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: The Harvest (Call of the Sirens #1) by K.B. Benson

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy / Paranormal / Mythology
Length: 380 pages
Author: K.B. Benson
Publisher: Undaunted Publishing
Release Date: August 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sometimes the most beautiful things grow in darkness.

Iris never expected to live her life trapped on land. Nor was she prepared for what she would find there. A siren isn’t supposed to fall in love with her prey.

When Jace moved to Santa Cruz, he never imagined he’d risk his life to protect a monster. He soon finds that ancient myth has become reality. And not every pretty face is what it seems.

After Iris sings her siren’s song to Jace — a hypnotic melody that leads men to death beneath the waves — both of their worlds are turned upside down. Will Iris give in to her bloodlust or will she turn her back on everything she’s ever known?

As the tide runs red with the blood of the Harvest, Iris must choose: save the life of the human boy she loves or sacrifice her chance at humanity forever.

STARTED OFF STRONG.

I wanted to love this more than I did, and it started off pretty strong. I was invested and loving the siren/mermaid vibes (because I’m always here for books about mermaids). This ended up feeling like younger YA trying to be a more mature YA.

The background and plot were interesting. I liked having Iris beached on land and forced to take care of her siren duties. It was a bit murderous and I did like that darker side to the plot. I actually got to see the siren’s in action rather than just hints of what’s happening below the surface.

Jace was definitely my favorite character. He felt natural in the story and was a high school boy in love. Jace and Iris together were pretty cute. I liked getting to follow their relationship [at first]. Where I struggled was with the random “dates” and tangents of them hanging out to make it feel like more was happening. I wish those interactions really held more sway to the overall plot rather than feeling frilly and unnecessary. I thought Jace and Iris had a good relationship overall. The way Jace was written was rather annoying, but in a good way. You could see his obsession with Iris begin to take over his life. I thought his POV chapters were great. Jace was clearly trying to maintain a level head as the pull of Iris and the ocean became stronger.

With all the time spent on trying to force me to love their relationship it really dragged out the story, and that’s where everything started to fall apart for me. This book is nearly 400 pages long, and I’d say 150 of those weren’t wholly necessary. I thought the book was well-written minus the pacing issues.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA paranormal contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses and an intense make-out
  • Violence: sirens attacking humans, drownings

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Book Review

Book Review: Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 327 pages
Author: Ashley Shepherd
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear.

Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all.

So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes.

Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving.

And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final.

In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle.

She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake dating thing.

Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.

YAAAAAS TO THIS CHRISTMAS CONTEMPORARY.

Kindle unlimited, indie author, bookstagram recommendation FOR. THE. WIN.

No really. A grumpy guy, a effervescent woman, and Christmas? Hit this one out of the ballpark.

I love enemies to lovers and books like this remind me why. I love the juxtaposition between the two of them. The banter was fantastic and didn’t over step that line of actually being mean to each other. I was laughing to myself over some of the scenes in there because they were too humorous not too. This office romance (with a fake girlfriend component) was PRECIOUS.

Asher was such a charming Grinch. Can’t even handle him. He could throw out the sarcasm and grumpiness then turn around and be considerate and kind. I love seeing those layers peel away slowly as he opened up to Olivia.

Olivia had me laughing at her antics and I feel spiritually seen with how much she loves treats. Her extrovert, people pleasing personality that screamed Christmas was fantastic. She went on her own emotional journey [because of some awful people] that shed lighter on tough subject matter. Olivia was a strong heroine that I immensely enjoyed reading about.

This book was romantic and sweet. Full of emotions and tough moments. Love and charismatic characters. All the things. I can’t wait to read more of Shepherd’s books because this was exactly what I was looking for when I tried to find a contemporary Christmas romance.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance [Christmas theme]
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, one little detailed almost scene, and another little detailed fade out scene
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault to the MC and mentions and discussions on the man’s behavior with others

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

I found this topic to be a bit tricky y’all. I started most of my bookish things last year, yet I ran a blank trying to come up with ideas! At last I had a few breakthroughs, and they’re below.

Bookstagram

Y’all. Where has this been all my life? I’ve dabbled in Bookstagram before but had to stop my account when we decided to move states and life got really busy. Now that things have settled I really dove into it this year and have loved getting to know others and adding so many wonderful recommendations to my TBR.


Author: Elise Kova

Uh, guys. FIND THOSE SMALLER AUTHORS AND READ THEIR BOOKS TOO. Because you might stumble upon some amazing books that capture your soul and make you shout for joy. I LOVED this series and it’s now one of my favorite ever. Highly recommend and I can’t wait to read more of her books (she’s on Kindle unlimited if you have that!).


Digital Library

Oh wow, technology is amazing. I LOVE apps like Overdrive, and my personal favorite, Libby. The ease of which have made my life so much easier. While I will also love holding a book more, there’s something that can be said for always having a book in hand (with a phone).


Genre: Contemporary Romance

I never read much (if any) contemporary romances because I thought they all had too much steam for what I personally prefer. I am here to say I was so wrong on this sentiment. I love how broad this category is and that is has a story line (and steam level) for everyone. I read so many last year and am definitely continuing that trend this year.


The Functionality of Audiobooks

I wouldn’t say I was against audio books, but I couldn’t see how I could fit them into my life to make sense. Once again, the power of bookstagram has shown me the error of my ways. I LOVE AUDIO BOOKS. I have an audible account and regularly download them from my library. Seriously wonderful. I read in the car, while doing chores, and many other tasks now.


Kindle

I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas at the end of 2018 without much of an idea as to how I was going to use it: enter Bookstagram, digital libraries, Audible, and more. I now might read on my kindle more than picking up books at the moment. My life is busy and the convenience of this small device has convinced me it was worth the purchase.


Netgalley

I love love love that this source is available to readers/bloggers/bookstagrammers. As someone with a smaller following, but a dedication to reading and reviewing promptly it’s been nice to have an opportunity for e-ARCs. I always thought this was out of the realm of possibility for me.


Product: Book Sleeves

WHAT IS THIS MAGIC. I adored these from afar, but hadn’t thought it was a necessary staple in my life. Then I saw a sale for a Feyre x Rhysand one that I could NOT pass up. And now…I’m hooked. Yes, I still only have the one and have plans to get another one this year. They’re so pretty! And honestly do keep books cleaner and safe in a purse/diaper bag/backpack and more.


Christmas Books

This past year I took December to really dive into Christmas books and I LOVED IT. There are so many out there and I had some great recommendations for all the above and definitely think you should get this on your TBR to get into the Christmas spirit.


Author: K.A. Tucker

Another new author to me that stole my heart, K.A. Tucker. I have really enjoyed these 3 books and I hope to read some more backlist titles of hers. And also the second book after The Simple Wild.

What was a bookish discovery you made last year? Do we have any similar ones? Lets talk in the comments!

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