right now, wish that car had ran me over, etc.). I definitely did not appreciate the amount of times this was used. I think it did shed light on what Willa was going through though. I was upset and angry for her and the horrid awfulness that was her ex-boyfriend.

I loved watching Willa slowly take hold of what this book is titled, losing control. Willa focused a lot on having things go exactly as planned and if not she would have control issues over it (which I can really relate too). Hanging out with the hodge-podge of friends that she did allowed her to loosen up as time went on. I thought her character arc was great as Willa accepted alternate routes on her life plans.

Ollie and Willa’s romance was cute. I loved all of the banter and slight flirtations. Ollie was clearly smitten with her and it took Willa awhile to realize that (with reason, of course). It was a slower build and didn’t shoot past its mark by the end. I liked how there story ended (for this book, I promise there’s a HEA!).

Many deeper lines in this story were involved too. Appreciating and finding family. Learning about one’s past. Accepting help and opening up about being harassed. These are all incredibly hard topics to approach and I like the way Shepherd went about it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: strong throughout
  • Romance: kisses, some implied scenes but nothing detailed (at the very end)
  • Trigger warnings: abusive relationship (emotional/verbal), ex-boyfriend posted/shared naked photos of Willa to friends then repeatedly harassed her online

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Book Review

Book Review: Until it Fades by K.A. Tucker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season.

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works.

For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

SUCKER FOR TUCKER.

Okay, can this be my new tagline for K.A. Tucker books? It just came to me as I sat down to write this and I think it’s such an apt description for how I feel about her books. ‘Cause I love ’em.

This was a backlist title for me that I picked up (thank you library!) on a whim. I was feeling a contemporary romance, I got a contemporary romance. I liked how unique the overall setting and characters were to books I’ve read before. This one features a single mom and a hot hockey player. Yup, haven’t read that combination before. Looooooved it.

There’s a lot of heaviness that surrounds this book. Catherine knows she’s made mistakes and has held on to that guilt and fear for so long. Taking care of her daughter, Brenna, becomes the only focus. After saving Brett from a car wreck they’re thrown together as the news of just how famous he is comes to light.

Y’all. I adored Brett. SO STINKIN’ MUCH. He was charming, kind, and full of real, raw emotions as he had to cope with his injuries. Catherine is a brave, soft, and heartfelt mom. Add them together and the chemistry was flying. I thought they worked great together. And I love how accepting they were of each other. Even as Catherine’s past came out, Brett never wavered and left the past, in the past.

I love how there was a big focus on rekindling relationships too. Catherine slowly worked with her family to be connected again and started to realize how much they were truly there for her. A lot of redemption and grace was given from everyone throughout this book.

The touch of mystery that I didn’t even know was happening until it all came out was a good touch too. I just loved the entire flow of the plot. I would usually find quicker love stories harder to love. This worked on so many levels I could not be bothered to put this down. I ignored my other reads because I needed this happy ending. It was a blissfully beautiful book and I’m forever a Tucker fan.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses; heated make-outs; a few detailed almost scenes, a full detailed scene
  • Violence: details of a car wreck (resulting in someone dying)
  • Trigger warnings: a teacher having an inappropriate relationship with a student (brought up and discussed throughout the book; detailed back story)

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