2017 Monthly Status Update: July

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July was a fairly productive month for me, I got a good amount of reading done and some good Blog Tour posts. I also started a new workout program which I have been trying to stick with and its been working well for me to help me manage my time as well. I’m looking forward to using a couple vacations to catch up on my reading! So below is my progress for July:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 11
# pages read this month: 3,221
# books read year-to-date: 64
# pages read year-to-date: 18,798

Favorite Books I Read:

I Have Never by Camilla Isley – 4.75 stars
Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza – 5.0 stars

Other Posts this month:

Storming the Castle BLOG TOUR!!
The Duke of Defiance BLOG TOUR!!
I Have Never BLOG TOUR!!

Status of 2017 Reading Challenges:

  1. Finish 2016 ARC’s from NetGalley that I missed – Haven’t read any since last month so still have 27 to go
  2. Participate in 2 reading challenges – During May I participated in the Bout of Books challenge. Next one is scheduled for August (this coming month)
  3. Other goals:
    1. Write shorter reviews – I think I’m doing better at this, this past month I was able to get out a few shorter ones
    2. Continue establishing relationships – I think I’m doing it, we’ll see how it goes I guess!

Next Month TBR List:

I read all but one of the books on my TBR from last month, which was great. I’m trying to be ambitious for this next month with the ARC August and the vacation I have coming up. Might not get to all of these but hopefully will get to most!!

-Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
-Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes
-Leave the Night On by Laura Trentham
-If The Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss
-Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews
-Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
-Seeing Red by Sandra Brown
-13 Dates by Matt Dunn
-The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carcy
-The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
-Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
-The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel
-Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy

Hope everyone’s summer is going well!! Happy reading!!

2017 Book #64 – The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

51TG3KmYm6LTitle: The Marriage Pact
Author: Michelle Richmond
Date finished: 7/30/17
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Pages in book: 433
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . 
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Jake and Alice, a newlywed couple who are new members of The Pact. The Pact is a secret organization whose goal is to help its members have strong and lasting marriages. Founded by a woman in Ireland whose first marriage failed but was determined for her second marriage to succeed, The Pact is a complex series of rules and punishments which seem outrageous but each member of the group seems to be happy in a hypnotized / cult kind of way. And once Alice and Jacob start getting into trouble they realize that there is a lot more danger with being a part of this group than they first realized.
Overall this book was ok. There was some interesting pieces to the book and it was a creative idea. And there were definitely some good plot twists included. I wasn’t super thrilled with the ending though. I just felt like there was a lot of build up for a weird and kind of anti-climactic ending. It was still good so I would recommend but it wasn’t my favorite.

The bottom line: Eh, this book wasn’t my favorite. There were some interesting pieces and some good twists and turns but overall it was weird and slightly confusing. And I felt like it could’ve been a better twist ending.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #63 – Her Fake Engagement by Gigi Garrett

51jp6ZXjDhLTitle: Her Fake Engagement
Author: Gigi Garrett
Date finished: 7/23/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Pages in book: 100ish?
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Heroes & Heartbreakers
I downloaded this e-book from the site

Blurb from the cover:

No artists, no smokers, no men with beards… Manhattan real estate broker Lottie Langerman feels confident that if she follows her long list of dating rules, she’ll meet The One and her life will unfold exactly as planned. Everything changes when her best friend decides to throw a fake bachelorette party—just to see what all the fuss is about—and Lottie reluctantly agrees to play the role of bride-to-be for a night.
Faking an engagement turns out to be more fun—and trouble—than Lottie could have imagined. Not only does her dream man think she’s taken, but Lottie keeps running into bearded Brooklyn jewelry designer Tyler, who breaks every single one of her rules…yet manages to get under her skin like no one else. Soon, Lottie finds herself at a crossroads where she must decide: Play it safe—or ditch the rules and follow her heart?
A HeroesandHeartbreakers.com Original Novella!

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I get the newsletter from Heroes and Heartbreakers on a daily basis and I saw this novella being advertised to members of the site a month ahead of it being released to the general public. I had some “free” time this weekend so I thought I would give this book a shot. It wasn’t my favorite, there was a situation between Lottie and her girlfriends that I didn’t agree with. They got in a fight partly because Lottie wanted to go home before midnight on a Saturday night while they’re out for the third weekend in a row. I’m sorry but I don’t think that’s something that should be disallowed. I like going to bed early and I hate when people make me feel guilty for it, so I felt like this kind of hit a nerve for me. And I had some trouble connecting with the hero and heroine in the story, I didn’t think there was a lot of emotional tension in the book. Other than that though this was an ok romantic comedy / contemporary romance.

The bottom line: This short story was ok. It wasn’t my favorite but it wasn’t bad.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #62 – Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

515tgDMkSOLTitle: Hello Sunshine
Author: Laura Dave
Date finished: 7/21/17
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Pages in book: 256
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Sunshine Mackenzie has it all…until her secrets come to light.

Sunshine Mackenzie is living the dream—she’s a culinary star with millions of fans, a line of #1 bestselling cookbooks, and a devoted husband happy to support her every endeavor.
And then she gets hacked.
When Sunshine’s secrets are revealed, her fall from grace is catastrophic. She loses the husband, her show, the fans, and her apartment. She’s forced to return to the childhood home—and the estranged sister—she’s tried hard to forget. But what Sunshine does amid the ashes of her own destruction may well save her life.
In a world where celebrity is a careful construct, Hello, Sunshine is a compelling, funny, and evocative novel about what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Sunshine Mackenzie (Stevens), a celebrity chef whose career is almost 10 years in the making. On the cusp of the greatest developments in her career, including a Food Network show and a book series, someone has apparently become determined to take her down. Within one day she loses everything: her career, her home, and her husband. Forced down about a million pegs and with no on else to turn to, Sunshine is forced to crawl home with her tail between her legs. And to her actual home in the Hamptons and not the Texas small town that everyone believed she was from. There she confronts a sister she hasn’t spoken to in years and a niece she doesn’t know at all. Sunshine comes up with a plan to put her life back to the way it was, but the enforcement of said plan becomes questionable after she begins reconnecting to her roots. And in the end Sunshine has to decide if her old life is something that she really wants back.
Overall this book was just ok for me. I didn’t love it but I didn’t dislike it either. It was interesting for the most part but there were also a lot of pieces that either didn’t make sense to me or just kind of annoyed me. Sunshine was an extremely hard character to care for, she is flawed and and selfish and just kind of an awful person at the beginning of the story, Her character evolves and really does draw the reader in but at the same time I never found myself wanting her to win. Still when you find out who it was that actually betrayed her, I felt so much pity for her. Her life is just so completely screwed up, its so depressing. I thought that the author’s commentary on technology through the book and the effect its had on the general population was interesting and completely true. Sunshine’s niece Sammy was amazingly cute and probably my favorite part of the whole book. And while I ended up liking the book more than I expected to, I still didn’t love it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend or not recommend, but the book was ok.

The bottom line: Eh, this book wasn’t my favorite. It was pretty good just had a few things that didn’t appeal to me personally. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it or not recommend it, I know its pretty popular with other readers.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #61 – Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

51+lRnVc+yLTitle: Fitness Junkie
Author: Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Date finished: 7/19/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin—the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin—her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don’t fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman’s tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.

My rating:  5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Janey Sweet, a woman who when we meet her at the beginning of the book is being told by her business partner and best friend of thirty years (Beau) that she is fat. Janey and Beau together own B, a bridal salon featuring Beau’s designs but that was made successful by Janey’s shrewd business acumen.  Beau gives her an ultimatum – she can’t come back to work until she loses 30 lbs. While Janey is deeply hurt and offended, she believes (at first) that being with Beau and working at B is what makes her happy, so she agrees. And so begins a crazy journey of every fad diet imaginable, with the help of her friend CJ, from eating clay to the new super-exclusive and super-secret fad called “The Workout.” But as Janey continues on the path to fitness, she realizes there wasn’t anything wrong with her to begin with. And looking back on her thirty year friendship with Beau, she starts to see things more clearly and questions whether she really wants to go back to her old job and her old life. Add in crazy new friends, not one but two new men in her life, and an intense 8 day wellness retreat in St. Lucia, and Janey sure has her hands full.

Overall I just loved this book. It was funny and engaging, Janey was nice enough to be likeable and naive enough to be frustrating. I personally have also struggled with weight loss and this book hit the nail on the head, the perception of women these days and the lengths that some women will go through to stay fit is insane. I loved that this book was basically a satirical comedy about fitness but it also touched on some important issues like self love and being kind to one another.  I also loved that (as far as I can remember) we never learn Janey’s beginning or ending weight, or her actual clothing size. I hope that the authors did this on purpose because I think this is really important, it doesn’t matter what her actual weight or size is. What matters is how society made her feel, how her friends made her feel, and how she felt about herself. The only thing that I couldn’t really connect to Janey on was how rich she was and the fact that she barely questioned spending $15,000 on an 8 day trip. Be forewarned that may annoy you / drive you mad with jealousy if you are living in the middle or lower class. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized it was really necessary for Janey’s character, otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to afford to do pretty much anything she did in the book and then there would be no story. Anyways, this was an awesome, funny book about one woman’s self-discovery through fitness, it is worth the read and I would definitely recommend everyone try this one!!

The bottom line: This was an awesome funny book and I just loved it, I would highly recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #60 – A Week to be Wild by J.C. Harroway

Title: A Week to be Wild
Author: J.C. Harroway
Date finished: 7/16/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Harlequin Dare
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
Pages in book: 176
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Harlequin Romance Insiders NOTE: I received this book for free from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

None listed on Amazon

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Olivia and Alexander. Olivia is visiting London to be a speaker at a seminar, little does she know that Alex was the one who arranged for her to be invited to speak. Alex is trying to market his new company that helps disabled kids, and he knows that Olivia is just the one to help him get the word out. Neither of them expected this electrifying intensity, and neither are really prepared for the strength of their emotions for each other either. Libby was burned once before, and she’s determined to never fall in love again. Once Alex slips under her skin though will she fight to make it work or will she run away from her feelings instead?

Overall I didn’t love this book. The characters fell flat and what should have been a book filled with passion was really lacking in emotion for me. There were too many sex scenes for my taste but at the same time I thought the scenes weren’t that interesting. While I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, this was a quick and easy read and would probably be a good beach read if the genre is of interest to you.

The bottom line: I didn’t love this book, for me it was lacking in emotion and imagination. I wouldn’t recommend, unless you’re looking for a quick easy beach read in which case it might work out for you.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #59 – Together by Linda Lael Miller

9780062005908_5b5a4Title: Together
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Date finished: 7/15/17
Genre: Historical romance, contemporary romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: July 25, 2017 (Reprint; originally published 1996)
Pages in book: 432
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

For the first time in over ten years comes New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller’s breathtaking stories filled with the promise of love. Five unforgettable tales, Together in one volume…

Together…for a second chance at life and love—THAT OTHER KATHERINE

Together…when misdirected desire unexpectedly leads to lasting happiness—STORE-BOUGHT WOMAN

Together…as mistrust turns into steadfast devotion—THE SCENT OF SNOW

Together…a couple once torn apart by greed is now reunited by a vow of eternal love—IN ALL SEASONS

Together…a cat in the family way helps ignite love in two sparring neighbors—FAMILY AFFAIR (Interestingly enough, this story is not included in the book. Switch is included instead about two twin’s switching lives for a few months)

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is a compilation of 5 short stories all by the same author. In order within the book: In All Seasons: This story is of Melissande Bradgate, the daugher of a wealthy shipping merchant, and Christian Lithwell, the second son of an Earl. These two fall in love but tragic events tear them apart. When they are brought back together it takes a lot of time to see if they can be together again. I thought this story was ok but, like the other stories in the novel, I couldn’t really get into the story line and characters I couldn’t see any development. The Scent of Snow: This story is about Rebecca and her two half-sisters Annabelle and Susan. Rebecca thought her friend Lucas Kiley died but when he shows up after she’s told the whole town they had been married so now they have to pretend to be married. I particularly didn’t care for this one, it was unrealistic and puritanical. That Other Katherine: This story is about Katherine Hollis, who realizes that she is dying in a hospital in 1991 and after begging to live wakes up in the body of Katherine Winslow in the year 1895 during the midst of childbirth. Her husband Gavin hates her and the whole town knows about her most recent affair. This story was really interesting and I thought it had a lot of potential but then the ending kind of lost me, everything was wrapped up too quickly. Store-Bought Woman: Bess Campbell travels across the country to marry John Tate, only his brother Will is the only one she finds. They basically figure out how to make it work. This one was really cheesy and made me roll my eyes a bit. I didn’t particularly like it. Switch: This book weirdly enough is not listed in the description, but anyways this story is about Jamie Roberts, who switches places with her twin sister, Sara, at Sara’s request. Unknown to her she’s walking into a world of danger. Luckily she finds she can count on Sara’s previous lover, Rowan Parrish, to help her out. The concept behind this was weird, the whole Rowan + Sara and then Rowan + Jamie thing. Other than that there were some ok points to the story but I wasn’t engaged much at all.

The bottom line: I didn’t particularly like this book. There wasn’t much character or plot development, even for short stories. I wouldn’t recommend.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page