2018 Book #71 – Maybe For You by Nicole McLaughlin

51cPfPQkVPL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Maybe For You
Author: Nicole McLaughlin
Date finished: 8/16/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in Whiskey and Weddings 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:

She’s never had a no-strings fling. He’s never had anything else. But maybe this time will be an exception?

After a year of mourning her fiancé, Alexis Parker has worked hard to rediscover what she wants out of life. Fresh out of the military and back stateside, her brother offers her a marketing job at the Stag Distillery. Ready for a new challenge, Alexis agrees to accompany her new co-worker Jake Cooper on a Stag cross-country promotional tour. He may have an infamous playboy reputation, but Alexis is surprised to find out that there is more to him than meets the eye. And she likes what she sees. . .

Jake promised Alexis’s brother that he’d be an absolute gentleman. Of course, that was before he and Alexis hit the road, and they both agree that what Alexis’s big brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The plan: to keep their fling confined to the RV, and everything will go back to normal once they head home. Things progress in ways neither of them could have imagined, and Jake realizes that he and Alexis make a perfect mix. Can he convince her that he’s ready to shake things up and give true love a shot in Maybe for You?

My rating:  3.75 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 finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Friends to Lovers” box, since that was kind of the point of the story.

I am glad that I got to read Alex’s story after being introduced to her in the last book in the series. Alex had a rough journey in life, and I thought that the author actually did a really great job of detailing what it feels like to have to fall in love again after losing a loved one. The grief and guilt that Alex had to work through was tough and though I’ve never gone through that, it seemed really true to what anyone would feel in that situation. That being said, it did get a little repetitive, Alex had a lot of trouble with her feelings of guilt and the reader is presented with some of her journal entries and she tended to talk about the same things. I did like the book though, it was a really sweet story and I like Jake’s character a lot. I thought Alex was kind of rude to him though, and I felt like some of their relationship issues that were presented early on were kind of glossed over and never resolved. Overall though this was a quick read and was a pretty solid romance. There were some exciting plot developments and I was interested to keep reading and follow Alex and Jake’s story through to the end.

Link to author website

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

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2018 Book #70 – Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

51fPxsHhIwLTitle: Jane Doe
Author: Victoria Helen Stone
Date finished: 8/14/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 1, 2018
Pages in book: 267
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:

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

My rating:  5.0 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 finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Start & Finish 2 ARCs in August” box (I’ve technically finished 6 at this point but I’m being strategic with my boxes and 6 is more than 2).

I hope to goodness that someone makes a movie out of this one. #1 it would be amazing (if they did it correctly). #2 this book rocked and I just loved it. Jane as a character was cold-blooded and vengeful, which fit her story in every way possible. There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. Stephen was the perfect villain, someone you love to hate and who gets worse with each turn of the page. He was absolutely a pompous ass and a completely horrible person. Building up so much hatred for him throughout the book just made the ending that much more amazing. This book had one of the best endings I’ve experienced, an immensely satisfying experience for the readers as we vicariously live through Jane’s journey to get the perfect revenge. I couldn’t put this book down but at the same time I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t even mind that Jane was a sociopath, it almost made it more amusing – there were a lot of very dry humor and logical observations about Stephen the asshole. I also thought Jane’s commentary on the cat was funny, calling it a fellow sociopath and all. Honestly this book was a great read and I’d highly recommend it, especially for anyone who likes to see a villain’s complete annihilation.

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #69 – BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler

51qDFDwEZCLTitle: BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler
Author: Various – see below
Date finished: 8/12/18
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Various
Publication Date: July 12 , 2018
Pages in book: 241
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.

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “FREE! Happy ARC August” box.

These are the samples that are included in the BuzzBooks Romance collection – each excerpt I’ve scored on a scale of 1-5 on my interest in reading the whole book:

  1. Time Bridge: Cassie by Annie Becker (Oct 16, 2018) – The book summary sounded a little dark, but the time travel aspect was interesting. The book reminded me a lot of books I’ve read in the past by John A. Heldt. Score: 3.5
  2. Tempt Me with Diamonds by Jane Feather (Jan 29, 2019) – I don’t particularly like the race horse aspect that seemed to be a part of the book’s plot. Also the heroine sounds kind of drama-loving, it didn’t sound like it was for me but who knows based off of two chapters. Score: 1.75
  3. Unchained by Helen Hardt (Blood Bond Saga Book 1) (Oct 2, 2018) – Sounded pretty interesting, maybe a little cliched (vamp falls in love with a human) but the characters sounded good. Score: 3.75
  4. The Memory House by Rachel Hauck (April 2, 2019) – I liked the puppy and the mystery baby, story peaked my interest a good amount. Score: 4.25
  5. On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter (Last book in the Blue Ridge Romance series) (Nov 6, 2018) – I didn’t find anything in the excerpt overly intriguing, it was ok but didn’t seem exciting. Score: 2.5
  6. As Good as the First Time by K.M. Jackson (Sugar Lake novel) (Oct 30, 2018) – This one sounded interesting, I was eager to learn about what had happened to Clayton and his previous relationship. Score: 4.0
  7. In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston (March 26, 2019) – I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole shifter thing. Also there were just so many characters within th efirst two chapters I couldn’t keep everything straight. Score: 1.0
  8. Intercepted by Alexa Martin (Sept 11, 2018) – I got pretty hooked in the story, I’m interested to see what happens with Marlee (even though see was acting a little like a doormat). Score: 4.25
  9. The Sweetest Thing by Judith McNaught (Oct 23, 2018) – First couple chapters seemed pretty cheesy but I’d be interested to hear more about what the TV show was about. Score: 2.75
  10. Their Perfect Melody (Matched to Perfection) by Priscilla Oliveras (Nov 27, 2018) – Seemed ok. Nothing overly thrilling in the first couple chapters. Score: 2.5
  11. Ignite by Angel Payne (Volume 2 – Parts 4-6) (July 31, 2018) – This seemed super interesting, I’ve never read a romance novel with a super hero before. The first couple chapters of this were interesting and steamy. Score: 4.0
  12. The Rancher by Kate Pearce (Nov 27, 2018) – It sounded ok but there were a LOT of characters introduced in the first couple chapters, I could barely keep it straight. It probably would’ve been easier if I had read the previous books. THe characters sounded interesting though. Score: 3.0
  13. Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose (Feb 12, 2019) – LOVE the involvement of the cult aspect, that always gets me interested. This one sounded like it would be really interesting! Score: 4.5
  14. Solace Island Island by Meg Tilly (Nov 6, 2018)  – I loved how fierce the main character was, she had so much spark! And I loved that she gave her ex what he had coming to him, the first couple chapters really had me hooked. Score: 4.25

 

2018 Book #68 – Our House by Louise Candlish

616b9qldtALTitle: Our House
Author: Louise Candlish
Date finished: 8/10/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Pages in book: 416
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:

There’s nothing unusual about a new family moving in at 91 Trinity Avenue. Except it’s her house. And she didn’t sell it.

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern coparenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

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 finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “New to you Author” box.

This book sounded really interesting to me, the idea of what can happen when you don’t really know who your husband is, plus I’ve seem this book featured many times lately as a must read for the summer. I did end up enjoying it but the whole thing just felt overwhelmingly sad. For Fiona to have put so much time and effort into her house, her family’s home, and then to have it torn out from under her so suddenly, must have been unimaginably heart breaking. And the whole “end” of Bram’s story and the tone of his diary entries, you could tell how desperate he was and how hopeless he felt. The author did a really great job (I thought) of projecting the emotions of the characters in the book. And I think many other thriller fans would really enjoy the novel, I just hate feeling so hopelessly sad. There were some pretty good plot twists to the story, and I really liked the uniqueness of the plot line. While it wasn’t quite for me, it was still a really good book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #67 – At the Heart of It by Tawna Fenske

51ZxBkN1V4LTitle: At the Heart of It
Author: Tawna Fenske
Date finished: 8/7/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 336
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:

TV producer Kate Geary is in unscripted heaven. She’s piloting a reality series featuring her favorite self-help guru, Dr. Vivienne Brandt. The Dr. Viv—whose nuggets of wisdom helped Kate get through some of her toughest times. Thanks to Dr. Viv, Kate is almost on the verge of figuring everything out. That is, until Jonah Porter, the superhot book nerd Kate just spent an amazing date with, appears at the show’s first meeting.

Jonah did not want to get reeled into a world filled with invasive crews, pushy network execs, and over-the-top drama, but a connection to the story leaves him no choice. Fortunately, Kate—hot, smart, and funny—helps make it bearable. Now they’re both on the verge of violating their contracts as they find themselves sneaking around off set. But the cameras have a way of finding out everyone’s secrets…especially the ones that can break hearts.

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. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish a 2017 ARC” box. PLUS! The fun never ends, since this is from my 2017 Backlog list, I am also completing this book as part of the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge,  for the “a book you picked up based on the title” category.

I had read another of Fenske’s books, Now That It’s You, a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. I have to say I wasn’t as thrilled about this one’s plot but overall I still did enjoy it. This was a solid romance novel for me but wasn’t anything that really grabbed me. I liked all of the characters, Kate especially seemed like a very strong woman and I really admired her. The insight into reality television was also interesting and learning about how the show featured in the book was produced. The show itself was an unusual idea that made me curious how that would turn out in real life. Other than that I would say it was pretty standard but still a good book. I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #66 – Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

51Yf6XUZJZL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Good Luck With That
Author: Kristan Higgins
Date finished: 8/5/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 7 2018
Pages in book: 480
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:

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

My rating:  5.0 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 read this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Author you’ve read before” box. I have read Kristan Higgins in the past, she’s actually one of my favorite authors so I was very excited to be able to review this book.

Kristan Higgins has always done an amazing job of connecting the readers to the characters and the story, and this book was certainly no exception. The reader is drawn into the lives of these three women – Georgia, Marley and Emerson – and thrust into an immediate friendship with them. The emotions this book created in me were nothing new for reading a Higgins novel, but there was something different about this one – it was hitting a little too close to home this time. I have struggled with body image and weight issues, and to be 100% honest with an addiction to food, most of my life. In fact I just started a new diet this past week, one of countless many times that I’ve tried to turn things around. I connected with the content of this book so deeply, it was like someone was taking my thoughts of the past 10 years and put them down on paper for me. At times it was even hard to read this book, because it made me face some issues with myself that I haven’t wanted to think about in a long time. My issues with my body, my issues with feeling loved, my thoughts on ordering fattening foods in front of people and wondering if they were judging me for not ordering a salad. I luckily have not had as serious an issue as the girls in the book, but never the less these thoughts and feelings resonated with me so much. Women are obsessed with weight – the next fad diet, the next fad exercise. Waiting for their lives to begin – constantly promising that they’d go on that date or plan their next trip after “they lose a few pounds.” This book was a beautiful journey of women looking for acceptance, and really a journey about learning to love themselves despite their flaws. I think that everyone should read this book, but especially any woman who has ever questioned their worth because of their weight. This book is a wonderful story with a wonderful message and i encourage everyone to read it and really just accept themselves as they are and love that person.

Favorite Quotes

“I didn’t want to be one of those people who couldn’t enjoy food because she was obsessed with being thin.”

“I could waste time wishing to be small. I could get surgery. I could starve myself and never eat the foods I loved again. That wasn’t was I called living…”

“Every fat girl starves herself at one point or another…The point was control… and grief.. and self-loathing;”

“It’s willpower that’s the issue. All those fat-haters talk about how weak we are, us super-fatties. They leave out the fact that we might also be lonely, scared, isolated, poor, in pain, sexually abused as kids or any number of things. To much of the world, we’re just weak.”

“I didn’t want looks to matter. I didn’t want size to matter. But they did. Size had killed Emerson. Size had me in this store not quite recognizing myself.”

“It would have to become my life’s work, all that measuring and weighing and passing on all the good stuff. You trade one side of the addiction for the other.”

“I know it’s an addition. I know it’s a sickness. I know, and I don’t want to be like this, but the power of food, of wanting, of trying to be full is too great for me to resist.”

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #65 – Smothered by Autumn Chiklis

51T99qCdIqLTitle: Smothered
Author: Autumn Chiklis
Date finished: 8/3/18
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
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:

A humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the “real world” means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

My rating:  1.25 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 was the first book that I finished for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Book set in Summer” box.

I really love epistolary novels and so I thought I’d give this one a try. I have to say though I did not love it. Lou as a character was just a doormat and let everyone walk all over her. And her mother was so immature and self-centered. Really there weren’t many characters that I did like in the book, except for Theo who was amazing and did not deserve the treatment (and lies) he got through most of the book. Lou’s character was very whiny and also she lied a lot, and overall it really took away from my enjoyment of the book. It is hit or miss with me and young adult novels since many of them I find to be a little too teen angsty. But this novel was supposed to be about a college graduate, but Lou either would not or could not stand up for herself for most of the book, despite being on her own for 4 years. Her mother had no idea of what boundaries were and really was just overwhelmingly pushy. Anyways, the plot itself wasn’t my favorite either because it centered around Lou’s inability to stand up for herself and also be an honest person. There were some funny things but I honestly just couldn’t get past my personal downfall’s with the book.

Link to author website

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