2017 Book #75 – Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews

41eDiHG-MLLTitle: Bad Girl Gone
Author: Temple Mathews
Date finished: 9/1/17
Genre: Fiction, young adult
Publisher: A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Pages in book: 265
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:

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she’s in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There’s just one problem: she’s not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents’ car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive—but she’s not.

She’s a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder. As the list of suspects grows, the quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery in which she learns she wasn’t quite the girl she thought she was. In a twist of fate, she’s presented with one last chance to reclaim her life and must make a decision which will either haunt her or bless her forever.­­­­

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 Echo (Eileen) who wakes up in Middle House, unsure of how she got there. Middle House is an orphanage and Echo is very sure her parents are still alive. Unfortunately when she leaves to prove that, she instead discovers that she was (**SPOILER**) murdered, and Middle House is more of a halfway house where kid ghosts live until they can find and take revenge on their killers/ Echo misses her boyfriend Andy but from the stories we hear from when she was alive, Echo was a pretty shitty person. And now Echo has Cole at Middle House, another dead-o like her. Unfortunately Echo can’t decide between them so she strings both of them along for the next few days, generally making them both miserable. And all the while her new friends are helping her discover who it was that murdered her.
Overall I didn’t particularly care for this book. The premise behind it was just a little too far-fetched for me – the thought that a kid would get to Heaven (the After) only after haunting/killing someone (even if it was their murderer) seems not right to me. Also, Echo as a person/character really was just not at all likable. The plot was not my favorite and I hated how devoted Andy and Cole were considering what a shitty person Echo was. And everything really was just so sad, Echo’s parents lost their only child. And there were many pieces of the plot that just didn’t feel like they really fir to me – the stuff with Mrs. Tourney and thinking Echo is someone else wasn’t necessary in the plot at all and felt superfluous. Overall wasn’t my favorite book but there were some creative thought to it.

The bottom line: Eh this book was ok, it wasn’t my kind of story and it was super sad. If you like ghost-y stories though I would give this one a try, it was kind of interesting.

Link to author website

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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

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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

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2017 Book #58 – I Have Never by Camilla Isley

51FhWUoFAkLTitle: I Have Never
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 7/12/17
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Publication Date: July 13, 2017
Pages in book: 191
Stand alone or series: #2 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

Have you ever wondered what might have been?

Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.
But when Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?
*Never Lie
*Never Pick a Fight
*Never Make a Scene
*Never Make the First Move
*Never Make Impulse Decisions
*Never Mix Business and Pleasure…
With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…
I Have Never is a wonderful chick lit beach read and a fabulous office romance. A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane.
First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

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. This book tells the story of Blair Walker, who when we first meet her is convinced that today will be the day she not only gets promoted but also gets engaged. Unfortunately for Blair, neither of those are the case. Instead she ends up fired and dumped and unsure where to go from here. Blair has always lived by her own set of “rules,” convinced that if she avoids doing certain things in life (getting arrested, getting drunk, sleeping with a guy on the first date, etc) that everything will work out for her. But now that her life has basically crashed and burned around her, she decides to do everything possible on this list that has betrayed her. Along the way she acquires a new boss, Richard Stratton, who is amazingly handsome but also amazingly commitment-phobic, a new group of work friends and a new lease on life.
Overall I just loved this book. The book immediately draws you in and engages you in Blair’s life and her character. I was hooked right from the very beginning and I didn’t want to put it down. The plot line was just so emotionally satisfying, at each twist along Blair’s road to freedom I found myself rooting for her to win and to come out on top! Plus the book was hilarious, all the hi-jinks that Blair ended up getting herself into were so funny and I loved her work group at her new office. I’m also really interested in Nikki’s story (Blair’s roommate) and can’t wait to hear when that will be released. I liked the plot of this book as well, following along with the list. The premise behind this  reminded me a little of another book I read last year (Thirty Days to Thirty) mostly because of the whole crashing and burning thing at the beginning and the list aspect. I especially liked that with this story, the list was more like a reverse list, it was about Blair breaking through the ceilings that she had set for herself in life for what she (or really her mom) believed was proper.  This was a quick story and an entertaining and engaging read and I would highly recommend!

The bottom line: I just loved this book, Blair was an easy to like character. I was rooting for her through the whole book! The story was a great series of ups and downs of emotions and was extremely satisfying. Just loved this book, I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #53 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

51-EYAYN0oLTitle: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Date finished: 6/26/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasty
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Pages in book: 512
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: I bought this on vacation a couple summers ago!

Blurb from the cover:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (June). This was actually my pick, I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile and I always hear so many great things about it! I’m glad that I picked it for discussion, it was a really interesting book with some great characters and an engaging plot line. I think my main issue was that there was a lot going on in my family life the last couple weeks and so I kept having to pick it up and put it down and I couldn’t concentrate well on the story, so I found it hard to get through. I think it was more of a personal issue though and less of an issue with the book itself. I still really liked the story though. The author did an amazing job of really transporting the reader into the story. I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: This book was pretty good. I liked a lot about the book but it was also pretty long and some parts were a tad dry for me. I would definitely recommend it though. There was great imagery and descriptive language and a good plot line.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #46 – According to a Source by Abby Stern

519mxmgjKNLTitle: According to a Source
Author: Abby Stern
Date finished: 5/21/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: May 23, 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:

Ella Warren loves her job working for celebrity news magazine, The Life, as an undercover reporter. Her evenings are spent using her alias to discreetly attend red carpet events, nightclubs, and Hollywood hotspots like the fabulous Chateau Marmont, where her eyes are always peeled for the next big celebrity story.
When Ella’s new Devil Wears Prada-type boss starts a not-so-friendly competition among the reporters to find an exclusive story or be fired, the stakes are higher than ever. But is being in Hollywood’s elite inner circle worth jeopardizing her friendship with budding actress Holiday Hall and her relationships with her boyfriend and her family? As the competition grows fiercer, her life becomes intertwined in a public scandal that may cost her everything.
A juicy, big-hearted novel about a young woman who loses herself in a fast-paced, glamorous world where finding your authentic self isn’t easy.

My rating:  3.5 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 Ella Warren, an undercover freelance reporter for The Life, a gossip magazine. Ella’s job involves her going to the hottest clubs and restaurants in Hollywood to search for a new scoop each night. This unfortunately takes her away from her boyfriend of seven years, Ethan. And then one night all of a sudden Ethan decides he’s had enough. He moves out the next day and Ella is left adrift. But between her heiress best friend Holiday and her college best friend Jessica, Ella manages to pull the pieces together and actually even finds a new boyfriend. Her new editor at the magazine though has started using a points system to decide who gets fired or not, and so Ella is under more pressure than ever to get the biggest and best scoop, no matter the cost.
Overall I liked this book a lot. It reminded me a lot of the Gossip Girl books, which I loved as a teenager. The gossip about all the celebrities included code names instead of real names, which made sense because I think otherwise it would have been too hard to keep track of who was who with the celebrities. The pace of this book was great and there was a good amount of scandal and intrigue. There was also betrayal and romance and family drama. I can’t imagine how anyone could have fit anything else into this book, it was bursting with interesting events. And while I liked it, there were pieces of it that I didn’t love. I thought Ella was just too self-absorbed for my tastes. Even after she turned things around at the end she still seemed a little too all about her. Other than that though I really liked the book and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: This was a funny and entertaining book. It reminded me a bit of Gossip Girl with the code names. I didn’t love the way the ending was set up but I liked the book overall. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2016 Book # 118 – Love Connection by Camilla Isley

51hgvyeybll-_sx326_bo1204203200_Title: Love Connection
Author: Camilla Isley
Date finished: 12/15/16
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: September 23, 2016
Pages in book: 240
Stand alone or series: #1 in the First Comes Love series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

Have you ever wondered what might have been?

Gemma Dawson is at the airport, staring at two plane tickets to two different cities. Two different weddings. Two possible futures. She’s at a crossroads.
Be maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding or crash her ex’s?
Gemma’s decision, unknown to her, hinges on a delayed flight and a chance meeting. Now her life is about to go down two parallel tracks–will Gemma fly toward a life with her first love or a future with a man she’s not even met yet?
In concurrent storylines, Gemma lives out the consequences of each journey. Different stories unravel with unpredictable outcomes for Gemma and her loved ones. As the alternative realities run their course, humor and romance intertwine raising questions about fate and chance. Will these parallel universes converge? Is true love meant to be? Is everyone destined to have a soul mate? Or are one’s cards just a choice away from reshuffling?
Love Connection is a romantic comedy about one woman, life’s infinite possibilities, and the destiny that lies beyond two different choices. First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

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. This book tells the story of Gemma Dawson, who we first meet at the airport when she’s trying to decide whether she should fly home for her best friend’s wedding, in which she’s supposed to be the maid of honor, or crash her ex-boyfriends wedding to tell him that she still loves him. It is from this first decision that the story forks into two different paths, each one following Gemma after that first choice. In each life Gemma is faced with crises and both love and heart break. The two story lines overlap in some interesting ways and we meet up with many of the same characters in both lives, just at different times. Through it all though, can Gemma find her happily ever after in both worlds?
Overall I just loved this book. The idea behind the plot line was so interesting and while it reminded me a lot of another book I read last year (Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid) I actually liked the way that this one ended better. And I loved all the characters in this book. I have to say I especially loved the fortune teller detail in the story (I’m not going to spoil it for you readers) it was so creative to add that piece and I thought it really did a great job of tying both stories together. I couldn’t put this book down once I started it, I think I finished it in less than 24 hours. It was a great read and I would most definitely recommend! And I can’t wait to see what else the next book in the series will bring!

The bottom line: I just loved this book, the story line was so different and unique. And I loved the way the story lines intertwined and how much fate ended up being involved. And what a great ending!! Just loved this book, I would definitely recommend.

Link to author website

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