2020 Book #7 -Scot Under the Covers by Suzanne Enoch

51Qs0av7xSLTitle: Scot Under the Covers
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 1/23/20
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Wild Wicked Highlanders series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley / Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley and 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:

In Scot Under the Covers, a resourceful English lady and a hot-blooded Highlander join forces to trick a scoundrel, and every rule will be broken!

Miranda Harris is known for her charm, wit, and ability to solve any problem she encounters. But when her brother lands neck-deep in gambling debt to a crafty villain and Miranda is subsequently blackmailed into marrying him, she must enlist the help of the devil himself to save the family honor—and herself.

“It’s time to fall in love with Suzanne Enoch.” — Lisa Kleypas

Devilishly handsome Highlander Aden MacTaggert knows next to nothing about the ways of the ton, but he most certainly knows his way around gaming halls and womens’ hearts. Still, Aden is not sure how he’ll manage to find a Sassenach bride in time to save his family’s inheritance. When his almost sister-in-law Miranda comes to him for assistance, he proposes a partnership: She will help him navigate London society and he’ll teach her everything about wagering…and winning back her freedom. The beautiful, clever lass intrigues Aden—but is she playing her own game, or are the sparks between them real? He is accustomed to risking his pocket. But betting on Miranda’s love is a game he can’t afford to lose. . .

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.

I had read the first book in this series early last year and really enjoyed it. It took me a minute to pick back up with who the characters were and what not but I was excited to get back into the series! And while I always enjoy Enoch’s writing and characters’ relationship development, the plot line on this one didn’t hit me right. I was really upset with Matthew’s actions and I didn’t really feel like he got punished at all. I mean I’m sure he was upset, maybe even distraught, but his role in the story was pretty damn awful and Eloise didn’t even pretend to be mad at him for like 5 minutes. So anyways, that piece of the plot made me pretty angry, but other than that I liked the book. I especially liked the ending, I thought it was very forward-thinking and very romantic. Great cast of characters and some entertaining banter between the hero and heroine. I would still recommend it! And I can’t wait for Coll’s novel, which I hope is next!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #6 – To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

41eW9xtmdNLTitle: To Have and to Hold
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 1/19/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Pages in book: 385
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Wedding Belles series
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:

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true…but their own.

Discovering her fiancé is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?

My rating:  4.0 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.

I had read another book in this series awhile ago – To Love and Cherish – and really liked it! And this book has been on my list to be reviewed since back in 2016, but luckily one of my goals this year is to read a book a month from my backlog list! Sinace I’m reading another upcoming Lauren Layne release this month too it seemed like a great time to read one of her backlist books. The characters in this novel were really well drawn out, the relationships came alive for the reader. I didn’t necessarily agree with all the pieces of the plot. There’s a point where Brooke compares Seth to her ex- Clay, and I thought was a little over-dramatic. Seth and Clay were not really comparable, even with their actions at that moment. Other than that though the plot line was interesting and kept me wanting to read throughout. I especially liked the side-plot going on with Maya and Grant. And having already read Logan and Alexis’ book, it was interesting to see them mentioned right at the beginning of the series. I enjoyed this book, though not as much as I enjoyed the later book in the series I’ve read previously. I’d still recommend it as well as the rest of the series.

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #4 – Hunting for a Highlander by Lynsay Sands

51Oio45BkYLTitle: Hunting for a Highlander
Author: Lynsay Sands
Date finished: 1/17/20
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #8 in the Highland Brides series
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:

Four Buchanan brothers have found their brides…only three more to go in this scintillating romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…

After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.

My rating:  4.0 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.

I have read others in the series and always enjoy reading Lynsay Sands and was glad to have the opportunity to read her upcoming release. This was a pretty good book, I enjoyed it. I struggled a little because I never was able to read it during a time when I could really concentrate on it, I was reading it in spurts here and there so it was a little harder to get into the plot line. Overall though the plot line was good. There were some good plot twists, most were predictable but they were good just the same. And I loved how honest the conversation was amongst the main characters, especially Geordie and Dwyn. Their frank conversation was refreshing while also being pretty hilarious at times. Some of the characters seemed a little ridiculous, only because they seemed to be overly exaggerated – some to the point of being caricature-like. And there was a lot of mention of other characters who seemed to have had their own books. Most of those characters I didn’t know since I didn’t read their books but that didn’t take any enjoyment out of the book for me. Overall I thought it was a really enjoyable, entertaining, and exciting read. I’d definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #2 – Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

image001Title: Phantom of the Opera
Author: Gaston Leroux
Date finished: 1/12/20
Genre: Horror, mystery
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date:January 7, 2020
Pages in book: 266
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:

Deep beneath the Paris Opera House, a masked man lives in silence…

Every night at the Palais Garnier, hundreds of guests sit on the edge of velvet-covered seats, waiting for prima donna La Carlotta to take the stage. But when her voice fails her, La Carlotta is replaced with unknown understudy Christine Daaé, a young soprano whose vibrant singing fills every corner of the house and wins her a slew of admirers, including an old childhood friend who soon professes his love for her. But unknown to Christine is another man, who lurks out of sight behind the heavy curtains of the opera, who can move about the building undetected, who will do anything to make sure Christine will keep singing just for him…

This curated edition of The Phantom of the Opera, based on the original 1911 English translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, brings an iconic story of love and obsession to today’s readers and illuminates the timeless appeal of Leroux’s masterpiece.

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I absolutely love this musical and the movie they produced of it also, so I thought I’d give the book a try. I’m not usually a huge fan of “the classics” and this was no exception. I struggled through this book. Christine in this novel is a simpering mess and just was way too helpless and damsel in distress for me. And Raoul didn’t seem brave or heroic like he does in the musical to me, he seemed more immature and childish. And the Phantom in the musical seems brooding and mysterious and a little dark but in the book he’s a big whiny crybaby and honestly super abusive and crazy. The author isn’t alive anymore so I’m not really worried about hurting anyone’s feelings with this but I didn’t care for this book. I think the re-print of it is fine and the cover is actually very well done but the writing and story line itself I didn’t care for.

Link to author website

 

Podcasts Galore! Romance Novel edition

best-marketing-podcasts-featured-image

I have pretty much an hour long drive to and from work each day and I’ve always heard about podcasts being a good way to pass the time. So when I got an iPhone this year (for work) I decided to try them. And I quickly became obsessed! There is such a wealth of podcasts out there, there’s something for everyone really. And I found so many that are about reading, and many specifically about romance novels. I’ve tried a variety of them and there are a few that I’ve really come to love!

  1. Fated Mates Podcast – I was going to try and summarize this podcast but really I don’t think I can summarize it any better than what’s listed on their website: “Fated Mates is a romance novel podcast co-hosted by author Sarah MacLean and romance critic Jen Prokop. Weekly episodes include romance novel read-alongs and discussions of the work of the genre, highlighting the romance novel as a powerful tool in fighting patriarchy…with absolutely no kink shaming.” This is a great podcast and I’ve gotten so many good book recommendations from the interstitial episodes. And its hilarious!!
  2. Learning the Tropes Podcast – Erin (romance novel veteran) and Clayton (romance novel virgin) read a variety of novels and discuss them. My gosh this blog post is FUNNY. I love Clayton’s take on these books – it’s so refreshing to hear a man’s view on books I’ve loved forever. And I think this podcast also “fights the patriarchy” in a similar way.
  3. Not Your Mom’s Romance Book Club – Ellen and her Mom are very entertaining and sweet. Their interactions remind me a lot of how my Mom and I talk to each other. They seem to read a lot of the books that I’m either interested in or are signed up to review for new publications.
  4. Wicked Wallflowers Podcast – This book is a little different from the other three as it doesn’t necessarily go in depth to discuss a certain book per episode. This podcast features popular romance authors, and while they do talk about books the podcast overall is more about discussion of different tropes and issues surrounding the romance genre. Listed on their About page on their website: “this podcast about romance fiction takes the guilt out of “guilty pleasure” with author interviews and deep dives into new releases. It’s a compelling reminder of why the oft-dismissed genre is a real force in cultural conversations about consent and desire.” It’s super funny!!

All four of these make me laugh out loud on a regular basis and really keep the drive to work much more entertaining. There are a number of other romance novel specific podcasts out there – and really a wealth of non-romance book podcasts also. I’m listening to a few new ones now to see if I like them before I delve into the backlist episodes. But the four listed above are super and I would definitely recommend them!

What about all of you out there? Any podcasts you love?

2019 Recap and 2020 Goals!

happy-new-year-wallpapers-2019-1-388x220

I can’t believe 2019 is over already! This year absolutely flew by, I feel like I looked up and all of a sudden it was December. This year I spent some time trying to find balance – between my work and home life and my reading and time spent with my husband / family. There’s always room for more improvement but I did the best I could this year. As the year draws to a close there is more than ever developing at work and I’m hoping I’ll be able to overcome the challenges I face there. I’m also hoping to spend time where I can continuing to read – and not only read some great books published in 2020 but also read more off my backlog and from my personal library.

So anyways! On to the meat of this post – to recap on the goals list that I had set for 2019:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August Check! I participated in ARC August 2019 and got a lot of ARC’s read – see my posts on this challenge here  
    2. Bout of Books Challenges (2)
      1. BOB 24 January 2019 Check! I participated in this one, though I didn’t find it as productive as the May one so I’m cutting it from the list in 2020. See my posts on this challenge here
      2. BOB 25 May 2019 Check! I participated in this one, see my posts on this challenge here
    3. Bookish Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in bingo challenges for certain months for fun: February, June, September and October Half check – I ended up participating for February and October but couldn’t fit it into the other months 
    4. Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge – 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR! Check! Read a few on the list, though not as many as I wanted. See my posts on this challenge here
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! Check! I used the 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR reading challenge to start tackling some of my backlog lists – hoping to continue hacking at these lists over the next year!
  3. Also read some of the books I own (there are too many) Check! I read probably a handful of books that I own, though I bought a lot more – oh well!
  4. And some personal goals! Lose weight, focus on healthier eating, exercise more often, more time at home, more time with Kris, and finish some house projects! Mostly check – I wasn’t really great with most of these but, again, did the best I could. Hoping to make more progress in 2020.

As I mentioned with finding balance, I think I was able to mete out a good amount of time for myself to read this year. I also discovered PODCASTS this year, which are fantastic and they’ve really helped me develop my knowledge (and my TBR list) within the romance genre. I’m hoping to have a post up within the next week or so on what podcasts I’ve been listening to and what I’ve enjoyed so far. Any readers who have a favorite podcast definitely let me know, I’m always interested in checking out a new one! I also attended a couple book related events this year (including KissCon New England), all of which I enjoyed immensely. I just love being able to talk about books and listen to people talk about books and everything related to that. I’m hoping to make it to an RWA  or other romance writers conference sometime soon.

In looking back on my year of reading this year, I was able to read a comparable amount related to previous years. Below is a chart of the books I read by month this year vs previous years:

Capture

I also really like the functionality of the Goodreads Year in Books summary for giving an overview of what happened during my year for reading. I don’t record 100% of the books I read on here so it doesn’t always match up with my own figures but I love having all the covers in one place, it makes for a neat graphic.

Capture

And just for fun! Here are a few of my favorites from 2019:

Favorite Reads from 2019

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden – 5.0 stars
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – 4.75 stars
Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (OMG IAD IS THE BEST!) by Kresley Cole – 5.0 stars
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – 4.75 stars

Favorite New Series

Pretty obviously this is the Immortals After Dark series. I have mentioned this series in a number of posts, it is bananas (to coin Sarah MacLean’s term) and amazing and a roller coaster of awesome. I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it already!

Favorite Podcasts

(Obviously) Fated Mates is great. I love the IAD discussions but also love the interstitial episodes where Sarah and Jen talk about recommended reads. I’ve also really been enjoying Learning the Tropes (Erin and Clayton are hilarious!) and Not Your Mom’s Romance Book Club (I love their back and forths and Ellen and her Mom remind me so much of me and my mom!).

Best New Author I Read in 2019

Has to be Helen Hoang – I should have read The Kiss Quotient last year but didn’t get to it til this year after I read The Bride Test. Both are amazing books and I’m so impressed by her writing and her as a person! I can’t wait for the next book!

Here we close out the 2019 year and we look ahead to the New Year!!

51bjpkXZrwL._AC_SX425_

Looking ahead to 2020 I can not help but be less hopeful than I was last year. I have found it hard to find enough time to devote myself to both blogging and reading while also doing everything else I need to do. So I’m hoping to change that this year. Slow down with my tasks and actually enjoy them and expand on them. I’m hoping to rediscover my hope in some areas and create happiness where I’m able. Overall I’m looking to be a little more creative and do a little more writing outside of my comfortable review box I’ve narrowed myself to. I used to really enjoy the “Top Ten Tuesday” posts and the “Waiting on Wednesday” posts I did in the past. My schedule has been squeezed so tight in recent years that I haven’t made time to do them but I’d like to dabble a little more in these again this year. There are so many different fun activities within the land of book bloggers and I’m hoping to find some of that fun again this year!

Looking ahead to 2020, here are some of the goals I plan to achieve:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August
    2. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 25 (May 2020)
    3. Bookish Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in bingo challenges for certain months for fun: February and October. I don’t think that the Bookish site is doing Book Bingo sheets anymore but I’m hoping I can find another site that has one for these two months.
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month
  4. Write at least one non-review and non-blog tour post a month – can be one of the structured posts like Top Ten Tuesday or it can be informative or whatever I feel like!

 

I wish everyone strength and happiness in 2020, Happy Reading!

7e57e465c0c0ebefbbad3d32af6583cf

Immortals After Dark series

images

So this year I caught on to the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. I heard about this series because I started listening to the Fated Mates podcast (see my other post on how I fell onto the podcast – up later this week). I had no idea it was a read-a-long with a romance series but I decided to give the first book a try and see how things went.

51dONDcQ6uL

So the first book in the series is A Hunger Like No Other, featuring Emmaline and Lachlain. Amazon says it’s actually the second in the series but on Fated Mates this is the first one we read. The one Amazon considers first is really a novella that we read later in the podcasts. Anyways, this book was BANANAS. I was hooked on the series right from the start and I DEVOURED it once I started it. At first I tried to use it as a reward, like read 2 of my scheduled books and I get to read an IAD book. But then I gave up on that and just read IAD books because I couldn’t WAIT to get to the next person’s story. I read the whole series as it stands now (18 books) in less than 3 months.

Obviously there were some books within the series that I liked more than others. I mean the whole series is amazing, I think the lowest rating I gave any of the books in the series was like a 3.5, which means I still liked it. Most of the books in the series I rated a 4 or above. Some of my favorites are the ones below:

I didn’t post individual reviews of the books since the series was one that I was just reading for fun and not for my reading schedule. I did post individual reviews on my Goodreads page though. I wanted to do an overall post on the series though since I’ve loved it so much. It was especially enjoyable to read the books along with the Fated Mates podcast. The next book in the series, Munro, is coming out in the summer I think and I can’t wait. I would definitely recommend the whole series – it is so interesting and complicated and amazing. Go read it now!