2018 Book #79 – Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

51R44pJdXnLTitle: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 9/7/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages in book: 320
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:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (RoomiesBeautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely notdating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

My rating:  4.75 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 had just recently read my first book with this author in July and LOVED it so I was excited when this book became available for review. And I’m so glad that I got to read it, I ended up loving this book too. Hazel as a character was hilariously funny. She was sweet and precocious and just utterly charming. I was infatuated with her from the start and she really drew me in through the rest of the book. I really liked Josh too, but my favorite thing about him was how much he loved and accepted Hazel just for being who she was. The plot was somewhat predictable, friends turn to lovers and fall in love, but the authors imprint such emotion into the story that its astounding. And the characters were all wonderfully developed and like-able – Hazel is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. I didn’t want to put this book down, and while the last book I read by this author duo was poignant and touching, this one was lighthearted and fun. Reading this book just made me feel so happy and light and I wish I could read 100 more like it. I’d highly recommend this one.

Link to author website

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

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2018 Book #76 – The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

51yWK2P7l7LTitle: The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Date finished: 8/30/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Victorian Rebels series #6
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:

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelai will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

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 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 “Pirates” box, since its a book about Pirates!

I liked the description of this book and I had read the last book in this series and enjoyed it, so I thought I’d give it a try. And I’m so glad I did, I really liked it! It did end up being a little darker than I expected, the hero was definitely a tortured individual when he returned, he had a plethora of demons. I ended up really liking the story line still, the plot was interesting and the characters were well developed. The story line kept me interested and I wanted to keep reading and finish the book. Some of the parts got very wordy, most of the lovey dovey parts I actually ended up liking though since they were very poetic and romantic, but at a couple points it got to be a bit too much. I did especially love that it was a pirate waxing poetic to a shy and timid woman. And I loved Lorelai’s menagerie as well, especially that she got to teach an otter how to fish – I thought that was so cute! Overall I really liked this book and I would definitely recommend it! I would be interested to read more in the series.

Link to author website

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

ARC August 2018 – Update #2

ARC-August

I was killing it this week! Between getting stuff done at home and at work and also getting my books read, I have been on point and on target! It was a busy work week and this next week is looking busy as well but I’m committed to reading as much as I can this month. Anyways, so here’s where I stand right now:

MY PROGRESS

August 2018 ARC’s

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
-Our House by Louise Candlish – Read and reviewed (Week 2)
Smothered by Autumn Chiklis – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
-The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke
-Maybe For You by Nicole McLaughlin
-Cowboy, Cross My Heart by Donna Grant
-The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo
-Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

Additions

-Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
-BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler – Read and reviewed (Week 2)

Backlog ARC’s

I’m actually using a reading challenge to help me whittle away at the 2016 and 2017 backlog list, so for this challenge I’d like to get to the following:

-A book told through letters
-A book with a five-word title Read and reviewed At the Heart of It by Tawna Fenske (Week 2)
-A book whose cover features nature
-A book whose title begins with K, Q, J, X, or Z
-A book you bought (requested) for the cover
-A book written by an author who wrote one of your favorite 2017 books
-A book with a one-word title

Books Read August 6th – 12th

At the Heart of It by Tawna Fenske – 3.0 stars
Our House by Louise Candlish – 3.25 stars
BuzzBooks 2018 Romance – 4.0 stars

Plan for Upcoming Week

This week is going to be super fun! Work will be crazy, as usual, this week. But this coming weekend my husband, parents, and I will be traveling to PA for my cousins wedding. And we couldn’t be more excited for him and his future bride, and to celebrate with my family. We’ll see how much reading I get done, but even if its none it’ll still be a great time. Happy reading everyone!!

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 #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 #62 – The Warrior of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood

51kng3DPeqLTitle: The Warrior of Clan Kincaid
Author: Lily Blackwood
Date finished: 7/23/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series:  Highland Warrior series #3
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:

The stunning and dramatic final book in the Kincaid brothers’ trilogy set in the wilds of Scotland.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Derryth MacClaren is on the run—having been sent from her castle home to avoid capture by the vicious nobleman known as the Wolf, who has vowed revenge against the Clan Kincaid. When a surprise attack leaves her vulnerable, Derryth ends up in the hands of an enemy warrior who claims her, with the Wolf’s blessing, as his prize. But her captor’s gentle words and touch seduce her heart—and body—completely. . . and when she discovers the tattoo on his arm that proves him to be the legendary, long-believed dead son of the murdered Laird of Kincaid, Derryth knows she must find a way to alter his fate—and her own. . .

Cull has no memory of his family or past—all he knows is the life of a warrior, trained to fight on behalf of the Scottish king. But now that Derryth has informed him of who he really is—Cullen Braewick, the youngest son of the slain laird—he is torn. If Cull exacts revenge against the Wolf, who executed his father, he stands to lose the precious lass who he has come to love. What is he willing to sacrifice for Derryth to keep her safe. . .and in his arms?

The Warrior of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood is not one to miss!

My rating:  4.5 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.

I had read the first two books in this serious previously and really enjoyed them. I’ve waited awhile for the conclusion of this series and I’m so glad I finally got to read it! The premise behind this book series is one that fascinated me, three brothers torn apart by fate from each other and their home, only to be reunited at last. Cull (the last missing brother, Cullen) believes himself an orphan, purchased years ago from a slave ship by the evil Buchan. I found the plot of this one to be especially interesting as I knew who Cull really was and I was eager for the rest of the characters to figure it out. I also really loved the development of the two main characters of this book – Cull and Derryth were both great, fierce, and loyal characters. And the build up of their relationship and the emotional tension between their two characters was really well done also, I was on the edge of my seat to find out what was going to happen next. I honestly didn’t want to put this one down. I really enjoyed this series overall (all three books) and I’d definitely recommend it. I can’t wait to see what this author comes out with next!

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #60 – The Obsession by Nora Roberts

61hhWGisimL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Obsession
Author: Nora Roberts
Date finished: 7/16/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Pages in book: 469
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: My Grandma gave me this book to read when we were visiting her last weekend!

Blurb from the cover:

“She stood in the deep, dark woods, breath shallow and cold prickling over her skin despite the hot, heavy air. She took a step back, then two, as the urge to run fell over her.” 

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I am historically a fan of Nora Roberts, which is something that my Grandma and I have in common. When my parents and I were visiting her last weekend she said she had read this one so I could have it if I was interested in reading it. The synopsis of the book sounded really interesting so I worked it into my reading schedule so I could start reading it sooner rather than later. This was a great book, I really liked the plot and it was very interesting. It really grabs you right from the first chapter, and I didn’t want to put it down once I started it. The tension between the main characters was great. And while I loved how strong and brave Naomi was, Xander was the character that really captured me. He was just so rock-steady and completed devoted to Naomi and I loved that. Tag (the dog) was also really great, and a loving character for the story. Naomi was really lucky with her family base that resulted from all the tragedy. Her brother and two uncles and her formed a cohesive and loving family unit that was great to see. I think that was one of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was that while there was creepy and the killings and yes those parts were sad, there was also a lot of hope and love and friendship in the book and that was especially wonderful. Great book and I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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